Carlos Rodón delivers money quote after cementing Yankees 180 with KC dominance

This guy gets it.
New York Yankees v Kansas City Royals
New York Yankees v Kansas City Royals / Ed Zurga/GettyImages

The last time Yankees lefty Carlos Rodón was on a mound in Kansas City, he turned his back on a forgettable season (and his coaching staff).

Rodón's 2023 season was a nightmare, dogged by multiple injuries across the campaign's first half, which seemed to cause lingering discomfort into the later months. He briefly found himself on an upward trajectory, finding momentum in Boston and Pittsburgh, before descending into madness in his finale. The much maligned lefty faced eight batters, allowing every single one of them to reach base. By the end of the evening, Rodón's ERA had risen over a full run, from 5.74 to 6.85, and he was plotting a darkness retreat in the woods and apologizing to Matt Blake.

Most rational fans were willing to give a (supposedly healthy) Rodón a second chance to earn his contract in 2024, but even the most optimistic could only stomach an additional one-year leash. If '24 looked at all like '23, there was going to be hell to pay for the Yankees' expensive supposed second punch in their one-two plans.

So far? Exhale. So very good for Rodón, who's now 9-2 after winning seven consecutive starts for the first time ever at the MLB level. His ERA is down below 3.00 (2.93 after a string of seven quality starts). His strikeouts are down (74 in 80 innings), but his fastball run value is through the roof (95th percentile, 75th in velo). His rolling xWOBA, everyone's favorite predictive metric (and an early-season Rodón bugaboo) is trending rapidly in the right direction, gleaming red as the offensive performance against him dips well below-average.

The numbers tell an exceptional story, but it's Rodón's mettle that's placed an exclamation point at the end of the whole thing. Yes, the lefty knew Monday's start in Kansas City would be a major test, not just because of the playoff-caliber opponent on the opposite side, but because of the specter of 2023.

He knew exactly what was waiting for him, and he wanted the barbecue smoke.

New York Yankees ace Carlos Rodón takes ownership, dominates KC Royals

Every single time Rodón has been approached this year, he's made it exceptionally clear that he places the team's goal ahead of his own (and prefers, of course, to put them on his back).

Monday was personally meaningful to the ascendent lefty, but mostly just because it represented another opportunity to prove to his teammates that he'd be there when they needed him most.

So far, Rodón hasn't only justified the team's faith. He's been one of the game's most impressive pitchers, ignoring the comeback story entirely. In a season where it's seemed like any Yankee starter could make the All-Star team, from one week to the next, it now feels like Rodón has the inside track. But whether it materializes or not, he's ready to roar for the second half -- and likely has Boston and Baltimore circled a few times on his personal schedule, too.