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  • Cory Claus

Yankees need Rodon to round into form right now

The Yankees made one huge upgrade this season when they signed Carlos Rodon. His injury, however, hobbled the Yankees and helped them limp to their sub-par record. Now, the season is on the line. Now, the Yankees need Rodon to round into form.


Rodon needs to pitch like a champion.

The Yankees season is slipping away.


Their starting pitching has been erratic, their once-vaunted bullpen has become suspect at best, and they haven’t been hitting nearly enough.


If that doesn’t sound like the profile of a playoff team, it’s not.


The Bombers' record of 53-48 puts them in last place in the AL East, nine games out of first. It also puts them 2.5 games out of the last wild card spot, behind both Boston and Toronto. And Boston–the worst defensive team in baseball–isn’t even trying to win.


How the team got here is also especially galling.


They’ve spent the last month losing to the worst teams in baseball. A month ago, they were nine games over .500 at 45-36. Then they lost two of three to St. Louis (45-57), the Cubs (49-51), and the Rockies (40-61). To cap it all off, they then got swept by the Angels (52-49), a team chasing them for that same wild card spot.


They did manage to split a four-game set with the first-place Orioles (62-39) in the middle of all that. But even those wins came in disappointing fashion. They won the first two games, then lost the last two, a deflating feeling when you think you’re about to gain ground on a superior opponent.


Then there's last night’s loss to the hapless, hilarious Mets.


The Boys from Queens have watched their season implode into a 47-53 record. They’re solidly in the seller's camp as we approach the trade deadline, their season dead and buried. They’re not even playing for pride anymore because what is there to be proud of? They’re the Mets.


But that didn’t stop them from putting a beatdown on the Yankees last night, winning 9-3.


Wow, does that suck.


Yankees Silver Linings Playbook


The only bit of good news is that the Yankees can still make the playoffs. Fangraphs still gives them a 20% chance of doing just that.


But they’ve got to play better. That effort is already being helped as guys come back off the injured list. Jake Bauers just returned, while both Jonathan Loaisiga and Nestor Cortes are on rehab assignments. If and when Aaron Judge comes back, the team’s chances of making the playoffs will skyrocket.


Judge is obviously the biggest name on that list. Teams count on their high-priced stars to lead them to the playoffs and Judge is one of the two or three biggest stars in the game. And most well-paid.


Which brings us to Carlos Rodon.


The Yankees signed Rodon in the off-season to a massive contract of six years and $162,000,000. When you sign a player for that much, you expect him to deliver wins and lots of them. It’s supposed to be a simple exchange: you put zeroes into his bank account, and he puts up zeroes on the scoreboard.


Unfortunately, Rodon missed the first half of the season to injury.


When he finally did return, it was not as an ace. Against the Cubbies on July 7th, he went 5⅓ innings giving up two earned runs in the process. That’s…okay. Then he went out on the 14th and gave up four runs in five innings to the Rockies. That’s not okay.


But he got even worse after that. In his last start, Rodon gave up six earned runs in 4⅓ innings against the Angels, who are and were without Mike Trout. That's just horrible.


Instead of leading his new team to victory, Rodon led the Yankees to losses in all three of those games.


The one saving grace is that many excellent pitchers need two or three starts to become their best selves. Gerrit Cole started this season strong, but it took him a few starts to establish himself in 2022. He gave up three earned runs in four innings on opening day in a win against the Red Sox, then followed that up by surrendering three in 5⅔ in a loss to the Blue Jays.


So, Rodon’s struggles so far are not that unusual.


The Yankees need Rodon Right Now


But now the Yankees need Rodon to round into form, with emphasis on the word, now. The Yankees have 61 games remaining. Rodon is likely to start twelve or thirteen of them, and he needs to be his best shutdown self in all of them.


That has to start tonight.


He has to go out onto the field and remind the Mets why their season is over. He needs to put up zeroes and leave the game doffing his hat, not blowing kisses. He needs to be the best player on the field and set the Yankees up for a winning streak.


It is time to see what Carlos Rodon is made of. It's time to see if he can be a leader on this team. It’s time to see if his remaining starts can deliver the Yankees into the playoffs, or surrender that spot to the Angels or Red Sox.


And it all starts now.




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