How Can the Yankees Replace Carlos Rodón After Left-Hander Sustained Forearm Strain

The injury hits just keep on coming for the New York Yankees. Weeks after Frankie Montas went under the knife, marquee free agent acquisition Carlos Rodón will miss the start of the 2023 season with a forearm strain. It’s a very tough blow for the Yankees, who now need to stretch its starter depth a little bit more entering the year.

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A Look at Rodón

New Yankees LHP Carlos Rodón has been relatively healthy over the past two seasons. Sure, that doesn’t mean that the star lefty didn’t land on the IL at any point between 2021-22 — in fact, Rodón did spend time on it for brief periods in both seasons. Still, the left-hander had been free of any significant injury, a big positive considering an history that includes a sprained left wrist, biceps bursitis, shoulder inflammation, and Tommy John surgery.

In the market for an ace to add to its deep rotation, the Yankees added Rodón in the winter on a six-year deal. It was a hefty deal, but one earned. Very few in the game can overpower hitters with a devastating slider, to go along with an elite fastball that’s very tough to pick up from Rodón’s hands. But, the durability issue now has come to bite back.

Per Yankees GM Brian Cashman, Rodón sustained a forearm strain that will keep him out for at least the start of the season. This marks yet another loss to the Yankees rotation, as RHP Frankie Montas will miss a good chunk of 2023 after shoulder surgery. Obviously, the health of Rodón is a big concern. His arm is going to be tough to replace, but the Yanks do have an immediate option to fill in.

What it Means

RHP Domingo German looked to be the favorite to replace the aforementioned Frankie Montas in the rotation. Now, it’s all but a lock that German will be a part of the Yankees five to start the 2023 campaign. While the Yankees don’t benefit whatsoever from Rodón’s injury, Clarke Schmidt does.

The 27-year-old is a former first round pick by the Yankees, and has spent parts of three seasons in the Majors with New York. Schmidt bounced up and down the Minors and alternate camps from 2020-21, but found himself a nice bullpen role with the Yankees in 2022. Across 29 starts (2 GS), Schmidt posted a 3.12 ERA and struck out 56 over 57.2 IP.

A starter by trade, Schmidt does posses four pitches — a slider, fastball, curveball, and a change that he rarely used in 2022. Schmidt relied heavily on his fastball and slider, the latter of which is arguably his best offering. It’s a pitch that differs in speed by about 9 MPH as compared to his heater and had a 41.0% Whiff% rate. Schmidt’s slider can be used as an effective weapon to either get right-handers chasing, or as a paint pitch that can be very difficult to pick up.

Schmidt only has five MLB starts to his name thus far, and a mixed track record in those outings. Just last season, the former South Carolina Gamecock star posted three scoreless innings in a June start against the Rays. On the other hand, he got knocked around by the A’s in a late August that saw him go 4.1 IP (8 H, 4 ER).

As things stand right now, a Yankees rotation of Gerrit Cole, Luis Severino, Domingo German, Clark Schmidt, and Nestor Cortes — who’s coming off a hamstring injury — seems to be the likeliest scenario. But as we mentioned back in February, several of the Yankees’ arms have an injury history that’s a concern heading into 2023. One of those pitchers was Rodón, who’s now out for at least the start of the year.

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