When the 2019 regular season came to a close, New York Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner was quick to blame a lack of run-production from his hitters for his team’s early exit from the playoffs. For the tenth consecutive season, the Bombers didn’t reach the World Series, but they have a great chance to pluck premium talent off the free-agent market to increase their probability of making it in 2020.
Steinbrenner stated before his team dove into the deep end of the free-agent pool:
â€œIf the 2020 season was to start tomorrow, I would feel considerably more confident than I did a year ago at this time,â€™â€™ Steinbrenner said. â€œWe will have both Severino and Montgomery back. We now know that [Domingo] German can pitch effectively at this level. And we know [James] Paxton can be the guy that we were hoping for when we made that trade. We have [Masahiro] Tanaka, [J.A.] Happ, [Jonathan] Loaisiga, and perhaps [Deivi] Garcia at some point. A very good rotation.â€™â€™
Initially, this indicated that his team would stay pat with their starting rotation, as he mentioned the return of both Luis Severino and Jordan Montgomery in a full-capacity.
After a few weeks of mulling over the idea of pursuing Gerrit Cole, his entire mentality changed.
â€œWeâ€™re going to be active in the free agent market. I like our rotation right now. As of now, I like our 2020 rotation better than I liked our 2019 rotationâ€¦
(Mentioned Paxton, Tanaka , Sevy, Monty, Happ, and Loasigia)
â€œHowever, starting pitching is my focus.â€
The starters last season were all inconsistent, and the loss of Domingo German significantly hurt the team down the stretch and in the playoffs.
Is New York Yankees owner Hal Steinbrenner wrong?
The reality is, Steinbrenner isn’t wrong, his starting rotation has many quality arms that he can rely on, but adding a talent like Cole instantly makes them one of the best in baseball and increases the Yankees chance of winning a World Series 10-fold.
His answer above is almost counter-intuitive. He mentions that he’s happy with the rotation but that his focus is also on the rotation. This translates to – the starters are good, but not great, and if we want to win a World Series, they need to be lights out.
A four-man rotation of Cole, Severino, Paxton, and Tanaka in the postseason would be virtually unstoppable. It would allow them to mitigate fatigue and push forward without worry. Those pesky Game 6s and 7s when the bullpen is called into action are where a team can slip up, as we saw in the ALCS in Game 6 against the Houston Astros.
The game of baseball is becoming all about probability, and with a ton of resources having already been allocated towards power-hitting, it’s time to steer in a different direction.