For the first time since the 1910s, the Yankees finished a decade without a single World Series appearance. To add insult to injury, they have been incredibly close in recent years, with a roster rivaling any in baseball.
After losing in the ALCS for the second time in three years last season, the Yankees spent the money to acquire their ace, hoping to land on top of the AL East once again. While the pitching staff is not fully re-vamped, it will no doubt be reinvigorated by the new signing.
Here is a look at what the New York Yankees’ pitching rotation could look like if the season is not cancelled due to COVID-19.
1.) Gerrit Cole
It goes without saying that the player who just signed the richest contract ever given to a pitcher will be at the top of the rotation.
Gerrit Cole was signed in free agency to a nine-year, $324 million contract. After spending two years with the Houston Astros, he earned that contract with some of the best seasons by an American League pitcher in that time frame.
In 2019, Cole led the MLB in ERA (2.50) and strikeouts (326). He had the most wins of his career, also, going 20-5 in 33 starts. These stats led him to earn second place in Cy Young voting, and his third All-Star appearance.
Clearly, he is one of the very best pitchers in the game. If he is not at the top of any team’s rotation, he must be on the DL.
2.) Masahiro Tanaka
Tanaka did not have his best year in 2019. Not in ERA, wins or strikeouts. He still, however, was selected to his second All-Star appearance, and first since his rookie year in 2014.
He pitched 182.0 innings over 31 starts, winning 11 games. His ERA was the second-highest of his career at 4.45, and he missed the 150-strikeout mark by just one.
It seems like a steep drop-off from Cole to Tanaka, but with the stability he brings from season to season, it makes perfect sense to place him second in the rotation. With an uptick in run support, expect bigger things from Tanaka if the 2020 season gets underway.
3.) J.A. Happ
Happ has been in the league since 2007, which would make the 2020 campaign his age-37 season. He has played for six teams, and this season would be his third with the Yankees.
During his year-and-a-half with New York, he has gone 19-8 with a 4.28 ERA. While his 2019 ERA weighed him down a bit, his strikeouts and innings pitched were solid. Starting 30 games also is very respectable at age 36.
A lefty with experience is invaluable on a roster, which makes him a perfect middle-rotation pitcher for New York. While he may not be an All-Star selection anymore, he does his job well enough to earn him his spot.
Montgomery’s sample size as a starter is not huge. While he started 29 games in 2017, in the past two seasons combined, he has started only seven. This is due to his 2018 Tommy John surgery, which bled over into the 2019 season.
Going off of his full season, Montgomery is a completely serviceable pitcher whose ERA and strikeout rates are, while not exceptional, still good enough to warrant a spot in a lineup. In 2017, he earned an ERA of 3.88 and struck out 140.
The biggest black mark on Montgomery’s record is his Tommy John surgery. He has not proved durable, but may prove that if given a chance in the rotation.
In eight games started spanning two seasons, Loaisiga has gone 4-2. He has spent most of his time in the bullpen, but 2020 will (or would have) been the season he breaks the rotation, even if it is at the bottom.
His career ERA is 4.79, but, again has not had much of a chance to stretch his pitches out over a large number of innings. His youth and potential has to be enticing to the Yankees, and they have a back up plan in case Loaisiga does not prove to be starter material. With veteran James Paxton waiting in the wings, New York can afford to take a chance with him.
Featured Image courtesy of The Houston Chronicle
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