Ranking the Yankees’ starting pitchers 16 games into the regular season

nestor cortes jr., yankees

The Yankees are coming off a series sweep against the Cleveland Guardians on Sunday, thanks to a stellar performance from Gerrit Cole after starting the regular season on a bad note. The Bombers now sit with a 10–6 record, boasting phenomenal pitching but inconsistent offensive play.

For the first time all season, the Yankees scored seven or more runs, thanks to a poor pitching performance from Aaron Civale, who gave up six runs over just three innings.

The Yankees have had trouble at times driving in runners in scoring position, but their pitching has picked up the slack tremendously. Cole recently called them out, indicating the need for support to help transfer the game over the bullpen.

“From a starting pitcher’s perspective, we want to keep going as long as we can,” Cole said. “We want to try to push our pitch count and our games as deep as we can go to keep [the relievers] as fresh as we can so they can continue to perform at their level. At the same time, from a team aspect, I think it’s important to get on the board early so that we can turn a lead over to those guys.”

Ranking the Yankees’ starting pitchers 16 games into the regular season:

1.) Nestor Cortes

The Bombers started the year with Nestor Cortes as their No. 5 starter of the rotation, but he has been far and away their most lethal arm. Cortes hosts a 1.15 ERA over just three games, a sample size of 15.2 innings. He’s only given up seven hits, whereas the other four starters have given up at least 10 hits. In fact, he gave up his first two runs of the entire season on Saturday after Josh Naylor belted a two-run shot in the 6th inning.

Cortes has been extremely effective at just 27 years old, and the Yankees might have themselves a long-term starter if he continues to play at this level.

So far this season, Cortes is allowing an 86.5 exit velocity and just a 3.6% barrel rate, two impressive numbers. His 1.29 SIERA and 1.46 xFIP are the best on the team. Interestingly, he’s changed his pitch usage a bit, utilizing his fastball and slider predominantly, seeing decreases with his curveball and change-up.

2.) Luis Severino

Luis Severino is the next on the list, who features a 2.08 ERA over 13 innings. Severino has given up three runs, most of which came in his first start against the Boston Red Sox.

Severino currently hosts a 90.9% left on base rate and 54.1% ground ball rate, two phenomenal numbers. In terms of velocity, he’s averaging out at 97.2 with his fastball, up significantly compared to a small sample sizes over the past two seasons. Severino is also utilizing a cutter this season, throwing it 16.1% of the time. He’s dipped into his slider usage, throwing it just 7.2% and re-allocating it significantly. With great velocity on his fastball and a solid repertoire of pitches, Severino is quickly regaining his 2018 form.

3.) Gerrit Cole

After three questionable outings for Gerrit Cole, he finally enjoyed his best performance of the season on Sunday in a win over Cleveland. Cole lasted 6.2 innings, giving up four hits and striking out nine batters. He tossed 92 pitches, lowering his ERA to 4.00. Cole was dotting the corners and utilizing a lethal slider to bait batters. He also began incorporating a cutter into the mix, something he hasn’t used since college. There’s no downward trend for his velocity, so he simply wasn’t getting the location he was looking for.

Thankfully, Cole seems to be back on track, and the starting rotation for the Yankees appears above average over the first three weeks of the campaign.

4.) Jordan Montgomery

Fourth on the list is Jordan Montgomery, who hosts a 2.51 ERA over 14.1 innings. Montgomery has given up 10 hits, and four earned runs but has otherwise looked great this season. Montgomery allowed one earned run over six innings in his most recent outing, striking out five batters. In fact, he’s pitched 11 innings over his last two games, giving up six hits and just one run, striking out seven batters combined.

If Montgomery continues to pitch at this level, he will be a dangerous mid-rotation arm for the Bombers.

5.) Jameson Taillon

It is great news that the last ranked pitcher in the Yankee starting rotation hosts a 3.07 ERA over 14.2 innings. Jameson Taillon has given up 15 hits and five earned runs, including three homers in that sample size. He’s been the worst of the bunch but has still been very effective for the most part.

Coming off of a 2021 season where he suffered several injuries, including torn ligaments in his ankle, Taillon has gotten off to a solid start. With his velocity hovering around 94.1 mph regarding his fastball, Taillon seems to be on par with his career averages. His pitch usage seems rather consistent compared to the past, so he hasn’t done anything significant to change up his game. The biggest factor for Taillon is simply health and building momentum.

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