Why the Yankees' Pitching Approach Will Backfire

Heading into a World Series or Bust season the Yankees are rolling the dice with their rotation

Feb 15, 2024; Tampa, FL, USA; New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman talks with media at
Feb 15, 2024; Tampa, FL, USA; New York Yankees general manager Brian Cashman talks with media at / Kim Klement Neitzel-USA TODAY Sports

This off-season there were three premier starting pitchers to hit Free Agency Yoshinobu Yamamoto, Blake Snell, and Jordan Montgomery. The Yankees were heavily pursuing Yamamoto before he landed in Los Angeles and then pivoted in signing Marcus Stroman. Adding only Stroman seemed fine until the Yankees lost Gerrit Cole to an injury that may keep him out the entire season.

Now the Yankees enter the season with a rotation that has massive questions with every pitcher. Carlos Rodon is coming off of an injury-filled season where he struggled pitching 64.1 innings with a 6.85 ERA. Nestor Cortes missed the majority of 2023 with injuries and when he was healthy the results weren't promising as the lefty posted a 4.97 ERA over 63.1 innings pitched. Marcus Stroman was an All-Star in the first half of 2023 before a disastrous second half where he posted an 8.63 ERA after the All-Star break. Clarke Schmidt pitched a career-high 159 innings in 2023 with a 4.64 ERA raising questions about how healthy he'll be following such a taxing season. Luis Gil is now the fifth starter after missing a year and a half between MLB starts due to Tommy John.

The rotation without Gerrit Cole is alarming as the Yankees are banking on starters that have dealt with injuries to carry the team.

This season is an all-in year for the Yankees yet, they haven't acted like it after their initial flurry of trades. The Yankees will have several players hitting free agency after this season which could mean this year is the best shot for the team to win a title in the near future. Juan Soto, Alex Verdugo, Gleyber Torres, Clay Holmes, and Jonathan Loaisiga will all hit free agency while Anthony Rizzo has a team option that the Yankees may decline.

The two starters that the Yankees should have pursued in Blake Snell and Jordan Montgomery both signed underwhelming deals which the Yankees easily could have matched. Jordan Montgomery signed essentially a 1 year deal worth $25 million dollars while Snell signed essentially a 1 year $32 million dollar deal.

Rather than signing two pitchers to short-term deals with one coming off of a Cy Young award and the other dominating in the postseason, the Yankees will instead gamble with a shaky rotation. The Yankees, if they need to add starting pitching, will now have to give up top prospects at the trade deadline after parting with several top prospects to acquire Juan Soto.

Should the Yankees suffer an injury early on in the season acquiring a starting pitcher will be difficult as teams will wait until the deadline to part with key pieces. This would cause the Yankees to need one of their even less proven pitchers to step up. Luke Weaver would be the next man up after losing out for a spot in the rotation due to a rough Spring Training. The team would also have options in Clayton Beeter and Chase Hampton however neither has pitched at the big league level.

Cashman Should Have Addressed this Hole in Free Agency

The fact of the matter is that the Yankees should have signed either Blake Snell or Jordan Montgomery.

The Yankees are only guaranteed one season of Juan Soto and they're seemingly not going all-in with Soto. If the rotation keeps this team from making the Playoffs and then Soto walks in free agency the trade will be an abject failure. The one area you don't want to make risky decisions with is pitcher and the Yankees are doing that in what may be the most important season in a long time.

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