Is Carlos Rodon Back?

The former ace has been stellar so far in 2024 — will it continue?

Carlos Rodón, the 32-year-old former ace with the Giants and White Sox, had a less-than-ideal start to his Yankees career in 2023. While also being placed on the injury list twice throughout the season, Rodón posted a 6.85 ERA and 5.79 FIP over 64.1 innings when healthy.

Two years prior, Rodón emerged as an ace with the White Sox, and then again the following season with the Giants, generating a 2.67 ERA and 2.42 FIP over the 375.0 inning span. Rodón was an all-star and finished top six in Cy Young award voting both seasons.

Rodón enters 2024 with a lot to prove; his expectations were already sky-high after earning a 6-year, $162 million deal with the Yankees in the 2022-2023 offseason. The 2023 season left all the pressure on Rodón to perform in 2024 and earn his deal, and he has seemingly been off to the right start.

Through seven starts, Rodón has a 3.68 ERA and 4.79 FIP. While not up to the lofty standards set in his 2021-2022 seasons, it has certainly been a step in the right direction. Until his May 2nd start against the Orioles, Rodón even had a 2.48 ERA/3.98 FIP.

The jump in performance has led many to assume Rodón is at least partially back to his former self. As his raised FIP may point out, I don’t believe that is the case yet — still, this may not be a terrible thing.

On the Surface

Looking at Rodón’s results so far, it is clear things have changed from his prime. His strikeouts are down, home runs and walks are up, and far more batters are reaching base. This has caused Rodón’s FIP to stay high, and within a point of his disastrous 2023 season despite his ERA being cut nearly in half.

Still, Rodón has gotten good results so far, even against solid teams.

Data via Baseball Savant (dotted circle = league average)

Rodón’s bread-and-butter had always been his four-seam/slider combo, as both generated elite results through his 2021 and 2022 seasons. In 2023, it wasn’t the case.

Rodón’s four-seam dropped results-wise, and while his slider kept up its solid results, the lack of command and slight dropoff in stuff across the board led Rodón’s numbers to be as bad as they were. His changeup and curveball were still thrown occasionally, but another pitch to be used consistently was needed in order to continue developing as he aged/dealt with injuries.

Enter his cutter; Rodón introduced a cutter during 2024 spring training, which has been a consistent weapon thus far in the season. While inducing fairly league-average results, his cutter seems to have improved his other pitches, potentially as a product of it being used as frequently as it is.

Cutters rarely generate whiffs, which is no exception for Rodón. Instead, they are often used to induce weak contact or ground balls, which has mostly been the case.

Rodón’s changeup and curveball have also been sneaky good this year, generating solid results.

Under the Hood

Since the season has only been underway for about a month, Rodón’s results will likely look quite different by the end of the year. Because of this, looking at his pitch shapes and the approach Rodón has taken to use them could provide more clarity for how Rodón will finish the year.

Since his four-seamer, slider, and cutter have been used around 90% of the time this year, I’ll be looking at those specifically. Still, his changeup and curveball are important to his continued success, and will likely continue seeing spotty usage throughout the season.


One of the best pitches in MLB from 2021-2022, Rodón’s four-seamer is special. Stuff-wise, it was well above average by PLV in 2021 and 2022 but dropped closer to average in 2023. In 2024, it is back to a solid 5.28 PLV, thanks to a boost in command and horizontal break. The shape most closely resembles his 2021 season with the White Sox, his best statistical season yet, although its results were much better than in 2024.

Rodón’s strikeouts on the four-seamer have been way down since 2022. In 2021, it had a putaway rate in two-strike counts of 25.5% — it has dropped to less than half of that in 2024, despite still being thrown in similar counts. Command could be attributed to this, as it hasn’t been located above the zone as frequently in the past, although there may be a simpler explanation.

Rodón had just emerged with his electric stuff in 2021 — before then, he simply didn’t have the same fastball he emerged with in 2021. In 2022, Rodón got similar results, but it could have partially been the result of switching leagues with the Giants. Hitters were still relatively getting used to Rodón’s stuff, and as they adjusted into the next season, he was with the Yankees and coming off of various injuries.

Since then, hitters have chased his fastball less, and while its shape was slightly worse in 2023, hitters crushed it when in the zone and rarely chased out of it. To get back to solid results, Rodón needs to embrace his secondaries to allow his excellent fastball to get results when needed.


Rodón’s slider being solid has always been a key to his success, and it has been as much as ever in 2024. After seeing a similar decline in stuff to his fastball in 2023, his slider has looked better than ever in 2024.

Still, the results have been lacking. It has induced an elite average exit velocity of 83.3 mph, and while a BABIP of .381 is weirdly high, its xBABIP is only .266, suggesting some positive regression in his results could be coming in the future.

It saw about a 100 RPM uptick in spin rate, one tick up in velocity and slightly less horizontal break than in his best years. Even though it is hit in the air somewhat frequently, its weak exit velocities allow it to be one of his best pitches and should see an increase in performance over the course of the full season.


A new pitch, Rodón’s cutter has been a surprisingly excellent addition to his arsenal, as it has induced solid contact results and given Rodón a new shape to attack hitters with. While its command has been extremely spotty, it has induced lots of ground balls despite its frequent location at the top of the zone.

Like Yankees teammate Gerrit Cole, an introduction of a cutter was likely with the intention to give hitters another shape instead of exclusively looking for a four-seamer or slider. Still, Cole saw some growing pains with the cutter, and it took a full year for him to truly feel comfortable locating the pitch. While Rodón has seen decent results from the pitch, there’s a good chance hitters will adjust to it down the stretch of the year until his command improves.

Will it Work?

Going from what seems to be a two-pitch to a three-pitch arm is the simple answer for a good adjustment by Rodón, but it likely won’t be as simple as that in the future.

Rodón’s best start of the year thus far, on April 27th against the Brewers, saw a different approach. Rodón rarely went to the cutter and instead focused on his four-seam and slider, with a few changeups, cutters, and curveballs along the way. His best two pitches were on that day, and while he tossed his other pitches about 20% of the time, they rarely went for strikes.

To return to his prime form, Rodón needs his four-seamer and slider to be excellent. In the past, this came frequently, but for Rodón to have both command and velocity under control, it seems things need to line up well. Rodón went almost exclusively four-seam/slider against the Orioles in his next start and allowed three long balls in his worst start of the season.

The good news is this is the start of the year. Rodón could just be getting fully stretched out, and a May 8th start against the Astros is an excellent test to see if he can get his cards in order. Rodón gets a Brewers-like final line and sees his four-seam and slider excel? That’s great news. But if strikeouts aren’t as frequent, he relies on his cutter/changeup more often, and still gets solid results? That’s not bad either.

As Rodón gets older, like Cole, his elite fastball will not be around every start. The ability to go to his secondaries and work around damage is the key to staying efficient towards the end of a power pitcher’s career.

Look at CC Sabathia — another former Yankees ace who saw his stuff diminish as he aged. Despite losing the zip on his fastball and the 230+ inning seasons, Sabathia got solid results down the stretch of his career. For Rodón to truly earn the Yankees pinstripes, he would likely follow a similar path as the Yankees legend.

In the present, however, Rodón is still somewhat of an unknown. Could the elite four-seam/slider from 2021-2022 come back consistently? Sure. Will it? Who knows. In the meantime, Rodón can still give the Yankees solid results, and help lead their rotation to a bounce-back campaign in 2024.

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