The New York Yankees prioritized quantity over quality for starting pitching. As general manager Brian Cashman put it, rather than only Masahiro Tanaka at $10-15 million, he got Jameson Taillon and Corey Kluber for that price range instead. While a lot of people would rather have safe bets, there simply weren’t any in the price range of the Yankees. They’re banking heavily on Matt Blake to get the Yankees to the promised land pitching-wise. With inning limits and a lot of rehabbing arms, the Yankees need to be creative with their rotation. In my eyes, a six-man rotation is the way to go for the Yankees and their efforts to have a healthy fresh staff for October.
A lot of people rag the Yankees for not having safe starters, but I ask you, how many teams have their depth? You may start to think you can list off multiple teams, but after the Los Angeles Dodgers, San Diego Padres, and Cleveland Indians, you end up stuck. This is because when you start rattling off the names on the Yankees starting depth chart, you realize that it’s genuinely pretty good. Here are some of the current names they have:
While you may see a bunch of question marks, I see a bunch of high-quality talent. Cole needs no introduction, so I won’t go into depth with him. With Kluber and Taillon, they are both extremely talented arms who are finally healthy again. With Montgomery and German, they’re both starters who have been solid in the majors and can provide good innings in the rotation. Garcia and Schmidt both have a 50 or higher FV (Future Value) on Fangraphs, which is pretty good. Garcia is the No. 36 ranked prospect according to Fangraphs and Schmidt is top 110. King is an interesting case since he’s at No. 40 and isn’t highly regarded, but he’s still a talented option. The Yankees have a lot of talent, but how does a six-man rotation help them?
Why a Six-Man Rotation Helps the Yankees With Health
If you are able to keep a six-man rotation, you would have a start every 6 games out of 162. This would mean each starter averages 27 starts, and if they average ~5 innings per start (close to the average from 2019-2020), it would mean around 135 innings per starter. This keeps your arms fresh and ready to go, and with how the Yankees can manipulate minor league options, they can always keep their rotation fresh. Guys coming up and down from AAA and making spot starts or appearances in the bullpen will go a long way for this team. It allows the Yankees to build a system of good pitching philosophies, and with how much talent they have (without even mentioning Severino), they can certainly pull this off.
This team has the pitching talent, but can they actually get the job done?
Analytics Show Promise In the Yankees Rotation
The Yankees in 2020 had a very underrated rotation. While losing Tanaka will sting, the Yankees arguably improved their rotation. This was a rotation that finished third in kwERA, third in K-BB%, fifth in SIERA, and third in O-Swing% (swing% at pitches outside of the strike zone). A lot of fans will continue to rag on this rotation, but with the potential flashed by started like Garcia and Montgomery, the veteran arms in Kluber and Taillon, and wildcards like German and Schmidt, Cashman might have assembled the perfect staff behind their stalwart ace Cole.
I have faith in these guys, and with a six-man rotation, the Yankees might just be able to have one of the best staffs in the sport.