The Yankees have stockpiled a lot of talented players in the past three years. Quite a couple had a good impact on the team or is expected to have. But all of them are position players. So far the pitching isn’t panning out as expected. It looks like the rotation for the upcoming two or three years may be the Achilles heel of the team.
Masahiro Tanaka, in fact, is the only reliable factor in the rotation of the Yankees. In 2016 he posted a 14-4 record and a 3.07 ERA. During this year’s spring training he did not allow a run so far. There is a tiny problem with Tanaka this year. He has an opt-out clause in his contract. And it is very likely that he will opt out at the end of the upcoming season. And the Yankees have stated that they will not talk about contract extensions this season.
In the past, I have been rather harsh on C.C. Sabathia for being over the top and consuming too big amounts of money. But last year he fought back from a sub-par period due to bad knees. Sure a 9-12 record with a 3.91 does not come close to his numbers that he used to post, but on the other hand, those numbers were a lot worse in the previous years.
The third starter for the Yankees will be Michael Pineda. You can wonder why. Despite showing flashes of brilliance, the tall right-hander has been vastly inconsistent and rather ineffective with a losing record (6-12) and an ERA close to 5.00. Perhaps Joe Girardi should let him compete for the spot.
But that is the problem. During spring training, the Yankees have tried to throw several prospects into this competition but so far none of them performed as desired.
Acquired in a trade with the Detroit Tigers, Luis Cessa was regarded as one of the jewels in the crown for the Yankees. With the Yankees’ AAA team in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, Cessa posted a 3.03 ERA with a 6-3 record before being called up by the Yankees. He posted a 4-4 record with a 4.35 ERA. He showed enough promise for the Yankees to let him compete for two of the starting jobs in 2017. But so far he is very disappointing with his 6.52 ERA.
Then Luis Severino. The 23-year old Dominican was regarded as a very promising prospect in 2016. But with the MLB squad, he did not live up to the expectations. His 2015 season was very promising with a 5-3 record and a 2.89 ERA. But 2016 was mind boggling. In 22 appearances (11 starts) he went 3-8 with a 5.83 ERA. So far with the 2017 spring training, he clinched two wins with an ERA of 3.95.
Chad Green did rather well in five MLB appearances, of which two start this spring training he posted a 1.50 ERA. But after being sent to minor league spring training camp he was hit hard and did not look promising at all.
Even though Bryan Mitchell went 3-1 in seven games this spring, his ERA of 4.57 wasn’t something to write home about either.
Even Adam Warren did not live up to the expectations this spring. Last year (with the Yankees) he recorded four wins and two losses in 29 relief appearances. His 3.26 ERA was solid. But so far this spring his ERA is nearing 5.00.
So none of the aforementioned youngsters who are in the mix for two rotation spots did do well. In a desperate move, the Yankees called up Jordan Montgomery, who even isn’t on the 40-man roster.
For the upcoming season, this may not be a big problem as the Yankees still can use Tanaka and Sabathia. But if Tanaka opts out at the end of the season, and it is very likely he will, and after Sabathia has thrown his final pitch, he will be a free agent and it is unlikely that the Yankees will sign him again, the Yankees will have a serious problem in 2018. Especially when you know that they want to get under the $195 million threshold for the luxury tax, they cannot spend millions of dollars on free agent pitchers. In other words a dilemma.
Luckily the Yanks have a chip in Montgomery and sure there are big talents on their way; players like James Kaprielian, Justus Sheffield and Chance Adams. But first of all it needs to be seen how they will pan out and second of all they are at least still two or three years away from the Bigs.
So if Warren, Severino, Green, Mitchell and Cessa do not step up the Yankees may be in serious trouble for the next few years.