- Derek McAdam
Why Yankees’ Spring Training Pitching Struggles Should Not Yet Be Concerning
By Derek McAdam
March 22, 2023
As Spring Training begins to wind down and inch closer to the start of the regular season, which is just one week from TOMORROW, all the pieces are beginning to come together for the Yankees. Roster cuts are being made, and the team will continue to shrink over the next few days. Of course, Anthony Volpe’s MLB status will be the biggest story for the Yankees, but there is another concern that is also circulating around the fanbase.
To say the least, the Yankees have not had a strong Spring Training, record-wise. Come next week, the Yankees will go back to having a 0-0 record and will begin playing games that actually count towards something. By no means am I losing sleep over the Yankees’ sub-.500 Spring Training record.
However, there are concerns about the pitching staff’s performance, particularly from the starting rotation. By looking at the statistics, there are definitely some reasons for concern. Domingo German and Luis Severino, who will both be vital pieces of the starting rotation this season, both have ERAs above 8 and have not had many high points this spring. Clarke Schmidt has not had the best success, while Nestor Cortes Jr. was rocked in his lone start. Additionally, Gerrit Cole is coming off his worst outing this spring after having a couple of solid outings.
Concerning? It definitely seems so, but here’s a couple of things to remember. First, Spring Training can be a time for players to experiment with different techniques. The Yankees would never throw Isiah Kiner-Falefa in center field mid-season, so they recently did a trial run during games that don’t count towards anything.
The same goes for pitchers. Some guys want to maybe experiment with a new pitch or possibly tweak a grip on an existing pitch in their arsenal. It may be something they end up sticking with throughout the regular season or ditch before the year even begins. Spring Training is going to be full of trial-and-errors, so as long as the players can figure it out before March 30, no harm can be done.
Second, it can take some of these guys several starts to find their groove. Most of these players, hopefully, are working out during the off-season, but many of them are probably not doing much throwing. Needless to say, they also haven’t faced live batters in at least four months, which is desperately needed to get back into the swing of things. Once again, getting back into the swing of things is a concept of Spring Training.
Also, look at the scenarios that some of these pitchers have been in. Cole had one bad outing, while Cortes’ lone Spring Training start came following an injury. Schmidt has also improved as the spring has gone on, and even had five shutout innings in his last start. Don’t forget that Carlos Rodon also went down with an injury, in which he may have been hurt before he even made his lone start this spring.
Lastly, how much stock do we want to put into Spring Training results? If players have a great Spring Training, it seems as if they definitely deserve a spot on the Major League roster. But at the same time, arguments are made that great Spring Trainings do not translate to having great regular seasons in the big leagues. That is 100% true. It seems players like Estevan Florial always seem to impress during February and March, but can never get it going in the Bronx.
But let’s reverse this argument. Because a pitcher has a bad Spring Training does not necessarily mean it will translate to the regular season. However, I understand that if you’re a minor league player looking to make the major league roster, teams are not going to give you the benefit of the doubt.
If there is any time to really pay attention to the results of Spring Training, the final week is always the best time to do so. Pitchers are in the process of finalizing their arsenals, while we are now seeing the veterans play more than just twice a week, allowing them to get more into the groove of the long season. I still wouldn’t look too much into the statistics. However, all the other 29 teams are finalizing their Major League rosters as well, so this is about to close as the Yankees will get to facing Major League competition without it being the regular season.
Severino should be dominating Single-A and Double-A players, right? Yes, he probably should. But again, it’s March. Come May, if he wasn’t shutting down these players, there would be something extremely wrong. The same goes for German. Let’s just wait and see how things go at the Major League level. If things don’t go well after the first few times through the rotation, then the concerns may begin to rise.
However, if the rotation’s problems are not fixed by mid-May, that will constitute a huge problem. The Yankees have been known over the past few seasons for getting off to slow starts (excluding the 2020 season that began in July), so I’ll give them some time. But, they can’t waste two months of the regular season trying to figure out their rotation’s issues.
While there is reason to be worried about the rotation, let’s just hold out for a little bit longer. The Yankees may not currently have one of the top three rotations in the league, but I still think they’re going to be solid this season. Let’s see what happens!