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After missing the first half of the season with a back injury, pitcher Carlos Rodon will make his debut with the New York Yankees Friday night. The team hosts the Chicago Cubs at Yankee Stadium in the Bronx.
Rodon will take the mound in game #89 of the season. It’s been a long-awaited debut for the lefty veteran.
The Yankees are a -175 moneyline favorite against the Cubs, who will send ex-Yankees pitcher Jameson Tallion to the mound.
In the off-season, the Yankees inked the 30-year-old Rodon to a six-year contract worth $162 million as their top free-agent pitching acquisition. The Yankees signed Rodon under the assumption he could shoulder the burden as the #2 pitcher in the rotation behind ace Gerrit Cole.
He’s one of the premier starting pitchers in both the American and National Leagues over the last two years, and that’s always a welcomed addition when you’re trying to climb the mountain and become a world champion,” general manager Brian Cashman told reporters at Rodon’s first press conference.
Based on how much the Yankees were paying Rodon, they expected he would log at least 16 starts with a projected 8-4 record through the midpoint of the season. Instead, Rodon hasn’t thrown a single pitch for the Yankees while he battled a forearm injury and back pain.
10-Day IL Stint Snowballs into 4-Month Disaster
Rodon felt something unusual in his left forearm during his only start in spring training in March. The Yankees diagnosed it as a strained forearm, and they shut him down for a week to 10 days as a precaution.
At the time of the forearm injury, Rodon indicated that he could have pitched through the discomfort. The Yankees expected Rodon would miss a couple of weeks of spring training, but would return in early April.
Rodon thought he’d miss only a couple of starts at the beginning of the season, but ran into a setback in his rehab when he experienced back pain during workouts. An MRI didn’t reveal anything, but Rodon cited a chronic back injury that caused him pain in the past.
Rodon had a cortisone shot in early May, but his debut was postponed indefinitely by the lingering back injury.
The shots definitely helped my back,” said Rodon. “I haven’t felt anything since then.”
Rodon recently made a rehab start with the High-A Hudson Valley Renegades, where he tossed 3.2 scoreless innings.
“It was good,” said Rodon. “Got to work on some fastballs, and also got some good slider practice.”
Rodon will finally make his first start of the season, two months after a first cortisone shot, and four months after his initial stint on the IL.
Yankees Rotation Lacking Stability
The Yankees thought they had an abundance of starters when they began spring training. That’s before they caught a tidal wave of bad luck. They sent multiple starters to the IL before spring training ended.
Veteran Frankie Montas underwent shoulder surgery and could return in September, but most likely will miss the entire season. Luis Severino, Nestor Cortes, and Rodon were also on the IL on Opening Day.
Cole pitched like an ace in the first half of the season and earned a sixth trip to the All-Star Game. In 18 starts, Cole posted an 8-2 record with a 2.79 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, and 118 strikeouts.
No other starter has more than five wins. Left-handed Cortes is 5-2 in 11 starts, but he hasn’t pitched since late May. Cortes headed to the IL with a rotator cuff strain in early June.
Domingo German is 5-5 in 16 starts, but he’s had a tumultuous season. German hit a low point when he was suspended for 10 games for using an illegal substance. He bounced back with a historic high point in June when he pitched the 24th perfect game in MLB history.
Severino began the season on the IL with a strained lat, and has struggled since his return with a 1-4 record in nine starts.
Clarke Schmidt took over Rodon’s spot in the rotation, but he’s 4-6 with a 4.43 ERA and 1.40 HIP.
Rookie Jhony Brito started 12 games this season. The 25-year-old righty from the Dominican Republic did a decent job with a 4-4 record.
As if the Yankees needed any more drama, MLB suspended relief pitcher Jimmy Cordero for the rest of the season after he violated the league’s domestic abuse policy.
Banged-Up Yanks at 48-40
The Yankees also sent several position players to the IL this season. Right fielder Aaron Judge is at the top of the list. Last season’s AL MVP tore ligaments in his big toe when he crashed into the outfield wall at Dodger Stadium in early June. Judge is out indefinitely and won’t undergo surgery. He’s not expected back in the lineup any time soon.
Slugger and DH Giancarlo Stanton spent a lengthy stint on the IL with a hamstring injury. Stanton appeared in only 38 games this season and missed 50.
Third baseman Josh Donaldson missed 60 games with a hamstring injury. Centerfielder Harrison Bader missed 48 games with an oblique injury.
Even first baseman Anthony Rizzo is dinged up. He’s battling a neck injury after a recent collision, but didn’t spend any time on the IL.
Despite numerous injuries to their pitching staff and position players, the Yankees are 48-40, and eight games above .500.
61% Chance at Playoffs
If the season ended today, the Yankees would secure the third and final wild-card spot in the AL. Five teams are on the bubble and within 4.5 games of the Yankees.
FanGraphs estimates the Yankees have a 61.3% chance to reach the playoffs, with a 55.8% chance to win a wild-card spot and a 5.4% chance to win the division.
The Yankees are -215 odds to reach the playoffs, according to a prop bet from DraftKings. You can fade the Yankees at +180 odds to miss the postseason.
The Yankees are tied for third place in the AL East with the Toronto Blue Jays. They trail the Tampa Bay Rays by eight games, and find themselves four games behind the Baltimore Orioles. The Boston Red Sox are in last place in the division, but just three games behind the Yankees and Orioles.
The Rays are the consensus favorite to win the AL East at -330 odds. The Yankees are second on the board at +800 odds to win the division, followed by the Orioles (+850), Blue Jays (+900), and Red Sox (+7000).
The Yankees are +1400 odds to win the 2023 World Series as the sixth-highest team on DraftKings’ MLB futures. FanGraphs recently updated their championship projections, and the Yankees are only a 3.6% chance to win the World Series.
In AL pennant futures, the Yankees are fourth on the board at +700 odds. They trail the Rays (+250), Astros (+380), and Rangers (+600). The Yankees haven’t won a pennant since 2009, which also marks the last time the Bronx Bombers won the World Series.
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