The Yankees Need a Healthy Starting Staff
by EJ Fagan
April 26, 2023
NOTE: The following comes from EJ Fagan's substack page and is shared with permission.
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The 2023 Yankees were built to be a pitching and defense team. Then, Frankie Montas, Carlos Rodon, Luis Severino and half the bullpen ended up in the injured list. The Yankees were forced to dig deep and start Brito, German and Schmidt in place of the downed starters.
It hasn’t gone well:
Cole and Cortes have been as advertised - Cy Young contenders. German has also been about as advertised, as a serviceable 5th starter who keeps the Yankees in games. Schmidt and Brito have been very bad.
In past years, the Yankees might be able to out-hit poor starting pitching, assisted by a strong bullpen. However, the 2023 Yankees just aren’t built to do that, especially with Giancarlo Stanton and Harrison Bader out. They need Carlos Rodon and Luis Severino back, soon.
The bad news is that I’m not sure when they are coming back. Carlos Rodon had his return paused by a minor back injury, and is now playing catch. I imagine that we’re still a few bullpen sessions away from rehab starts, and a few rehab starts away from even a pitch-limited major league debut.
What about Severino? We don’t know. He was throwing bullpen sessions on April 11th, but paused due to a setback. On April 22nd he was, “more than a week away” from rehab games.
Let’s say that Rodon is on track to return in three-ish weeks - he starts throwing bullpens during the current road trip, has three rehab starts in early May, and returns somewhere during the mid-May road trip. Let’s also assume that Severino is on a similar time table, maybe with one fewer rehab start.
Without a lot of off days, the Yankees are going to have to start their bottom-two guys probably four more times each, including big series against the Athletics, Rays, Guardians, Rangers and Blue Jays.
If I am Brian Cashman, I start thinking about replacing Schmidt and Brito after one more bad start. Of course, the Triple-A options are thin. Randy Vazquez has a 7.48 ERA. Matt Krook and Deivi Garcia have been exclusively (and successfully) throwing out of the bullpen. The only really success Yankee starter in the bullpen so far has been Clayton Beeter, who has posted a 1.08 ERA in 16 2/3 Double-A innings. Given how he is repeating the level, I wouldn’t be shocked to see him next on the call-up list.
All of that said, I think it might be time to consider a depth starting pitching trade. They could badly use someone like Chi Chi Gonzalez, currently hanging out at Triple-A in the Marlins system, for a few weeks. They can’t afford to keep trotting out Brito and Schmidt at the moment.