NEWS Carlos Rodón signing: Yankees rotation led by ace Gerrit Cole has huge upside and huge question marks

Carlos Rodón signing: Yankees rotation led by ace Gerrit Cole has huge upside and huge question marks

The big news in baseball Thursday night was the Yankees adding left-hander Carlos Rodon to their rotation A six-year, $162 million deal. After retaining Aaron Judge and Anthony Rizzo, the next major box checked by Brian Cashman’s front office this offseason was to add a big arm to the rotation, and he did.

The Yankees now have a five-man rotation that’s hugely upside, but always questionable. let’s start.

benefit: We’ve all seen it. Kerr, arguably the best pitcher in baseball, hasn’t (yet?) won a Cy Young Award. He finished second in the poll twice and finished in the top five four times. He twice led the majors in strikeouts and led the league in 2019 with a 2.50 ERA. He has the ability to lead his team to a dominant game any day he has the ball. It’s an ace, it’s easy.

question: As a dominant pitcher, why is he giving up so many home runs? He led the AL with 33 home runs last season. He has hit a home run in all three postseason starts and, in fact, has given up at least one home run in his last nine postseason starts since 2019. Long ball issues were the main reason for his inconsistent performance last season, with an overall pitching ERA of 3.50 (111+ ERA, his lowest since leaving Pittsburgh).

Carlos Rodon

benefit: Rodón has a 27-13 record in 55 starts over the past two seasons, a 2.67 ERA (157+ ERA), a 0.998 ERA, and 422 ERA in 310 2/3 innings Strikeouts, 87 surprise walks. On a pitching basis, he’s been one of the best and most dominant pitchers in baseball. He’s a lefty ace playing alongside righty Cole!

Oh, and here’s a nice stat: Cole was first in fourseam fastball whiff rate (minimum 1,000 pitches) last season and Rodón was second in all of baseball. The Yankees are hot.

question: Rodón is dealing with shoulder injuries in 2016 and 2021, with Tommy John surgery in between. That means he started 12, 20, 7 and 2 games respectively from 2017-20. 2021 looks to be his career year, but he has played just 23 innings in five starts since Aug. 7. As mentioned above, shoulder injuries are a problem. Even with 31 starts last season, he averaged just 5 2/3 innings per start, totaling 178 this season. That was the high point of his career.

Can he stay on the mound all season? If so, can he still go all out in the playoffs? Or will he wear out in October and falter when the Yankees need it most?

benefit: We just saw it! Nasty Nestor is one of the breakout stars of 2022, making the All-Star team and finishing eighth in AL Cy Young voting. He has the ability to double or even triple through the lineup like an ace. If he’s third in the playoff rotation, it’s reasonable to expect him to keep his form and even come out on top multiple times.

question: Is it repeatable?

Cortez has never been highly touted. The Yankees lost him in the Rule 5 draft to the Orioles, who then sent him back the following April. He was then traded to the Mariners for “future considerations,” became a minor league free agent and re-signed with the Yankees. He starts playing in the minors in 2021.

He was a full-time starter last year, but that was 28 starts and 158 1/3 innings. He also had a tough time in the middle of the season. It’s fine that he’s just a three and not seen as an ace, but there’s still some level of concern that 2022 will end up being an inconsistent season for the lefty.

benefit: The two-time All-Star finished third and ninth in Cy Young voting. Over those two seasons, he’s 33-14 with a 3.18 ERA (137+ ERA), 1.09 ERA, and 450 strikeouts in 384 2/3 innings . He had a lot of that upside last season, too, when he went 7-3 with a 3.18 ERA (123 ERA+), 1.00 WHIP and 112 strikeouts in 102 innings. On the mound, he looked like his old self.

question: Again, it stays on the mound. Those ace-level seasons were 2017-18. He started just three games in 2019, zero in 2020 and came off the bench in four games in 2021. Last year, he was absent from July 13 to September 21. Arm problems have held him back for much of his career, including shoulder issues and then Tommy John surgery, which has had several setbacks in his recovery. Last year, it was a lat strain.

When he pitches, he’s great. He also has zero 200-inning seasons, just two more than last season’s 102, most recently in 2018. One has to worry about getting him through the season and then, if he does, how well he’d run through a potentially deep playoff run.

benefit: Montas is the fifth player on this list to turn an ace, and he looks like a 2019 Cy Young candidate. In 16 starts, he’s 9-2 with a 2.63 ERA (164 ERA+), 1.12 WHIP and 103 strikeouts in 96 innings. In 2021, Montas ranks sixth in AL Cy Young voting with a strong all-around season (3.37 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 207 K, 187 IP, 3.6 WAR). Last year, before he was traded to the Yankees, he posted a 3.18 ERA with 109 strikeouts in 104 2/3 innings.

question: That 2019 season mentioned above? Yes, it stopped abruptly because he was suspended for violating the PED. He hasn’t had a great year in 2020.

In eight starts for the Yankees, after the trade, he posted a 6.35 ERA last season. That’s just 6 2/3 innings, but he has a brutal 9.45 playoff ERA.

At least here, we’re dealing with inconsistency, coupled with a shoulder injury from last season.

When he’s good, he’s great, but the track record is riddled with land mines. Which version will the 2023 Yankees get for most of the season? What about when it matters most?

All told, the Yankees’ rotation is capable and, when things are buzzing in the skies, looks like five aces. It’s also not hard to see them have multiple rotation players on the injured list while at least one other player is struggling to keep the run. It could be a rollercoaster season for this team. Most coasters are fun, though, and there’s enough upside here to believe this will be one of the best rotations in baseball.

The Yankees haven’t won the AL pennant since 2009, which is a long time for this franchise. They’ve made it to the ALCS three times over the past six seasons and have been eliminated by the Houston Astros all three times. The defending World Series champions will have a very strong rotation next season, but they did lose Cy Young champion Justin Verlander to free agency, while the Yankees brought in someone who could push the Cy Young award. Their goal now is to topple their arch-nemesis and eventually return to the World Series. They have the advantage of rotations to get the job done, but they need to answer a lot of questions along the way.

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