Projecting the Yankees’ Opening Day rotation after injury woes

New York Yankees, Domingo german
Mar 6, 2023; Tampa, Florida, USA; New York Yankees starting pitcher Domingo German (0) throws a pitch against the Pittsburgh Pirates in the second inning during spring training at George M. Steinbrenner Field. Mandatory Credit: Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

The Yankees‘ rotation heading into the season is on its last leg. Fortunately, it’s heading into the regular season and not the postseason. It’s important to remember that the team will already be looking quite different to end the year than it does to kick it off, but nonetheless, the Yanks are going to be tested early on.

It was announced that Luis Severino has a low-grade lat strain and will likely not be back for a few weeks. The rotation will now be pieced together with a few guys that certainly aren’t the best options out there, but they’re also far from the worst. 

The Athletic’s Chris Kirschner recently tweeted out that Boone said Clarke Schmidt will start Game 2 next week against the Giants. He’ll follow Cole, and then Nestor Cortes will take the bump following him. After The People’s Ace makes his return, it’ll be Domingo German and a player that’ll be named later. It’s not the most encouraging rotation to roll into the season with, but there are still far worse rotations in baseball. Take the Pirates, I bet they’d love to have a Domingo German in their rotation. 

Geritt Cole and the Wild Cards:

Cole is the undoubted ace of the staff and made his final start of spring yesterday as he went 5.2 innings, giving up one run and striking out a trio of batters as well. His spring ERA will finish at 3.32, and his fastball looks as lively as it ever has. Cole has seemed ready to rock from the moment he took the bump this spring, and now he gets set for another Opening Day start for the Bombers. 

With no Rodon, Clarke Schmidt will fall in line following. Schmidt has had a solid spring when looking at the process over the results. His new cutter has been featured prominently, and that slider and knuckle curve that he throws will be huge components this season. I expect him to break out this year, and my co-host and fellow ESM superstar, Ryan Garcia, has been Team Schmidt for a long time. It’s his time to shine, and I believe Clarke will take that next step this year.

Heading into spring training, it was believed to be a battle between both Schmidt and German for that final spot in the rotation, but now due to injuries and necessities, both guys will have a spot to begin the year. German has had a very Domingo German-esque spring, where he has one very good-looking start and then one where you wish the game wasn’t broadcasted. Domingo’s stuff has never been great, but he does do really well in limiting damage and getting out of trouble. 

Last year, German posted a 3.61 ERA to go with a less-enticing 4.44 FIP over 72.1 innings. He didn’t get swings-and-misses, and his fastball was one of the worst on the staff. However, his big breaking curveball and changeup both played really nicely, and hopefully, Domingo is able to start off the season well and get out of the gates hot. 

The People’s Ace is ready to rock for the Yankees:

Nestor Cortes will be ready for action next week and will be the third guy in the rotation after Clarke pitches and before Domingo takes the mound. The People’s Ace gets set to build on his elite campaign last year, where he earned his first All-Star appearance, whilst also earning baseball fans’ respect and admiration. Nestor did everything right last year and should be a huge part of this team’s success this season. 

He posted career-highs across the board, including; 158.1 innings, a 2.44 ERA, a 2.16 BB/9, 8.2% HR/FB%, and a 3.6 fWAR on the year. He was simply electric, and the Nestor shimmy was the talk of the town for a lot of the year. Having Nestor healthy in this rotation is more important than ever, especially since both Rodon and Sevy will likely be out until the end of April. 

The final spot in the rotation is still unclear at the moment, though Jhony Brito, Deivi Garcia, and Randy Vazquez would be the front runners if I had to guess. Brito seems like the favorite out of the gate, and he’s done pretty well this spring overall. He’s thrown 7.2 innings, struck out 7 guys, and has, most importantly, stayed healthy. 

I still wouldn’t count out Deivi Garcia, as the former high-quality prospect has seemingly turned back the clock. He looked excellent this spring, and the swings-and-misses were back with a vengeance. I can see him pitching some important innings this season and potentially even using him as an opener for a few innings. Garcia may not be the big arm and potential rotation staple we thought he could become, but he can still play a big role on this team. 

The season has yet to even begin, and the Yankees are already clamoring to throw together the backend of their rotation. As stated at the beginning of this piece, fortunately, it’s happening now and not in September or, even worse, October. I also believe that the bullpen will be able to carry the boys throughout the year, as that is certainly one of this team’s largest strengths. I want to keep a positive mind heading into the year, and any rotation with Gerrit Cole and Nestor Cortes in it on opening day should be considered good enough to get by.

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