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Analysis

Examining the Yankees Starting Pitching Depth

Although we are only nine games into the season, the Yankees will have to dig into their starting pitching depth at some point. Who exactly will fill those spots when needed?

It is nearly impossible to get through a whole MLB season with only five starting pitchers. Since 2013, the Yankees have had no less than nine different starting pitchers throughout the course of a season.

While the number of games started by players who weren’t in the original five differ, you can always count on more than five starters toeing the rubber in a season.

In this article, we’ll take a look at who could be in line to make those starts in 2018. The list will not be in the order of who is most likely to make the starts first.

Luis Cessa

When Cessa was acquired from the Tigers in 2015, it was very clear he was going to be a spot starter for them in 2016. That is exactly what he’s been in his time with the Yankees. He has made 14 starts between 2016 and 2017 and has pitched 13 games out of the bullpen. In those 27 games, he has pitched to a 5.58 FIP in 106.1 innings pitched.

That is undesirable, but Cessa does have good stuff. Although he may be better suited for a bullpen role, where his fastball and slider play up, for now, he is in line to be a spot starter in 2018.

Domingo German

German is one of the more exciting possible spot starters in 2018. In 2017, German made 7 appearances, pitching to a 3.14 ERA, with an 11.30 K/9. He also looked dominant this spring, throwing 15.2 innings, and holding batters to a .190 batting average.

German features an upper 90’s fastball that has sink, and mid 80’s curveball with a lot of bite. He also throws a changeup, that is not to be slept on. Although the stuff is there, German does have some command issues.

He has trouble repeating his delivery, and this causes him to leave pitches up in the zone. As with Cessa, he may be a reliever down the road, but don’t count him out as an effective spot starter in 2018.

David Hale

The Yankees signed Hale at the end of January on a minor league deal, as a Triple-A depth arm. This is the 30-year-olds’ fifth MLB team. He has made 20 big league starts pitching to a 4.37 FIP. Hale is a fastball/slider guy who throws the occasional changeup. He will not blow anybody away, as evident by his career 6.04 K/9.

Hale is the guy that absolutely no one will get excited about, but he could give the Yankees a start or two in 2018.

Chance Adams

Adams is the guy on this list that the fans will be clamoring for the minute the Yankees need a spot starter. Last year, in 21 starts with the RailRiders, Adams pitched to the tune of a 2.89 ERA, which led to Yankees fans everywhere demanding he be called up.

Adams was not called up, and this probably indicates that the Yankees did not think he was ready. Adams struggled a bit this spring, but it is hard to imagine a situation where he does not pitch in the bigs at some point this year.

Justus Sheffield/Domingo Acevedo 

I’m grouping these two guys together because they are two high prospects, who could see time in the bigs, but it may be less likely considering neither of them has thrown a pitch above Double-A.

Sheffield is the Yankees number three prospect (MLB.com), and it is hard not to like him when he’s pitching. Sheffield was one of the better pitchers in the Arizona Fall League, and he had scouts raving about him the whole time.

MLB Pipeline rates his fastball and slider as plus pitches, with the changeup being just above average. If Sheffield stays healthy and maintains his improved control, he could be an effective big league starter by 2019, and if things go right, maybe 2018.

Acevedo is another large, Yankees hurler with great stuff. He has an electric fastball with a plus changeup and average slider. The concern with Acevedo is his durability. Some scouts wonder if he will hold up as a starter, due to his far from effortless delivery. Although he will most likely be in the minors this year, MLB pipeline does have his ETA as 2018, which is enough to get him mentioned on my list.

One thing to note with this list is that it does not account for mid-season acquisitions. Last year, the Yankees acquired Sonny Gray, and Jaime Garcia at the deadline. I could see the same thing happening this year, where they get a higher tier starter, and possibly another guy like Garcia to eat some innings at the end of the year.

If I had to guess right now, I’d say Cessa and German will be the first pitchers called up if spot starts are needed. This is simply because they are on the 40-man roster. After them, I’d say Chance Adams would be next in line.

The Yankees would like to get as many starts out of their original five as possible, but they will need their depth at some point. When this time comes, I think they are perfectly equipped to handle it in 2018.

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