New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman has announced that J.A. Happ will be the fifth starter in the 2020 rotation.
According to a report by Meredith Marakovitz of the YES Network, Brian Cashman has announced that J.A. Happ will be the fifth starter for the 2020 New York Yankees.
— YES Network (@YESNetwork) January 24, 2020
This shouldn’t come as a huge shock to Yankees fans. While many would have preferred to see Jordan Montgomery in that position, that simply wasn’t a realistic option.
For starters, Montgomery carries the unfortunate burden of having minor league options. Happ, on the other hand, would have to be relegated to the bullpen or designated-for-assignment had the spot gone to Montgomery.
Additionally, it’s far to early to tell if 2020 Jordan Montgomery will be the same as 2017 Jordan Montgomery. After having his 2018 season cut short by a flexor strain requiring Tommy John surgery, Montgomery pitched in only two games in 2019. In those games, he surrendered three earned runs in only four innings. He needs time to readjust to pitching regularly and Scranton is the perfect place to do that.
As for J.A. Happ, the Yankees are hoping to see more of his 2018 success in 2020. There’s no denying the fact that Happ’s year in 2019 was disastrous. However, he started showing life in September 2019, throwing 27.1 innings and allowing only five earned runs. The Yankees are obviously hoping that success will carry into 2020.
And at the end of the day, Happ and Montgomery were competing for the last spot in the rotation. With Gerrit Cole, Luis Severino, James Paxton, and Masahiro Tanaka locking up the first four spots, all the team could hope for out of the fifth is to give the offense a chance to win. Both Happ and Montgomery are capable of doing that.
By announcing this decision early, Cashman ensures Happ and Montgomery work towards clear goals in spring training. Happ can focus on harnessing his late 2019 season success. Montgomery can focus on rebuilding his strength.
It might not be the popular move in the eyes of the fan, but it’s the right call. Fans will more than likely see Montgomery in the Bronx at some point due to injuries.
And when it’s time to make a decision on the playoff roster, either one would make an excellent lefty weapon in the bullpen.