While the Yankees bullpen is arguably it’s greatest strength, the Yankees rotation is firmly the biggest question mark. Pitching is very, very volatile and always feels like a ticking time bomb. In a perfect world, I’d go over the standard five pitchers a rotation normally has. However, there are already injuries to the Yanks pitching staff….
Fresh off a new four year contract, the $40 million man is battling right rotator cuff inflammation. *Gulp* After his incredible first half (14-2 and 2.31 ERA), Luis was on his way to a consecutive top three AL Cy Young finish. However, he faltered mightily in the second half (5-6 and a 5.57 ERA) and proved to be just as erratic during the playoffs, again. Bottom line is, the Yankees need Sevy to be their horse. We have to wait about ten days for the next update on Severino and his next steps. Hopefully, he’ll be able to resume baseball activities quickly after. But if not, this Yankees season is in big trouble before opening day…
The Yankees big splash of the off-season came in the form of trading for “Big Maple” from the Mariners for several prospects headlined by Justus Sheffield. Aside from a top five nickname, Paxton has lights out stuff and possesses ace-like ability. The only thing holding him back? You guessed it – injuries! With a career high of 160.2 innings last year, the Yanks took a major leap of faith that Paxton will be able to make 32 starts. If he makes a full slate of starts, he could be a dark-horse candidate for the AL Cy Young this year. Like Sev, the Yankees are banking on Paxton in a major way.
In my mind, “Masa” does not get enough credit. With the UCL ready to explode at any point, Tanaka’s ability to reinvent the way he pitches and to be a loyal warrior, speaks volumes. He’s not the shutdown ace we thought the Yankees were getting from Japan, but, man, he’s been as reliable as it comes. If you’re asking me who gets the ball to win one game for the Yanks this season, it’s Tanaka. I expect another season of 12-15 wins with an ERA between 3.50 and 4.00.
Happ’s return to the Bronx was another necessary move as he profiles as a strong fourth starter. I still have a real sour taste in my mouth from his start against the Red Sox in the ALDS but I can’t ignore his undefeated 7-0 run in pinstripes post trade deadline. An ERA around 4.00 and a shade over double digit wins strikes me as a reasonable projection for JA.
My love for Carsten Charles knows no bounds. The guy is the epitome of a Yankee and has pretty much been the unofficial captain since Derek left us. On the field, like Tanaka, he’s learned to change his pitching style and earned the right to stick around. He’s recovering from off-season heart surgery and is expected to start the season on the injured list. After that and serving his suspension for being the ultimate teammate:
CC will toe the rubber as the Yanks fifth starter. Five innings is about his limit at this point, but expect them to be quality ones. If he manages to keep his ERA in the 3s and approaches 10 wins, that’s a HELL of a way for the big man to go out – during the regular season, of course. Hopefully, the Yanks can add a second World Series title during the final season of the CC era.
The Reinforcements: Jonathan Loaisiga / Domingo German / Jordan Montgomery
There’s a decent chance all three of these guys can have an impact this year. Of course, with CC and Sev out already, Loaisiga and German will be thrust into action from opening day. Both of them showed flashes of staying power but proved to be the young rookies they were.
Montgomery, on the other hand, could become a defacto mid-season acquisition around July. Recovering from Tommy John surgery, “Gumby” will be a welcomed sight later in the season He showed a strong body of work that would be useful for any pitching staff in baseball.