The New York Yankees significantly improved their pitching rotation in the past week. Less than a week ago, the Yankees acquired two-time Cy Young Award winner Corey Kluber and yesterday traded four low-level prospects for former Pittsburgh Pirate starter Jameson Taillon‘s services. Yankee fans now have something to be excited about, although there are risks involved with both of these pitchers who did not pitch last year. Taillon, after the trade yesterday, had this to say on his Twitter account:
“Bittersweet day for me over here! Trying to process everything- have SO much to say to the city of Pittsburgh and my teammates. Also have SO much to say about this incredible opportunity and to the city/fans in New York. Thanks to everyone that has reached out! More to come soon.”
Although there are tremendous upsides to both of these pitchers, there is risk involved, as I said. Taillon is coming back from his second Tommy John surgery, and Cory Kluber pitched only one inning last year after a shoulder tear. Both pitchers are said to be ready to start the season, but the Yankees will have to be careful with them. The addition of Taillon also puts best friends Cole and Taillon together again. They both pitched for team USA and were teammates in the minors and pitching together during 2016 and 2017 with the Pittsburgh Pirates. The two developed a very close friendship.
As certainly as the 2020 season was bizarre with its 60 game schedule and other restrictions, the 2021 season, although not as bizarre, will be far from normal. We are not talking about the health protocols or if fans are in the stands, we are talking about the players and pitchers themselves. It is not out of the question that a pitcher can have 33 to even 35 starts in a normal year. This year it is doubtful that the Yankees will push any pitcher for more than 25 or so starts. You can’t expect a pitcher to go from 10 starts to over 30 starts in a year.
Unless other additions being doubtful, the New York Yankees starting rotation will look like this at the start of the season. 1. Gerrit Cole, 2. Corey Kluber, 3. Jameson Taillon, 4. most likely Jordan Montgomery, and 5. will be Domingo German. This could change with how these players pitch in spring training. At this point, it is almost a surety that both Deivi Garcia and Clarke Schmidt, who both made their Major League debuts last year, will start their year at Scranton Wilkes/Barre. If either German or Montgomery fails during the spring, that could change.
This season for all teams will be similar to rehabbing all their pitchers to a 162 game season. After several starts, the Yankees may move to a six-man rotation just to give all pitchers an extra day’s rest. This is where the Yankee’s depth comes into play. The Yankees will have fresh arms ready to step in. Even if they start in the minors, you will see Deivi Garcia, Clarke Schmidt, and Micheal King at some point. There is also the issue of injuries to anyone in the staff, causing these arms to be used earlier than wished for.
Sometime in late June, but most certainly before the All-Star break, the Yankees pitching rotation will get another boost with Luis Severino’s return. His return will certainly cause a realignment of the starting rotation. Severino will be in spring training, although it is unknown if he will pitch in any exhibition games. After not pitching for nearly two years, the New York Yankees will be cautious with him going forward.
The addition yesterday of Jameson Taillon to the rotation means the Yankee fan has probably seen the last of Masahiro Tanaka. It is not likely that Tanaka will want to end his career by bouncing around MLB. He has made it pretty clear that he wants to come back to the Yankees or return to finish out his career in Japan, where he can make more money. His contract demands for a few years at $10-15 million is another reason he will not likely be a Yankee. Although he has been a solid pitcher for the Yankees, he isn’t worth that amount of money, especially with them wanting to stay below the luxury tax threshold. However, with the Yankees, you can’t rule anything out.
As all these pitchers prepare for at 162 game season, the Yankee’s depth will be key to keeping the pitchers healthy and paving their way to success as they as always make a postseason push.