Carlos Rodón pitches 5 1/3 innings and falls in Yankees debut after back injury

Carlos Rodón made his New York Yankees debut on Friday after three long months, but the wait for his first win will continue.

The Yankees’ first free agent acquisition last offseason pitched 5 1/3 innings with four hits, two runs (both earned), two walks and two strikeouts on 69 pitches, taking the loss against the Chicago Cubs. He received a hearty ovation as he was struck out in the sixth inning:

Rodón left plenty of room for hope for improvement as he takes more turns in the rotation, and it’s not like he was responsible for shutting the Yankees out in a 3-0 loss. His slider has been his signature for years — he threw it 31.1 percent of the time last season — but he used it just 12 times (17.4 percent) against the Cubs, according to Baseball Savant.

The costliest pitch was an inside fastball in the third inning, which Cody Bellinger threw into the second deck:

The Yankees signed Rodón to a six-year, $162 million deal in free agency last winter after a stellar season in which the southpaw posted a 2.88 ERA, the NL’s best FIP ​​of 2.25. , a 1,082 WHIP and 237 strikeouts in 178 innings for the Giants, earning him a second straight All-Star nod and a ninth-place finish in NL Cy Young voting.

The hit on Rodón, however, was a long history of injuries, and it didn’t take long for the Yankees to come up against that with the 30-year-old. He was sidelined in spring training this season with a strained forearm before the back issue surfaced in April. It was reported in May that Rodón’s timeline would be pushed back indefinitely due to a “chronic” back problem.

He eventually began a rehab assignment on June 20 and made three minor league starts before getting the nod.

New York Yankees' Carlos Rodon throws in the first inning of a baseball game against the Chicago Cubs, Friday, July 7, 2023, in New York City.  (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

Carlos Rodón’s throw is a sight Yankees fans have been waiting for. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

Rodón isn’t the only injury for the Yankees, who are still without Aaron Judge, Nestor Cortes, Jonathan Loáisiga and more, but his situation was emblematic of the team’s early season woes. The team now sits 48-41, eight games behind the Rays in the AL East and one game behind the last AL wildcard spot.

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