At this moment, the 2017 New York Yankees’ starting rotation contains a surplus of arms but none that could, nor should be, depended on.
In terms of ranking, the New York Yankees‘ starting rotation shockingly held their ground as a unit throughout the course of the 2016 season.
The crew finished sixth in the American League in strikeouts, eighth in opponent’s batting average, tenth in ERA, and walked the fewest batters.
While that sits in the middle of the crowd, those ranking earn a greater density when you realize that manager Joe Girardi had 22 starts made by hurlers (Luis Cessa (9), Chad Green (8), Bryan Mitchell (5)) that weren’t even part of the rotation to commence the season.
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Entering the offseason, however, that depth (or reinforcements) shouldn’t leave general manager Brian Cashman the slightest of convinced that they’ll thrust New York into a better position in the standings.
Behind Masahiro Tanaka, who maintained the third best ERA in the AL, CC Sabathia, who’s coming off his season since 2012, and Michael Pineda who was the AL Leader in K/9, the Yankees have either unproven or questionable arms competing with each other for the last two spots.
Disclaimer: one could also assert that Pineda — who is one of six players in MLB history to strikeout more than 200 but to manage an ERA over 4.80 — is unproven as well, but that’s a conversation for another day.
Competing for a place in 2017’s rotation is Luis Severino, who has to earn his way back after posting an 8.50 ERA in his sophomore year as a starter, Cessa, who allowed 11 home runs in nine starts, Green, who was shut down due to an elbow issue, and Mitchell, who has only made five major league starts.
Where it stands now (with no moves made), this rotation lacks the capability to be the foundation of a winning team to a remarkable extent. What it does have, however, is a much deeper unit than a year ago.
Given, 2016’s rotation appeared superior, especially on the front side, with Severino and Nathan Eovaldi coming off authoritative second halves the year preceding it. All that does, however, is back up that talk is cheap when it comes to immature talent “appears” capable of fulfilling their role.
It also promotes the point that another, yet more established, arm is needed in the mix because just as everyone presumed that Sevy was going to take the organization by storm as the “future ace” and saw Eovaldi as an individual with the filthiest arsenal to back up his electric fastball, is exactly how we’re looking at Cessa, Green, and Micthell as significant enhancements to the rotation’s depth chart.
They showed flashes that make it seem as though they are competent, but that narrative very well may change by the time July rolls around.
So, there is no surprise that the rotation is the obvious area in dire need of improvement for the Yankees. The tricky part is, how does Cashman go about it?
Will he gamble with his young, unproven starters? Give a painful contract to one of the many high-risk pitchers on the relatively thin free agent market or surrender a substantial prospect or two in a trade market that includes some arms that can turn a franchise around?
One way or another, the Yankees need to bolster their rotation, because while it contains more depth than last year’s squad, don’t fall for yet another fallacy that promising signs from dubious options can sustain success for the second year in a row.
Christian Kouroupakis covers the New York Yankees and Major League Baseball for ESNY. Interact with him and view his daily work by “liking” his facebook page and follow him on Twitter. All statistics are courtesy of Baseball Reference.com unless otherwise noted. Don’t hesitate to shoot him an email with any questions, criticisms, or concerns.