The Yankees could surely use some help in their rotation beginning the 2019 season, but which are the best in-house options?
The Yankees went into this offseason with an eye towards improving their starting rotation, and they did just that, adding James Paxton in a trade with the Mariners while re-signing J.A. Happ and CC Sabathia. This gave the team more than enough reason to feel as if they had a decent amount of security heading into Spring Training and the season. Well, wouldn’t you know, here we are, less than two weeks from Opening Day with two holes in the rotation.
The Yankees suffered a brutal hit to their rotation when the team’s ace, Luis Severino, was scratched from his March 5th start against the Braves with right shoulder discomfort. A few hours later, the team announced that Severino had an MRI that revealed inflammation in his right rotator cuff and that he would be shut down for two weeks and would miss the start of the season. General Manager Brian Cashman then revealed ten days later that he didn’t expect Severino to make his season debut until May.
The team brought back Sabathia this offseason to be their No. 5 starter- he is far from the 20-win horse that he used to be, but his ERA last season was his lowest since 2012 and has solidified himself as an unquestioned leader in the clubhouse after spending 10 years with the organization. He had quite the health scare this offseason when he had to undergo emergency heart surgery to have a stent placed into his heart. Manager Aaron Boone revealed on March 6 that the team expects Sabathia to start the season on the Injured List as he continues to recover from the surgery, though it is expected to be a short stint and he should be back on the mound in mid-April. He also still has to serve a five-game suspension that carried over from when he intentionally hit Jesus Sucre of the Rays last season.
With two holes in the rotation to start the season, the Yankees have a number of in-house options they can go with until Severino and Sabathia return, though there are also a couple starting pitchers still on the free-agent market that they could go after. Here’s a look at some of the in-house options the team could consider:
Loaisiga made a handful of starts in 2018 when Masahiro Tanaka went on the DL in June. In four starts across June and July, he went 2-0 with a 3.00 ERA and 21 strikeouts in 18 innings. Although an injury kept him on the shelf for most of July and all of August, he returned to the majors in September when rosters expanded and made five relief appearances. He looked solid in most of these outings, but one horrendous outing towards the end of the season ballooned his ERA up to 10.80 for the second half of the season. Although Loaisiga recently got knocked around by the Orioles in a Spring Training start, he showed more than enough potential last season, and as the team’s top pitching prospect, he certainly makes a strong case to break camp as one of the team’s starters.
German, acquired by the Yankees in a December 2014 trade from the Marlins, debuted in 2017 but got his first consistent shot at being an everyday starter in 2018. He claimed a rotation spot in early May after Jordan Montgomery went down with Tommy John Surgery. In his first start of the season, German pitched six no-hit innings against the AL Central champion Indians. However, from there on he was shaky, as he finished the season 2-6 with a 5.57 ERA in 21 games (14 starts). He especially had trouble settling in at the start of games, as he pitched to an 8.36 ERA in the first inning and a 6.91 ERA in the second inning. Of the fifteen home runs he gave up in 2018, six of them were given up in the first two innings of games. Although his stuff definitely looked great at times, he certainly had his fair share of struggles. However, he has definitely impressed in Spring Training so far. He started against the Red Sox on Friday afternoon and struck out six batters in four innings without allowing any runs. Like Loaisiga, German could definitely work his way into the rotation, or potentially could be an effective bullpen arm as the season goes along.
Cessa was already an essential lock to make the Opening Day roster as a reliever because he has no options left, meaning that the team would be forced to let go of him if he wasn’t on the 25 man roster. Although many fans think Cessa brings little to no value to the team, the organization is clearly high on him as they have continued to keep him around for so long. He had another disappointing season in 2018, going 1-4 with a 5.24 ERA in 16 games (five starts and 11 relief appearances). He has shown flashes of potential in relief before, as he often looks solid his first inning or two when brought in from the bullpen, but he usually collapses when he faces the lineup the second time through the order. He has been even more disastrous when starting, as he pitched to a 6.50 ERA in his five starts in 2018 and struck out only 13 batters while walking seven in 18 innings. Although he has pitched to a stellar 0.69 ERA in Spring Training thus far, the team should keep him in the bullpen and hope he can be productive there instead of putting him in the rotation, where he had never had much success.