If the Yankees rotation has a bounce-back in 'em, it'll start and end with Carlos Rodón and Nestor Cortes Jr., two potential top-tier lefties with different arsenals who could turn Marcus Stroman into an impressive No. 4 -- if only they can keep themselves healthy.
Rodón was supposed to take the Bronx by storm with his fiery demeanor coming off back-to-back top-six Cy Young finishes. Instead, he hit the shelf early, feuded with fans in the middle, and surrendered a heretofore-thought impossible amount of runs to the Kansas City Royals in his final start of the season without recording an out.
Entering an all-important Year 2 that could affect his long-term journey in New York (and the team's 2024 chances), the left-hander appears to be relatively paunchless after wrapping the season punchless. Rodón, whose health issues started midway through his first spring training with the Yankees last year, appears to be in incredible shape, according to the Instagram story his wife Ashley posted a few days back (which you can view here).
Yankees left-handed pitcher Carlos Rodón gets into shape after ending 2024 on sour note
According to Stuff+, Rodón's fastball-curveball combo largely graded out the same in 2023 as it had in previous years. Unfortunately, his location was a mess, thanks in large part to the residual effects of an early-season (potentially chronic?) back issue. Any fitness alterations he can make in order to calm those achy nerves would be a plus, and it seems the lefty has already taken great strides to maximize his ceiling once more.
Again, this dude is perfect for the Bronx. He wears his emotions on his sleeve (occasionally instead of his mandated sleeve patches). He's a fly ball pitcher who strikes out such a remarkable number of hitters that it's all still worthwhile. He barks at himself when he gets things wrong, and barks at the hitter when he induces them to chase air. He's exactly what the Yankees need in a copilot when he's right, and New York literally and figuratively can't afford for him to be wrong next summer.
Prior to his KC implosion, Rodón had finally been on the right track last September, throwing 11-2/3 innings against the Red Sox and Pirates while allowing four earned runs and striking out 19. Those four runs came thanks in large part to an immediate homer at Fenway (he recovered and had his best start of the year in enemy territory), as well as some hideous batted ball luck in Pittsburgh involving a doinked base. If the Yankees can harness Rodón's essence this year and use it for good rather than mocking fans in Anaheim, that'd be a start. If he can tweak things that'll help him physically hold up for the duration of the season, that'll be much more important. So far, he appears to be on the right track.