1. Eduardo Rodriguez
From within the division, we’ve seen Eduardo Rodriguez grow and adjust in recent years. Remember when Gary Sánchez and the Yankees’ other lefty mashers absolutely owned him, peaking during the 2018 ALCS? This season, he went 2-0 with a 3.13 ERA against the Yankees in five starts, one of which was cut short by an injury. The other four were sterling.
We’ve also seen Rodriguez shrug off completely unforeseen challenges to reassert his dominance. He recovered from COVID-induced myocarditis to strike out 185 men in just 157.2 innings during the 2021 season. His FIP (3.32) tells much more of the story than his 4.75 ERA does; and, remember, this is a pitcher who finished sixth in the Cy Young race back in 2019 at just 26 years old.
Rodriguez has an extremely bright future ahead of him…and we can’t help thinking about how much Matt Blake could elevate his profile by emphasizing the above-average changeup we’ve already seen him deploy. Add his big game experience, and he’s the ideal durable third starter for the 2022 Yankees at, say, four years and $60 million? He’s not going to get a top-tier pitching contract, but the 28-year-old won’t be signing for chump change, either.
We’re only a few weeks removed from watching an energized Rodriguez hit his peak velocity on the playoff stage, confidently rocking both the Tampa Bay Rays and Houston Astros to sleep, reserving time to point at his own wrist after sending Carlos Correa back to the dugout. If he weren’t well-known for wearing red socks, he’d be exactly the kind of guy you’d want anchoring the middle of the Yankees’ rotation.
Sure, sometimes you can “get to him”…but not typically when it matters most. For the big moments, bring us E-Rod.