New York Yankees: Projecting the starting pitching rotation for 2021

Gerrit Cole, New York Yankees

The New York Yankees have a few months before the starting pitching rotation is fully assembled, but general manager Brian Cashman is keen on ensuring they have quality players to work with. If you were to ask Cashman right now what he thinks of the roster’s state, he would likely tell you they’re in a place to compete for a World Series. He wouldn’t be wrong, as the Yankees retained star infielder DJ LeMahieu and signed Corey Kluber to a one year deal.

The primary issue with the starting rotation is that a majority of their players haven’t pitched in quite some time. Kluber has only pitched 36.2 innings over the past two years, Domingo German hasn’t pitched in over a season, and Luis Severino is coming off back-to-back injuries over the last two years. Those three players make up a majority of their rotation, at least the top five options.

Nonetheless, it is very possible they don’t add any more starters, despite losing Masahiro Tanaka, James Paxton, and JA Happ to free agency this off-season. Let’s take a look at what the rotation could look like in 2021, given they don’t add any more players.

Projecting the New York Yankees 2021 starting pitching rotation:

1.) Gerrit Cole

The Yankees’ workhorse had a solid first year in pinstripes, finishing with a 2.84 ERA and 11.59 strikeouts per nine. He pitched in 73 innings, earning seven wins. The only downside to his game was that he allowed 14 homers, a bit more than he would’ve liked. Cutting down on that number in 2021 will make them even more dominant, and I believe he will have the confidence to do so.

2.) Corey Kluber

As stated before, Kluber has only pitched 36.2 innings over the past two years, but he is a two-time Cy Young award-winning pitcher. In his prime and 2018, Kluber finished with a 2.89 ERA and only allowed 25 homers over 215 innings. Comparably to Cole, who allowed 14 homers and 73 innings this past season, the differential is staggering. Corey is a dominant starter, and if he can return the form following multiple injuries, the Yankees will have a stellar one-two punch in the rotation.

3.) Luis Severino (upon return)

Severino is a big “if,” having only pitched in 12 innings over the past two years. He’s another player that had a solid 2018 campaign, finishing with a 3.39 ERA. We know what we have with Severino, a dangerous fastball pitcher who can paint corners and strike batters out at an astronomical rate. Relying on him feels a bit optimistic, but the expectation is that he will be ready for Opening Day, if not shortly after.

4.) Jordan Montgomery

The Yankees had to rely on some of their younger players in 2020 due to injury, and one of them is Jordan Montgomery. Montgomery is just 28 years old, finishing last season with a 5.11 ERA and 9.61 strikeouts per nine. He had a bumpy campaign, but he was coming off two injury-riddled seasons in the years prior. The Yankees have high hopes for Montgomery, and he does have the stuff to get it done, but he just needed a bit more playing time and continuity. I believe 2021 will offer him that.

5.) Domingo German

Yankee ownership reinstated Domingo German following a suspension due to a domestic abuse case. They feel as though he has learned his lesson and he’s a changed man, and getting him back on the diamond will be extremely beneficial.

In 2019, he pitched 143 innings, logging a 4.03 ERA. The expectation is that he can take a step forward, but having missed the entire 2020 season, we should expect some bumps in the road.

Luckily, German is not coming off any significant injuries, so once he gets back into baseball shape, he should be able to pick up right where he left off.

6.) Deivi Garcia

The Yankees asked Deivi García to play an influential role in 2020 due to injured players. García finished with a 4.98 ERA, giving up six homers over 34.1 innings.

This was his first major league action, and he didn’t disappoint on some occasions. He was taken advantage of at times, but he displayed multiple performances that screamed quality. Cashman believes he is an integral part of the rotation moving forward, and I tend to agree. I’m putting him in the last spot, given the fact that he needs more time to adapt, and throwing him right into the fire at the top might be a bit too aggressive.

Reserves:

7.) Clarke Schmidt

8.) Michael King

9.) Jonathan Loaisiga