There’s no reason to be concerned that the Yankees haven’t added another starting pitcher as Spring Training gets underway.
Pitchers and catchers reported to Spring Training with the Yankees on Tuesday, and while the Yanks have been linked to several starting pitchers throughout the offseason, they have not added any arms to their rotation.
The Yankees were thought to have been in talks about trading for Chris Archer and Gerrit Cole and potentially signing Yu Darvish, while Jake Arrieta, Alex Cobb, Lance Lynn, and other starters remain unsigned.
But the truth is, the Yankees really don’t need another starter.
Right now, the Yankees rotation consists of Luis Severino, Masahiro Tanaka, Sonny Gray, CC Sabathia, and Jordan Montgomery. With the exception of Sabathia, who the Yankees re-signed to a one-year deal in December, all of their starters are under the age of 30.
Last season, Yankees starters had a combined ERA of 3.98, which ranked fifth in all of baseball last year and second in the American League, behind only the Cleveland Indians (3.52). Batters hit just .240 against Yankees starters last year, the fifth-lowest in MLB and second-lowest in the AL, behind the Indians (.239).
The rotation improved immensely in the second-half, watching its ERA fall to 3.68, second in the AL to Cleveland’s 2.67 mark while their .227 batting average against was second in the big leagues to Washington (.225).
In the postseason, the stats were even better – against the league’s best, Yankees’ starters pitched to a 2.98 ERA, second only to the Nationals’ 2.22—though the Yanks played in 13 games to the Nationals’ five.
Despite his postseason struggles, Severino was the ace of the staff and will reprise that role in 2018. He finished in third place in the American League Cy Young Award voting behind Corey Kluber and Chris Sale. After a rough 2016, where he had an 8.50 ERA as a starter, a little help from Pedro Martinez seemed to bring Severino back to normal. If he is normal again, expect another high finish in the Cy Young voting.
Tanaka was the only starter who held an ERA of over 4 – his ERA was 4.74, but he regained the hearts of Yankee fans in the summer and fall after starting the season with a 6.55 ERA through his first 12 starts. His ERA in the second half and postseason combined declined to 3.18; that number also includes two starts in which he allowed seven earned runs. Without those two blips, the number would lower to 1.87. – his ERA in the postseason alone was a staggering 0.90. If Tanaka can pitch to just his career averages, he adds a huge boost to this rotation.
Gray has reported to his first Spring Training with the Yankees after being traded to the team with an hour to spare in last year’s trade deadline. The 28-year old righty had a 3.72 ERA in his 11 starts with the Yankees during the regular season, recovering quite nicely from his 5.69 ERA the year prior. Gray has two years until he hits free agency, and the Yankees are hoping those two years can emulate what he did in his first three MLB seasons.
Sabathia is back in pinstripes on a one-year deal. After a combined ERA of 4.81 from 2013 to 2015, Sabathia has revamped himself and his career – his ERA in the past two seasons has lowered to 3.81. Including the postseason, the hefty lefty’s ERA last season was 3.54, including a 2.37 ERA in four postseason starts. The knee brace has been magical, and Sabathia has proven to be a different pitcher since rehab.
Montgomery might have been the biggest positive surprise out of all Yankee starters last year. Montgomery finished sixth in a stacked American League Rookie of the Year vote that including his teammate and unanimous winner Aaron Judge, Andrew Benintendi, Trey Mancini, Yuli Gurriel, and Matt Olson. The 25-year old lefty finished the season with a 3.88 ERA and had just five starts where he allowed at least four earned runs. He didn’t make the postseason roster, but that should not take away from the success he had and how much he helped when the Yankees did not have a fifth starter entering Spring Training.
Outside of those five, the Yankees have added one more option to its starting rotation for 2018: Chad Green.
The Yankees said they will bring Green into this season’s Spring Training as a starter, and he will make some starts in the spring. However, if he does not win a rotation job, the Yankees will still be okay.
Green was the Yankees’ best reliever last season and practically the team’s savior after coming into the Wild Card game after Severino got just one out – Green got out of a one-out, men on second and third jam and continued to pitch two innings, allowing one earned and striking out four.
Green composed an astonishing 1.83 ERA and a 13.4 K/9, striking out 103 batters and notching a WHIP of 0.739 – all were the best among Yankee relievers.
The Yankees also have several pitchers that are among the Top 100 prospects in baseball.
Albert Abreu is ranked 77 among baseball’s top 100 prospects. The Yankees acquired the righty in a trade with the Astros that included Brian McCann. Abreu racked up a 2.60 ERA in six starts at the Arizona Fall League after struggling at High-A ball in Tampa. However, he compiled a 1.84 ERA with Low-A Charleston.
Chance Adams, ranked No. 81 in Baseball America’s Top 100, was superb in six Double-A starts, earning a 1.03 ERA, earning him an early promotion to Triple-A Scranton-Wilkes Barre. There, he compiled a 2.89 ERA and a WHIP of 1.075.
Despite not trading for or signing some of the big-named pitchers, the Yankees aren’t swinging and missing at all. While the powerful lineup will get all the attention, the rotation is good enough to lead the Yankees to the promised land in 2018.