New York Yankees, Michael King
baseball

New York Yankees: Who will replace Luis Severino in the starting rotation?

New York Yankees fans learned that Luis Severino will require Tommy John surgery after missing all but two weeks of the last season, due to rotator cuff and lat injuries. Yankee fans are thinking, “it’s deja vu all over again”.

Last season the Yankees lost 30 players to 39 separate entries to the IL.  Now with losing James Paxton to Back surgery and ace Luis Severino to Tommy John surgery, the Yankee hopeful are hoping this is not a return to last year’s unprecedented injuries. The very practical matter Yankee management must deal with and right away is who will replace these pitchers in the rotation that previously was thought to be one of the best in baseball with the addition of the $324MM Gerrit Cole.

The pitching rotation will now be led by Cole, Masahiro Tanaka, and J.A. Happ, who was recently announced at the first starter.  Happ will now move two spots up to number three.  The previous choice as a six starter or replacement was LHP Jordan Montgomery, who is also returning from Tommy John.  He missed all of last season rehabbing from the surgery.  In 2017-18 the 27-year-old posted a 3.84 ERA in 35 career starts before he got hurt.  Pitchers returning from TJS seldom return to their previous form.  This usually comes back in bits and pieces over a year to as much as three years.  Pitching control is often the last element to return.  In Gerrit Cole’s start on Monday, Jordan Montgomery pitched two clean innings in relief, which is encouraging.

That leaves the fifth spot in the rotation now open,  General Manager Brian Cashman has made it clear that the saving grace for the Yankees is their pitching depth and the hungry players waiting to make a name for themselves.   When questioned about the lack of trade possibilities, he stated:

“We’re always constantly looking for upgrades anyway, but this time of year, that’s how it shakes out, especially until after the June draft regardless. So, you rely on your depth. And I wouldn’t say (to) expect any domino effect or cause and effect in terms of us being able to go to the marketplace, where a marketplace typically this time of year doesn’t exist.”

The most logical candidates for the first spot are Jonathan Loaisiga and Micheal King, who are further along with their development. EmpireSportsMedia.com’s Alex Wilson reported on them earlier today.  The other two possibilities are #1 prospect Deivi Garcia ad #2 prospect Clarke Schmidt who pitched in the game the Yankees lost to the Pirates. Baseball America ranks the New York Yankee pitching prospect Deivi Garcia the #2 pitching prospect, MLB Pipeline rates him as #1.  No matter where you rank him, he is a Yankee prospect that will make an impact sooner than later.

Deivi has attracted a lot of attention from the media in the few days he’s been in Tampa. Garcia is known as a strikeout machine as he struck out 165 batters in just 111 innings this past season. With his swift progress last year, he can smell the majors getting closer.

“Of course, I would love to contribute, right, in some way. It’s always — you understand that you’re getting closer.” Garcia said. “Being here, I have an opportunity to learn a lot from all the veterans in this room, that’s something that I want to do,” All of Garcia’s comments are translated by the Yankee’s Dominican born translator Abreu.

Manager Aaron Boone and the coaches will be observing Deivi as the spring training season progresses, mainly because of how fast he has advanced in the minors, last year he advanced from the AA Trenton Thunder to the AAA Scranton Wilkes/Barre Rail Riders.  It was previously thought that he might make his major league debut sometime this year, but now with the loss of Luis Servino, that might happen earlier according to how he performs in spring training.

Another possibility to fill that fifth spot is Clarke Schmidt, who has already impressed in spring training.  Schmidt is another Tommy John veteran, having the surgery in 2017.  The Yankees drafted him in the first round in 2017 after the South Carolina 21-year-old had a great year with the Gamecocks. Schmidt threw 111.1 innings showing off better than average strikeout stuff.  The Yankees, due to his rehab from TJS, have taken it cautiously with Schmidt.  Even so, he has progressed nicely. The 24-year-old still has to prove that he can continue to expand his innings limit, with an injury-free season.  The Yankees have been looking at pushing him to 140 innings this year at Scranton.  But again now, with the major league starting rotation in flux, due to injuries, they may push him even harder.  It is not out of the question that Stadium will see both of these budding stars at some point during the season.

With one spot in the rotation seemingly up for grabs, don’t be surprised if either of these two bright prospects shows up to fill the void. Especially if there are injuries to Jonathan Loaisiga or Micheal King or even Masahiro Tanaka, who has been dealing with a partially torn UCL for the past few years. Tanaka chose rehab rather than surgery.  The Yankees certainly hope this is the last bad news they will receive on the injury front.

 

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