Yankees’ Carlos Rodon rebounds with emphatic demolition of Astros with no walks, 7Ks

Yankees starter Carlos Rodon leaves mound happily after pitching against the Houston Astros, May 8, 2024, in New York.
Michael Bennington
Thursday May 9, 2024

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Carlos Rodon brought to the fore his pre-Bronx brilliance on the mound Wednesday, showcasing the skill and dominance that made him one of the Yankees’ prized offseason acquisitions. While the Yankees’ offensive masterclass trampled the Astros, his roaring comeback played a pivotal role in sealing the fate of the opponents.

Despite surrendering a solo home run to Kyle Tucker in the first inning – the slugger’s third long ball in as many games – Carlos Rodon quickly regained his composure. Once his teammates provided him with a lead, the left-hander consistently pounded the strike zone, efficiently navigating through innings while keeping his pitch count in check.

Carlos Rodon’s resilience was also put to the test in the fifth inning when he allowed the first two batters to reach base. However, he masterfully worked his way out of the jam, inducing a groundout from Jake Myers, a flyout from Jose Altuve, and capping the escape with a swinging strikeout of Tucker.

With each passing start, Carlos Rodon appears to be gradually recapturing the form that established him as one of the most formidable pitchers in the game during the 2021 and 2022 seasons. While he may not have fully returned to that elite level just yet, the left-hander has been reliable and effective in all but one of his outings this year.

In Wednesday’s 9-4 triumph over the Astros in The Bronx, Carlos Rodon bounced back admirably from his worst start of the season, which came in Baltimore where he yielded seven runs, including three home runs. Facing a Houston team that seems to be a mere shadow of the powerhouse that has reached the ALCS every year since 2017, Carlos Rodon limited the Astros to a mere two runs across 6 ¹/₃ innings of work.

Yankees starter Carlos Rodon pitches against the Houston Astros, May 8, 2024, in New York.

Carlos Rodon powers Yankees past Astros

Impressively, the Yankees starter did not issue a single walk and, thanks in large part to a particularly deceptive slider, racked up seven strikeouts on the night.

Carlos Rodon relied heavily on his slider, deploying it more frequently than usual this season. This strategic approach proved crucial in extricating himself from a potentially dangerous situation in the fifth inning. With runners on the corners and the Yankees clinging to a four-run lead, Rodon unleashed a devastating slider to strike out Kyle Tucker and end the threat.

Yankees manager Aaron Boone showered praise on Carlos Rodon’s performance, expressing his admiration for the left-hander’s ability to effectively neutralize opposing batters. Boone highlighted his improved command of the strike zone compared to his outings earlier in the year, commending his consistency in pounding the zone and keeping hitters off balance.

“He’s in a good place and it’s a credit to all the work he’s done,’’ the Yankees skipper said. “It started early in the offseason with his commitment to everything — pitching, conditioning — to put himself in position to give himself a chance to have success. He laid all the foundation and now we’re seeing the fruits of that.”

Reflecting on his turnaround from his previous start, Carlos Rodon attributed his success to a more aggressive approach to attacking the strike zone. He revealed that his game plan centered around pitching more frequently in the upper regions of the zone, a stark contrast to his prior outing.

“I had an idea that I wanted to be up in the zone more than the last time,’’ he said after reducing his ERA to 1.86 ERA in three home starts and 2-0 this year. “I was able to get ahead and get to the slider.”

By executing this strategy, Carlos Rodon gained the upper hand in counts, setting the stage for his slider to become an even more potent weapon. The results speak for themselves, as Carlos Rodon now boasts an impressive 2-0 record with a sparkling 1.86 ERA in three home starts this season.

Yankees starter Carlos Rodon leaves mound happily after pitching against the Houston Astros, May 8, 2024, in New York.

As the game progressed into the seventh inning, Carlos Rodon began to show signs of fatigue. He surrendered a one-out double to Mauricio Dubon, followed by a resounding RBI triple off the bat of Jake Meyers. With the top of the Astros’ lineup due up for a fourth time, Carlos Rodon’s night came to an end, but not before he had delivered another stellar performance on the mound.

Caleb Ferguson’s well-timed intervention proved pivotal, thwarting Meyers from crossing the plate and enabling Rodon to keep the Astros at bay, limiting their offensive output to a mere two runs.

Through his first eight outings of the season, Carlos Rodon has exhibited remarkable consistency and effectiveness on the mound, surrendering more than two runs on only two occasions, a testament to his ability to keep opposing lineups in check.

A stark contrast from his disastrous inaugural campaign with the Yankees, Carlos Rodon has demonstrated an increased propensity for generating ground balls this season, a marked improvement over his previous year’s performance.

However, the 31-year-old southpaw has yet to fully recapture the dominance that defined his stellar seasons with the White Sox in 2021 and the Giants in 2022, leaving room for further growth and development as the campaign progresses.

It was that elite-level performance that enticed the Yankees to invest heavily in Carlos Rodon, signing him to a lucrative six-year, $162 million contract.

Manager Aaron Boone attributed Carlos Rodon’s current success to his unwavering dedication and hard work. He highlighted the pitcher’s commitment, which began during the offseason, as he focused on various aspects of his craft, including pitching mechanics and conditioning, to lay the foundation for a strong season. Boone emphasized that Carlos Rodon’s diligence and preparation have now come to fruition, resulting in his impressive performances on the mound.

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