The New York Yankees enter 2021 with a very different roster than they had in 2020. Last season, GM Brian Cashman and manager Aaron Boone got to see the effect star pitcher Gerrit Cole would have on the team. Unfortunately, due to a combination of suspensions, Coronavirus, and the Yankee injury plague, the Yankees were bested by the Rays in the AL.
Now, the American League looks very different, and the Yankees are at the forefront again. This offseason, the Yankees add some new faces and let go more, hoping to return to the World Series for the first time in over a decade. Their key changes happened on the starting rotation, with the additions of Jameson Taillon and Corey Kluber, subtractions of Masahiro Tanaka, James Paxton, and J.A. Happ, and returns of Luis Severino and Domingo German.
Did the New York Yankees do enough to establish their rotation as the best in the league? Let us evaluate.
Other Potential Top Rotations (in no particular order)
Where Things Stand For the Yankees Right Now
The good news for the Yankees is that there is not too much competition for the best starting rotation in the AL. After the Rays lost their top two pitchers, the only three teams with comparable pitchers are the Indians, White Sox, and Astros. While all three have potential, they all also lack proven players on the back end, like the Yankees have with Kluber, German, and Garcia.
The real question comes when comparing the Yankees to teams in the NL. Objectively, right now, it is safe to say the Dodgers, Mets, and Padres have better rotations than the Yankees. The Nats and Braves have around the same amount of talent as the Yanks, the Nats with more proven arms while the Braves have much more potential.
So, as it stands, the Yankees need to pass a few rotations filled with stars to truly be the best. How exactly can that happen?
What Needs To Happen For the Yankees in 2021
The best way for the Yankees to improve would be if a few key players stepped up. First is Corey Kluber, the 35 year-old veteran on a one-year contract. He is just three years removed from an All-Star/3rd place Cy-Young Award season and four years from a Cy-Young win. In fact, players who have recently had productive years at age 35+ include Justin Verlander, Zack Greinke, Cole Hamels, Charlie Morton, and Adam Wainwright. Just like Kluber, all of those pitcher top-tier starters at some point in their career. Now, many of them have remained productive despite their age, and hopefully Kluber can do the same.
The second player who the Yankees need to return to form is Luis Severino. Obviously, to have one of the best rotations in the league, you need stars. If Severino can return to form post-surgeries, the Yankees will one of the best 1-2-3 punches in Cole, Sevy, and Taillon. The only comparable tandems would be those of the Dodgers, Nats, Braves, and Padres. Then, only the Padres could compete with similar depth on the back side of the rotation.
Finally, one of Deivi Garcia/Domingo German need to elevate their status. Both are regarded as young, high potential talents, and while German boasts better numbers, Deivi’s success was much more recent. Thus, the stage is set for them to battle for the last spot, as I wrote about in my last article.
In the end of the day, do the Yankees really need to boast the best rotation in baseball? Definitely not. The Yankees already have one of the most explosive lineups in the league. Teams (like the Twins) already have nightmares about facing Aaron Judge, DJ LeMahieu, Gleyber Torres etc. in the postseason. But if the Yankees could truly matchup with the NL’s dominant rotations like the Padres and Dodgers, the Yankees would solidify their spot as World Series contenders, if not favorites.