In a game-changing step en route back to the Yankees' big-league rotation, lefty Carlos Rodón proved that his fastball contained both bite and bark on the Double-A Somerset mound on Tuesday night.
Rodón, making his first in-game appearance with the Yankees' organization since his spring debut (which did not go ... fantastic), took the mound after crossing several hurdles during live BP. After straining his forearm in the spring, he nearly worked his way back before a back issue derailed the entire process. That back issue was deemed "chronic," which terrified everyone. Rodón, feeling no pain but in clear discomfort, spent the early part of the season in a holding pattern.
Slowly, but surely, he worked his way back to a level of readiness that met his standard, shaking off control problems (sorry, Willie Calhoun!) and health-altering smog in a number of tuneups away from the fans. On Tuesday, he made his first pitch to a batter on an opposing team since facing the Braves three months ago, in a game that wouldn't have been memorable if it hadn't gone so poorly.
Fans were in attendance for this one. So were dogs. Many, many dogs.
Yankees No. 2 starter Carlos Rodón hit 95 MPH in rehab start
Don't let Somerset's radar gun fool you. According to the MiLB.tv broadcast, Rodón sat in the high 80s, befuddling plenty of discontented watchers.
According to those actually on site (and holding their own radar guns) like Mike Ashmore, his fastball actually sat at a far more noteworthy 91-95. Rodón also mixed in all four pitches, dropping at least one curveball in for an unexpected strike in his third inning of work.
Ultimately, Rodón battled through a first inning that began with a walk and a single, erasing the second runner on a double play while allowing a run.
That was the only run he allowed through three efficient innings of work. Rodón struck out five and threw just 42 pitches to end the night, reaching his prescribed ceiling.
Far more importantly, he seemed to operate comfortably, which felt like lightyears away from where he'd been in mid-April, when his possible return was a ball of confusion.
Rodón's next few days of recovery will be equally important, but based on the way the team shied away from throwing him into any sort of situation that could cause stress earlier in April and May, it's extremely encouraging that he blew past this benchmark.
Ideally, these injury issues won't continue to dog him as he prepares for his big debut.