The lineup is stacked. The bullpen is unstoppable. While the New York Yankees’ starting rotation is not as wildly popular, it has all the tools to become incredibly dominant.
When the New York Yankees take the field on Opening Day, talk surrounding the team will be in regards to their offense. There might be a few people talking about their bullpen as well.
Chances are, nobody will be talking about their starting rotation. Because it’s bad? No way. They won’t be talking about it because it isn’t as flashy as the other cogs that make this machine run.
No, the starting rotation doesn’t feature the top two home run hitters in Major League Baseball from last year. It also doesn’t have a Cy Young award winner from the last five years. But that doesn’t mean this rotation doesn’t have the potential to become the brightest spot in this star-studded galaxy.
With 24-year-old Luis Severino leading the charge, he is followed by veterans Masahiro Tanaka, CC Sabathia and Sonny Gray with second-year lefty Jordan Montgomery likely getting the fifth spot. Is it ranked the best in the American League? Not even close. However, with this rotation, anything is possible.
Trust me, we saw a little bit of that last season.
Severino went 14-6 and has the potential to be even better after finally finding his groove in the Bronx. On top of that, he was stretched last season to 193.1 innings pitched and still managed to put together a solid effort come playoffs.
Even though Severino struggled in the Wild Card game, he bounced back to put together an inspired, seven-inning performance in Game 7 of the ALDS.
While Severino still has much to work on, he still ended last season third in voting for the Cy Young award. If that is a hint of what’s to come after his first full season as a starter, this season could be potentially yield even more impressive results.
Now what about Tanaka? The inconsistent pitching of Tanaka seemed to signal a decline for the former Japanese superstar. Last season started out as a nightmare but Tanaka turned it around just in time, turning into the Tanaka of old when it mattered most.
And that’s how Tanaka ended the season. Despite his 13-12 record in the regular season, Tanaka proved he was playoff-ready, pitching to a 2-1 record with 25 innings pitched.
Much like Tanaka, CC Sabathia had a resurgence this season, proving that age is but a number. The 37-year-old pitched to a 14-5 record, despite concerns about his knee holding up.
And what about Sonny Gray? The midseason arrival may have only posted a 4-7 record with the Yankees but many of those losses had to do with poor performance on the field behind him. His defense let him down early and often, while his offense couldn’t hit a lick with him on the mound.
Seven of his 11 starts with the Yankees saw him going six-plus innings on the mound, putting the team in a great position to win. However, luck didn’t always fall his way.
Finally, Monty took a huge step forward last season, going 9-7 in his first full season in pinstripes. The lefty even improved moving forward, finishing September and October with a 2-0 record.
On paper, this rotation looks “meh.” However, seeing how they’ve all improved as the season went on last year and have gotten used to the Bronx spotlight, it only goes up from here.
This rotation could easily be a dark horse for this team’s success.
You’ve got mid-level pitchers who are working on new pitches this offseason and veterans who have experienced the Bronx and want that taste of success. These guys simply aren’t going to let that opportunity slip by.
So far this spring, the primary members of the rotation are already showing they’re not playing around. Jordan Montgomery pitched two scoreless innings, surrendering one hit in Sunday afternoon’s game. Sonny Gray started Monday evening and added two scoreless innings as well while striking out two.
Sure, it’s spring training. However, it’s a good sign to see Monty and Gray exercising confidence this early on in the season.
They know the Bronx. Now they know what to expect. This season, this rotation will not be caught off-guard.
The Yankees may have one of the most dangerous lineups in the majors. They may also have one of the most dominant bullpens. But this rotation is heavily underrated and is ready to dominate this season.
Ready or not, here they come. This rotation is ready to rock and roll behind lackluster expectations.