Maybe they were trying to keep the hurt down to a minimum by leaving Gerrit Cole off the 60-day Injury List, but everybody with a brain knew he needed to be on that list from moment the injury was first announced. However, it’s entirely possible they didn’t place him on the list immediately because there was potential for a quick rehabilitation. That wasn’t the case, meaning the Yankee starting pitchers on the active roster have a tough road to hoe until June. 

Cole posted a 15-4 record, 7.5 WAR, and 2.63 ERA last season, earning his second AL Cy Young award. Then the offseason came, along with the news of Cole’s elbow injury. Cole played two innings in one spring game, and the reports were that his elbow struggled to recover after that appearance. The initial ruling was that he’d be out three-to-four weeks, with another month or so needed to ramp up his preparation for the season. 

With the big dog out of the yard for the next couple months, let’s take a look at the pups who will be expected to keep the rotation intact until he returns.


Nestor Cortes

If you don’t know by now, Nestor is a personal favorite of mine. In his 12 starts last season, he went 5-2 with a 0.5 WAR and a 4.97 ERA, but he spent a significant amount of time on the Injury List. Nasty Nestor got the start on Opening Day against the Astros, pitching five innings and giving up four runs in the first two frames before blanking Houston in the next three. 

Carlos Rodón


Rodón is a piece of the rotation puzzle that needs to stay healthy in order for the patch-up job to work. All offseason reports indicate Rodón is raring to go, and Yankees fans will only have to wait until his start against the Astros for a peek into the Rodón we will see. Prior to joining the Yankees, Rodón was slinging a 2.88 ERA in San Francisco and 2.37 with the White Sox. Those numbers sound nice, until you see the 6.85 spot he put up last season for the Yanks. If the reports are correct about Rodón’s development in the offseason, Yankees fans will have a chance to see a pitching performance closer to the old 2.88 than the recent 6.85. A bounce-back would be instrumental in keeping the wheels on the wagon while Cole is out. 

Marcus Stroman

Marcus Stroman is the true newbie to the starting pitching squad. At this point, Stroman is a much bigger add to the starting rotation. In his past five seasons, Stroman put up ERAs under five while with the Cubs, Mets, and Blue Jays. He declined to start the first game so he could stay in his rhythm. I’m not exactly sure about what that means, but hopefully it works and he keeps his rhythm for the season. 


Luis Gil 

There’s not much to say about Luis Gil yet. He’s a young 25-year-old from the Dominican Republic with room to grow. Despite undergoing Tommy John Surgery, the Yankees are confident Gil has the stuff to hold the fifth starter spot. He’s showcasing a new change-up in his pitching arsenal, and the strikes keep coming. Gil has big shoes to fill as the young guy in the starting rotation. 


Clarke Schmidt 

Schmidt-y here had a whole offseason for rumors to swirl about his potentially lost starting rotation spot. The New York Post was sure that the front office would put up some big bucks for Blake Snell, which was a threat to Schmidt’s spot. Cole’s elbow nerves and Snell’s deal with San Francisco ended those rumors abruptly. He still has his spot, but now he has extra work to put in. Schmidt averages out in wins and losses the past two seasons, and there’s not much else to write home about. He hurled a shutout against the Mets, but it was still just a spring game against the Mets. The offseason rumor mill with the newfound importance due to Cole’s absence may have instilled a stronger will to win in Schmidt. He and Rodon are working on new pitches to add to their arsenal, so there may be sunnier skies ahead.

Starting Pitching Season Prediction

The hope is Cole is out for the predicted six-to-eight weeks and can return with strength for the rest of the season. That’s the hope, but the feeling is that this will have a detrimental effect to Cole and the season. He’s the star starting pitcher, and the rest of the starters need to perform on the mound in his absence. Cortes, Schmidt, and Rodón will be looking for a redemption arc this season, while the young guns and newbies look to establish themselves.

The reports from pitching coach Matt Blake are positive and inspire hope, but most coaches don’t want to hit too hard at any negatives they see, especially in the offseason. I don’t want to make a Herbie: Fully Loaded (2005) reference, but I do. I picture the starting pitching situation the same way the pit crew frantically tries to repair the oil system — until the camera cuts to duct tape flapping away as oil spills under the Volkswagen Beetle. Herbie wins thanks to Lindsay Lohan’s stellar driving, but I don’t expect the same victorious ending for the Yankees.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *