Yankees hope to ride on Carlos Rodon’s revival to even series in Toronto

Yankees pitcher Carlos Rodon
John Allen
Tuesday April 16, 2024

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Despite the absence of ace Gerrit Cole, the New York Yankees haven’t missed a beat, thanks in large part to the resurgence of left-hander Carlos Rodon. Following a forgettable 2023 campaign, Rodón has spearheaded the Yankees’ pitching staff with an unblemished 3-0 record in his starts. This turnaround is nothing short of remarkable, and it serves as a testament to Carlos Rodon’s tireless efforts and unwavering commitment during the offseason.

After losing the inaugural game in Toronto, the Yankees expect Carlos Rodon to anchor them to a win and even the series.

On Tuesday night, Carlos Rodon delivered his most dominant performance of the young season. While some might downplay the achievement due to the opponent being the struggling Miami Marlins, it’s crucial to remember Carlos’ struggles against all teams last year. This outing showcased a significant shift in his effectiveness.

AP

Carlos Rodon pitched six strong innings, even starting the seventh before defensive miscues created a jam. He limited the Marlins to just two unearned runs on four hits and two walks, striking out six batters in the process. The outing was also marked by efficiency, with Carlos Rodon throwing a season-low 89 pitches.

Looking back at his previous starts against the Astros and Diamondbacks, a stark contrast emerges. Carlos Rodon labored through a combined 9.2 innings, allowing three earned runs on a higher number of hits (12) and walks (5). Despite pitching more innings, he managed only seven strikeouts, and his pitch count ballooned to 182. These earlier outings were riddled with inconsistencies, with Rodon battling through challenges nearly every inning.

Tuesday night, however, marked a turning point. The game flowed seamlessly, and a visible evolution in Carlos Rodon’s pitching arsenal was on display. This newfound control and efficiency bode well for the Yankees’ pitching rotation moving forward, especially with Cole sidelined.

Carlos Rodon holds the key to Yankees’ success

carlos-rodon-new-york-yankees
X-@MikeSalvatore10

One of the primary concerns surrounding Carlos Rodon upon his arrival in the Bronx was his limited pitching repertoire. His heavy reliance on a fastball-slider combination, comprising nearly 90% of his pitches last season (60% fastball, 29% slider), raised questions about his effectiveness as a starting pitcher. While he did possess a cutter, changeup, and curveball in his arsenal, these pitches were seldom utilized, accounting for a mere 11% of his total throws in 2023.

However, a clear shift in Carlos Rodon’s pitching strategy has emerged in his first two starts of the season. He’s shown a willingness to expand his arsenal, particularly favoring his changeup. On Tuesday night alone, Carlos Rodon unleashed 10 changeups, a significant increase compared to his usage last year. He also incorporated more cutters into the mix, throwing 16 compared to just 15 sliders. This change in approach hasn’t gone unnoticed by his teammates, with Alex Verdugo commenting on its effectiveness after the game.

While it’s important to see if this trend continues beyond a single impressive performance against the Marlins, there’s a growing sense of optimism that the Yankees may have unlocked something special in Carlos Rodon. His improved pitch selection could potentially salvage his tenure in New York following a disappointing debut season.

The Yankees’ unexpected success in the early stages of the 2024 season is undeniably bolstered by Carlos Rodon’s bounce-back performances. If he can maintain this newfound ability to effectively mix in additional pitches alongside his fastball and slider, the Yankees’ starting rotation could find itself in a much stronger position than initially anticipated. Carlos Rodon’s evolution on the mound could prove to be a significant factor in the Yankees’ pursuit of a championship this season.

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