The Yankees’ starting rotation has one big vulnerability

luis severino, yankees
Jul 13, 2022; Bronx, New York, USA; New York Yankees manager Aaron Boone (17) talks with starting pitcher Luis Severino (40) during the second inning against the Cincinnati Reds at Yankee Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Vincent Carchietta-USA TODAY Sports

The Yankees rotation is certainly one of the best in baseball as it stands. On paper, the five-man rotation is as elite as any, but there are some questions pertaining to them staying healthy for a full season’s worth. Despite the acquisition of the exceptional Carlos Rodón, he has not pitched over 180 innings in his entire career. As for the rest of the rotation, questions arise about whether or not they’ll be put on innings limits this season, as they have been in years past.

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Every guy has something to prove, and for Sevy, it’s the biggest year of his career:

Rodón is one of the best arms in baseball and was the undisputed ace to sign this offseason. When he’s on the bump, he’s the in upper echelon of pitchers, but there are a few worries that he won’t be able to pitch an entire season’s worth. Last year was his most complete season, as he posted a 2.88 ERA with a 2.25 FIP, over 178.0 innings logged. If he’s able to give a nearly identical line this upcoming season in pinstripes, that is plenty good enough.

As for Luis Severino, it has been a while since we’ve seen a full year’s worth of production out of him. With his injury history in the past, last year, he was on an inning count. The team elected to play it very safe with Sevy, as he was tossed on the 60-day IL, despite him saying he didn’t need to be shut down for that long. The Yankees have played it safe with Sevy for the past few years, and this year could be the first where he’s not on a pitch count. 

This season is a contract year for Severino, and every Yankees fan would want him to sign an extension to stay in pinstripes. However, we need to see a full year’s worth of production from Sevy, and what better time to put all the cards in the table than now? It’s a big year for him, and if he can log even 170 innings, he’ll see a payday come his way. When he’s on, he’s on, and his stuff is absolutely electric. 

The People’s Ace could be even better than last season, assuming he’s got a longer leash:

Then there’s Nestor Cortes, who is coming off the heels of a breakout 2022 campaign. He was dominant, earned his first All-Star appearance, and was heralded as the Yankees’ ace for the majority of the year. Much like Severino, though, he was used far less in the back half of the year because the organization wanted to keep him fresh for October. Assuming Nestor, like Sevy, won’t be on an innings count this season means we may not have seen the best of him quite yet. 

Cortes was the true People’s Ace, as he logged 158.1 innings, with a 2.44 ERA & 3.13 FIP, paired with a 9.27 K/9 and very commendable 2.16 BB/9. He also avoided trouble a majority of the time, as his 0.91 HR/9 and 8.2% HR/FB% indicated. He’s the definition of a warrior, and when he’s on the bump, it’s guaranteed to be a great game. If Nestor can log a full year’s worth with no restrictions, that’ll be a huge win for the Yankees, even if he regresses a tad. 

Montas needs to be healthy, though that could be wishful thinking:

Finally, there’s the curious case of Frankie Montas. His stuff is ridiculous, and when he’s healthy, he’s still one of the best in baseball. That’s the problem, though, with his Yankee tenure is that he hasn’t been healthy. He’s already slated to miss some time to start the season, as his shoulder injury from last year is already barking once more. 

It makes one worry a bit about the longevity and overall health of his arm, and if his shoulder injury is potentially worse than we may believe, that could be a problem the team has to address. As it currently stands, I believe that Clarke Schmidt and Domingo German could do the job fine as the fifth starter. However, having a healthy Montas could really be game-changing. He didn’t get a chance to show what he’s made of, and this year is a big one for Montas and what the rest of his future could hold. 

The Yankees’ rotation is one of the best in baseball, and that cannot be understated. The questions pertaining to their health and usage this season are pertinent, but I hope the staff and personnel can keep the boys healthy all year long. It’s certainly wishful thinking, believing that every guy will stay healthy, but thankfully the Yankees have prioritized depth. Over a full season, with a healthy staff, this team could make a run at the elusive No. 28.