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Yankees Starting Pitching Breakdown After Cole Signing

Now that the Yankees have signed Gerrit Cole to a nine year/$324 Million contract, they finally have their front line starting pitcher. Their lack of an ace in their starting rotation prevented them from winning that elusive 28th World Series championship over the last decade. However, the Yankees rotation is deeper now, giving the team more flexibility. The 2020 rotation could go many different ways, but here is how I predict it will look.

  1. Gerrit Cole
  2. Luis Severino
  3. James Paxton
  4. Masahiro Tanaka
  5. Jordan Montgomery

Cole will obviously be the ace of the rotation, as he has the best stats of the rotation, and has proven that he can be an ace. Last season with the Astros,  he won 20 games with a 2.50 ERA and 326 strikeouts, a career-high. A top tier pitcher leading the rotation is the best thing the Yankees could have on the team right now. While the effectiveness of the bullpen was the main topic last season, even Adam Ottavino and Tommy Kahnle, who had strong regular seasons, started to struggle towards the end of the season and into the postseason. Having another starter who can go deep into games, like Cole, will preserve the bullpen, making them fresher for a run into the postseason. Cole also has shown that he can pitch well in the postseason, which will help the Yankees even more, in that sense.

Luis Severino would follow Cole in the rotation as he has also shown that, at his best, he is an elite pitcher. The biggest issue Severino faced last season was a shoulder injury that sidelined him from spring training all the way until September. However, once he came back, he did not seem to miss a beat and he still had his velocity. If Severino can stay healthy, keep his velocity up, and continue to improve his control, which had been an issue for him in the past, the Yankees will be in a good situation.

Following Severino will be lefthander James Paxton, who Yankee fans thought would be the ace going into last season. Instead, Paxton will most likely be slotted third in the rotation, as he is a lefty and it breaks up the rotation. Paxton struggled for the first half of the season, going 5-4 with a 4.01 ERA. However, in the second half of the season, he found his confidence and turned it around, going 10-2 with a 3.88 ERA to finish the year. Paxton seemed to be more comfortable on the mound as the season went on and had a few strong outings in the postseason, as well. We will most likely see the second half Paxton in 2020 as he seemed to get acclimated to pitching in New York in 2019.

Fourth in the rotation will be Masahiro Tanaka. Having Tanaka fourth makes it evident that the Yankees have a deep rotation, as Tanaka has been their ace in previous seasons and led the rotation last season. He went 11-9 with a 4.45 ERA in 2019, but the postseason was a different story. Tanaka went 2-1 with a 2.13 ERA in the postseason in 2019, which has been a common theme for him. He has shown in past seasons that he may start out slow in the first half of the season, but once the second half comes around and throughout the postseason, he becomes a different pitcher. Having two proven postseason starters in Cole and Tanaka, plus Severino and Paxton having flashes of postseason dominance as well, gives many Yankee fans confidence for 2020.

Finally, in the fifth spot, I have Jordan Montgomery. Montgomery missed the majority of the 2018 and 2019 seasons recovering from Tommy John surgery but showed enough promise in 2017 to make a case for the future. This could go either way, as Domingo German could take this spot, as well, depending on the aftermath of his domestic violence suspension, which he served at the end of the 2019 season. Assuming German is still suspended, Montgomery will be the fifth starter and, if given a full season, he could build off of his 2017 campaign, where he went 9-7 with a 3.88 ERA.

If German is not suspended, he could be a long reliever out of the bullpen to pitch a few innings should a starter be taken out early. If he is suspended, the Yankees still have guys that could fill that role, such as Jonathan Loaisiga, or  J.A. Happ, assuming the latter is not traded. There have been rumors about the Yankees shopping Happ to free up money to potentially sign another pitcher or position player. Plus, the Yankees have prospects Michael King and Deivi Garcia in the minors and both are expected to come up to the majors and pitch in 2020.

This will be an interesting season, to say the least, and this could actually be the season the Yankees win the World Series, as they finally signed their missing piece in Gerrit Cole, alongside a deep team returning, for the most part, with the exception of Didi Gregorius, and Austin Romine, who signed with Philadelphia and Detroit, respectively.

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