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It’s Way Too Early to Hit the Panic Button

It’s Way Too Early to Hit the Panic Button on Yankee Starters’ Spring Training Results

By Derek McAdam

February 28, 2024


After an eventful off-season in which the New York Yankees made a blockbuster trade for Juan Soto and also added Alex Verdugo and Marcus Stroman, Spring Training has finally arrived, and Yankee fans have already had the privilege of seeing all three in action. The Yankees, who are still reportedly interested in signing NL Cy Young Award winner Blake Snell, are also banking on rebounds from a couple other starters, including Carlos Rodon and Nestor Cortes Jr.

While Stroman, Rodon and Cortes have all made their first starts of Spring Training, none of them delivered perfect 2024 debuts. On Sunday, Rodon pitched 2.2 IP, gave up one hit and one run, walked two and struck out five. He also threw 48 pitches, 29 of which were strikes. In the other Sunday game, Stroman went 2.1 innings, gave up four hits and two earned runs, while walking one and striking out two. He was able to throw 52 pitches, 31 of which were strikes.

On Monday, Cortes took the mound for the Yankees. He went 2.2 innings, giving up seven hits and two earned runs, while striking out four on 48 pitches, 35 of which were strikes. In terms of 2024 debut performances from these three pitchers, Cortes had the worst start, especially with the seven hits, but he was satisfied with how he pitched. Stroman had a slightly better start than Cortes, but Rodon definitely got off to a better than the other two.

However, Yankee fans should not yet panic on the starts of any of these three pitchers, for several reasons. It’s also not to say that the entire fanbase is chomping at the bit to criticize these players, but I have seen some discouraging comments on social media, which comes as no surprise.

First, and foremost, it’s the first appearance of Spring Training. It doesn’t matter how early these pitchers arrived in Tampa or how much work they’ve put in during live batting practices. Pitching in an actual game setting is an entirely different feel, even if it is just a Spring Training game.

Also, each of these pitcher’s pitch count was right around 50 pitches. Of course, no one is going to throw a complete game in the beginning of Spring Training, so it wasn’t expected that any of these guys were going to throw more than three innings. However, I would like to see them go for 60-65 pitches next start, although I know this is something that is out of their hands and a decision that Aaron Boone will ultimately make.

Another encouraging sign for the Yankees, and another reason why I’m not too worried about his first start, is that Cortes has said that his shoulder injury seems to be a thing of the past. Cortes said that he has not felt any aching in his shoulder for at least a month and credits the Yankee training staff for helping him through this ailment. This is extremely positive news for the Yankees, especially since there are big question marks surrounding the No. 2-5 starters in the rotation.

While looking at Cortes’ box score, it surely did not seem as if he had a great start. However, Cortes said post-game that he was hitting the locations he wanted and the shoulder felt good. If it was the regular season, I wouldn’t be so thrilled with that answer. However, it’s Spring Training. He has to work his way back somehow, so now is the perfect time.

As for Rodon, I actually think his first start was very encouraging. The one run, and hit, he gave up was a solo home run to Alejandro Kirk, a Major League player. He also struck out five and had good life on his fastball. For him, reporting to Tampa several weeks before it was required may pay off over the long run. And hopefully it does, because Rodon will more than likely be the Yankees’ No. 2 starter this year, and they will need him to be productive, especially with how much they’re paying him.

Stroman’s start wasn’t the best, by any means, but again, there’s no reason to overreact. Stroman was facing the Philadelphia Phillies, who put together a lineup that featured many of their current Major League players, including Trea Turner, Kyle Schwarber, and Nick Castellanos. It’s not as if Stroman was facing a bunch of minor leaguers. Sure, it’s not an excuse, but I don’t think many pitchers are expecting that to be the first lineup they face in Spring Training. As long as Stroman shows a little improvement in his second Spring Training start, and as long as he can throw a few more pitches than the first,  I won’t have much to worry about.

The Yankees got their first start of the spring from Clarke Schmidt last night, who is also expected to have an improved season following last year. While he wasn’t a terrible pitcher by any means, Schmidt probably knows that his role is in jeopardy if the Yankees make another move for a starter.

Plus, we haven’t seen Gerrit Cole take the mound yet, although this is not due to any injuries. Cole has been healthy all off-season and is not coming off an injury, so there’s no reason he needs to start this early in the spring. The Yankees can likely still wait another week or so to get him his Spring Training debut and still have him fully ramped up for Opening Day in Houston, which is just four short weeks away.

Overall, Yankee fans should not be too discouraged by the first starts from these pitchers. As I mentioned, most fans are not putting too much stock into their initial performances, but I still saw too many negative comments. There’s still plenty of time to turn the ship around, which I have confidence that each of these players will be able to do so. It will simply take time and more reps to achieve. As long as they’re set to go for Opening Week, that’s all I could ask for.


Jeff Korell
Jeff Korell
Feb 28

It is best to take all Spring Training performances with a grain of salt. Many players who have great springs don't carry that over into the regular season. Case in point: The "homer happy" Spring Training slugger Kyle Higashioka, who hit so many homers one spring, but stopped as soon as the regular season started. Many players are the other way around. They struggle during Spring Training, but then in April, when they start playing meaningful games, their true talent comes out and they play like the potential all-stars that they are. Spring Training is more about established players experimenting with pitches, batting stances, working on mechanics and new techniques than it is about winning games, so what happ…


Feb 28

We are into the 2nd week of spring training.It is crazy to discuss results at this early stage.Staying healthy is the most important thing right now.If,at a week before the opener there is pattern of negative become concerned


Alan B.
Alan B.
Feb 28

Here we are in Spring Training and still assuming Boone has choices of how many pitches these guys throw in a game. WRONG! Spring Training is all mapped out, and the Manager, is never in charge. With analytics here, you think that has somehow been put back in the Manager's hands?

At least Rondon, Cortes, & Stroman seem to be healthy, Those 3 guys combined need to make 85 starts (personally I want 91). Schmidt needs to make another 30+ starts, and chop his ERA down to 4.00.

What worries me is the injury to Peraza. They are pooh-poohing it right now, but I'm suspecting it's a lot more serious. See Trevino last year as Eample A. Nothing wrong w…

Feb 29
Replying to

Gleyber was a shortstop prospect in the Yankee organization who was moved first to 3B and then to 2B.


Feb 28

I'm incredible discouraged by Rodon's failure

to throw a 50 pitch complete game shutout

he makes all that money

and he's so unfair to the fans!


Feb 28

Rodon’s stuff looked great in his start. Positive take is that the homer was to the last batter that he faced (Kirk). So, he may have just been tiring after throwing almost 50 pitches for the first time this season.

Schmidt, Warren & Hampton all looked pretty good in limited action yesterday too. Now we just need a few of the bats to start warming up. Soto, Judge, Jones & Vivas have all been been super hot to begin the year, but I’d like to see a few others get cooking (namely Stanton, Rizzo, Peraza, etc).

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