A major issue that has faced the Yankees in the early stages of the 2021 season is their heavy reliance on their bullpen. Other than Gerrit Cole, Yankees starting pitchers have not given the team much length. Most starts have been 5 innings or less. The bullpen is being called upon a lot. That is an issue that the Yankees have to deal with. The silver lining is that coming off a short season, every team is going to struggle with starting pitching logging innings. However the Yankees are in World Series or bust mode so they need to be better than the rest of the league.
I think one possible solution to this dilemma would be to designate two pitchers to a start at least twice a week. The Yankees have two long relievers in the bullpen who can give you 3 or 4 innings, Luis Cessa and Jonathan Loaisiga. We know that the Yankees are slowly ramping up Jameson Taillon’s innings, he currently isn’t going to throw more than 80 pitches which is around 4 innings, 5 at best. In this instance, let Luis Cessa know he is next in line and needs to give the Yankees 3 or 4 innings. He would basically be a starter who starts the game in the 5th inning. If the Yankees can get 8 innings between Taillon and Cessa, it gives the rest of the bullpen a break.
The same can be done with Corey Kluber. Kluber gives the Yankees 4 innings then they bring in Jonathan Loaisiga to throw the next 3 or 4 innings. Both Loaisiga and Cessa were former starters, they could potentially benefit from being on a rotation.
In order for this to work, Gerrit Cole needs to keep giving the Yankees a solid 7 innings per start. Additionally Jordan Montgomery and the 5th starter (either Deivi Garcia or Domingo German) need to step up and give the Yankees at least a solid 6 innings. Garcia is being touted as a potential star and from what I’ve watched, I can see it. He has great stuff and a real mound presence, this is his chance to take the next step.
I realize this is some out of the box thinking but that is what this team needs. The Yankees can’t keep going to the bullpen the way they have, they are going to burn half of these guys out by the All Star break. One of the strengths of this Yankees team is the bullpen, that means they need to find a way to ensure these guys stay fresh. If anyone has a better idea, I’m all ears. For now, I believe my idea may currently be the best possible solution.
Since drafting this post, three interesting updates have arisen
Corey Kluber just pitched his best game of the season. He looked great on the mound. His pitches had movement. He was throwing strikes. He was able to change up speeds. This resulted in 6 ⅔ innings. This is what the Yankees needed. Additionally it can change up my idea a little.
If Kluber can continue to get 6+ innings per start. We could potentially do a matchup of Taillon/Cessa, Montgomery/Loaisiga, and a combination of Garcia/Michael King/Clarke Schmidt for the 5th starter spot. (Obviously those combinations can be adjusted).
The Yankees have traded Mike Tauchman to the Giants for a left handed reliever. I really enjoyed watching Tauchman play in 2019, I hate to see him go but there was no room for him on this team. I hope he gets the playing time that he deserves in San Francisco.
As far as the reliever is concerned, Wandy Peralta, I don’t know anything about him. What I do know is that moving Tauchman for middle relief signals that the Yankees Front Office recognizes that they need fresh arms in that overly-taxed bullpen.
Kyle Higashioka, The Home Run Stroka, has officially been given the chance to take playing time away from Gary Sanchez. This is magnificent for the Yankees. The Yankees need a defensive minded catcher. World Series winners almost always have a solid defensive catcher who can handle a pitching staff and can provide a spark out of the bottom of the lineup. Is it a coincidence Kluber’s best start came along with a Higgy start? My guess would be probably not.
My excitement for Higgy is not a knock on Gary Sanchez. Gary Sanchez was ruined by the Yankees. He never should have been a catcher. Cashman and his baseball nerds seem to think anyone can be placed at any position as long as they hit. This has been proven to not be true. I think Sanchez’s fielding problems affected his hitting ability. His defensive struggles must have taken a mental toll and it ate away at his confidence which eventually eroded his confidence at the place. I still hope for the best for the Kraken. I just hope for the best for the Kraken in the National League. Trade him to the NL, to a team that may re-sign him in the offseason. The last thing I want to see is for him to fix his hitting ability as a DH in the AL East.