The Yankees have been without one of their top offseason signees all season. Carlos Rodón started the year on the injured list with a forearm strain, and while he’s put that issue behind him, back soreness has kept him out of action. There’s still plenty of uncertainty around the two-time All-Star’s timetable, as Rodón provided a concerning update this evening.
Rodón told the Yankees’ beat doctors informed him that his back issue is “chronic” (via Bryan Hoch of MLB.com). He didn’t provide much more clarity, although he’ll receive a cortisone injection early next week. There’s no present target date for a return to the mound, as Rodón noted “whenever my body tells me I can throw and everyone agrees that I can throw, then I’ll start throwing” (link via Brendan Kuty of the Athletic).
It’s obviously a worrisome situation for the Yankees due both to its short and long-term implications. New York envisioned Rodón slotting in as co-ace alongside Gerrit Cole when signing him to a six-year, $162MM free agent deal. It was the second-largest pitching contract of the offseason, a reflection of the southpaw’s 2.67 ERA and 33.9% strikeout rate over the past two seasons.
Injuries have instead taken out the bulk of what the Yankees had planned as their season-opening starting staff. Frankie Montas is going to miss the majority of the season after undergoing shoulder surgery. Luis Severino has yet to make his debut because of a lat strain. Those issues have pushed Jhony Brito, Clarke Schmidt and Domingo Germán into the rotation behind Cole and Nestor Cortes.
New York’s rotation has still been solid overall. They rank 11th in ERA (4.07) and third in strikeout percentage (26%). That’s almost all attributable to Cole, though. He’s off to a Cy Young caliber start, allowing only 1.35 earned runs per nine while fanning 29.4% of opposing hitters. Cortes, Germán and Schmidt are all missing bats at above-average rates but have been victimized by the home run ball, resulting in ERAs pushing or north of 5.00. Brito has had an up-and-down rookie season.
The Yankees have started the year 17-15. That’s a respectable showing given the number of injuries they’ve faced but has them at the bottom of an ultra-competitive AL East. Rotation help figures to be among the priorities for general manager Brian Cashman and his front office once the summer trade market begins to heat up. That’d be particularly true if Rodón’s health outlook is still uncertain as the deadline gets closer.