Yankees name their Opening Day starter after Marcus Stroman declines offer

MLB: Spring Training-New York Yankees at Toronto Blue Jays
Nathan Ray Seebeck-USA TODAY Sports

The New York Yankees had to make a difficult decision after learning that Gerrit Cole would miss the next 10–12 weeks as he rehabilitates from an elbow injury. Fortunately, Cole won’t need Tommy John surgery, but he also won’t be available on opening day, which the Yankees were certainly counting on just several short days ago.

The question bubbling to the surface: who will be the starter on opening day with Cole out of commission?

Well, the first assumption was Marcus Stroman, but the veteran pitcher has rejected the idea and told the Yankee brass as much. Stroman noted the change of schedule and how that can interrupt a ramp-up into the regular season, so the Yankees had to pivot to another veteran who has been a linchpin in the rotation over the past few seasons.

“People don’t understand how much changing your schedule at this point in the spring — might seem like it’s easy — but every little day matters,” said Stroman.

The Yankees Will Look to Nestor Cortes

The Yankees will now feature Nestor Cortes on the mound in late March. The 29-year-old tossed a strong simulation game, according to our reporters down in Tampa on Friday afternoon. Cortes is coming off a season where he was bothered significantly by a rotator cuff strain, which forced him to end his 2023 season prematurely. He only tossed 63.1 innings, hosting a 4.97 ERA. However, Cortes is only one year removed from tossing 158.1 innings with a 2.44 ERA and earning his first All-Star appearance.

This spring, Cortes has pitched 10 innings in three appearances, logging an 8.10 ERA. In his most recent outing, Cortes gave up six earned runs over 3.1 innings, but he had only given up three earned runs over the previous 6.2 innings, so he had a few issues finding the strike zone and controlling opposing batters.

Nonetheless, the Yankees will certainly need several starters to rebound and carry their weight, notably Carlos Rodon, who should’ve been the first up to take over the number one job but the Yankees are ramping him up slowly.

Rodon dropped a ton of weight this off-season and is also coming back from several serious injuries that are deserving of caution. The 31-year-old has thrown 9.2 innings this spring with a 4.66 ERA, showing great velocity but some inconsistencies with his accuracy.

Fortunately, most of the team’s pitchers are trending in the right direction, but clearly, there is a strict schedule to follow, and Stroman is keen on maintaining that pace.

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