Yankees' spot in FanGraphs rotation rankings will make you surprisingly optimistic

New York Yankees v Boston Red Sox - Game Two
New York Yankees v Boston Red Sox - Game Two / Maddie Meyer/GettyImages

The Yankees seemed perfectly willing to commit $300+ million to their starting rotation just a few weeks ago before striking out on Yoshinobu Yamamoto, free agency's highest-ceiling option.

Shouldn't they, in that case be equally enthusiastic about dropping that $300 million anyway and splitting it between two remaining free agent options in an effort to thicken their rotation? Well...

New York's front office was willing to throw caution to the wind and invest heavily in Yamamoto ahead of his MLB debut because they truly believed in him. They'd scoped his pitch-shaping data. They'd seen him in person repeatedly throughout 2023. They reserved a jersey for him. They loved the righty so much that they were willing to invite in budgetary questions surrounding Juan Soto's free agency just to get a crack at him.

It didn't work out. Now, the Yankees have a clear and obvious need for one or two innings-eaters, considering arms like Carlos Rodón and Nestor Cortes Jr. didn't deliver last season (Team of the Century, Understatement of the Millennium). But, considering the prospects FanGraphs believes will likely debut in 2024 (Will Warren), as well as the inherent bounce-back potential of Rodón (whose pitch data didn't lose much) and Cortes, the projection outlet sees the Yankees as a borderline-effective rotation already.

FanGraphs' projections ranked New York 13th, one spot ahead of the NL Champion Arizona Diamondbacks, a team that's already fortified its roster with Eduardo Rodriguez. Again, please improve things! But ... that's not heinous. And this is before they imported Marcus Stroman! If he gives you anything, it's already a bonus in FanGraphs' eyes.

Yankees' rotation ahead of NL Champion Diamondbacks in FanGraphs' 2024 rankings?

Prior to the import of Stroman, FanGraphs' expectations were that Clayton Beeter was the "favorite" to grab the Yankees' fifth starter role over Warren, and they project him for a 4.71 ERA/4.99 FIP season with 8.8 K/9 that would certainly satisfy any pitching-frenzied fan. That said, the system projects Warren to be more effective in fewer innings (4.30 ERA/4.51 FIP in 92 frames), as well as cameos from Chase Hampton and Luis Gil.

It may be optimistic for FanGraphs to assume 166 innings of health from Rodón and 145 from Cortes, but neither is outlandish. Plus, 18 innings from recovering 2021 standout Luis Gil feels low; the flamethrower should theoretically be ready for a full season.

Not only are the Yankees projected ahead of the D-Backs, but other perceived "pitching-rich" teams like the Giants (15th) and Rays (16th) fit nicely behind them on the timeline, too. If the Bombers have the chance to reunite with Jordan Montgomery and add a near-guarantee of quality innings to their rotation, they should absolutely say yes.

But if their choices are "Add Slop or Emphasize Will Warren," New York should probably lean internally.

The metrics confirm it, as does common sense. Drew Rucinski?!