Yankees: Evaluating 5 free agent starting pitching candidates

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WEST PALM BEACH, FLORIDA – FEBRUARY 22: Justin Verlander #35 of the Houston Astros looks on during the spring training game against the Washington Nationals at FITTEAM Ballpark of the Palm Beaches on February 22, 2020 in West Palm Beach, Florida. (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images) /

This year’s MLB playoffs and World Series demonstrated how much of an advantage it still is to have superb starting pitchers who can consistently eat up innings in games. Both the Braves and Astros made it to the mountaintop without this advantage whatsoever; neither had a defined No. 3 starter by the end of the series, and Tyler Matzek was forced to pitch nearly everyday.

If the Yankees are able to pair even adequate offense with a truly elite and deep rotation, they’ll be considered World Series favorites again by next season — and with Matt Blake at the helm, they’re not so far away.

As we saw this past season, the Yankees lacked a second elite starting pitcher. While Gerrit Cole was the anchor for the rotation, Nestor Cortes Jr., Jordan Montgomery, and Jameson Taillon were satisfactory in filling gaps, but couldn’t take the reins for longer than a month.

After completing his rehab following Tommy John surgery, Luis Severino pitched well and will likely be slotted into the second or third position among the starters next season — but how long can we count on him to stay healthy? If the Bronx Bombers hope to make the playoffs again and go deep into the October, they will need another outstanding pitcher equal to Severino.

There are no “Gerrit Coles” among the free agents this year. However, there is a small group of talented hurlers in the free-agent market, and any one of them could potentially solidify the team’s starting pitching.

The Yankees could target these 5 free agent starting pitchers.

Below we identify and discuss in no particular order the possible top free agent starting pitching candidates which the Yankees should consider pursuing to bolster their rotation. (The age indicates how old someone will be on opening day.)