Yankees Rotation Falling Apart After Carlos Rodon Injury

New York Yankees Spring Training
New York Yankees Spring Training / New York Yankees/GettyImages

The New York Yankees took another major hit to their rotation on Thursday, as big free agent signing Carlos Rodon was placed in the injured list. Rodon will miss the beginning of the season due to a forearm strain and is now the second Yankees starter to suffer a significant injury this spring. A rotation that looked like one of MLB's best is suddenly vulnerable.

The Yankees offered Rodon a six-year, $162 million contract this offseason despite a lengthy injury history. In four seasons from 2017 though 2020, Rodon only made 41 starts due to various maladies. Handing him a six-year deal was a huge gamble for the Yankees. And he's not the only injury issue in the rotation.

The Yankees made a big deal at the 2022 trade deadline to acquire Frankie Montas from the Oakland A's. He was supposed to be a top-of-the-rotation piece for both 2022 and 2023 before hitting free agency. He made eight starts after joining the Yankees last season, going 1-2 with a 6.35 ERA. More was expected in 2023 but now a shoulder injury could force him to miss most of the season.

Montas had surgery to repair the labrum in his pitching shoulder in late February and won't begin throwing for at least 12 weeks. While the 29-year-old says he'll pitch this season, there is really no telling what's going to happen and he will certainly miss most of the year.

As if those injuries aren't enough, 2022 breakout star Nestor Cortes has been sideline through spring training so far thanks to a hamstring injury. While he's expected back soon, Cortes has been missing valuable ramp-up time leading into the season.

As of now, to open the season the Yankees' rotation will feature Gerrit Cole as its ace, following by Cortes. After that, Luis Severino and Domingo German are solidly in the rotation, with Clarke Schmidt likely taking the final spot. Those back-end guys have issues of their own.

Severino has only made 26 appearances since the end of the 2018 season. He had shoulder issues and a lat strain in 2019 that limited him to three starts, then missed the entire 2020 season after Tommy John surgery. He made four relief appearances in 2021 after recovering from elbow surgery then also suffering a groin injury. In 2022 he was back but only made 19 starts, going 7-3 with a 3.18 ERA.

German's issues could fill an entire article on their own (a domestic violence incident that let to an 81-game suspension), so we'll focus on his health here. In 2022 he was limited to 14 starts (15 appearances) due to shoulder impingement syndrome. He also underwent Tommy John surgery in 2015. He's never made a full season's worth of starts.

Last but not least, Schmidt missed most of 2021 due to an elbow strain. He made 29 appearances in 2022 but only three starts. The 27-year-old has yet to pitch a full season as a starter at the big league level.

All this is to say, the Yankees are relying on a lot of guys with spotty injury histories to fill in for the guys they're missing ... who also have spotty injury histories. If everyone miraculously finds a way to get and stay healthy, New York will almost certainly have an imposing starting rotation. But the odds of that happening are virtually non-existent.