Take out the negativity of the Yankees’ offense spending another nine innings flailing and it wasn’t too bad a night for Carlos Rodon.
Making his debut in pinstripes, the left-hander, who signed a $162 million contract with the Yankees this past offseason, returned from a series of injuries to throw 5 ¹/₃ innings, allowing two runs on four hits in what became a 3-0 loss to the Cubs.
Rodon, last year’s NL ERA leader, sounded frustrated about the loss. Everyone else sounded optimistic — at least about Rodon, if not the woeful hitting.
“It was OK,” Rodon said of his outing. “Good fastball, but they were swinging early, they made some swings. Made me work a little in the game. Wish it was a little better for me.”
Throwing just 69 pitches, Rodon retired the first six batters he faced and deployed a fastball-heavy mix all night, with 53 four-seamers, 12 sliders and just two changeups and curveballs, per Statcast.
That worked fine for most of the night, though Rodon’s biggest mistake came when Cody Bellinger sat on a 1-0 fastball to open the third inning and homered into the second deck in right field.
The other run he allowed came in the fifth, when Rodon walked two batters before Nico Hoerner singled in Trey Mancini.
“I thought Carlos was really good,” manager Aaron Boone said. “They came in with a game plan and really selling out to that heater and how it plays and stuff. They were aggressive to it, took some good swings, but I thought because he had the life there and was executing at the top of the zone, thought he was really good. Really pitch-efficient.”
Rodon, for his part, seemed to focus more on what he lacked: the win, and his secondary pitches.
“[The fastball velocity] was good, I just wish I had the secondary stuff working a little better, but that’s something to work on for this upcoming start,” he said. “In between work, throw more breaking balls, get them in the zone so I don’t have to rely on the fastball so much.”
Rodon said he wasn’t sure what the pitch count would be for his next start, which will come after the All-Star break. Prior to Friday, he had made three rehab starts, totaling 10 ²/₃ innings before the Yankees were ready to put him in a game.
“I wanna go out every time I step on the mound and put my team in a winning position,” Rodon said. “Sometimes I get a little amped up, a little bit different outside the lines but as soon as I step inside those lines, it’s one of those refuse-to-lose attitudes.”
That didn’t quite happen Friday, albeit through little fault of his own.
But if little else went right, Rodon’s performance certainly cleared the bar.