Yankees Rookie Luis Cessa’s Home Run Problem a Real Concern


Keeping the ball in the park has been a challenge for New York Yankees rookie starting pitcher Luis Cessa through his first six major league starts.

After Sunday’s 4-2 loss to the Tampa Bay Rays, it’s become apparent that Yankees starter Luis Cessa’s biggest weakness at the moment is the long-ball. The rookie righty allowed four earned runs over his 5.2 innings of work, all of them on home runs.

To be fair, the two-run shot by Chris Dickerson in the second inning wasn’t the result of anything Cessa did wrong. He hit his spot with a high fastball at the letters, and Dickerson responded with an impressive piece of hitting to stay on top of it and somehow launch it out of the yard.

The overall trend is undeniable though. Cessa allowed solo homers to both Logan Forsythe and Brad Miller in the fifth. He’s now allowed eight homers in his last four starts, and 13 in 47.2 innings pitched in his young MLB career if you include his relief work. 

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That amounts to 2.5 homers per nine in 2016. That number is way too high to blame on small sample size or the confines of Yankee Stadium.

The good news is that this hasn’t been a trend during Cessa’s minor league career, so it might just be a sign of him adjusting to life in the major leagues. Cessa allowed 0.6 HR/9 over 591 minor league innings and 0.9 HR/9 as a starter with Scranton Wilkes-Barre this year.

A pitcher simply can’t get away with as many mistakes, so Cessa will have to learn to cut down on them if he wants to stick around. Cessa’s run prevention has been solid for a rookie unexpectedly thrust into a starting role (4.34 ERA), but his 6.20 FIP is definitely scary and could mean that his success so far has been something of a mirage.

At the same time, this is the first game the rookie has started that the Yankees have lost. Yes, he’s benefited from the club’s recent offensive surge and some good luck, but considering he began the year as the eighth starter on the depth chart, it’s hard to argue with what he’s given them.

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Cessa has shown enough this year to put himself in the running for a rotation spot next year, although a few more outings like this might spur New York to look for alternatives in the offseason. On a contending club, Cessa is probably better suited to being a sixth starter or longman, at least in the short-term.