Yankees response to rotation injuries indicates confidence in depth

With the start of the spring training exhibition season fast approaching, the Yankees are already dealing with some pitching issues. We can learn a thing or two about where the team is at by watching how they handle Nestor Cortes’ injury and Frankie Montas’ shoulder surgery, which will keep him out for most of 2023 (at least).

The old adage in baseball is that you can never have enough pitching depth. Six-man rotations exist in concept (and Anaheim, I suppose), but even when it seems like a team is actively pursuing them, those plans are derailed by injury. After the Yankees signed Carlos Rodón, this starting rotation entered rarefied air, not just when it came to the 2023 ratings, but for the past decade or so.

A one-for-five that included three legitimate ace-caliber arms, Cortés coming off a standout All-Star campaign and Montás as the undisputed best fifth man in the game was certainly impressive. Without a single pitch being thrown in a live game, that depth is already being tested, with multiple injuries and setbacks.

Long before pitchers and catchers reported, it was revealed that Montas would miss at least the first month of the season as the right-hander was dealing with shoulder inflammation, an issue dating back to the disappointing second half of the season. last season. Most recently, the team formally announced that Montas would have shoulder surgery, making the timeline of him actually pitching for the Yankees in 2023 unlikely. There’s a chance he’ll return later in the year, but any truly impressive performance will be more of a surprise.

To top it all off, Cortés was reportedly dealing with a hamstring problem that not only kept him out of the World Baseball Classic, but seemed to be holding up his spring training work. However, the hamstring appears to be healing faster than expected, and Nasty Nestor is ahead of his recovery timeline, having took the mound yesterday for a ‘pen session.

Digesting all these updates, now is a good time to assess where this starting rotation is going before Opening Day, and how management handles it will speak volumes about how they perceive each issue.

A move on the free agency or trade market would indicate a significant level of concern with Cortes. Montas is the one who will miss significant time and may not even pitch this year. So why does a trade or free-agent signing to bolster the depth of this staff say more about how management feels about the chances of Cortés and even the oft-injured Luis Severino to stay healthy for a full season?

It’s pretty simple. One of the things we learned at last year’s deadline is that this front office has enough confidence in its organizational depth to fill that starting fifth spot. After acquiring Montas, rather than keeping the staff as it was with the update, the team was proactive in moving reliable lefty Jordan Montgomery for the Harrison Bader center field update, thus returning fifth place to Domingo Germán (with Clarke Schmidt supporting it).

Whether it’s Germán, Schmidt, or one of the younger options getting a push, Cashman seems content to ride the big four and get by with that fifth place early in 2023. Even without Montas, this is one of the best rotations around. . in sport A double whammy from Gerrit Cole and Rodón is the cream of the crop, and both Severino and Cortés shone with excellence in 2022.

If the team goes out and adds a starter, which at this point in the game probably won’t be shocking, then that will speak more to some skepticism from Cortes and Severino to go through a full year without major hiccups. instead of replacing Montas. Clearly, the Yankees believe they can fill their role internally. That’s no surprise; after all, it’s a lot easier to replace a fifth starter than a more crucial mid-rotation piece.

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