Examining the New York Yankees’ Minor Leagues – The Starting Pitchers
by James Vlietstra
February 24, 2021
The Starting Pitchers:
Geritt Cole is the ace of the Yankees and one of the best pitchers alive today. Last offseason they signed him to a record breaking 9-year pact for $324M. If the New York Yankees win their 28th World Series Championship, it will be because of him.
After Cole, there is a lot of potential. However, injuries and question marks hover above just about all of them. A typical MLB season requires a lot of pitching depth. Most ball clubs utilize at least eight different pitchers to start at 10 or more games.
Let’s go through a few of them here, to see exactly what we can expect.
Left handed Jordan Montgomery had Tommy John Surgery during the 2018 season. He returned late in 2019 to pitch four innings. Last year he pitched 44 innings and saved his best outing for his start in the playoffs. As we start 2021, he should be fully healed and likely will be a key figure for the team’s success.
Corey Kluber is a two-time Cy Young Award winner. However a string of injuries including a fractured arm, abdominal tightness, and a torn teres major (shoulder) limited him to 35 innings in 2019 and only 1 inning in 2020. He signed with the Yankees after proving himself healthy.
Jameson Taillon is a cancer survivor and is coming back from his second Tommy John Surgery. He definitely is a gritty fighter and easy to root for. He managed only 37 innings in 2019 and none last year. The Yankees gave up a lit of talent to pry him away from the Pirates. He got a ringing endorsement from former teammate, Geritt Cole.
Domingo Germán won 18 games in 2019 before a domestic violence incident sidelined him for that playoff and the entire 2020 season. He will be forced to handle the scrutiny that the media will be sure to send his way. How he navigates that will determine his season.
Luis Severino managed to pitch only 12 innings in 2019 with an undiagnosed injury. Turns out that he required Tommy John Surgery which he did not undergo until last spring. So if all goes well, he will be a late season addition. Until then, his spot on the 40-man roster will be shuffled around while he is on the 60-Day Injured List.
Nick Nelson and Michael King have spent most of their time in the minor leagues as starting pitchers. They will likely get stretched out during spring training. However, if if they break camp with the team, it will likely be a role out of the bullpen.
33-year-old Jhoulys Chacin was signed to a minor league contract and figures to be a potential replacement for Severino. For the mean time, his place is in Scranton.
Left handed Nestor Cortes Jr is a familiar face. The 26-year-old was on the 2019 team, pitching in tandem with opener Chad Green, a role they may reprise Cortes was also signed to a minor league deal and will be in Scranton until a spot is cleared on the 40-man roster.
Deivi Garcia, 21, is on the 40-man roster and could potentially be called up once a need for a fifth starter arises. Until then, his spot will be in Scranton.
Clarke Schmidt, 25, was another possibility to grab the fifth spot in the rotation. He was my choice to win the 2020 Rookie Of The Year Award but only saw limited action in the majors and that was in an unfamiliar role out of the pen. He is now shut down with an injury.
28-year-old Justin O’Connor is a former first round pick. He has spent time in AAA and is hoping to get his opportunity in The Show playing with the Yankees at some point this year.
Brian Keller spent 2019 in Scranton. A return there for the 26-year-old is likely. He is probably the 9th or 10th option at this point to make a spot start but he is also the most likely to clear waivers and return.
Left hander Matt Krook was taken in the minor league phase of the Rule 5 draft. The 26-year-old will likely headline a very talented Somerset Patriot rotation.
25-year-old Nick Green came to the Yankees in the Carlos Beltran deal. He pitched for Trenton in 2019 and will likely start the season back in AA.
Luis Medina, Luis Gil, Alexander Vizcaino, and Yoendrys Gomez all rank in the Yankees Top 11 prospects, according to MLB Pipeline. They will all be spending their first extended time above Low-A. They are all already on the 40-man roster and could be called up at any time.
There’s just too many variables and moving parts to try determine who will be a starter, who a reliever, and who at extended spring training to try to guess the pitching staffs for the minor league affiliates. However, rest assured, there will be plenty more on pitchers coming up and discussed in this series.