There’s a lot going right for the New York Yankees in spring training thus far. The bombers are 18-6, are watching both veterans and prospects perform at a high level, and are watching their team take shape as we approach Opening Day. They’ve even thrown a combined no-hitter. Sure, it’s spring training and the Yankees still aren’t expected to be that competitive in 2017, but it’s hard not to be optimistic.
The biggest question going into spring training was how the Yanks’ rotation would shape up. With Masahiro Tanaka, CC Sabathia, and Michael Pineda as the only “locks” in the rotation, a number of guys have been putting their skills on display to try and crack the Opening Day roster. That includes Bryan Mitchell, Luis Severino, Chad Green, Adam Warren, Luis Cessa, and Jordan Montgomery. Six guys fighting for two spots is not something new to the Yankees, as it’s been awhile since they’ve had a definite starting five to open the season.
So who’s it going to be? With just two weeks left until Opening Day, these guys need to pitch with some authority if they want to start the fourth or fifth games of the season. I’m no Joe Girardi, but here’s how I see the rotation looking to start the season.
Bryan Mitchell – There’s no way Girardi doesn’t give Mitchell one of the open rotation spots. Mitchell was well on his way to becoming a regular starter for the Yanks last spring before a toe injury derailed his season. Now, we’re seeing him prove once again that he’s ready for a shot. He’s coming off his best outing of the spring, striking out five and giving up just one run in three innings against the Blue Jays. In 14 ⅓ innings this spring, he’s given up six runs and 11 hits, while striking out 12. I’m fully expecting to see Mitchell slated to start the fourth game of the season against the Baltimore Orioles.
Luis Severino – Say what you want about the youngster, but I think Severino will take the final rotation spot when the season begins. He hasn’t had the best spring and was shelled in his last start against the Astros, but he undoubtedly has the most talent of the potential suitors. Severino’s ups and downs as a starter have been talked about profusely the past two seasons. After a great rookie campaign in 2015, Severino was 0-8 with an 8.50 ERA in 11 starts last season. As a reliever, he posted a 0.39 ERA in 11 games. The talent is there, but the 23-year-old has admittedly had trouble with slowing the game down. He’ll need to impress Girardi in his last few spring outings, as his 5.08 ERA this spring is not convincing. I think he will, and will be the Yankees’ fifth starter when the season begins.
Adam Warren – Of everyone competing for the rotation spots, Warren far and away has the most experience, and that experience has been on full display this spring. He’s been the definition of consistent, posting a 3.09 ERA in 11 ⅔ innings. He’s given up three homers thus far but has only walked three batters while striking out six. Warren’s numbers aren’t remarkable my any means, but you know exactly what you’re getting when sending Warren to the mound. He can put together solid outings day in and day out, which makes him the first in line to take over if someone falters or gets hurt.
Chad Green – While he may have the least amount of hype and MLB experience compared to everyone else, Green is pleading his case on the mound this spring. After another strong start against the Nationals on Monday, Green owns a 1.50 ERA and a .209 BAA through 12 innings. He doesn’t have the swing-and-miss ability that the others do, but he’s keeping the ball in the park. The only thing keeping Green from earning serious consideration for a rotation spot is his walk rate. He’s walked six batters in 12 innings, which would make it extremely difficult for him to go deep into games. He may not crack the rotation at the start of the season, but he’ll be patiently waiting for his turn in the event that someone gets hurt.
Luis Cessa – He started nine games down the stretch last year, and while they weren’t anything special, they were enough to prove that he could be a regular starter in the Yankees rotation. However, Cessa’s spring training has told a different story. He’s given up six earned runs and 11 hits in 7 ⅔ innings pitched thus far. Still, the numbers aren’t quite as bad as they seem. Before missing almost two weeks with a fever, Cessa had allowed just two runs in his first six innings of the spring. He came back and allowed four runs in just 1 ⅔ innings of work, indicating that he may have come back a bit too soon. His seven strikeouts and just two walks are encouraging, and Cessa will still have a few more chances to plead his case for a rotation spot.
Jordan Montgomery – Everyone loves a good spring training success story, and the Yankees possibly have theirs in Jordan Montgomery. The lefty has impressed out of the bullpen this spring, posting a 3.48 ERA over 10 ⅓ innings. In his last outing, he closed out the combined no-hitter against the tigers, throwing four perfect innings to end the game. He hasn’t started a game yet this spring, but what he’s done in long relief has been enough to catch Girardi’s attention. I wouldn’t be surprised if we see him start a game before spring training is over, and if he succeeds, who knows? Montgomery is a long shot to make the Opening Day roster, but he’s doing just about everything right so far this spring.
It remains to be seen who will win the last two rotation spots, and it will certainly be the thing to watch as we approach Opening Day. The Yankees have been extremely fun to watch this spring, and I wouldn’t be too surprised if it carried over into the start of the season. With the baby bombers still a couple of years away, the Yankees aren’t expected to match the other teams in the American League East, but baseball is an unpredictable sort. Who knows, the New York Yankees just might surprise people in 2017.