Thursday, February 16, 2017

The Yankees Rotation Will Be Underrated in 2017

Yes, let’s start off this Thursday morning with what will probably be an unpopular blog post and opinion. I can’t help it, I am who I am and you have to take me as I am or not at all. No apologies. So yes, I do believe that the New York Yankees starting rotation will be underrated in 2017 despite the lack of additions this offseason and I am 100% prepared to explain to you why I believe the Yankees rotation will be underrated this upcoming season. Keep reading friends.

Now keep in mind before I get too far into this that I don’t believe the Yankees will be underrated or termed “special” straight out of the gate and at times the rotation may seem to be held together by a string. That’s the course of a 162-game schedule and that’s baseball. I am talking in a general sense and on a larger scale. Keep reading and you will understand what I mean.

I know some don’t subscribe to this mindset but if history is an indicator of the future the Yankees are in for some huge innings and performances from Masahiro Tanaka, Michael Pineda and CC Sabathia. Why? The contract year, that’s why. Tanaka has an opt-out clause written into his contract that he can exercise after this season while the contracts for both Sabathia and Pineda simply expire at seasons end. At this point in the career of the big lefty, Sabathia, you kind of know what you’re going to get from him but this may finally be the season that a young and talented Pineda finally puts it all together. Pineda has always had the stuff and the raw talent but for whatever reason he has always had something holding him back keeping him from taking the next step. I truly believe he takes that next step and maybe another step as well in 2017. Do I have a stat or some behind-the-scenes story that makes me believe this? Nope, I don’t. I have history, I have common sense and I have my gut feeling as a fan and I am rolling with it.

Those names you know but names like Bryan Mitchell, James Kaprielian, Luis Severino, Adam Warren, Luis Cessa, Chad Green, Jordan Montgomery, Chance Adams and others are the arms that will make or break the Yankees rotation this upcoming season. I, personally, am putting all my chips on the “make” category.

Mitchell does not have overwhelming stuff but he has a knack for getting MLB hitters out when he’s healthy. Taking a line drive off the face and hurting his toe in spring training of last year have set him back some in his development but now at 25-years old it is time for Mitchell to shine. Mitchell, I will say though, is his own worst enemy unfortunately as he has shown an ability to pitch both in the bullpen and the rotation which may leave him in middle relief and as a long man in 2017. Wherever Mitchell pitches next season though he will need to garner a few more ground balls and maybe strike out another batter or two every nine innings but the good news is these things can be taught. His talent and his guts on the mound that he possesses cannot be.

Luis Cessa was great for the Yankees in a short sample size last season. Cessa, who was signed out of Mexico by the New York Mets back in 2009 as an infielder, has only been pitching since 2011 and has only just recently earned MLB pitching experience with the Yankees. Cessa needs a third pitch to really stick in the rotation long term or his future may be in the bullpen but while that is what a scouting report will tell you the eye test told an entirely different story in 2016. For that reason I’m not going to be the one to write off the 24-year old righty.

You have heard me say the names Jordan Montgomery and Chance Adams a bunch over the past few seasons and 2017 may finally be the year that these names become common and household names around the Yankees Universe. Montgomery was a 2014 fourth-round draft pick out of South Carolina and has been one of the best Yankees pitchers in all of their farm system ever since. Montgomery started the 2016 season in Double-A where he posted a 9-4 record with a 2.55 ERA with 97 K’s and 36 BB’s before heading up to Triple-A to end the season. Montgomery somehow got better when he went up to Scranton posting a 5-1 record with a 0.97 ERA and 1.00 WHIP with 37 K’s in 37 innings. If that stat line doesn’t scream “Put me in coach, I’m ready to play” then I don’t know what will.

Adams was Montgomery before Montgomery was Montgomery in my eyes. I feel like I’ve been talking about Adams forever even though he was drafted just two seasons ago in 2015. Adams was originally drafted as a reliever which led me to name him as my prediction to be the first player drafted in 2015 to reach the Major Leagues. That did not happen obviously but for good reason. Adams was converted to starting pitching by the Yankees and has absolutely made the Yankees organization look like a bunch of Brad Pitt’s in Moneyball, minus the whole good looking thing. Adams is just 22-years old and the Yankees don’t seem to be in any rush to get him to the Major Leagues due to innings concerns and such but if Adams keeps pitching the way he has he may force the Yankees hand sooner rather than later.

There are others names including Kaprielian, Luis Severino who is working on his mechanics this spring and adding some movement to his fastball, Warren who can seemingly bounce back and forth between the rotation and the bullpen at any time, and others who can make or break the Yankees starting rotation this season. Me, Mr. Optimistic, I’m going with make because as Joe Girardi has proven time and time again… sometimes talent just simply wins out and outweighs bad decision making. 

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Sorry for the Capatcha... Blame the Russians :)