Yankees right-hander Luis Cessa gets Spring Training opening nod

KANSAS CITY, MO - AUGUST 31: Luis Cessa /

Luis Cessa, the 25-year-old right-hander from Mexico, steps on the mound for the Yankees this afternoon for the first Grapefruit League game of the new season.

Luis Cessa was one of three Yankees starters who drew the most fill-in starts during the 2017 season, along with Jaime Garcia and Caleb Smith.

In 2017, Cessa was called up in June from Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre to fill in for the injured CC Sabathia. Cessa’s overall Triple-A numbers weren’t great. He had posted a 4.15 ERA and 4.40 FIP in 65 innings up to that point in the season, but he had the hot hand, allowing only five runs in his previous three starts (20 innings).

Mike Axisa of RiverAveBlues.com describes Cessa’s performance during this time:

"Cessa made three starts while Sabathia was sidelined, during which he allowed eleven runs on 13 hits and six walks in 13.2 innings. One start was okay (three runs in five innings) while the other two were bad (four runs in four innings, four runs in 4.2 innings). Joe Girardi kept the leash short with Cessa — he averaged only 82 pitches in those three starts, all Yankees losses — which was understandable.More from Yankees NewsYankees trade Lucas Luetge for 2 intriguing Braves prospects after DFANever forget Miguel Andújar wrecked Yankees’ Nolan Arenado tradeDiamondbacks outfielder’s comment on Carlos Rodón’s IG raises eyebrowsAaron Judge Time interview scared Yankees as much as it scared youWhy weren’t Yankees in on Kodai Senga now that we know the price?"

Cessa stuck around as a long reliever after Sabathia returned from the disabled list, but was sent back down to Triple-A eventually.

However, he received the call to return to the Yanks and make a spot start against the Mets in mid-August when Sabathia’s knee acted up. Cessa was removed after only 66 pitches with what was later described as a season-ending rib-cage injury.

Axisa writes that in five spot starts last season, Cessa pitched to a 5.82 ERA (6.25 FIP) and held hitters to a .256/.360/.535 slash line in 21.2 innings.

Then in five relief appearances, Cessa pitched to a 3.14 ERA (4.83 FIP) and a .259/.333/.389 opponent’s slash line in 14.1 innings. He also had a 3.46 ERA and 3.86 FIP in 78.1 Triple-A innings.

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Cessa will be looking to vie for the sixth or seventh starter spot on the Yankees’ roster. Last season, it was clear that Cessa struggled and was still coming along. Will 2018 be a make or break year for him with the Yankees?