Yankees roster: Is it really all about landing a marquee pitcher

Gerrit Cole - 2020 Free agent ( (Photo: pinstripalley.com Edited)

The Yankees can feel the pressure mounting to sign a top-flight free-agent starter. Brian Cashman knows better, though, and he’ll show us why…

Yankees GM Brian Cashman insists, and principal owner Hal Steinbrenner agrees, the Yankees did not lose the ALCS to the Astros because of their starting pitching. Instead, both ask the legitimate question – how can we expect to win when we go 6-35 with runners in scoring position (RISP)?

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Nevertheless, the pressure is on, and Yankees fans seem bent on having a glitzy star to lead the rotation. Some still insist the Yankees can’t win without one.

These fans ask for and dream of a reprisal reflecting the likes of Ron Guidry, Andy Pettitte, Whitey Ford, and yes, even a Roger Clemens shut down good-night starter – meaning a Gerrit Cole or Stephen Strasburg with building Hall of Fame credentials.

Cashman especially is not bashful about meeting his critics head-on when they ask why other teams (Astros w/Justin Verlander and Zack Greinke) can find Grade A pitching help while the Yankees do a standstill.

Follow Cashman’s lead

Suffice to say, Cashman can (but he won’t) answer his critics by pointing out the Astros are not the World Champions, and Gerrit Cole was 1-1 in the World Series, not the 2-0 the Astros needed from him.

The argument will go on throughout the winter, but I have a different question. From the Yankees current 40-man roster, where do we find in the pecking order, and how do Nestor Cortes Jr, Ben Heller, Jordan Montgomery, Luis Cessa, Jonathan Loaisiga, Deivi Garcia, Luis Gil, Clarke Schmidt, and Albert Abreu fit into the Yankees plans? (Note: The last four are among the Yankees top-six prospects)

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Before you consider that question, though, here’s another one. Among Masahiro Tanaka, James Paxton, Luis Severino, and Domingo German, would you not feel comfortable in sending any of them, if healthy, out to pitch the seventh game of the ALCS or World Series?

If you say no, then it means you have an extra $250 million laying around to enter the Cole sweepstakes.

But if you pause for a minute, you might be drawn back to the list pitchers already in the Yankee’s backyard to find one or two who are capable of delivering 9-12 wins during the season, with a slide into the bullpen for the postseason.

Both Montgomery and Loaisiga have a proven track record with the Yankees. Are they an “ace” or a number one? Of course not. Montgomery is coming back from Tommy John, but he is ahead of Loaisiga, who is still struggling with his command of downright nasty stuff.

Garcia has reached his Harvard in the Yankee’s minor league system, and it’s time for him to be given a major league test. Will he be given that chance? Or, is he destined to become the next Justus Sheffield, soon to be used in a trade for God knows who?

Yankees need situational hitters

In a nutshell, here’s the point. The Yankees problem is not pitching – it’s situational hitting. Their top four starters plus any one or two of those mentioned above are good enough to get the team beyond the point where their hitters failed them in 2019.

Aaron Boone Loves DJ LeMahieu (Photo: Newsday)
Aaron Boone Loves DJ LeMahieu (Photo: Newsday)

Gary Sanchez and Giancarlo Stanton are not situational hitters. Both have a one-dimension approach at the plate, and that, my friends, is the number one challenge facing Brian Cashman in formulating the 2020 Yankees team.

By tomorrow, Didi Gregorius will be history as the Yankees will not extend him a qualifying offer. Luke Voit, Mike Tauchman, Clint Frazier, Gio Urshela/Miguel Andujar, and Mike Ford all remain in limbo awaiting their fate as Cashman reshuffles the deck.

But that’s where the focus needs to be – who, besides DJ LeMahieu, Aaron Judge, Gleyber Torres, and Brett Gardner are capable of working an at-bat to deliver what’s needed at a particular moment in a game?

A home run, as hopefully, we have learned, is not always the answer.

So, forgive Brian Cashman and the Yankees if marquee starter Gerrit Cole is not wearing the pinstripes next year. They’re not cheap – they’re just smart…

Yankee news: Aroldis Chapman and the Yankees have reportedly agreed to a three-year $48 million contract extension.


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Author: stevecontursi

I am an amateur writer with a passion for baseball and all things Yankees and Mets.