Carlos Rodón finally showed velocity, stuff Yankees were advertising vs Red Sox

He does exist!

Tampa Bay Rays v New York Yankees
Tampa Bay Rays v New York Yankees / Julio Aguilar/GettyImages

Typically, Yankees free agent busts tend to immediately bomb at Fenway Park, underscoring their expensive incompetence. Left-hander Carlos Rodón weaved a different story in 2023, pretty much excelling exclusively at Fenway; he spun five one-run innings with nine strikeouts in Boston, but still managed to post a 6.85 ERA on the season.

In order for Rodón to salvage his reputation, let alone justify his contract, 2024 has to be different. With Gerrit Cole absent for a good portion of the season -- at the very least -- Rodón has to notably progress one year removed from the forearm strain/back condition that felled him last year (and the latter might still be lingering somewhat).

He got off to a phenomenal start -- or so we were told. Rodón reported to camp early and buzzed 97 MPH in his early spring bullpen sessions. Only reporters actually witnessed those feats of strength, though. Fans, on the other hand, were stuck scrubbing through Rodón's reduced fastball and homer-filled spring outings, pausing the tape to try to discern whether they were being lied to.

For the first time since he signed on the dotted line, the Rodón who was advertised -- sitting 95-96, touching 97, wiping out sliders -- showed up for work on Wednesday afternoon, spinning a bit of his trademark intensity, too. And, what a surprise, it was against Boston. Dominating the Red Sox would certainly represent his quickest path back to fans' good graces.

Yankees' Carlos Rodón resembles his normal self vs Boston Red Sox

On an otherwise cloudy day in Yankeeland, with Gerrit Cole seeking fourth, fifth, and sixth opinions on his (non-torn?) UCL, it was nice to see the Rodón who was promised briefly cameo in the team's 2024 prep. The metrics agreed; all Stuff+ readings that regressed spectacularly in his previous appearance bounced back into the positives on Wednesday. His fastball really did return.

In the absence of Gerrit Cole, Rodón will reportedly take Game 2 of the season in Houston and stay on turn rather than move up for the opener, as Aaron Boone revealed during Wednesday's start (just before cheering on Rodón's hustle on a PFP).

There is less than no reason for the left-hander to exert himself to a level that makes him uncomfortable during exhibition play, but it felt fair to demand some progress, if he really did have a more standard, pre-2023 velocity reading still in his left arm. Wednesday proved he could blend advanced velocity with the pitchability he'd been honing previously. Truly, with expectations somewhere close to the floor, that's all you can ask for.