The Yankees Have Major Rotation Issues Heading Into The New Season

Yankees Major Rotation Issues
Published by NYSB Staff
Last Updated: 15. Feb 2024.

The New York Yankees finished last season with one of the Major League's worst starting pitching rotations despite Gerrit Cole winning the AL Cy Young. It was a disastrous campaign that saw the Yankees barely escape the AL East cellar and miss the postseason for the first time since 2016. 

However, New York's starting pitchers should fare better this season if they can stay off the Injured List.

2023 Season Recap: Struggles and Setbacks

The New York Yankees finished 18th in starter ERA and 19th in innings pitched in 2023. Left-handers Carlos Rodon and Nestor Cortes endured multiple injuries and combined to pitch just 127.2 frames. 

Domingo Germán tossed a perfect game against Oakland last summer before going on the restricted list to seek help for alcohol abuse. A rotation that started with high hopes was in disarray after the All-Star break.

Spring Training Optimism

The upcoming season has started early for several Yankees - including Rodon and Cortes - who have already arrived at spring training. 

General manager Brian Cashman has been impressed with what he has seen thus far.

"I think we have a good rotation if everything goes right, which you know is something you don't want to count on and lay back counting on," Cashman said recently. "So we will constantly continue to look and tinker if possible. If we can run into some opportunities that make enough sense, it's a possibility. But otherwise, we do like what we have."

You can back your thoughts on the upcoming season using some of the top MLB sportsbooks in New York. 

The Core Five: Assessing the Yankees' Rotation Prospects

What the Yankees have is a five-man rotation that includes Cole, Rodon, Cortes, Marcus Stroman, and Clarke Schmidt. While Cortes seems fully recovered from his shoulder issues, Rodon is a wild card who has a massive upside.

The Bronx Bombers inked the 31-year-old to a six-year, $162 million contract, among some of the Yankees high-end contracts, to help anchor the front of the rotation with Cole. But the Yankees have earned little from their hefty investment as Rodon finished his maiden season in the Big Apple with a 3-8 record and a 6.85 ERA in 14 outings.

"Looks really good, getting after it," Cashman said about Rodon reporting early to the spring training facility. "I think we're in a much better collaborative state this winter. I know our guys are excited. 

The feedback I'm getting is really good, that his arm action is good. He looks like obviously he worked his tail off. So yeah, I'm very optimistic that Rodon can return to form, be the pitcher that we know he's capable of being." 

Addressing Depth Challenges Through Strategic Moves

The Yankees will be tested if any of their starters miss significant time due to injury because of a lack of depth. New York shipped away six potential starting pitchers this winter, including prized prospect Michael King, to acquire sluggers Juan Soto and Alex Verdugo. However, manager Aaron Boone feels like the club has done a good job of replacing the depth that was traded away.

"Whether that's Warren, Hampton, Beeter, Luis Gil returning from injury this year," the Yankees manager said on "The Show with Joel Sherman and Jon Heyman" podcast recently. 

"We're really excited about the signing of Cody Poteet, we think there's a lot potentially in there from a depth standpoint. And obviously bringing Luke Weaver back to be kind of that sixth starter/long man depending on what's needed. I do feel like we've replenished some of that depth, that six through 11 if you will."

Below is a preview of the 2024 Yankees starting rotation:

RHP Gerrit Cole

The reigning AL Cy Young Awardee is the staff ace. The 33-year-old posted a 15-4 record last year with 222 strikeouts over 209 innings pitched. The six-time All-Star has led the majors in strikeouts twice while leading the American League in ERA in both 2019 and 2023. 

Cole is one of the premier pitchers in the big leagues and has surpassed 200 strikeouts five times since 2018. If Cole can work 200 innings for the seventh time in his career this season, the Yankees will be poised to contend for the AL East crown.

LHP Carlos Rodon

The southpaw opened the disappointing 2023 season for the Yankees on the injured list due to a muscle strain in his left forearm and then suffered a back injury that delayed his rehabilitation. Once the 31-year-old was healthy, he resembled a journeyman pitcher instead of a front-of-the-rotation arm. 

Rodon reported to camp out of shape a year ago, and both he and the Yankees paid the price. The Florida native reported to camp early this year and is working hard to bounce back and become the dominant hurler who pitched a no-hitter three seasons ago.

LHP Nestor Cortes

Cortes logged just 12 starts last year due to a left rotator cuff strain. The 29-year-old finished the season with a 5-2 record and a 4.97 ERA with 67 strikeouts over 63.1 innings. 

The 2022 All-Star has a dazzling 24-11 career mark with a 3.82 ERA and 413 strikeouts over 393.2 frames. If Cortes can replicate the success he had in 2022, the Yankees starting rotation could develop into a top-10 unit.

RHP Marcus Stroman

The 2023 All-Star is hyped to join the Yankees after a successful stint with the Chicago Cubs. Stroman went 10-9 with a 3.95 ERA last year with 119 strikeouts in 136.2 innings pitched. The 32-year-old has notched 77 career wins while compiling a 3.65 ERA and 1,091 strikeouts over 1,303.2 innings. 

The two-time All-Star has started at least 20 games in seven seasons and gives the Yankees one of the league's top No. 4 pitchers.

RHP Clarke Schmidt

The 27-year-old posted a 9-9 card last season with a 4.64 ERA and 149 strikeouts over 159 innings. The former first-round pick is primed to continue his development as a future staff ace this season.

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