It’s going to be a complicated year for most pitchers after the abbreviated 2020 campaign, so it was never exactly a shocker that the New York Yankees would only really be unleashing Gerrit Cole in 2021.
Some guys will need to be reined in. And when you look at the Yankees rotation, it’s…most of them. Longevity is going to be an issue. These guys cannot be overworked if a World Series run is the ultimate goal.
Corey Kluber and Jameson Taillon have barely pitched since the start of 2019 (until this March). Domingo German hadn’t pitched since Sept. of 2019. Deivi Garcia has hardly any mileage on his arm and limited MLB experience. Jordan Montgomery was deprived of his true “comeback” campaign in 2020 following his 2018 Tommy John surgery.
But manager Aaron Boone is going to have to let some of these guys go. If they’re feeling good and aren’t being taxed with a high pitch count, why take them out?
In the case of Monty, specifically, he was removed from Thursday’s game against the Orioles after five innings and just 74 pitches. What’s the true harm in letting him go another inning? If he creeps closer to 90, yank him. But there’s no reason to do so if he’s fairly efficient.
The lefty wasn’t all that thrilled that he was taken out of the game earlier than he’d prefer yet again.
Why did the Yankees yank Jordan Montgomery so early Thursday?
In his 2021 debut, he threw just 73 pitches across six shutout innings. The next start against the Rays, he had 82 through five. The first instance? Just let him go seven. The second? You could make an argument, but maybe he gets lucky with a quick sixth. Why not trot him out there to see what happens?
OK, fine, you don’t want to risk it? But at some point you need to relax some of the restrictions on your starters when they’re cruising. When they’re laboring? Completely different story. But Boone has done this too many times.
On Monday night he pulled Garcia, who had thrown just 65 pitches through four innings. Wasn’t the point of calling him up to provide a break for the rotation and give the bullpen as much rest as possible?
It’s certainly encouraging we got to see Kluber hurl 96 pitches into the seventh inning this week and German throw at least 90 in each of his last two starts. We’re getting there. And Boone isn’t exactly wrong to exercise restraint in April. But we’re trending in the direction that suggests the manager will need to sometimes let it fly.
If his starters aren’t tired and want to remain in the game when their pitch counts aren’t prohibitive, it might be time to sit back and let the feel for the game take over. Fans simply don’t want this to become a trend because a big key to the Yankees’ success will be the rotation being able to pitch deeper into games before they release their elite bullpen arms.
That’ll be a significant part of the equation to get back to the World Series, especially if length is coming from the back end arms.