Welcome to SB Nation Reacts, a survey of fans across Major League Baseball. Each week, we send out questions to the most plugged-in New York Yankees fans, and fans across the country. Sign up here to join Reacts.
The Yankees’ pitching staff has sustained quite a few injuries since the start of 2023. Even in the comparatively small amount of time between when our most recent SB Nation Reacts survey poll went up and when we got the results, the hits just kept on coming. It’d be a shame anyway, but it’s also unfortunate since our questions this week centered around said pitching staff.
The show must go on, so we’ll start with the poll that wasn’t affected much by the events of the past few days. Southpaw Carlos Rodón signed a six-year, $162 million contract with the Yankees in December, but a forearm strain and later chronic back tightness have combined to prevent him from taking the mound beyond one spring training start in early March. Although he received a cortisone shot in his back last week and is in the process of ramping up his throwing program since then, no specific timetable has been announced.
So since the air around Rodón’s return is somewhat shrouded in mystery, we asked fans to predict when he would make his long-awaited Yankees debut.
If I’m being honest, the optimism for a July return from at least a plurality of fans (41 percent) is better than I expected. For full disclosure, I’m also in this camp, if not only for my own sanity. Rodón definitely has a strong desire to get back on the bump as soon as he can, and I think that the organization will at least make a serious try to meet that goal. If his back injury is chronic, then it regrettably isn’t going away anytime soon, so Rodón will have to learn to pitch with it in the bigs.
For the 29 percent picking “2024,” I can’t say that I blame you. The past few months have simply been a series of setbacks for Rodón, and for all we know, the next one might be serious enough to make the Yankees throw up their arms and tell him to just take the long process of working toward Year 2. After all, this is not a man with a short injury history.
The second question covered Luis Severino’s return to the rotation, as his lat injury has healed and he will start Sunday in Cincinnati. At the time, that meant one of Clarke Schmidt or Jhony Brito would be bounced, so we had fans pick between the two:
That is a tough L for Schmidt to take. I thought that this would be closer, but over two-thirds of the respondents preferred to give Schmidt the boot. While he has better stuff than Brito, some (but not all) of his numbers are worse, and the preface for the poll the other day did note that an “opener + Brito” option like the Yankees used on Monday would count as leaving the rookie in the rotation over Schmidt. Still, the combination of his status as a more experienced pitcher in the bigs and only marginal difference in stats probably gives him a leg up over Brito in the Yankees’ eyes.
Fellow starter Domingo Germán’s 10-game suspension for foreign substance use on Tuesday ultimately rendered the debate irrelevant at the present time. Since he’ll need to miss at least one turn in the rotation, both Schmidt and Brito will remain for now. Should everyone be healthy in a couple weeks though, the Yankees will need to make a decision. Hopefully, both pitchers do their best to make it a tough one.
MLB fans as a whole were also asked some general questions about their baseball-watching habits and preferences as part of this week’s polls. Check out the results below:
To me, it’s not terribly surprising that baseball fans devoted enough to answer questions about the sport in a poll would pick the “131-162” and “151-162” options in each of the first two prompts. I will say that I think MLB could get away with a 150-game schedule (or even somewhere between 140-149) simply because there are so many contests and more importantly, the postseason has expanded enough that it chips away at the meaning of regular-season success. In an ideal world, would I simply have fewer playoff rounds? Sure, but that’s not happening, and for the record, neither is MLB cutting down on its 162-game schedule because you’d have a hard time convincing any team to agree to fewer home games and less guaranteed revenue.
The ideal time of game for 81 percent of fans sitting at “2-3 hours” makes perfect sense. That was the entire point of the pitch clock, which has been pretty well-received thus far. Yankees fans in particular have seen more than their fair share of games lasting over three hours (especially against the Red Sox) in the past couple decades, so I’m A-OK with much of the dead time getting cut out. I don’t miss all the pacing around the mound and hitters constantly fixing their batting gloves or finding other ways to delay actually getting in the box for a pitch.
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