One year ago, the New York Yankees successfully signed Gerrit Cole after going all in to bring the star starting pitcher to the Bronx. His presence gave the team a bona fide ace, and they hoped he was the missing piece to anchor their starting rotation on route to a World Series championship.
Despite some mid-season hiccups, Cole’s performance was great in the first season of his nine-year contract. The problem now is the depth behind him in the Yankees starting rotation.
Manager Aaron Boone expressed optimism Tuesday while addressing the media in a Zoom press conference.
“I’m certainly excited about the people we have behind Gerrit Cole from a depth stand point from a number of young guys getting opportunities to pitch this year and showing promise.” Boone said. “…You’ve gotta be prepared to go in with what you have, and we’re really excited with some of things we were able to see from the development…I feel like we have good depth.”
The Future of Tanaka
With three veteran starting pitchers – Masahiro Tanaka, James Paxton, and J.A. Happ – currently free agents, the ensuing void leaves opportunity for the Yankees’ bevy of promising pitching prospects. The only issue is the idea of leaning so heavily on youth in the midst of their championship window. Still, Boone knows Cashman is exploring viable options for the rotation.
When asked specifically about Tanaka – and outfielder Brett Gardner – Boone provided a realistic viewpoint of the future.
“I, generally speaking, always want all of our guys back,” Boone said. “You know that’s not always the reality.”
It is possible that reality has begun to set in after general manager Brian Cashman’s comments, or lack thereof, sparked speculation and debate about the organization’s interest in a reunion with Tanaka. However, there is plenty of time left in the offseason and the Yankees are more familiar with the 32-year old than anyone.
In seven season with the Yankees, he has posted a 74-46 record and a 3.74 ERA in 1,054 1/3 innings pitched. Additionally, his ERA+ is 114, his WHIP is 1.130, and his K/BB ratio is 4.76 .
“In the case of Masa, obviously he’s been a great Yankee and a great teammate and someone who is beloved here,” Boone said. “I think you can say the same thing about Gardy. Both those guys have not only been great Yankees and had outstanding careers, but are still, in both cases we think, impactful players. We’ll see how it all shakes out. We’ve got a couple months to go.”
Yankees Rotation in Winter Ball
Among the plethora of topics discussed Tuesday was the group of Yankees playing in the Dominican Winter League. Included in that group are Domingo German and Deivi Garcia, two potential members of the 2021 Yankees starting rotation.
Garcia has pitched six innings across three starts with a 7.50 ERA. In four starts, German has pitched to a 5.17 ERA in 15 2/3 innings pitched. Regardless, Boone does not care about the results. He is happy to see them getting reps and shaking off the rust in order to get ready for 2021, especially German.
The hope is that German will be a part of rotation next year and that he can help the team as he did in 2018 and 2019. Given his one year hiatus due to his suspension, he carries more uncertainty than others.
“For him to get some innings under his belt is really valuable,” Boone said.
Neither Boone nor Cashman have had much contact with German, but the two of them did meet with the right-handed pitcher once. This meeting, which was described as an “open, honest, long conversation,” discussed expectations among other things.
Even as the focal point of the Yankees offseason thus far has been DJ LeMahieu, the starting rotation also needs addressing. There are a lot of different options and variables that will play into the 2021 Yankees starting rotation and manager Aaron Boone trusts what is to come while showing excitement for what is already available.
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