Yankees Thoughts: Carlos Rodon, Offense Remain on Roll

The Yankees won their seventh straight game and improved to 5-0 on the season against the Twins with a 9-5 win at the Stadium.

Here are 10 thoughts on the Yankees.

1. Carlos Rodon was a disaster in his first season with the Yankees. He got hurt in spring training, made comments about how if it were the postseason he would be pitching, missed the first half of the season, was horrible in nearly every start, blew a kiss to heckling fans in Anaheim, turned his back on Matt Blake during a mound visit, and in his last start of the season, allowed eight earned runs without recording an out.

The more and more Aaron Boone was asked about Rodon during this past winter and the more he has been asked about him this season, the more Boone lets on that Rodon was out of shape and not completely focused on his job despite signing a $162 million contract. He said as much again on Wednesday.

2. “It started in the winter, carried into spring training, carried into game day and the days he is not starting,” Boone said about Rodon’s focus this season. “And [he] focuses on getting ready to go out and pitch, and the results have been good.”

The results have been good, even great at times. Rodon carried a perfect game into the sixth inning on Wednesday against the Twins, and the Yankees won 9-5.

3. “I had a little feeling in my stomach from the start that he was on a roll,” Austin Wells said. “I didn’t think there were many hitters in baseball that could hit him tonight.”

Rodon has given the Yankees six straight quality starts dating back to May 8, and the Yankees are 6-0 in those games.

4. “All I want to do is win,” Rodon said. “I want to perform for my teammates. I don’t want to let my teammates down.”

All Rodon did last season was lose, not perform for his teammates and let everyone down. He has been a completely different pitcher in Year 2 with the Yankees, both with his performance and his comments.

5. I finished the Yankees Thoughts after the series opener by writing:

10. Tuesday was a relaxed, rather easy win, which is how Gil starts go. Wednesday has the potential to be the same if Carlos Rodon is as good against the Twins as he was three weeks ago (6.1 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 6 K, 1 HR), or if the Yankees offense hits Chris Paddack the way they did in that same game Rodon started (5 IP, 12 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 2 BB, 4 K, 1 HR). Fourteen baserunners in five innings? I’ll sign up for that again.

Rodon was just about as good again (6 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 9 K, 1 HR), and Paddack was just about as bad again (4 IP, 6 H, 7 R, 7 ER, 2 BB, 7 K). The Yankees tagged Paddack with four runs in the first, and another three in a four-run fifth.

“Not the outing that I wanted, especially at Yankee Stadium,” Paddack said. “These are big moments you dream about as a kid. I’ve come here twice now, and it hasn’t been great.”

It’s OK, Chris. It hasn’t been great for nearly every Twins pitcher who has come to Yankee Stadium over the last two-plus decades. Paddack’s final line in two starts against the 2024 Yankees: 9 IP, 18 H, 12 R, 12 ER, 4 BB, 11 K, 1 HR.

6. Aaron Judge led the offense with a five-RBI night thanks to a bases-loaded-turned-bases-clearing triple in the fifth. Anthony Volpe had three hits, Giancarlo Stanton had two and the Yankees scored nine runs without hitting a home run. Even Gleyber Torres and Anthony Rizzo had doubles in the game. (Torres thought the ball he hit for a double was going foul and didn’t initially run out of the box, and Rizzo’s double was his second since May 11.)

7. I expect the Yankees to announce Dennis Santana has been designated for assignment prior to Thursday’s game.

Here is what I wrote about Santana on Monday:

Michael Tonkin isn’t good, but Tonkin boasts a 4.24 ERA in 250 1/3 career innings and has a 3.00 ERA in 24 innings this season (and a 1.20 ERA in 15 innings for the Yankees). Tonkin can’t be trusted, and he’s treated as such, only pitching in games the Yankees are losing or winning by five-plus runs. Meanwhile, Santana, with a much worse career and in the middle of a much worse season is treated like a middle relief weapon, when he’s only a weapon for the opponent.

Santana serves no purpose on this team. He’s not good enough to pitch in high-leverage situations (again, he has a 5.68 ERA), he can’t get a strikeout in a big spot (5.7 strikeouts per nine innings), he can’t be asked to hold a small deficit (like Sunday against the Giants) and he can’t be trusted to close out a blowout (like Wednesday against the Twins). It’s rather crazy he has been able to pitch in the majors every year since 2018 for four different teams despite posting a 5.25 ERA and 1.400 WHIP over 175 innings. As long as he’s on the team, Boone will find ways to use him. And as long as he’s used, he will either be the reason for losses, ruin the odds of comebacks or force the “A” relievers into games because he can’t even mop up.

9. The Orioles got walked off in the bottom of the ninth in Toronto thanks to a Craig Kimbrel meltdown, so the Yankees’ lead in the AL East is now 3 1/2 games. It’s an oddly-constructed 3 1/2 games (five up in the win column and two up in the loss column) since the Yankees have played three more games than the Orioles. The Yankees have a 2 1/2-game lead over the Guardians for the best record in the American League.

10. The Yankees have an opportunity to win an eighth straight game on Thursday in the season finale against the Twins. Pablo Lopez gets the ball for the Twins as they try to avoid a season sweep, and in his last start against the Yankees on May 15, the Yankees knocked him around for 10 hits in a 4-0 win. Marcus Stroman opposes Lopez like he did on May 15, and in that one, Stroman pitched six shutout innings. The second Rodon-Paddack matchup played out the same way the first one did, so here’s to the second Stroman-Lopez matchup playing out the same way the first one did.