The new addition of Gerrit Cole and the return of Luis Severino has given the New York Yankees the best pitching staff in baseball.
The New York Yankees made the big splash of the offseason by signing Gerrit Cole. It was a must. It was necessary. It was the single-greatest club need and the organization destroyed the topic with one ridiculous contract offer.
Add the return of a full year of Luis Severino and some potential comeback years, and the Yankees rotation will dominate in 2020.
Here are some predictions for the 2020 starting rotation:
The newest big Yankee, Gerrit Cole, has established himself as the ace of the staff. Cole’s 34% K-BB% was tops in all of baseball in 2019. Cole had one of the best strikeout seasons in baseball history and is primed to do it again. His 213 pCRA+ and 2.62 SIERA mean that Cole should project well into the future.
Cole was the best pitcher in 2019, here’s how he will follow that act. A 2.73 FIP, 34% K%, 6.3% BB%, and a 6.8 fWAR/200.
Luis Severino should be healthy for a full season in 2020. I’ve written about how dominant Severino was from 2017-2018. Fans tend to forget about a pitcher that they haven’t seen pitch for a full season. Severino is the best pitcher under the age of 26 in baseball. He’ll be entering his prime years in the following season and should be ready to dominate.
After posting back-to-back five-win seasons in 2017/2018, Severino should return to form in 2020. Severino will have a 2.95 FIP, 29% K%, 5.5% BB%, and 5.9 fWAR/200 in 2020.
Acquired from Seattle before the 2019 season, James Paxton had an up and down season in 2019. The Big Maple’s first-inning struggles were the focus of many fans, but Paxton was able to rebound well from those struggles. Paxton’s concern is health. The lefty flame thrower has never qualified for an ERA title as he has never thrown more than 160 innings in a season.
Despite that, Paxton is only one year removed from posting a sub 3 SIERA. Paired alongside new pitching coach Matt Blake, Paxton will thrive in 2020 with a 3.40 FIP, 31% K%, 6.8% BB%, and a 5.1 fWAR/200.
Masahiro Tanaka is entering the final year of his contract. Tanaka has had an inconsistent tenure with the Yankees, but he’s been solid in his time with the team. He had a down 2019 by his standards, struggling to adjust his splitter with the new baseball.
Tanaka’s 2020 is going to hinge a lot on that baseball. Masa’s going to have to develop his slider more and improve his fastball command. He is a dependable arm as he has thrown more than 175 innings in 3 of the last 4 seasons.
Tanaka will bounce back in the next season with a 3.80 FIP, 22% K%, 5% BB%, and a 4.0 fWAR/200.
For all the talks of J.A. Happ being traded, he remains with the Yankees for now. Brian Cashman has stated that Happ is the Yankees 5th starter in the rotation. It is unknown if that is how it will be by the time spring training ends, but for now, he is the guy. Happ struggled in 2020. He posted career highs in FIP, xFIP, and SIERA. Is he bound to do the same thing?
Not exactly. Happ’s fastball velocity was a tick down throughout most of the past season but it only came back in the last few weeks. Happ actually pitched well in the postseason. Relatively small sample size but maybe they are signs of moving in the right direction.
Yankees have depth though and if Happ struggles are options to replace him. Happ will have a 4.21 FIP, 23% K%, 7.5% BB%, and 2.9 fWAR/200 in the next season.
The addition of Gerrit Cole has given the Yankees the best pitching staff in baseball. When the weakest link in the rotation has plenty of depth to replace him, the Yankees pitching staff is set up for success in 2020.