A look at the Yankees’ new and improved starting rotation

nestor cortes, yankees

The New York Yankees finally got a deal done with Carlos Rodon after weeks of rumors bubbling to the surface. The two sides were reportedly far apart regarding negotiations, but the Yankees coughed up the extra year required to get the deal done with a lower yearly salary than expected.

Nonetheless, the Yankees now have one of the best starting rotations in baseball, consisting of quality at every slot. It is a World Series-caliber rotation by most accounts, but they still have a few holes left to fill this off-season.

The Yankees have an elite starting rotation:

1.) Gerrit Cole

At 32 years old, Gerrit Cole is the epitome of consistency. In 2022, he pitched 200.2 innings, reaching a minimum of 200 for the fifth time in his career, showcasing his longevity. He enjoyed his highest ERA at 3.50 since the 2017 season with the Pittsburgh Pirates.

However, he did land a 2.78 xFIP, 11.53 strikeouts per nine, and a 78.2% left-on-base rate. His 16.8% HR/FB ratio is quite high, including 1.48 home runs per nine. He gave up a few long balls at inopportune moments, but otherwise, he remains the Yankees’ ace for how he dominated during the playoffs.

2.) Carlos Rodon

The Yankees signed Carlos Rodon to a six-year, $162 million deal, averaging $27 million per season. At 30 years old, Rodon is coming off his second consecutive season of sub-3.00 ERA baseball. He enjoyed a 2.88 ERA, 2.91 xFIP, and 12 strikeouts per nine across 178 innings.

There’s an argument to make that Rodon might end up having better numbers than Cole in 2023, which is a great problem to have. With another lefty starter in the rotation, the Yankees now feature Rodon and Nestor Cortés as their diversified assets. Having two legitimate aces at the front of the rotation is extremely dangerous, and after Cortes’s 2022 campaign, there’s an argument they may have three.

3.) Nestor Cortes

For the first time in his career, Nestor Cortés earned an All-Star appearance. At 28 years old, he pitched 158.1 innings, the first time he cracked 100 in his career. He earned a 2.44 ERA, 3.63 xFIP, and an 82.8% left-on-base rate. He allowed an 8.2% HR/FB ratio and saw an increase in his fastball velocity.

Cortes is primed for another solid season, especially after tweaking his pitches and building on his confidence. He simply ran out of gas at the end of the season, having never experienced that type of workload before.

4.) Luis Severino

There may not be a better story on the Yankees than Luis Severino, who has undergone two Tommy John surgeries and a myriad of other injuries. In fact, he barely pitched between 2019–2021, but he made a remarkable return this past season to insert himself right back into the rotation.

Over 102 innings, Severino recorded a 3.18 ERA, about 10 strikeouts per nine, and an 80% left-on-base rate. While he was shut down with a shoulder issue for a few weeks, Severino projects to be an important part of the rotation. There’s a debate to be had about whether he should slide in front of Nestor Cortés, but the two were both fantastic last season and offer different qualities.

5.) Frankie Montas

Many are down on Frankie Montas after he was acquired from the Oakland Athletics at the trade deadline in August. At 29 years old, he struggled considerably with the Yankees, recording a 6.35 ERA over 39.2 innings. After earning a 3.18 ERA across 104.2 innings with Oakland, it seems as if something changed once he joined the Bombers. His velocity dipped, and everything began to fall apart, which may be connected to the shoulder injury that evidently shut him down for the rest of the season.

If Montas can return to his usual form, the Yankees will have an arguable ace at the back end of the rotation, which is incredible.

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