The New York Yankees, with a 59-23 record, are 36 games above .500 and boast one of the best pitching staffs in baseball.
Their starting rotation — consisting of Gerrit Cole, Luis Severino, Nestor Cortes, Jameson Taillon and Jordan Montgemery — has been excellent. What many analysts in the industry believed would be a weakness for New York has been a strength. But while they’ve been proven wrong so far, the rotation has shown some signs of slowing down of late, which could lead to the Yankees looking for reinforcements ahead of the trade deadline.
Cole has been great, save for a couple of subpar outings, having pitched to a 7-2 record with a 2.99 ERA and a team-leading 117 strikeouts in 93.1 innings. He is the least of New York’s concerns.
Montgomery has also been remarkably consistent as the team’s No. 5 starter, pitching to a 3.19 ERA in 16 starts.
And while Severino, Taillon, and Cortes have starred for much of the first half of the season, there is reason for the Yankees to be concerned as we head into the dog days of summer.
Taillon, who made 29 starts for New York in 2021 — his first season in pinstripes — after only pitching in seven games across the 2019 and 2020 seasons with Pittsburgh, got off to a fast start this season but has shown some signs of wear and tear in his last few starts.
While he’s 4-1 in his last seven starts, he’s pitched to a 5.12 ERA in his last 38 innings while surrendering 46 hits and allowing six home runs in that small sample size. He gave up just four home runs in his first nine starts.
It’s clear Taillon hasn’t looked as sharp. Is he simply in the middle of a down stretch, or is his workload catching up with him?
In 2021, he tossed 144.1 innings, the second-highest mark of his career. And he is already at 89.1 innings pitched this season. Is it realistic to expect Taillon to remain healthy and efficient as his workload continues to grow?
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Then there’s Luis Severino, whose comeback from multiple injuries — including Tommy John surgery — has been nothing but incredible. He was stellar again last night in Pittsburgh, tossing six shutout innings as he improved to 5-3 on the season and lowered his ERA to 3.11.
But Severino — a Cy Young contender when healthy — pitched just 18 innings between 2019 and 2021. It’s unclear how many innings the Yankees will let him pitch this season. They haven’t stated an official innings limit for the righty, but they should not expect a full workload from Severino, who has already tossed 84 innings this season.
The most surprising member of the Yankees’ stellar rotation is southpaw Nestor Cortes.
He emerged as a key member of the Yankees’ staff last season, pitching to a 2.90 ERA in 22 games (14 starts). Few thought he could replicate his success this season, but he has exceeded expectations. He was nearly unhittable the first couple of months, but after surrendering just four home runs in his first 10 starts, he has given up seven in his last five.
His numbers are still great — a 7-3 record with a 2.44 ERA and a WHIP of 0.95 — but he, too, may be under an innings count this season. He has never tossed more than 93 innings in a big-league season, and he only reached that number last year.
With Taillon regressing, and Cortes and Severino facing an innings limit, the Yankees will need reinforcements to bolster their rotation and give the aforementioned trio a break every now and then to keep them fresh and healthy heading into the postseason.
Yes, they have JP Sears, who has pitched well in two spot starts and three relief appearances. But he’s not enough.
Luis Gil, who pitched well in a handful of starts in the majors last season, is done for the year due to injury. Deivi Garcia has not looked the same after his impressive 2020 cameo. And there’s not much starting pitching depth in the minors beyond him.
With the Yankees’ success during the first half of the season, they should make every move possible to bring in more established arms. Doing so will keep the core of their rotation fresh, healthy, and ready for a pennant run come October.