A Quick Look At the 2021 Starting Rotation (as of today)
As the New York Post reported on December 12:
The Yankees might be counting on their young pitchers more than ever before next season. With Masahiro Tanaka, J.A. Happ and James Paxton all on the free-agent market — and possibly gone from The Bronx for good — the Yankees have little rotation depth, but general manager Brian Cashman said last week they might stick with what they currently have behind Gerrit Cole.
Let’s go through that again…
After Gerrit Cole, the Yankees might stick with what they currently have in regard to starting pitching.
This begs the question, “What do the Yankees even have in regard to starting pitching behind Gerrit Cole?”
The short answer is “hope.”
The longer answer is “wishful thinking.” Or “dreaming.”
Or “Hope, Wishful Thinking, and Dreaming.”
What the Yankees have, after Gerrit Cole, is a collection of unproven pitchers, or pitchers coming back from long absences of the game.
What the Yankees don’t have is any pitcher who performed with any level of excellence since at least 2019.
Assuming we take Brian Cashman at his word, and the Yankees don’t address their starting pitching, the following will be the Yankees starting pitchers for the 2021 season.
LOOKING REALISTICALLY AT THE HOPE, DREAM, AND WISHFUL THINKING 2021 STARTING ROTATION
Luis Severino – Coming off years of arm troubles and surgeries. The hope is that he returns by mid-season. The bigger hope is that he pitches like he did before he was injured, but that was actually a long, long time ago. Severino has not been a good pitcher since the first half of the 2018 season. In the second half of the 2018 season, he went 5-6. 5.57 in 12 starts. He allowed 76 hits in 63 innings. His WHIP was 1.429.
Jordan Montgomery – He has also battled injuries. He came back from Tommy John surgery in 2020 to make ten starts. In 2017 (yes, 2017… that was a long time ago), Montgomery made 29 starts, winning 9 games and losing 7 (with a 3.88 ERA). Things were looking good. Since then he has pitched a grand total of 75.1 big league innings. He is anything but a sure thing. In 2020, he went 2-3, 5.11.
Domingo German – In 2019, he surprised the world and went 18-4, 4.03, pitching, really, as everyone hoped Luis Severino would. He was amazing. We all wondered at the time though, “Is this for real?” After all, in 2018, he want just 2-6, 5.57. He was amazing. But then something happened. Something. We don’t know what. Take a moment here and think about this. Think about all of the scandals and such that so many professional athletes have been involved in. And then consider Domingo German. He was suspended for a year. Why? What happened? We don’t know. It must have been bad. Real bad. But we don’t know what it was. It was so bad, that we don’t even know. Now he’s coming back as a key part of the rotation? Even if it’s all good now, whatever it is or was, he hasn’t pitched in the big leagues since 2019. That’s by no means a pitcher the Yankees can (or should) rely on.
Deivi Garcia – The sky is the limit for him, but he has pitched in all of six Major League games. Six. He was 3-2, 4.98 last year. He has 34.1 Major League innings under his belt. Yup, he might be great. He might. We hope. He’ll be just 22-years-old in 2021. Is he ready for the big time? Who knows?
Michael King – He has pitched in ten Major League games (with an ERA of 7.22). He has 28.2 MLB innings to his credit.
Clarke Schmidt – He has made exactly one big league start. One. That is one more than zero and is one less than two.
And there you have it. That, as of today, is the Yankees’ 2021 starting rotation.
That is a staff comprised entirely of hope and wishful thinking. It is not a staff that inspires confidence that a championship season is on the horizon.
And one more thought…
INNINGS, AND WHERE ARE THEY COMING FROM?
It is an accepted rule in baseball that teams should not overtax young arms, especially young arms coming off injuries. Pitchers should be treated gently – not rushed. The pitchers are supposed to develop slowly. Ask a pitcher to throw too many innings too soon and you’re asking for disaster. Right?
Where are the Yankees going to get any innings from with this staff? Who among these pitchers can be counted on for 150 innings in 2021? None. To ask any of these pitchers to pitch that many would be short-sighted and very foolish.
Worse, who, among these, might even be expected to pitch 100 innings?
And, if the starting rotation is not made up of these pitchers, who will pitch for the Yankees in 2021?
Who are the other starting pitchers? Where are the innings going to come from?
The upside of this rotation speaks to 2022 or 2023, not 2021. These pitchers should be brought in (or back) slowly with the hopes of building their strength, endurance (and for most) experience in 2021. If they all perform as they should, they could comprise a solid rotation in 2022. Not 2021.
For 2021, this collection is nothing more than a staff of question marks. This is the type of staff a second division club runs out there for a season as they build with hope to the future.
This is not the type of starting rotation designed to compete for a championship.
It just isn’t.
If we take Brian Cashman at his word, the Yankees of 2021 are in trouble. Big trouble. This is not a championship rotation. At all.
It’s just not.