4 questions the Yankees need to answer about the 2024 starting rotation

World Baseball Classic Semifinals: Mexico v Japan
World Baseball Classic Semifinals: Mexico v Japan / Eric Espada/GettyImages
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Can they trust Carlos Rodón?

Rodón's first season in the Bronx was an unmitigated disaster in almost every possible way. His season debut was delayed until July 7 due to foream/back issues, he landed on the IL again in August with a hamstring strain, and pitched to a disastrous 6.85 ERA across just 64.1 innings. It's not what the Yankees were hoping for when they signed him to a six-year, $162 million contract last December.

In spite of all of that, it's not crazy to believe Rodón is capable of returning to his peak 2021-2022 form going forward. It's not as simple a fix as letting him heal from whatever lingering injury he might be dealing with, but many underlying metrics suggest that he's not too far gone.

Rodón's bread-and-butter pitch that made him such a coveted get on last year's free agent market was his four-seam fastball, which he threw about 95.5 MPH on average in 2022 with a spin rate of 2349 RPM and a full inch more than the league average vertical drop. In 2023, his fastball was uncannily identical, stuff-wise, but it got hammered. The problem was his location.

Spin and movement can only help a pitcher so much when their fastball catches too much of the plate, which is what happened to Rodón in 2023. Opposing hitters' numbers against his fastball when thrown in the shadow or chase zones (as defined by Baseball Savant) were nearly identical to those in past years, but more of his pitches were left over the heart of the plate in 2023.

Location is usually the last thing to fully return after a long injury layoff, and whatever mechanical issues Rodón has can also likely be fixed by Matt Blake and the Yankees' coaching staff. Or at least, conventional wisdom would suggest that.