Yankees have better starters than Red Sox according to Steve Phillips

NEW YORK - JULY 21: Former Mets general manager, Steve Phillips attends the SIRIUS XM Radio celebrity fantasy football draft at Hard Rock Cafe - Times Square on July 21, 2010 in New York City. (Photo by Mark Von Holden/Getty Images for SIRIUS XM Radio)
NEW YORK - JULY 21: Former Mets general manager, Steve Phillips attends the SIRIUS XM Radio celebrity fantasy football draft at Hard Rock Cafe - Times Square on July 21, 2010 in New York City. (Photo by Mark Von Holden/Getty Images for SIRIUS XM Radio) /

For the Yankees to overtake the Red Sox for the AL East crown, they’ll need their starting pitchers to outperform Boston’s. According to MLB Network Radio’s Steve Phillips, that shouldn’t be a problem.

While many Yankees fans clamor for the addition of another starting pitcher — believing that general manager Brian Cashman didn’t upgrade his staff enough to compete with the reigning World Series Champion Red Sox, Steve Phillips vehemently disagrees.

The former Mets GM and current MLB Network analyst recently took to the airwaves to debate which AL East superpower had the more robust set of arms.

Upon breaking down each pitcher by their respective rotation spot, what they did last season and how they project to fare in 2019, Phillips chose four Yankees, with a tie going to the fifth slot.

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"“Honestly, Chris Sale? I am scared to death for Chris Sale, what’s going on with his arm. He was not right at the end of the season last year,” Phillips said on MLB Network Radio. “What do I expect from David Price this year? And after that, everyone is excited about Nathan Eovaldi, but look at what Nate Eovaldi was last year. I know he was a beast in the postseason, but what has he been in his career? We are talking about a guy with a 4.00 ERA in his career. So, like how good is the Red Sox rotation?“I actually take the Yankees’ rotation over the Red Sox’ rotation. I take Severino over Sale this year. I take Paxton over Price this year. I take Happ over Eovaldi. I’ll take Tanaka over Porcello. And Eduardo Rodriguez vs. Sabathia I think is pretty darn close.”"

While Red Sox fans are sure to disagree with Phillips, I’ve been preaching all winter-long that the Yankees rotation is far better than what most people credit it for.

Naturally, the bullpen is stacked — which will only aide the five men chose to start, but there’s a lot of room for optimism in the Bronx.

Often overlooked is the fact that Luis Severino is still only 24-years-old. Sure he finished third in the 2017 AL Cy Young vote, and yes his second half last season left a lot to be desired. But Sevvy hasn’t even come close to reaching his ceiling.

With the belief that Severino was regularly tipping his pitches in 2018, it’s no wonder he went from lights out before the All-Star break, to pitching in the dark afterward.

Despite Pedro Martinez claiming that Sevvy pitched hurt during much of the second half (which Sevvy denies), I fully expect the Yankees No. 1 to learn from his minor bump in the road and get back on the path of a true staff ace. Besides, Severino still managed to go 19-8 with a 3.39 ERA and a 10.3 K/9 — in what some would consider a down year.

Next, the argument can be made that the addition of James Paxton is just as valuable as any free agent that was on the open market this offseason. And he’ll undoubtedly perform better in the Bronx than his predecessor, Sonny Gray.

Though skeptics will point to his string of past injuries and the loss of top prospect Justus Sheffield, the truth is the Yanks never seemed all that high on Sheffield. Not to mention, at $8.5 million for the upcoming season, Paxton is a steal compared to the prohibitive cost of say, Patrick Corbin — and well worth any “risk.”

Having a tried and true veteran like J.A. Happ for the duration of the year is another feather in the Yanks’ cap. Going 7-0 with a 2.69 ERA, 1.052 WHIP and 63:16 K:BB ratio across 63.2 innings is what we should all take away from Happ’s brief but electric beginning in pinstripes.

I know it’s not easy, but try to erase Game 1 of the ALDS from your memory. Now that Happ will be dropped in the pecking order, he’ll pitch even more relaxed across from the opposition’s No. 3 or 4 starters.

The unsung workhorse of the Yankee staff, Masahiro Tanaka is back for his sixth season in the majors. Coming off an excellent bounce-back campaign, Tanaka went a quiet 12-6 with 3.75 ERA, 1.128 WHIP, and 9.2 K/9 across 156 innings. Proving that Tommy John isn’t always the answer, Masa continues to defy the odds and be the stalwart of the rotation.

The fifth and final spot still belongs to C.C. Sabathia. Already cleared to resume baseball activities following an offseason heart procedure, the Yanks dealt their insurance policy in Sonny Gray.

Though top pitching prospect Jonathan Loaisiga is waiting in the wings, as is Domingo German, Chance Adams and Jordan Montgomery (as he recovers from Tommy John), unless the Yanks were to pull off a shocker by signing free agent left-hander Dallas Keuchel, I don’t anticipate Sabathia moving to the bullpen anytime soon.

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Even if the Yanks were to bring in a cheaper alternative, such as Gio Gonzalez, Ervin Santana or Jeremy Hellickson, Sabathia’s 3.65 ERA and 1.314 WHIP in 153 innings in 2018, show he’s still deserving of a place in the rotation.