Which Young Starters Should Break Camp in the Yankees Rotation?
Barring an offseason addition, the New York Yankees will have five to seven young starters expected to compete for two open rotation jobs next spring. Who should break camp with the big league team?
The New York Yankees only have three proven starters they can confidently pencil into their 2017 rotation (assuming they’re healthy): ace Masahiro Tanaka, the resurgent CC Sabathia, and the frustrating but incredibly talented Michael Pineda.
Four other youngsters received regular turns through the rotation for the Yankees in 2016: Bryan Mitchell, Luis Cessa, Chad Green, and Luis Severino. New York is expected to add pitching depth either on the trade or free agent market this winter, but a move or two to add more young arms to the mix rather than a proven starter seems like the most likely route given the front office’s desire to cut payroll as well as hold onto their top prospects.
As things currently stand, Severino, Cessa, Green, and Mitchell look like the front-runners for those two spots, although Dietrich Enns, Jordan Montgomery, and Chance Adams could probably push their way into the conversation with an impressive showing next spring.
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Based on what we saw in 2016, Cessa probably has a leg up on one of the two spots. The 24-year-old gave the Yankees 70.1 league-average innings (4.35 ERA and100 ERA+) split between the rotation and a long relief role. He’s got a strong four pitch mix highlighted by a mid-90’s heater.
Cessa is a strike thrower with above average control, but doesn’t have a true out pitch, which led to some rocky outings during his first big league stint. His 2.0 HR/9 and 5.9 K/9 are both major red flags, leading to a 5.52 FIP that signals there could be some major regression coming for his run prevention.
Many scouts have opined in the last year that Severino, Green, and Mitchell are all better suited to the bullpen than a starting role. All three depend heavily on their heaters and have a lot of work to do refining their secondary offerings.
While the Yankees shouldn’t be counting on Severino to play a key role in the rotation next year, he easily has the highest ceiling of this group and should be given every opportunity to win a job in the spring. Make him earn it, but his talent should give him the tiebreaker all else being equal. It would be a real shame to see him end up as a reliever after showing so much promise in 2015.
Next: Top Five Arms Under 25 the Yankees Should Target
It’s fun to dream on Enns, Montgomery, and Adams for next year, but the reality is that 40-man roster space is tight, and the only one of those three who has even a chance of being added this winter is Enns. In all likelihood Montgomery and Adams will have to wait their turn to make their MLB debuts next September when rosters expand.