By Lenn Robbins
Scars and Strikes.
That should be the title of the 2021 Yankees yearbook. Scars and Strikes.
We know the Yankees can put out a potent lineup – spearheaded by Luke Voit and DL LeMahieu, that is capable of hanging a crooked number in an any inning. We know the pen, highlighted by Zach Britton and Chad Green and Aroldis Chapman, can ensure a win remains a win.
And we know that the Yankees, who haven’t won a World Series since 2009, play with a burden that is not heaped upon any other franchise.
What will it take for the Yankees to win that 28thth World Series title? The success of the Yankees starting rotation, aka Scars and Stripes.
ESPN has the Yanks starting rotation rated as the second best in baseball, behind the Washington Nationals. According to FanGraphs depth chart projections, the Yankees have the best starting pitching in baseball based on wins above replacement (WAR) at 18.3. The Mets are second at 16.7.
And the Yankees have the best, if not one of the five best pitchers in the game anchoring the rotation in Gerrit Cole. He pitched that way in his first season in pinstripes, 7-3 with a 2.84 ERA.
So, it looks pretty good, correct? Until one looks at the elbows of just about all of the projected starters. Those elbows make up a road map leading to some of the best orthopedic surgeons in the world.
And that’s what should have Yankees fans sweating. Their starters can throw a lot of strikes. They also bear the scars of injury and surgery.
- Deivi Garcia hasn’t joined the TJ Club. Questions remain as to whether the 5-foot-9, 163-pound, 21-year-old can hold up. He started Game 2 of the ALDS, working one and one-half innings before giving way to J.A. Happ. Garcia’s body is fine but who knows how the end of the season affected him his head.
- Domingo German hasn’t pitched since September of 2019. He was suspended for 81 games under MLB’s domestic violence policy. He made two appearances last season in mostly empty stadiums. Can’t imagine fans will cheer him. How does he handle that?
- Corey Kluber, is a former Cy Young Award winner but he’s thrown 36.2 innings since 2019. He suffered a fractured forearm in 2019 and suffered a Grade 2 tear in his shoulder that cost him last season.
- Clarke Schmidt is just 24. He, too, had TJ surgery. Schmidt got one start and appeared in three games. Who knows.
- Jordan Montgomery underwent TJ surgery in 2018. He has yet to pitch a full season. Montgomery, the only lefty in the rotation, pitched in 10 games last season with mixed results.
- Luis Severino was emerging as a top of the rotation starter until his 2019 season was cut short by shoulder inflammation. He underwent Tommy John underwent surgery last February and might be able to return in June/July.
- Jameson Taillon is a Yankee in part because the endorsement he received from Gerritt Cole. Taillon is a former No.1 overall draft pick. He hasn’t pitched since May 2019, having undergone two Tommy John surgeries.
The Yankees have a lot of options. They also have a lot of scars.