Nothing about left-hander Carlos Rodón's first season in the Bronx has been normal. It began with a dud against the Atlanta Braves in spring training, followed by a forearm issue and diagnosis of a chronic back condition. It's ending with his stuff receding and regenerating seemingly at random. He's been ultra susceptible to the home run ball. He's also occasionally blitzed through talented lineups like the Rays and Astros?
Rodón has been a mystery wrapped in an enigma wrapped in a statue of a guy making exaggerated gestures, and he's perhaps been best known this season for the time he mockingly blew a kiss at some jeering Yankee fans in Anaheim.
At least that time we knew who he was aiming at, though. Rodón's target was far less clear when he got Adam Duvall waving at a high fastball for the second out of Tuesday night's first inning.
Rodón's outing started with a literal bang as Ceddanne (Chipper Nicasio Marte) Rafaela's first big-league home run smashed off a sign above the Green Monster before Rob Refsnyder followed with a wall ball double. He settled down, though, walking Justin Turner and striking out each of the next three batters (Triston Casas on a well-placed heater, Duvall, Trevor Story). After the Duvall whiff, he turned around and shushed ... Refsnyder at second? The umpire? His own fielder? Somebody help us out here. Was Ref chirping?
Yankees starter Carlos Rodón shushes ... someone ... in bizarre half-dominant first inning vs Red Sox
While Rodón probably wishes he could shut everybody up with just a few K struts, it's going to take plenty more than that to quiet the noise. He probably won't be able to make any progress there until Year 2.
When the Rafaela bomb landed, Rodón had officially allowed more home runs in 2023 than he had in 2022 -- in 132 fewer frames. The Yankees signed him because they assumed his stuff would hold up and he'd be able to overcome his fly ball tendencies, even in a ballpark with a porch, because of his elite fastball.
Instead, he's been routinely beaten to the spot on the inner half, as Rafaela and Refsnyder both did to begin Tuesday's game. The vertical and horizontal movement has been nearly the same on Rodón's fastball this year, but the strikeout rate on the pitch is down 20+% to 12.5% and batters are hitting .274 off the pitch, as David Cone cited on the YES broadcast Tuesday night.
The back injury's done something to more than just Rodón's command, and he has a long offseason ahead of trying to manage both his fitness and plan of attack.
Hopefully, he won't have to shush any critics next season, and his play can do the talking all on its own.