Yankees Opinion: The starting rotation will look a lot different in 2021

New York Yankees, Deivi Garcia

The New York Yankees have had their fair share of struggles with the starting pitching rotation, especially with injuries. The injury bug has been a prevalent factor for the Bombers the past few years, and 2020 didn’t start any better.

Masahiro Tanaka was struck with a line drive off the bat of Giancarlo Stanton, and James Paxton is currently on the injured list with a forearm flexor strain. That has forced the bullpen into more tumultuous positions and created an inconsistency among the group.

However, the Yankees are headed toward a free agency where they could lose three starters, including Tanaka, Paxton, and JA Happ.

Current starting pitching rotation:

1.) Gerrit Cole

2.) James Paxton (IL)

3.) Masahiro Tanaka

4.) J.A. Happ

5.) Jordan Montgomery

The current rotation has been rocky at times, but Cole and Tanaka have been two of the more consistent options. The Yankees have also injected young pitcher Deivi García into the mix, as he currently hosts an impressive 3.28 ERA over four appearances. He has earned 24 strikeouts and allowed nine runs over 24.2 innings pitched. His fantastic start to his MLB career has led me to believe that he will factor into the rotation next year in a big way.

Happ, on the other hand, has been forced into a more prevalent role due to injuries. In an abbreviated season, if he makes 10 starts or pitches over 60 innings, a one-year vesting option will initiate. The Yankees will be on the hook for $17 million on a one-year deal for a pitcher who posted a 4.91 ERA last season. So far, he has been much better, with a 3.96 ERA that seems to be fueled by anger at the Yankees for potentially passing over him in the rotation to avoid his vesting option.

Nonetheless, the current rotation has provided enough struggles to Warren changes heading into 2021.

2021 projected pitching rotation:

1.) Gerrit Cole

2.) Luis Severino

3.) Masahiro Tanaka

4.) Deivi Garcia

5.) Jordan Montgomery

6.) Domingo German

With three of their starters becoming free agents, I believe Tanaka is the only one they retain, given Happ’s departure. This year, he currently has a 3.16 ERA over eight appearances and 37 total innings. He has been phenomenal so far, and at 31 years old, it is clear that Tanaka is still more than capable of dominating in the MLB. He is currently in the final year of a seven-year, $155 million contract. He’s being paid a base salary of $23 million, but I believe that price could go down if they retain him on a 2-3 year deal.

Nonetheless, I project Garcia moving up to the number three spot in the rotation, in the absence of Paxton. If Happ isn’t kept, the Yankees will likely sign a free agent to fill the fifth spot, potentially even moving Jordan Montgomery down one.

The reality is, the Yankees have a solid starting pitching unit that’s simply hasn’t remained consistent this year in a strange season. I believe over a deeper sample size of games and the normalcy of an MLB campaign; they will look far better.

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