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Yankees end of season grades: starters

The Yankees undoubted number one priority this offseason is and should be starting pitching, and if you look back at the 2018 season you’ll quickly see why.

Overall the staff rated middle of the pack in a number of categories. The staff was league average with 67 quality starts. They probably didn’t perform as well as they should have on paper, so let’s take a look a look at each individual starter.

Luis Severino: B+

Severino was one of the best pitchers heading into the All-Star Break. He was probably top five in Cy Young contention with his 2.31 ERA,  1.01 WHIP, and 144 strikeouts. But then? In the second half, Sevy stumbled to a 5.57 ERA and 1.43 WHIP. Yikes. Though he got better in his last few starts of the season, enough to get Boone’s faith in a Wild Card start, his overall second half was brutal. But when you look at the season as a whole, Sevy’s numbers are pretty solid, and he easily helped push the team towards their strong first half. The Yankees expected more from him, but overall the Yankee ace performed pretty well.

Masahiro Tanaka: B

Tanaka was the opposite of Severino, pitching to a strong second half after a rough first one. His second half 2.85 ERA and 1.13 WHIP were really solid. Interestingly enough, Tanaka’s first half WHIP was the same as his second half, but he pitched to a 4.54 ERA. Tanaka also performed much better on the road than at home with 3.47 vs. 4.09 ERAs. But overall Tanaka was a solid contributor this season. He may not be a #1 or #2 starter anymore, but he’s still a pretty strong No. 3.

CC Sabathia: B-

The big guy had a bit of a bizarre season. His overall numbers look pretty solid going 9-7 with a 3.65 ERA. But the truth is CC struggled down the stretch with length, rarely pitching more than 5 innings. To be fair, the Yankee veteran was slotted in as the #4 or #5 pitcher, and with that in mind he performed decently. But as others on the staff struggled, and more weight was put on CC, he tended to struggle himself, especially in the second half with a 4.23 ERA. His length issues affected the bullpen down the stretch as well.

Sonny Gray: F

What’s there to really say about Sonny Gray? He failed on almost all levels when compared to the expectations the Yankees had for him. So much so that the Yankees ended up removing him from the starting rotation and are now actively looking to trade him even though his value is at an all-time low. An interesting footnote inside his overall 4.90 ERA is that he actually managed a 3.17 ERA on the road. What’s that mean? Probably that he’ll find success when he leaves the big lights of New York, leaving Yankees fans everywhere even more frustrated.

Domingo German: D-

German took over the #5 spot in the rotation after Jordan Montgomery‘s injury and initially performed OK. Overall though, German struggled with inconsistency through 85.2 innings. His 5.57 ERA and 1.33 WHIP are terrible, especially when considering those numbers were helped slightly by his relief appearances. The only reason he gets a D- instead of an F is because expectations weren’t great for German and he’s young enough that he has plenty of room to improve.

J.A. Happ: A

When the Yankees traded for Happ, most fans weren’t that excited. But Happ did everything and more to warrant that trade, pitching to a 2.69 ERA and 1.05 WHIP in his Yankee tenure. Down the stretch Happ did nothing but pitch consistently well, giving up more than two runs in just three of his final eleven starts. The Yankees are considering bringing back Happ this offseason, and if it’s a one or two year deal, it would absolutely be worth it.

Others: D

Lance Lynn, Jordan Montgomery, Luis Cessa, and Jonathan Loaisiga all performed mediocre to poor in their spot starts throughout the season. Part of the issue this past season was that the Yankees didn’t have the pitching depth to help them in times of need. Justus Sheffield and Chance Adams, the two top pitching prospects, simply didn’t pitch their way into the conversation as the season progressed, and that ended up really hurting the Yankees. Look for Cashman to expand upon their pitching depth this offseason.