Yankees pitcher Carlos Rodon pitches live batting practice during spring training at...

Yankees pitcher Carlos Rodon pitches live batting practice during spring training at the team's facility in Tampa, Fla., on Feb. 19. Credit: Newsday/J. Conrad Williams Jr.

TAMPA, Fla. – Early in spring training 2021, Corey Kluber provided a pithy evaluation of what the Yankees planned to roll out in their rotation that season.

"I understand why it’s looked at as ‘Gerrit and the rest,’ " Kluber said with a smile.

“The rest” was a reference to the questions surrounding everyone in the rotation besides Gerrit Cole, a group that included Kluber, Jameson Taillon, Jordan Montgomery and Domingo German.

Fair or not, that’s how the 2024 rotation entered spring training this year.

It left with even more questions after Cole went down with right elbow inflammation. He's expected to miss the first two months of the season and maybe more.

Call it “no Gerrit and the rest.”

Carlos Rodon, whose health has been the biggest question surrounding him throughout his career, has by and large been a successful pitcher in the big leagues. Even with the train wreck that was his 2023 – 3-8 with a 6.85 ERA – Rodon is 59-54 with a 3.83 ERA in his nine years in the majors, including a combined 27-13, 2.67 in 2021 and ’22. Though good exhibition results don’t always portend the same in the regular season, the leaner body he brought to camp seemed to pay dividends and his velocity – mid-to-high-90s with his fastball – was more in line with what it had been in previous years. It was noticeably different from spring training last year before he ended up with a forearm strain that landed him in the injured list to start the regular season.

Rodon has been described as the linchpin for this year’s rotation. Though the unit’s success or failure won’t be defined by one pitcher, another season like the last one for Rodon would be difficult to overcome.

New Yankees pitcher Marcus Stroman, who grew up in Medford, has relied on his sinker through his first eight MLB seasons. Here's a statistical look at why. Credit: Newsday/J. Conrad Williams Jr. (video), Jeffrey Basinger and Matthew Carpenter (graphics); Mark LaMonica (stats)

Long Island's own Marcus Stroman, with a 3.65 ERA in his nine seasons, should be a perfect fit for the No. 3 slot. All indications in spring training for Nestor Cortes -- beset with shoulder issues all of 2023 -- pointed toward the lefthander having a year similar to the one he had in 2022, when he went 12-4 with a 2.44 ERA. Clarke Schmidt would have been the No. 5, and a good one at that, but he moved up to No. 4 when Cole went down.

Top pitching prospect Will Warren impressed enough club hierarchy, as well as rival team scouts, that he had a legitimate chance to leave camp as the No. 5 starter. But Luis Gil's work late in the spring, starting with what one opposing talent evaluator called a "ridiculuous" outing in Clearwater against the Phillies when he struck out eight over 3 2/3 innings, pushed the 25-year-old righthander ahead of the field and into the fifth slot.


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