Yankees’ Aaron Boone says one unit could be ‘really special’ in 2023

New York Yankees, Luis Severino
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 New York Yankees have invested a tremendous amount of money building one of the best starting rotations in all of baseball. Aside from having Gerrit Cole, Frankie Montas, Nestor Cortés, and Luis Severino, management didn’t want to stop there. After losing Jameson Taillon to the Chicago Cubs in free agency, the Bombers looked at the tier above, inking Carlos Rodon to a six-year, $162 million contract.

Rodon has an incredible amount of talent and heading into his age 30 season, he’s coming off consecutive campaigns of sub-3.00 ERA baseball.

In 2022, Rodon recorded a 2.88 ERA, career-low 2.91 xFIP, 11.98 strikeouts per nine, 0.61 home runs per nine, 75.1% left-on-base rate, and 34.1% ground-ball rate across 178 innings. This was the most he’s ever pitched in his career, dealing with injuries in the past that have since been alleviated.

Even manager Aaron Boone is confident that the current starting rotation is the best it’s been during his tenure and could be incredibly unique.

“On paper, certainly it’s the best rotation since I’ve been here,” Boone said this week, speaking to MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM. “The potential is there for them to be really special. If we can keep [them] all healthy and making 25, 30, 30-plus starts, we feel like we’ve got a chance to have something really special.”

The Yankees will need to be careful about workload:

The problem with the rotation is that some starters are coming off injuries or have never pitched such a large sample size. Gerrit Cole is the only proven starter when it comes to pitching a minimum of 150 innings. Last season, Nestor Cortés ran out of gas in the playoffs after tossing 158.1 innings, 60 more than he pitched the year prior, which was a career-high at 93.

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Severino was coming off Tommy John surgery, pitching 102 innings, the first time he reached 100 since 2018. Luckily, that should promote an even bigger sample size in 2023, hopefully between 150+ innings if he can maintain his health.

Even Frankie Montas only pitched over 150 innings once in his career, including 144.1 last season. Four of the Yankees’ five starters will need time to rest down the stretch, where Clarke Schmidt and Domingo Germán could play a big role.

“In a perfect world, you’d love to get 160, 180, 200 innings out of your five guys,” Boone said. “When that’s happening, when your starting pitchers are consistently going out there and getting you through the middle innings, it just sets you up so well. That serves the bullpen well; that allows bullpen guys to be in roles that they should be in, not picking up slack.”

The Yankees cannot rely on most of their starters reaching that level of innings, so they need to mitigate fatigue and workload later in the season if they want to have their entire rotation for the playoffs.

Even if the majority reach 150 innings and Gerrit Cole pushes 200, they can have phenomenal seasons. The Yankees could have multiple starting pitchers reach the All-Star game this year, which would be an incredible feat. Considering the fact that Montas is their No. 5, it is fair to say they have arguably the best rotation in the game.