The Yankees face big starting pitching problems ahead

New York Yankees, Luis Severino

The New York Yankees taking their time during the first portion of free agency could come back to bite them in the butt. Teams spent a tremendous amount of money to scoop up players before the lockout commenced.

Already off the board: Max Scherzer, Robbie Ray, Kevin Gausman, Eduardo Rodriguez, and many more, leaving the Yankees with a small pool of available targets once free agency opens back up. They could look toward Zack Greinke, who is preparing to turn 39 years old this year, or Clayton Kershaw from the Los Angeles Dodgers. The pickings are slim, especially after losing Corey Kluber this off-season to the Tampa Bay Rays.

When looking at the Yankees’ current situation, they have Gerrit Cole, Jordan Montgomery, Jameson Taillon, Luis Severino, and Domingo German.

Taillon is still working his way back from torn ligaments in his ankle suffered at the end of the 2021 season, pitching in 29 games last year. Having been acquired from the Pittsburgh Pirates last off-season in hopes of injecting talent into the rotation, Taillon finished with a 4.30 ERA over 144.1 innings. He tallied a career-low 33.2% ground ball rate but did have a 73.1% left on base rate.

Looking at Taillon’s specific pitches, he saw a tremendous increase in fastball usage, which is in line with the Yankees’ strategy. He threw his fastball nearly 50% of the time compared to 27% in 2019. His sinker reduced tremendously to 5.5% from a career average of 22.7%. He mixed in his change-up, slider, and curveball normally. With his fastball velocity down over 1 mph, it was clear that Taillon was still working his way back from Tommy John surgery and wasn’t fully healthy.

The team needs Jameson to be at the best of his capabilities next season, otherwise, the Yankees will find themselves in a difficult position once again in the middle of the rotation. Severino presents another liability, having pitched just 18 innings over the past three years combined. He did get a bit of action at the end of the 2021 season, recording six innings, but it was so minimal the team can’t possibly rely on him as a consistent starter moving forward without testing him in a bullpen role first.

Right off the bat, we have two significant starters who have missed ample time and proven to be liabilities. That doesn’t exactly brew optimism regarding the team’s strength and depth at the position.

The obvious weakness in the rotation leads us to free agency, where the Yankees have a small pool to choose from. This could suggest that general manager Brian Cashman looks to others for a potential trade, bringing in a low-key talent that won’t cost them an arm and a leg.

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