Yankees already staring down the barrel of a big starting pitching problem

frankie montas, new york yankees
Sep 16, 2022; Milwaukee, Wisconsin, USA; New York Yankees pitcher Frankie Montas (47) throws a pitch in the first inning against the Milwaukee Brewers at American Family Field. Mandatory Credit: Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Yankees learned of some disappointing news on Wednesday afternoon. Finding out that starting pitcher Frankie Montas will undergo shoulder surgery and likely miss the entire 2023 season was certainly not how the team anticipated starting their spring training.

At 29 years old, Montas was seemingly already dealing with a shoulder injury when the Yanks acquired him from the Oakland Athletics. The team shut him down after just 39.2 innings, and he ended up missing the entire postseason. The arthroscopic surgery on his shoulder could result in a timetable that warrants a return at the end of the 2023 campaign, but that is optimistic. In the meantime, the Yankees are already looking to their supplements, Domingo Germán and Clarke Schmidt.

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The Yankees are sticking t their guns for now:

According to reports, the Bombers aren’t looking to acquire another pitcher just yet, but depending on how German and Schmidt perform, I wouldn’t be surprised to see them dabbling in the market at the trade deadline over the summer.

Acquiring lefty ace Carlos Rodon looks like a stroke of genius now. Nonetheless, Nestor Cortés already tweaked his hamstring and will miss the first two weeks of spring training, so the Yankees have to tread carefully to maintain their starting rotation.

According to people with direct knowledge of the team’s thinking, the Yanks’ plan is to lean on internal options like Domingo German and Clarke Schmidt at the back of the rotation. There was no serious internal discussion on Wednesday about a potential trade.

Per Andy Martino of SNY.

Many are split on who should serve as the No. 5, but German will likely get the first cracks if the Yankees desire to utilize Schmidt in the bullpen.

At 30 years old, German signed a $2.6 million deal to stick with the Yankees this year. He pitched 72.1 innings in 2022, hosting a 3.61 ERA, 7.22 strikeouts per nine, and a 78.5% left-on-base rate. His Steamer projections have him earning a 4.34 ERA across 97 innings, which isn’t exactly productive. Losing Montas is a significant blow, considering he’s an efficient and talented starter when healthy — we can cough this one up as another Brian Cashman dud.

There may be more upside with Schmidt at the end of the day. At 26 years old, Schmidt enjoyed a 3.12 ERA across 57.2 innings last season. He posted 8.74 strikeouts per nine, and a 75% left-on-base rate, and a 42.1% ground ball rate. He’s ready to take on a significant relief role or fill in at the back of the rotation if need be, but given German’s lack of usability in the bullpen, the writing is on the wall.