New York Yankees Opening Day Predictions: Pitching

New York Yankees, Gerrit Cole

As we inch our way closer and closer to the start of the regular season, speculations abound about who will cut the New York Yankees. With Severino, Paxton, and German all-seeing delays to their seasons (in Severino’s case, completely losing 2020), it’ll be interesting to see just how the team constructs their rotation between now and the end of German’s suspension.

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Don’t Go the Opener Route

The Yankees have been out in the open over their embrace of analytics. Which is why it was so confusing to see the Yankees (or any team) go the route of the opener. The opener runs completely against the notion of analytics in any professional sport. Throughout a 162 game season, you’re going to rest a reliever for throwing an inning of work on three consecutive nights. If this happens the night before an opener appearance, you set yourself back for the opener, as opener starts are all hands on deck, ever 4th or 5th day in 162 games. Their bullpen has been overused in 3 consecutive seasons, giving out during the playoffs when we need them the most. Treat the pen like a bullpen, and we’ll get back to the fall classic.

The Gimmies

Gerrit Cole is starting for the Yankees. He’s the best starting pitcher in baseball, and look at all the money the Yankees gave him?! Barring the start against the Tigers, he’s having an excellent Spring Training.

Masahiro Tanaka is also a gimme. The 7-year veteran loses his effectiveness around the All-Star break, and with the lack of depth in our rotation from last year makes the final year of his deal a necessity that he started.

JA Happ is having an excellent spring. So much so that people are forgetting entirely about how lackluster he was last season. If he can carry this into the regular season till, about, June, that’s all we need from him.

Jordan Montgomery is performing beyond expectations. I was surprised to see how much the Yankees are letting Monty cut loose, but it’s necessary for not only his development but the security of the rotation depends on it.

Can Garcia Make the Jump?

Deivi Garcia was spared the first round of cuts, putting him squarely in the fight between him, Loaisiga, and Cessa for the 5th spot in the rotation. Garcia ended 2019 in Scranton, but can he impress enough in the last few starts of the spring to leapfrog staples in the pen-like Loaisiga and Cessa? Or will this be Luis Cessa’s opportunity to show what he truly has as a starter? I think it will ultimately boil down to those two.

Let’s see what happens in the next 2.5 weeks.

New York Yankees: Is the starting pitching rotation in trouble?

New York Yankees, Gerrit Cole

Prior to the start of spring training for the New York Yankees, they had one of the most intimidating rosters in baseball. Their starting pitching rotation consisted of Gerrit Cole, Luis Severino, and James Paxton — three elite to borderline elite arms.

The three-man grouping that was supposed to carry the Yankees into a postseason birth and potentially a World Series appearance in 2020, but that hope has dampened in recent days, as Severino will miss the entire 2020 season after succumbing to Tommy John surgery, and Paxton will be out for at least three months after having a cyst removed from his lower back.

Luckily, Cole has remained healthy, but he allowed four home runs in the first two innings of his outing against the Detroit Tigers on Thursday afternoon. On a windy day, Call was thrashed, proving to everyone that he is, in fact, human.

Is the starting rotation for the New York Yankees in trouble?

The Yankees managed to survive a tumultuous starting pitching rotation in 2019, thanks to a solid bullpen. However, they’ve invested significant assets into a bonafide ace with Cole, and they expected Severino and Paxton to be there one, two, three punch.

A few weeks into Grapefruit league play, and it is fair to say that the rotation is suffering through a bad spell of luck. Considering Cole and Jordan Montgomery gave up a combined 11 runs in five innings doesn’t support any optimism. However, it might have just been a poor outing from the pair, as they have proven in the past they are more than capable of being quality pitchers.

I am not as concerned about Gerrit Cole as I am about the back end of the rotation, though. The Yankees will utilize a bevy of options to supplement the loss of Severino and Paxton in the coming months. I anticipate Jonathan Loaisiga, Jonathan Holder, Michael King, and potentially Clark Schmidt to earn opportunities as the fifth man in the rotation.

New York Yankees: Why we can remain confident in the starting pitching rotation

New York Yankees, Jordan Montgomery

The injuries to Luis Severino and James Paxton have dampened the mood for the New York Yankees fan-base, and rightfully so, as losing your No. 2-3 starters for any amount of time can be detrimental.

However, the Yankees are versed in the reality of injures and have prepared accordingly. Retaining J.A. Happ was part of the master plan to supplement any concerns, and the concerns continue to mount ahead of the March 26 Opening Day matchup against the Baltimore Orioles.

Adding Gerrit Cole as the team’s bonafide ace is now looking more significant with every passing day, and his performance this spring has been right on track with our exaptations.

The New York Yankees can remain confident in the rotation:

The No. 4 arm in the rotation, Jordan Montgomery, who’s coming off Tommy John surgery, has been stellar this Grapefruit League season, posting four strikeouts in two innings against the Boston Red Sox on Saturday afternoon. His 0.00 ERA has proven to manager Aaron Boone that he can be a regular starter moving forward, a massive sign of relief for the Yanks and their managerial staff.

“He has good stuff, he battles out there and attacks the strike zone,’’ an NL scout said of Montgomery, as per the NY Post. “Pre-surgery he and King had the best command. They throw a lot of strikes.’’

A few weeks ago Boone was already high on Jordan’s return and what he brings to the mound:

“I think he has proven himself at this level. For him to get back last year was big, just for his frame of mind,’’ Boone said. “The fact he was able to make it back and get some work done, get into some games, I think was big for him and his mindset moving forward.’’

We mustn’t forget about Domingo German either, who will return at some point, likely after Paxton, who’s projected to make a May return. Montgomery, though, seems to be capable of holding down the fort in the meantime, and the 5th spot will be a rotational bevy consisting of Michael King, Jonatha Holder, and Jonathan Loaisiga.

New York Yankees: Time to panic?

New York Yankees, Aaron Boone

The New York Yankees have only played a few spring training games and the fans are already panicking. A few weeks ago, it was announced that James Paxton was going to be out until June. Earlier this week, it was announced that Luis Severino will have to have Tommy John and miss the entire 2020 season. I wrote an article a few weeks ago that was initially going to be titled “Four Fifteen Game Winners“. This article talked about how James Paxton and Severino would both be above the fifteen win mark. However, before I could publish the article, Paxton got hurt. Now, Severino is done for the year. The Yankees were trying to deal J.A. Happ in December, but now are thanking their lucky stars that they didn’t. So, is it panic time in the Bronx?

I don’t think it’s time for the Yankees to panic. The Yankees are still going to throw out arguably the best pitcher in the game on opening day in Gerrit Cole. The Yankees have one of the more reliable and crafty starters in the league following him in Masahiro Tanaka. After that, we do get a little dicey. J.A. Happ will slide into the third spot in the rotation for now. If Happ can resemble the way he looked in September last year, nobody should have a problem with that. However, if he’s the Happ that we saw for the majority of 2019, it might get rough. Following Happ, you’ll see Jordan Montgomery. Gumby was on pace to be one of the better pitchers in a Yankees rotation prior to him going down with Tommy John early in the 2018 season. If he can return to form, the New York Yankees should have a very solid 1-4 in the rotation assuming Happ can return to decent form. The fifth spot is the biggest question mark at this point. Paxton, Severino, and Domingo German are not options due to injuries and suspensions. I personally don’t think the Yankees will throw one of their top two pitching prospects (Clarke Schmidt & Deivi Garcia) into the fifth spot just yet. Instead, I think the Yankees will try a couple of different pitchers. I know it’s been mentioned, but I think Luis Cessa stays in the bullpen. I think that is where he is best utilized. I think the last spot, for now, will come down to a battle of Mike King and Jonathan Loaisiga. If I had to put money on it, I’d lean a little towards Loaisiga, but it will just come down to who performs better in the spring. I really like Mike King, but I think the starting experience at the MLB level would give Loaisiga the nod as of right now.

The New York Yankees are going to be fine at the end of the day. James Paxton is going to be back before the All Star Break, and we are going to see Domingo German as well. If Paxton can return to the same form he did last year, the Yankees are still going to be in much better shape heading into October in 2020 than they were last year. Essentially sub in Cole for Severino and the Yankees will have a choice of Happ, Montgomery, or German for a fourth starter. Losing Severino for the year definitely hurts, but, I still think the Yankees are the favorites to win the whole damn thing in 2020.

New York Yankees GM Brian Cashman proved us all wrong this offseason

New York Yankees, J.A. Happ

When the beginning of the 2020 offseason began, everyone knew the signing of an ace starting pitcher would be in the near future. General manager Brian Cashman made it known that the New York Yankees wouldn’t go quietly into the night. Unloading $324 million on Gerrit Cole sent a vibration throughout the MLB that shattered records.

Cashman made Cole the highest-paid pitcher in league history, but one of his better decisions came toward the end of the starting rotation. While most clamored on about J.A. Happ and why he should be released/traded effective immediately, Cashman stood his ground, likely informed of the discomfort Luis Severino had been facing this offseason.

Happ had a tumultuous 2019 campaign, finished with a 12-8 record, 34 homers allowed (career-high), and a 5.57 ERA through August. The Yankees barely used him in the postseason due to his inefficacy on the mound.

The New York Yankees might be getting the old J.A. Happ back:

This spring has told a different story for Happ and his lack of confidence from last season. His fastball has been excellent, painting corners and generating easy outs.

“I really wanted to throw strikes from the get go,” Happ told reporters after his outing. “I’m better when I do that. So that’s my main focus … attacking.

Happ threw 30 strikes out of 40 total pitches, which he was happy with. The lone run J.A. allowed on Thursday came by a pop-fly that sneakily landed right before the right-field foul line, allowing a double and a run scored. However, the other nine hitters that walked up to the plate were retired. He forced six ground-outs, two strikeouts, and a fly ball.

“The crispness on his fastball, which we saw return kind of return to that J.A. Happ level late last season, I feel it’s carried over into this spring so far,” Boone said.

The Yanks desperately need Happ to return to his 2018 form, as losing Severino for the entire season and James Paxton for months will undoubtedly hurt the efficiency of the rotation.

New York Yankees: ‘Next Man Up’ Mentality Continues Through the 2020 Season

New York Yankees, Clint Frazier

The New York Yankees are yet again faced with the dilemma of the “next man up” mentality before the season has even started. Giancarlo Stanton is out indefinitely with a calf strain and may not be ready for opening day. James Paxton will miss three to four months and Luis Severino will miss the whole 2020 season due to Tommy John surgery.

Many can now say the Yankees are used to playing through and dealing with injuries, so this nothing new nor surprising at all. Luckily, there are players from last season that got playing time in the Major Leagues because of the absurd amount of injuries. They will have to step up and perform similarly to how they played last year.

Likely “Next Man Up” Players for the 2020 Season

Clint Frazier

This is the year for Frazier to finally prove that he belongs on a Major League roster. He had a nice stretch offensively when the outfielders started to go down with injuries early on in the season. His defense will be the question that defines his ability to stay on the roster. In a backup role to Miguel Andujar or Mike Tauchman, he provides power near the lower third of the lineup.

Mike Tauchman

The player who sparked the “next man up’ mentality, Tauchman, has a chance to split time with Andujar, Wade, and Frazier in left and backup Gardner in center. He was a brilliant surprise last year and is another example of Cashman working his magic, bringing in unforeseen talent. In just 87  games, Tauchman batted .277, hit 13 home runs, and flashed the leather in multiple outfield positions.

Tyler Wade

The Yankees new utility man, Tyler Wade, has become a very valuable player to the team. His ability to play multiple positions becomes more important when a starting outfielder goes down with an injury. He will need to backup Andujar or Frazier in left, backup Torres at short, and LeMahieu at second.

Jonathan Loaisiga

Loaisiga appeared mostly out of the bullpen in 2019 but has the stuff and velocity to become spot-starter or even the fifth pitcher in the rotation. He reached the upper 90s with his fastball and had a nice appearance against the Houston Astros in the postseason.   He and Jordan Montgomery are most likely going to round out the rotation to begin the year.

New York Yankees fans, keep your fingers crossed this is the last time we hear or say the word “injury” all season. Even if they do occur, the “next man up’ mentality worked for the Yankees last year and there is a high chance of success this year. They will have the same players filling those roles for the second year in a row. As long as the starters produce numbers like they did last year, the Yankees will still win plenty of games.

 

New York Yankees: Aaron Boone still confident in team after losing Severino

New York Yankees, Aaron Boone

The New York Yankees haven’t even begun their season yet and they’ve already lost one of the biggest players on the roster. Luis Severino will miss the entire 2020 season to undergo Tommy John surgery.

James Paxton is already going to miss three to four months, Domingo German will return from his suspension in June, and there’s concern around Aaron Judge’s shoulder and Giancarlo Stanton’s calf.

Even though it’s obvious that Severino’s absence is very negative for the team, manager Aaron Boone remains confident in the team and his players.

“We’re good,” Boone said. “We’ve got a lot of good pitchers. We’ll kind of figure it out. It’s an opportunity, obviously, for more and more people to kick the door in and take advantage of an opportunity. Another one knocks here and who wants to take advantage of it? We have a lot of talented people capable of that and we’ll make a good decision regarding it.”

Severino missed pretty much all of last season too due to several injuries he had over the season. The New York Yankees still finished with 103 wins and won the American League East. Even though Severino will be greatly missed, the team is still very talented without him.

“Obviously, missing much of last year, and how tough that was on him, to come in, my immediate reaction is just kind of feeling for him and wanting to check in on him and see how he’s doing,” said Boone. “Obviously, it’s losing a great pitcher. We’ll manage it. We’ll figure it out. We’ll just try to support Sevy right now.”

New York Yankees: Starting Rotation Surrounded in Question Marks After Severino is Recommended Tommy John Surgery

New York Yankees, Luis Severino

Another massive blow struck the New York Yankees organization yesterday. According to Brian Cashman, Luis Severino will be undergoing Tommy John surgery and is expected to miss the entire 2020 season.

MRI’s and CT scans were issued to Severino after the offseason, but no sufficient evidence of anything troubling was found. Discomfort in his forearm would make a return and immediately shut him down from continuing any pitching exercises.

Last season, Severino threw just 20.1 innings in the regular season and the postseason. In the regular season, he recorded a 1.50 ERA, 2.13 FIP, 1.00 WHIP, 3.80 SIERA and a 0.5 fWAR. In the postseason, he recorded a 2.16 ERA, 5.73 FIP, 1.68 WHIP and a 4.53 SIERA.

Severino, who is a career 3.46 ERA, 3.35 FIP, 1.15 WHIP, 3.45 SIERA, 12.8 fWAR pitcher in 530.0 innings pitched, was projected to have solid numbers in 2020.

According to the ZiPS projections prepared by Fangraphs, Severino was expected to record a 3.46 ERA, 3.40 FIP, 1.12 WHIP and a 4.8 fWAR in 166.3 innings pitched. He was also expected to record 10.88 strikeouts per 9 innings, 2.33 walks per 9 innings and 1.19 home runs given up per 9 innings.

To make matters worse, James Paxton underwent back surgery recently and isn’t expected to start until after the All-Star break.

This leads to the question of the century: what now? What adversities do the Yankees have to tackle to improve their odds of winning a championship in 2020?

The bullpen won’t be an issue, as all the reliable relievers are in great condition and healthy. Aroldis Chapman, Adam Ottavino, Chad Green, Tommy Kahnle and Zack Britton were huge contributors in 2019, recording a combined 6.6 fWAR in 294.5 innings pitched. In general, the bullpen recorded a 7.6 fWAR, the 2nd best in baseball.

The main issue is the starting rotation and who exactly will take up the “next man up” challenge from last season. Currently, the Yankees 5-man rotation consists of Gerrit Cole, Masahiro Tanaka, J.A. Happ, Jordan Montgomery and Jonathan Loaisiga.

Even with Severino out for the season, the Yankees will be in business once James Paxton is fully healthy and makes a comeback as the number 2 starter on the 5-man rotation.

Gerrit Cole won’t be an issue. During his spring debut vs the Pittsburgh Pirates, Cole gave up no hits or runs, struck out 2 and walked 1 in 1.0 inning pitched.

In 2019 , Cole recorded an impressive 2.50 ERA, 2.64 FIP, 0.89 WHIP, 2.62 SIERA and a 7.4 fWAR in 212.1 innings pitched. Adding on to these majestic numbers, he struck out 13.82 batters per 9 innings and achieved 326 strikeouts.

Cole was in the 90+ percentile range for fastball velocity, fastball spin, curve spin and strikeout percentage. His arsenal includes a changeup, curve, four-seamer, sinker and a slider. Last season, he made hitters whiff 37.3% of the time and made hitters chase out of the zone 32.3% of the time.

While Masahiro Tanaka isn’t as consistent as Cole, he’s still a reliable weapon when his splitter is dominant, especially in October. In 2019, he recorded a 4.45 ERA, 4.27 FIP, 1.24 WHIP, 4.46 SIERA and a 3.3 fWAR in 182.0 innings pitched.

Unlike Cole, Tanaka was in the bottom percentile range for fastball velocity, fastball spin, curve spin and strikeout percentage. His arsenal includes a curve, cutter, four-seamer, sinker, slider and his most effective pitch, the split-finger.

The higher the success rate is of utilizing a split-finger, the more productive Tanaka will be. In 2018, he made batters whiff 36.2% of the time on 742 split-fingers thrown. Hitters recorded a .210 AVG and a .318 SLG when dealt the split finger.

However, in 2019 due to an issue with gripping the ball properly, Tanaka made hitters whiff only 18.5% of the time. Hitters recorded a .261 AVG and a .415 SLG, a drastic increase from the previous year. If Tanaka wants to remain consistent, the split finger has to be at its most productive during the majority of his starts.

J.A. Happ would be the 3rd starter. Happ performed well in his first spring session vs the Toronto Blue Jays, giving up no hits or runs and striking out 3 hitters in 2.0 innings pitched. Although this was refreshing to witness, consistency will prove whether or not these types of performances will last.

In 2019, Happ posted a 4.91 ERA, 5.22 FIP, 1.30 WHIP, 4.72 SIERA and a 1.3 fWAR in 161.1 innings pitched. His fastball velocity, curve spin and strikeout percentage were in the bottom percentile range, while his fastball spin was just above the 50 percentile range.

Happ’s arsenal includes a changeup, curve, four-seamer, slider and a sinker. What’s concerning is his decreasing fastball velocity. In 2019, he made hitters whiff 25.2% of the time on 1303 four-seamers thrown. On the flip side, Happ gave up the most hits and hitters recorded a .561 SLG against him.

The decline in velocity is a major concern and will determine whether or not Happ will bounce back in 2020.

Jordan Montgomery would be the 4th starter. Alongside Cole, Montgomery made his spring debut vs the Pittsburgh Pirates, giving up no hits or runs and striking out 3 in 2.0 innings pitched.

Montgomery only pitched 4.0 innings last season after undergoing Tommy John surgery in June of 2018. In 2017, his only full season played, he posted a 3.88 ERA, 4.07 FIP, 1.23 WHIP, 4.34 SIERA and a 2.6 fWAR in 155.1 innings pitched.

In 2017, Montgomery’s fastball velocity, fastball spin and curve spin were in the bottom percentile, while his strikeout percentage was just above the 50 percentile range. His arsenal includes a changeup, curve, four-seamer, sinker and a slider.

When throwing curves, Montgomery is a disaster to battle. In 2017, he made hitters whiff at an astonishing 42.8% rate and allowed a .175 AVG and a .281 SLG on 658 pitches.

Montgomery also has an effective changeup that he throws 18.3% of the time. Hitters whiffed 29.6% of the time and recorded a .209 AVG and a .345 SLG on 477 total changeups thrown.

Montgomery has already demonstrated how deadly his changeup and curve are. The only obstacle keeping Montgomery off track is his past health report with Tommy John surgery.

Last, but certainly not least, Jonathan Loaisiga would be the 5th starter. Loaisiga made his spring debut vs the Tampa Bay Rays, giving up no hits or runs and striking out 1 in 1.0 inning pitched.

In 2019, Loaisiga posted a 4.55 ERA, 4.95 FIP, 1.48 WHIP, 4.34 SIERA and a 0.1 fWAR in 31.2 innings pitched. His fastball velocity, fastball spin and curve spin were all in excellent condition. His arsenal includes a changeup, curve, four-seamer and a sinker.

Loaisiga relies heavily on his changeup, curve and four-seamer. Hitters whiffed on changeups 43.6% of the time, but recorded a ridiculous .375 AVG and a .625 SLG on 76 pitches. When a curve was thrown, hitters whiffed 45.8% of the time and struggled severely with a .125 AVG and a .150 SLG on 182 pitches.

When a four-seamer was thrown, hitters whiffed 27.8% of the time. However, just like when changeups were thrown, hitters recorded an absurd .354 AVG and a .729 SLG on 282 pitches.

Location is everything, which means that if Loaisiga can remain consistent, his changeups and four-seamers will be a dominant force.

A 5-man rotation consisting of Gerrit Cole, Masahiro Tanaka, J.A. Happ, Jordan Montgomery and Jonathan Loaisiga isn’t ideal, but it’s feasible. Locating consistently and staying healthy will determine whether or not the Yankees will glow it up in October or cave in.

 

New York Yankees: The Blessing in Disguise with Severino’s Injury

New York Yankees, Luis Severino

New York Yankees fans are justifiably distraught after the news about Luis Severino emerged today. This will ultimately result in Severino making his long-awaited return to regular season pitching by possibly June of 2021. But the blessing in disguise of all this is just how much we can see our prospective pitchers grow and blossom.

The Big Break They Need

Cessa, Loaisiga, King, Montgomery, Abreu, Garcia. We’ve been hearing great things about all these pitchers for a long time now. We’ve seen what some of them could do. The benefit that they have is the prolonged audition period of showing they are true MLB starter material.

We still have Tanaka, Cole, and Happ. This leaves us 2 spots to fill. Many suspects that Montgomery (who’s only thrown 31.1 innings since 2018 in the regular season) will win back a spot in the rotation. We know what Cessa, Loaisiga, and (very briefly) King in the regular season can do. Abreu and Garcia have been talked about for so long, that one of them has a legitimate shot at a rotation spot.

Now, Happ will be our surefire number 5 in the rotation. If the New York Yankees don’t want to pick up Happ’s $17 million option for next year, he will be sent to the pen or traded by the deadline. By June, we know that Paxton and German will be back. This leaves clear and obvious room for two of those 5 names to become season-long members of the starting rotation. Fans complain about how the Yankees don’t do enough to “developing pitching” (forgetting of course how they developed Dellin Betances, David Robertson, Luis Severino, and Tyler Clippard to name a few), here’s the chance for Abreu to show WHY he’s the Yankees top prospect. He already has more strikeouts than innings pitched in the minors. His time is now. Who knows? He might beat out Jordan Montgomery.

I’m in no way trying to make light of Severino’s injury. But there is a silver lining to all of this. Tanaka is a free agent next year. If he doesn’t come back, and we don’t have Happ, the brightest prospects from this year will clearly be there next year. This… is… good!

New York Yankees: Who will replace Luis Severino in the starting rotation?

New York Yankees, Michael King

New York Yankees fans learned that Luis Severino will require Tommy John surgery after missing all but two weeks of the last season, due to rotator cuff and lat injuries. Yankee fans are thinking, “it’s deja vu all over again”.

Last season the Yankees lost 30 players to 39 separate entries to the IL.  Now with losing James Paxton to Back surgery and ace Luis Severino to Tommy John surgery, the Yankee hopeful are hoping this is not a return to last year’s unprecedented injuries. The very practical matter Yankee management must deal with and right away is who will replace these pitchers in the rotation that previously was thought to be one of the best in baseball with the addition of the $324MM Gerrit Cole.

The pitching rotation will now be led by Cole, Masahiro Tanaka, and J.A. Happ, who was recently announced at the first starter.  Happ will now move two spots up to number three.  The previous choice as a six starter or replacement was LHP Jordan Montgomery, who is also returning from Tommy John.  He missed all of last season rehabbing from the surgery.  In 2017-18 the 27-year-old posted a 3.84 ERA in 35 career starts before he got hurt.  Pitchers returning from TJS seldom return to their previous form.  This usually comes back in bits and pieces over a year to as much as three years.  Pitching control is often the last element to return.  In Gerrit Cole’s start on Monday, Jordan Montgomery pitched two clean innings in relief, which is encouraging.

That leaves the fifth spot in the rotation now open,  General Manager Brian Cashman has made it clear that the saving grace for the Yankees is their pitching depth and the hungry players waiting to make a name for themselves.   When questioned about the lack of trade possibilities, he stated:

“We’re always constantly looking for upgrades anyway, but this time of year, that’s how it shakes out, especially until after the June draft regardless. So, you rely on your depth. And I wouldn’t say (to) expect any domino effect or cause and effect in terms of us being able to go to the marketplace, where a marketplace typically this time of year doesn’t exist.”

The most logical candidates for the first spot are Jonathan Loaisiga and Micheal King, who are further along with their development. EmpireSportsMedia.com’s Alex Wilson reported on them earlier today.  The other two possibilities are #1 prospect Deivi Garcia ad #2 prospect Clarke Schmidt who pitched in the game the Yankees lost to the Pirates. Baseball America ranks the New York Yankee pitching prospect Deivi Garcia the #2 pitching prospect, MLB Pipeline rates him as #1.  No matter where you rank him, he is a Yankee prospect that will make an impact sooner than later.

Deivi has attracted a lot of attention from the media in the few days he’s been in Tampa. Garcia is known as a strikeout machine as he struck out 165 batters in just 111 innings this past season. With his swift progress last year, he can smell the majors getting closer.

“Of course, I would love to contribute, right, in some way. It’s always — you understand that you’re getting closer.” Garcia said. “Being here, I have an opportunity to learn a lot from all the veterans in this room, that’s something that I want to do,” All of Garcia’s comments are translated by the Yankee’s Dominican born translator Abreu.

Manager Aaron Boone and the coaches will be observing Deivi as the spring training season progresses, mainly because of how fast he has advanced in the minors, last year he advanced from the AA Trenton Thunder to the AAA Scranton Wilkes/Barre Rail Riders.  It was previously thought that he might make his major league debut sometime this year, but now with the loss of Luis Servino, that might happen earlier according to how he performs in spring training.

Another possibility to fill that fifth spot is Clarke Schmidt, who has already impressed in spring training.  Schmidt is another Tommy John veteran, having the surgery in 2017.  The Yankees drafted him in the first round in 2017 after the South Carolina 21-year-old had a great year with the Gamecocks. Schmidt threw 111.1 innings showing off better than average strikeout stuff.  The Yankees, due to his rehab from TJS, have taken it cautiously with Schmidt.  Even so, he has progressed nicely. The 24-year-old still has to prove that he can continue to expand his innings limit, with an injury-free season.  The Yankees have been looking at pushing him to 140 innings this year at Scranton.  But again now, with the major league starting rotation in flux, due to injuries, they may push him even harder.  It is not out of the question that Stadium will see both of these budding stars at some point during the season.

With one spot in the rotation seemingly up for grabs, don’t be surprised if either of these two bright prospects shows up to fill the void. Especially if there are injuries to Jonathan Loaisiga or Micheal King or even Masahiro Tanaka, who has been dealing with a partially torn UCL for the past few years. Tanaka chose rehab rather than surgery.  The Yankees certainly hope this is the last bad news they will receive on the injury front.