New York Yankees: Yankees pitching contest heats up big time

New York Yankees, Domingo German
Apr 28, 2019; San Francisco, CA, USA; New York Yankees starting pitcher Domingo German (55) throws a pitch during the first inning against the San Francisco Giants at Oracle Park. Mandatory Credit: Sergio Estrada-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Yankees, after the 2020 season, let three of their pitchers walk. Masahiro Tanaka, James Paxton, and J. A. Happ were all free agents after the 2020  season when the Yankees only offered a qualifying offer to DJ LeMahieu. The move was basically cleaning the house after several years of not reaching the World Series. The Yankees have not won a World Series since 2009.

After the mass exit, the Yankees prioritized the re-signing of 2020 baseball batting champion DJ LeMahieu, and most everything else took to the backburner. Once the Yankees signed LeMahieu, they immediately got to work rebuilding the starting rotation by signing two-time Cy Young Award winner Corey Kluber. A few days later, they traded with the Pittsburgh Pirates for starter James Taillon. The Yankee already had Jordan Montgomery and two returning pitchers Luis Severino and Domingo German.

The New York Yankees pitching rotation for the new season was pretty well set up. Yankee ace Gerrit Cole would lead off with Kluber following and Taillon following him. Then it would be Jordan Montgomery, who is two years out from his Tommy John surgery. That left just the fifth spot in the rotation to be solved. The Yankees weren’t worried about that as they have a bevy of pitchers that could fill that spot. Among them are Deivi Garcia, Clarke Schmidt, Domingo German, Micheal King, Nick Nelson, and even Jhoulys Chacin.

Schmidt is out of the picture due to an injury, at least for the start of the regular season. Other than that, the Yankees are in a happy place because most of the contenders for that fifth spot have pitched well in spring training. Deivi Garcia, their number one pitching prospect, did not have the best of starts in his spring training debut. Yesterday in Tampa, Domingo German had an excellent start pitching two scoreless innings. He was followed by Micheal King, who also pitched two scoreless innings.

It seems the contest for who will fill that fifth spot in the rotation is really heating up with no clear winner emerging. With Domingo German’s performance yesterday, he at the moment seems to have the best edge. He was 18-4 in the 2019 season before being suspended for domestic violence. The New York Yankees think he has demonstrated that he is sorry for his infraction and is a changed man, although they will be watching him closely on and off the field.

Spring training is only in its first days, and there will be plenty of opportunities for the other contenders to make their case for a starting position. The Yankees are lucky to have such depth in the minors, with many Major League-ready pitchers and many others yet to prove they are ready for the big time. One must also not forget that sometime in July, Luis Severino should be returning to the Yankees after Tommy John’s surgery. Severino in 2018 was 19-8 and had a tiny 1.50 ERA in 2019 before his elbow injury.

Today Jameson Taillon will get his second start of spring training against the Pittsburgh Pirates, his old team, in Bradenton, Florida, which is just a 50-mile bus ride south of Tampa at LECOM Park. On Sunday, Jordan Montgomery will get his second start against the Philadelphia Phillies back at George M. Steinbrenner Field in St. Pete.