Manager Aaron Boone made that clear on Monday evening when he told reporters that he expects the team to carry five starters on the Opening Day roster.
It’s certainly not surprising, but it’s perhaps not what many were hoping for. Then again, it could’ve created many issues.
That would’ve meant the Yanks would either be going with one fewer reliever or a three-man bench, and we’re not sure the team wants to do that.
Injuries are always an issue, so a four-man bench is almost a necessity. As for the bullpen, it’d be hard to carry one fewer arm, especially with Zack Britton on the shelf for four months.
But is neglecting the starting rotation in this manner the answer?
Do we really have to go through the laundry list of potential issues the most important aspect of the roster is facing? Outside of Gerrit Cole, everything’s up in the air.
- Corey Kluber has thrown fewer than 40 innings since the start of 2019 due to a broken forearm and season-ending shoulder surgery
- Jameson Taillon has thrown fewer than 40 innings since the start of 2019 due to a second Tommy John surgery
- Jordan Montgomery has thrown just 75.1 innings since the start of 2018 due to Tommy John surgery (2020 was supposed to be his “comeback” but the pandemic shortened it)
- Domingo German hasn’t pitched since Sept. of 2019 due to a domestic abuse suspension
- Deivi Garcia probably won’t make the roster anyway, but he’s made just six MLB starts and is far from being stretched out for a full season
We’re assuming the rotation will be Cole, Kluber, Taillon, Monty and German/Garcia (likely German). But is a combination of those five really enough? Cole is the lone bonafide 200-inning guy. Everyone else feels like they’ll fall into the 120-150 range.
Fans can be excited about this group all they want. They’ve looked tremendous during spring training. But we’re about to face a season in which pitchers will be the most disadvantaged due to last year’s pause after spring training followed by the shortened 60-game sprint. Beginning the year with an extra starter and having the luxury to rest guys who are coming off of injuries seems like the most prudent thing to do in April and May.
This is far from a death sentence for the Yankees, but there is reason to worry about the rotation and bullpen being taxed early on in the year. Do we expect Kluber, Taillon, Montgomery and German to pitch deep into games from the jump? Nope. And then the bullpen will need to back them up.
You never know, though. Perhaps there’s another plan we’re not thinking of … but we’d have to guess it involves regularly sending guys back and forth to the alternate site and/or Triple-A, and that just sounds a lot more complicated.