About a month ago I wrote an article outlining the options for the Yankees’ 5th starter. That article was written in the aftermath of James Paxton needing surgery and when we all thought Luis Severino would be healthy for the year. Of course, that has now changed, as have the teams’ fifth starter options.
Instead of Jordan Montgomery being the obvious fifth starter candidate, he is now the obvious fourth starter which leaves the team needing an additional arm. In that earlier post, other options mentioned were Deivi Garcia, Michael King, Luis Cessa, and Jonathan Loaisiga.
Let’s run through how those guys are all faring and if they are likely to get that fifth starter job.
Garcia has only appeared in two games this spring, pitching a total of four innings. At this point in spring training, I doubt he is an option for that last starter role with such limited appearances. Interestingly, he has started both games he has appeared in which is more likely to get him acclimated to a starter’s routine to finish his development in AAA before hopefully a late-season promotion.
Podcast guest Michael King has appeared in four spring training games pitching to a 3.86 ERA in 9.1 innings. Averaging more than two innings per appearance means the team is stretching him out a bit, possibly with the goal of seeing what he can do as a starter for the big league club. However, King has not started a game yet which means he has mostly faced lower-level hitters. If King is a strong candidate for the job, look for him to get a start sometime this week. In a mailbag at The Athletic, Lindsey Adler (subs req’d) posited King as the frontrunner for the job in her opinion.
Cessa has appeared in four games this spring but only thrown 5.2 innings total. We haven’t heard anything about him, so I think he is ticketed to resume his longman role out of the bullpen.
Jonny Lasagna was the guy I was most excited about with this competition because of his pure stuff as seen here:
Having four pitches is definitely starter stuff, however, Loaisiga has been used in relief lately which makes me think he will be used out of the bullpen to start the year. He made 2 starts in spring training, but his last outing was from the bullpen which isn’t a good sign for him to have a starter’s job.
Schmidt has looked great this spring and got the start for the split-squad game against Baltimore yesterday. With the other guys in this competition, they have been trending down in terms of assignments whereas Schmidt is trending up. Schmidt was so under the radar I didn’t even include him in my last look at fifth starter options. His stuff has looked great:
Schmidt has never thrown above 90 innings in a season or pitched above AAA which would likely put him at a disadvantage in this competition, yet he has arguably impressed the most this spring. I could envision the team having him start the year as the fifth starter with the plan to send him down when Paxton returns from his back injury.
At this point, we can’t definitively say who has a leg up on the fifth starter competition and Aaron Boone hasn’t given an indication in any direction. With opening day just 16 days away, it sounds like the team either doesn’t know what they’re going to do or is going to put the plan in place soon. I am curious to watch who gets starting assignments over the next week and which guys start to get stretched out. If one guy starts going 4+ innings, he is likely to be the fifth starter.
There is always the possibility the team decides to use the opener or some sort of tandem starter. Maybe Loaisiga goes through the order once before giving way to Cessa or the other way around. Maybe there’s an opener used for one of these guys. We don’t know yet and that is the biggest storyline to watch over the next two weeks. Except of course the Bronx Pinstripes Spring Training Trip!