Carlos Rodón was the elixir that old Yankees nemesis George Springer needed

“I just thought we had a really good plan. You could kind of see him adjust after the second inning with a couple more cutters and changeups, but we were on the heater pretty well.”
New York Yankees v Toronto Blue Jays
New York Yankees v Toronto Blue Jays / Vaughn Ridley/GettyImages

Thursday night in Toronto, Carlos Rodón woke up one of the most dormant bats in Major League Baseball.

Old Yankees nemesis George Springer had the lowest OPS in MLB until New York came to town — through games Monday, his OPS was .559, dead last amongst 147 qualified players. It’s now .618 after Springer’s back-to-back three-run jacks in the first and second innings off Rodón in a 9-2 Yankees loss.

To put that in perspective, as of Tuesday morning, both Aaron Judge and Juan Soto - plus eight other qualified hitters - had a higher slugging percentage than Springer’s OPS. His OPS+ was 62, which meant he was 38% worse than MLB average. His weighted runs created (wRC) was 22, which put him 35% below MLB average. Springer only had six home runs this season before Thursday night.

At age 34, the Blue Jays are committed to paying Springer another ~$63 million through the 2026 season at an AAV of $25 million. He’s Toronto’s highest paid player, but he doesn’t make as much as Rodón’s $27.83 million AAV. In fact, five Yankees make more than Springer does on an AAV basis, and New York’s highest-paid player, Judge, leads MLB in home runs, RBI and OPS.

As Yanks Go Yard's editor Thomas Carannante wrote after Rodón’s previous implosion last Friday night, “[Rodon’s] start against the Braves got off to the worst possible start. The left-hander allowed three earned runs on three hits (two homers) in the first inning…. Rodón was seen mouthing off to an assistant coach. We don't know who it was or what it was about, but again, it's not going to help the current precarious situation.”

Carlos Rodón woke up Yankees enemy George Springer

Rodón is suddenly 0-3 in his last three starts dating back to June 15 at Boston, with a ‘crooked numbers’ 13.18 ERA, which includes five home runs allowed in only 13 2/3 innings. His season ERA has ballooned from 2.93, after allowing only one run in a solid 7.0 innings at Kansas City on June 10, to 4.42 after Thursday night’s implosion.

It doesn’t appear to be velocity. Rodón believes he is just missing spots with his fastball, which touched 98.1 mph and averaged 95.6 mph on Thursday. As Blue Jays manager John Schneider said of his heavy right-handed hitting lineup — including Springer — afterwards, “I just thought we had a really good plan. You could kind of see him adjust after the second inning with a couple more cutters and changeups, but we were on the heater pretty well.”

There was also a bizarre moment in the top of the fifth inning when manager Aaron Boone came out to yank Rodón, with reliever Phil Bickford already jogging in from the outfield bullpen. Bickford whirled with confusion and went back to the bullpen as Rodón told Boone, “I want it.” His manager nodded and allowed him to stay in to complete the inning (which, shockingly, he actually executed nicely).

“I just wanted to get through five for the bullpen, and just prove something to myself,” Rodón said. “That even though I get knocked down, I can get back up and just keep going.”

Rodón will have to get back up in a big hurry after reawakening the hibernating bat of George Springer. In fact, the whole Yankees staff should take this as a wake-up call after Rodón was hammered for eight runs, including that pair of three-run Springer dingers. New York has now lost a season-high four straight games and 10 of its past 13.