“You can never have enough pitching.” This common phrase has been uttered by, not just Yankees fans, but all fans for generations. We have all heard our father say “pitching wins ball games.” In particular a strong starting rotation is crucial for a deep playoff run. The Atlanta Braves’ big three of the 90s notched them three world series appearances. Each of the last few World Series champions have had monster rotations themselves. That being said, is the Yankees rotation good enough?
The Yankees had a relatively disappointing year in 2021. Surprisingly, it was the offense that fell short, not the pitching. In 2022, the Yankees pitching staff is largely the same. The one big addition is a healthy Luis Severino, who, if he can stay healthy, could be a real difference maker. In his first start of the 2022 season, he only lasted three innings. However, his velocity was just as high as it was pre-Tommy John, and overall he looked great.
This is Gerrit Cole’s third season with the Yankees. In his brief tenure so far, he has been mostly what the Yankees have been paying for, albeit with a few bumps in the road. Cole was signed to be the bonafide ace that the Yankees were missing, bu, the foreign substance situation puts into question whether or not he can be the elite pitcher the Yankees acquired.
While Cole’s finish to the 2021 season was disappointing, hopefully it will be proven to be due to his hamstring injury and not the foriegn substance ban. Furthermore, two of his best starts of the year (the complete game shutout at Houston and the 15 strikeout game at Anaheim) came after the ban.
Yankees hidden Ace:
Nestor Cortes Jr. had a breakout performance in 2021. The crafty lefty had a 2.90 ERA in 93 innings. Cortes and his timing trickery and arm-angle mixups just held a juggernaut Blue Jays lineup scoreless through 4.1 innings. Look for him to surprise the world again in 2022.
Yankees Rotation Depth:
Jordan Montgomery and Jameson Taillon both have potential to be above average pitchers. If Montgomery repeats his 111 ERA+, then he will be a solid three or four. Taillon showed flashes of brilliance last year. If he can hone his craft just a little more, then the back end of the Yankees’ rotation will match up with anyone’s.
On paper, the Yankees rotation doesn’t match up with the best in the league. However, they at least have a bonafide ace, maybe two if Severino returns to form. The back end of the rotation is probably good enough to win a championship, especially with how good the bullpen is. I think asking if the Yankees rotation is good enough is short-sighted. The better question is if the pitching staff as a whole is good enough to win the World Series. To this, the answer is absolutely yes.