Carlos Rodón battles in long-awaited Yankees debut

Making his long-awaited New York Yankees debut after missing the first three months of the season on the Injured List, Carlos Rodón pitched 5.1 innings while giving up two runs.

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After surrendering a two-out RBI single to Nico Hoerner that gave the Cubs a 2-0 lead in the top of the fifth inning, Carlos Rodón fell behind in the count 2-0 to Seiya Suzuki. Needing a strike to get back in the count, Rodón fired a high and outside fastball that was called for strike one.

On the ensuing pitch, Rodón threw another fastball, but this one caught the middle of the strike zone. Suzuki didn’t miss it, as he sent the ball 109.5 mph in play towards Anthony Volpe.

Luckily, the rookie shortstop fielded the ball on a hop and flipped it to Gleyber Torres at second base to end the inning.

Returning from the 60-day Injured List, Rodon made his long-awaited New York Yankees debut after signing a six-year, $162 million in the offseason. Despite not having his best swing-and-miss stuff and surrendering nine hard-hit balls, Rodon battled, pitching 5.1 innings (69 pitches) and giving up four hits, two runs and two walks while striking out two.

Kicking off the game, Rodón’s night started off strong, as he worked consecutive one-two-three innings on 16 total pitches in his first two innings. To end the first inning, Rodón registered his first strikeout in pinstripes on a perfectly placed 96.6 mph fastball which Ian Happ swung through. Four of the five batters who put the ball into play flew out, while Yan Gomes popped out.

After a dominant and efficient start to the game, Rodón continued to attack the strike zone on his first pitch of the third inning. This time, though, Cody Bellinger ambushed the ball, sending a low and inside 94.5 mph fastball 405 feet into the seats in right field giving the Cubs a 1-0 lead.

Following the home run, Rodón bounced back well, forcing Miguel Amaya into a first-pitch flyout, then inducing Patrick Wisdom to ground out. With two outs, Hoerner legged out an infield single, but Rodón quickly erased him on a 6-4 force out to end the inning two pitches later. 

In the fourth inning, Rodón struck out Happ on another high fastball for his second strikeout of the game, then proceeded to induce two flyouts for his third one-two-three inning of the night.

Leading off the fifth inning, Trey Mancini worked a full count, and he won his battle with Rodón when he watched a slider bounce near home plate for ball four. Against the ensuing batter, Bellinger, Rodón threw two up and inside fastballs that Bellinger swung through before he popped up for the first out of the inning. 

Despite bouncing back against Bellinger, Rodón lost his command against Amaya, who walked on four pitches. After missing on four straight pitches to Amaya, Rodón attacked Wisdom immediately, forcing him into a 4-6 forceout that put runners on the corners with two outs for Hoerner.

After getting ahead 0-1 on a foul ball, Kyle Higashioka set up high and away, but Rodón fired a fastball down the heart of the plate that Hoerner slapped into right field to extend the Cubs’ lead to 2-0. Rodón then proceeded to escape the inning on a hard-hit force out from Suzuki.

Leading off the sixth inning, Rodón surrendered his hardest hit ball of the game, as Happ laced a 110.9 mph line drive into left field for a leadoff single. With Gomes following Happ at the plate, Rodón spiked a changeup (only the second one he threw all game) to advance Happ to second base, and soon thereafter fell behind in the count 3-0. 

With his back against the wall, Rodón darted a strike and then induced a chase to load the count full. On 3-2, Rodón jammed Gomes on a fastball that he sent to second base for the first out of the inning, but he moved Happ over to third base. Rodón’s night ended following Gomes’ at bat, and with the help of Ian Hamilton, Happ was stranded on third base.

Although he didn’t have his best stuff (which can be expected from a pitcher who hasn’t pitched in an MLB game in nine months), Rodón looked healthy. Rodón’s fastball, which had a -22 Run Value last season, had the same average velocity and spin rate tonight as it did in 2022, while his slider also had the same average velocity and spin rate. 

He wasn’t perfect or near his best, but Rodón gave the Yankees a solid outing and a chance to win Friday night.