Evaluating The Yankees' Starting Rotation

Jordan Montgomery pitching for the New York Yankees

Last week, we discussed the status of Yankees right-hander Luis Severino, who was scheduled to return to New York to undergo a series of tests on his ailing right arm.  Unfortunately, those tests resulted in the worst possible outcome for Severino and the Yankees.

GM Brian Cashman announced several days ago that Severino would need Tommy John surgery, which was scheduled for today.  Obviously, the procedure will wipe out the entirety of Severino’s 2020 campaign, which comes on the heels of a 2019 season that saw him throw just 12 regular season frames.

In addition to losing Severino for the year, the club’s rotation will also be without James Paxton until at least May, and that’s not to mention the mounting injuries to the New York outfield.  All of that has led us to wonder whether the Rays will have a chance to topple the Bronx Bombers for the AL East crown in 2020.

So where do the Yankees go from here?  The rotation is fronted by the cream of this year’s crop of free-agent pitchers, Gerrit Cole, and behind him are Masahiro Tanaka and J.A. Happ, both of whom turned in middling performances in 2019.  They could pursue a trade, but it’s unclear who’s really on the block at this point in the season, and given that the Yanks will almost certainly be in the division hunt come July, a deadline deal probably makes more sense, as they will have had the time to fully assess their needs and see where they are.

This means that the remaining free agents are the only hurlers outside the organization that could represent an upgrade at this point.  But there is a reason those players are still unsigned. While New York could catch lightning in a bottle by signing someone like Matt Harvey, Clay Buchholz, Ervin Santana, or Andrew Cashner, one of the club’s internal options is probably a better bet.

Indeed, Cashman recently indicated that he would not go back to the FA market for starting pitching, so 27-year-old southpaw Jordan Montgomery seems likely to take one of the open rotation slots. Montgomery turned in a solid 2017 season and appeared to be on his way to a similarly useful 2018 when he was forced to undergo Tommy John surgery. He has therefore pitched in just eight games over the last two years, but assuming he’s healthy, the Yankees should feel okay about penciling him in to pitch every fifth day.

As for the final rotation spot, Jonathan Loaisiga – who started four games for the Yankees in 2019 — is an option, as are David Cessa and Mike King. The most exciting choice would be 20-year-old righty Deivi Garcia, who shot up the team’s minor league system in 2019. He ended the season with AAA Scranton-Wilkes-Barre, but he (understandably) struggled a bit at that level and probably needs more seasoning before being invited to the Show. Look for Loaisiga and Cessa to get the call when New York needs a fifth starter in the opening weeks of the season.

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