Reacting to the Yankees landing Carlos Rodon
The New York Yankees landed the big fish last night, signing Carlos Rodon to a six-year, $162 million dollar deal with a no trade clause. Over the last two years, Rodon is 27-13 with a 2.67 ERA and just led baseball in strikeouts per nine. He's been elite.
So that's it y'all, right? We might as well not even play the 2023 season. Just hand the Yankees the trophy. Who can possibly beat them? They're going to win 120 games again, aren't they?
You'll have to forgive the hyperbole. It's all that's being thrown our way. According to Jim Bowden of The Athletic, Houston is now in trouble.
According to Bowden, Houston has a problem.
Carlos Rodon is a great pitcher--this much is true. What is also true is that he takes the ball every fifth day and has some serious durability concerns. Beyond Rodon, New York is mostly running back the same team and has now committed long-term money to two players, each with a history of injury. What is even more true is New York is not only running back the same team, but they're running back the same team that got SWEPT by the Astros two months ago. Have we all lost our minds?
Rodon is fantastic, and if he remains healthy, I have no doubt he will perform in October. But let's say he starts Game two and throws a perfect game. Legitimately could not perform better. That is ONE game. They've still got to win three others. Looking at recent history, that proves to be quite a task.
With Rodon added to the mix, the Yankee rotation projects to be Gerrit Cole, Rodon, Nestor Cortes, Luis Severino and Frankie Montas. Looks like a formidable rotation. But let's do just the slightest bit of digging beyond the surface.
What do Game 2 and Game 6 of the 2017 ALCS, Game 3 of the 2019 ALCS, Game 4 of the 2020 ALDS, Game 4 of the 2021 ALDS and Games 1, 3 and 4 of the 2022 ALCS have in common?
They were all started by this Yankee rotation.
What else do these nine games have in common?
Houston won all nine of them. 9-0. Nine wins. Zero losses.
Last I checked, Rodon pitches. He can't hit. The Yankees are still running back the same futile offense that cannot score and produces prodigious swing and miss numbers. The Astros meanwhile are bringing back much of their core, but have upgraded their lineup massively.
Houston signed Jose Abreu this offseason to replace Yuli Gurriel. Let's do a quick comparison for reference. Last season Gurriel hit .242 with a well below league average .647 OPS. He was good for -0.3 bWAR.
Abreu hit .305 with an .824 OPS and produced 4.2 bWAR. Now that is an upgrade that will matter.
Since Rodon is left-handed, we must take a look at their left-handed splits. Against lefties, Gurriel hit .265 with a .740 OPS. That's respectable. Meanwhile, Abreu hit .294 with an .858 OPS.
The Astros have already addressed areas of need. It's also safe to assume that one of the best playoff performers in history in Jose Altuve won't carry a .528 OPS with only three hits and zero home runs next time these two teams square off.
We'd be naive, biased and ignorant to say Rodon doesn't help the Yankees. But let's not act like he closed what was a cavernous gap between the two teams. Maybe they win a game he starts. Maybe they win both. But Houston is 4-0 against the Yankees in October series and they're 9-0 in games started by this New York rotation. The Astros may very well have a problem, but it's not the Yankees landing Rodon.
So what is it? Is it what Seattle is building in their own division? That's possible. Maybe it's what Baltimore will be as they continue to bring up top prospects? That could be the case. Could it even be that the Astros inevitably get bored squaring off against their petulant little brothers and one day overlook New York?
Oh, I know what it is. After the Astros inevitably send New York packing again this October, they'll win their fifth pennant. If you win a pennant, you get a ring. With a fifth pennant, they're our of fingers for League Championship and World Series rings.
Jim, you're right, Houston does have a problem. Problem is...they're just too good.