When the New York Yankees signed superstar slugger Aaron Judge to a nine-year, $362 million deal, they weren’t ready to stop spending, especially having promised Judge that they would continue adding World Series-caliber pieces.
Several weeks after Judge landed himself a behemoth extension, the Yankees found themselves in the mix for starting pitcher, Carlos Rodon. Without Rodon, the Yankees had a suitable starting rotation that performed well during the 2022 season. They had lost Jameson Taillon, but he was replaceable as the team’s No. 5 starter.
In his place, they added a legitimate ace in Rodon, who signed a six-year, $162 million deal coming off his second consecutive season with a sub-3.00 ERA.
The Bombers have something special brewing in the rotation this upcoming season. Having seen a full year of Luis Severino coming off Tommy John surgery and Nestor Cortés pushing his inning limits, the team has great momentum in the pitching department heading into 2023. In fact, this might be one of the best rotations the team has ever had if they can live up to their potential and remain healthy.
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The Yankees’ rotation is elite:
1.) Gerrit Cole
Gerrit Cole is the epitome of longevity. At 32 years old, Cole has pitched over 200 innings five times in his career, including 200.2 during the 2022 season. He recorded a 3.50 ERA, 2.77 xFIP, 11.53 strikeouts per nine and a 78.2% left on base rate. Cole did have a bit of a problem in the home run department, allowing 1.48 per nine innings with a 16.8% HR/FB ratio. Despite those numbers, Cole rarely allows contact hitting to get the best of him. He was able to maintain his fastball velocity at 97.8 mph, the same as his 2021 metric.
There’s a very real possibility that Cole ends up playing second fiddle to Rodon, but there’s no question he has elite stamina that helps him down the stretch and during the playoffs. Over 18.1 innings in the postseason this past year, the only 2.95 ERA and 11.29 strikeouts per nine. He showed up in a big way, but the team’s offense is what ultimately hurt their chances.
2.) Carlos Rodon
Rodon is a special player at 30 years old. The lefty starter earned a 2.88 ERA, 2.91 xFIP, and 12 strikeouts per nine across 178 innings last season, a career-high in innings. His 75.1% left-on-base rate and phenomenal 0.61 home runs per nine right are tremendous.
Rodon utilizes a 4-seam fastball and slider combination as his primary two pitches. His fastball generated a .213 batting average against with a 28% whiff rate and 24.1% put-away rate last year. His slider was even better, producing a .193 average, 39% whiff rate, and 24.2% put-away rate. Both pitches rack up impressive strikeout numbers.
Rodon has dealt with a number of injuries in the past but putting together two years of consistent play convinced the Yankees to sign him on a six-year contract.
3.) Nestor Cortes
What more is there to say about Nestor Cortés other than the fact he put together one of the most inspiring seasons of any Yankee last year.
Cortés earned his first All-Star appearance at 28 years old. Posting a 2.44 ERA, 3.63 xFIP, 9.27 strikeouts per nine, and an 82.8% left on-base rate. He pitched a career-high 158.1 innings and saw his fastball touch 91.7 mph in average velocity, a personal best. If Cortés can replicate this past campaign, the Yankees are in great shape in the middle of their rotation. Having two lefty pitchers to work with is also an added benefit.
4.) Luis Severino
The return of Luis Severino has given the Yankees plenty of confidence moving forward. Severino has undergone two Tommy John surgery in his career but pitched 102 innings last season, posting a 3.18 ERA and nearly 10 strikeouts per nine. His 80% left-on-base rate at 44.3% ground ball rate gives us plenty of excitement regarding his consistency.
His Steamer projections have him pitching 145 innings next season, earning a 3.56 ERA and 10 strikeouts per nine. Those would be great numbers with an increased workload, but the Yankees need to manage his fatigue down the stretch to maintain his health.
5.) Frankie Montas
It is not surprising that fans have given up on Frankie Montas already after struggling with the Yankees after the trade deadline last summer. At 29 years old, he finished with a 4.05 ERA across 144.1 innings.
Montas struggled with a shoulder injury down the stretch which likely impacted his fundamentals and quality donning the pinstripes. Before being traded to the Bronx, he logged a 3.18 ERA across 104.2 innings in Oakland. Those numbers don’t just crash overnight, so he must’ve been dealing with something that impacted his game significantly.
The Yankees having Montas as their No. 5 is just another example of how strong the rotation is. If Montas ends up putting together a strong 2023 campaign, the Bombers might just have the best rotation in baseball.