Gerrit Cole, Luis Severino, Jameson Taillon, Jordan Montgomery, and TBA. That is the rotation for the Yankees during this lockout. We know TBA never pitches so the Yankees will have to look for another starter. It’s been pretty clear that the Yankees end up having a tired bullpen towards the end of the season. In 2021, it seemed like Cole and Taillon helped relieve the bullpen work a bit before getting injured. With Severino most likely not being thrown into pitching 7-8 innings every start immediately, the Yankees can use another starter. The question is, who can it be?
WITHIN THE ORGANIZATION
The Yankees and Domingo German agreed to terms on a one-year deal recently. German pitched well until he got hurt in July. Is he enough? In my opinion, no. German is good but I think the Yankees should get another pitcher to help in the rotation. German can be very useful in the bullpen.
Additionally, the Yankees have agreed to terms on one-year contracts with RHP Domingo Germán, LHP Lucas Luetge and INF Gio Urshela, thus avoiding arbitration. The Yankees have tendered contracts to all other players on the roster. — New York Yankees (@Yankees) December 1, 2021
It’s crazy how many Yankee fans considered Nestor Cortes the ace of the staff in 2021. And that is without realizing that he hasn’t gone deep into the game much. Towards the end of the season, Cortes was removed from games earlier due to being ineffective which resulted in more bullpen use. Can he be an asset to the bullpen? Definitely. Even as an emergency starter but not every fifth day.
In my opinion, Michael King can be used as a long reliever/backup starter. He has proven he can handle that role and unless the Yankees feel he is their best option for the last spot, I don’t see him starting every fifth day.
A big fat no on the opener.
CAN A REUNION HAPPEN?
A reunion with Michael Pineda could happen as well. With Matt Blake as the pitching coach, Pineda can improve further than he has after his time with the Yankees. I don’t see a reunion with J.A. Happ happening. I think that ship has sailed. Not just because of his performance but what he said after his appearance in the postseason game.
GRAY IN PINSTRIPES AGAIN?
A possible reunion with Sonny Gray can happen if the Reds part with him. It seems that the reason the Gray-Yankee relationship didn’t work out was that the Yankees didn’t have the information that Gray uses to improve on his outings. Larry Rothschild was the pitching coach at the time. And I say that because it is said that Rothschild doesn’t use the data that many pitchers use today. The Yankees made sure to fix that problem when pursuing Gerrit Cole by signing Matt Blake as pitching coach. Gray was good and I felt New York was never the issue. He just needed the data like Cole does to improve on his pitches. He obviously has that with the Reds.
Reds are still fielding interest in Luis Castillo, Tyler Mahle and Sonny Gray. Chance for a trade today. — Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) December 1, 2021
Other possible starters can be Clayton Kershaw, Matthew Boyd, Yusei Kikuchi, Carlos Rondon, and maybe Mike Fiers for a short-term option. Hear me out on Fiers. I know many Yankees fans do not think he is good and/or dislikes him for the whole Giancarlo Stanton thing. Fiers isn’t a bad pitcher and if Blake can help the Yankee rotation improve, who is to say he can’t help Fiers? It could be a short-term risk if the Yankees do not want to go long-term with another starter. They always have German or King as a backup.
BULLPEN…UH, I MEAN, ARM BARN?
As for relievers, the Yankees have Lucas Luetge, Aroldis Chapman, Chad Green, Jonathan Loaisiga, Clay Holmes, Wandy Peralta, and Joely Rodriguez so far. Signing another starter will put German and King in the bullpen as well. With Zach Britton out for the majority of the season in 2022, the Yankees may look to find a replacement. I don’t see a reunion with Adam Ottavino happening. He isn’t a bad pitcher but I think running out of gas towards the end of the season is something of concern. The Yankees rely heavily on their bullpen all season. Although having a strong bullpen is what many teams have now, it can tire out the bullpen if the rotation can’t go deep into games.
I know analytics play a huge role in baseball now and that is why many starters only go through a lineup two times. That is why bullpens are strong now. Still, there are times when a manager needs a day off for his bullpen during a long stretch of games and the starter needs to go through at least seven innings to help.
Kenley Jansen will be an expensive set-up man and to be honest, I’m not sure if the Yankees are willing to pay so much for him to make innings interesting even if the lead was huge. They already have that problem with Chapman. Olympic Silver medalist, David Robertson, can be a great bridge to the big guys if a starter can’t last at least five innings. He can also close a game if needed. There are many others if the Yankees choose to beef up their already beefed up bullpen more.
I think the Yankees will focus on starting pitching and maybe add a pitcher to the bullpen if they feel the need to. If I have to guess, I will say unless Sonny Gray or Luis Castillo is available at a good price, I think the Yankees will stick with either German or King as the fifth starter with the other being a backup. I can see another relief pitcher being added as one of those low-cost but very effective types of deals. Unfortunately with the lockout, we have to wait to see what the Yankees do. It will be interesting to see what starter and/or reliever they sign and fans having a cow about it.