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The Tuesday Discussion – The Number 5 Starter?

This week we asked,

“If you were the manager, right now,

who would you choose as the Yankees’ fifth starter?”

The writers answered:

Paul Semendinger – J.A. Happ. I believe he will have a terrific 2020 season if one judges strictly by wins and losses. He is a quality pitcher who is adapting to becoming a more crafty pitcher than one who relies more on his fastball. I think Happ will be the best #5 starter in the game.

John Nocero – JA Happ. Since they still have him and were not able to move him, thinking his substantial contract is likely the reason. but, if for some reason they can trade him, I would think Jordan Montgomery is that guy, with Jonathan Loiasiga starting the season in the bullpen.

Ed Botti – Unless a late off-season or even spring training trade is made by the Yankees, JA Happ and his $17 million dollar salary will be the fifth starter (barring injury). I also believe that 2019 was an aberration for Happ, and he will perform more like the back of his baseball card shows in 2020.

Having said that, there can be a compelling case made for Jordan Montgomery. I believe at some point in 2020, Montgomery will be in the rotation, but not on opening day. He needs to prove his health, and that he can perform like he did in his solid 2017 rookie season.

As I have said this winter, the Yankees will need at least 10 starters in 2020.

Matthew Cohen – If I were the manager I’d choose Montgomery. I’ve always liked him. If I were the GM I’d pick Happ to hopefully build his trade value.

Derek McAdam – There is no doubt in my mind that J.A. Happ is the best fit for the fifth role. Happ is ready to go for the 2020 season, which is the main reason why he should own the fifth spot. Jordan Montgomery could still be in the process of rehab, and could use a few weeks to get back into the swing of things. Hopefully, Happ benefits from new pitching coach Matt Blake and has a much improved year from last season.

Patrick Gunn – My choice for the fifth spot would be Jordan Montgomery. Yes, J.A. Happ has more experience and Montgomery is coming off Tommy John surgery, but Montgomery is more important to the Yankees’ future. His rookie season was a solid enough starting point that he deserves the benefit of the doubt to start the season. Happ, meanwhile, has had a middling career in general and his peripherals in New York the past two seasons (1.8 home runs/9, 2.6 walks/9, 4.94 FIP) do not bode well for the future success as a 37 year old pitcher. Jonathan Loaisiga is talented but raw and needs to stay healthy, while Deivi Garcia has yet to show the consistency needed to be an effective Major League starter. Montgomery has all of the potential to win this spot and has a good chance to do so. (If you want to read more of my thoughts on this case, here’s the link to a previous column I wrote on the Yankees’ fifth starter dilemma: https://startspreadingthenews.blog/start-spreading-the-news/2019/12/16/the-fifth-man-whos-it-going-to-be).

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