Yankees Have A Spot In Rotation With Paxton Injury

By Rich Mancuso/ Sports Editor

With James Paxton the Yankees are that much stronger with their starting rotation. He is the first and early casualty injury and out of the rotation for what is expected to be four months with spinal surgery to a herniated lumbar disc.

You can say this is not a good start for the Yankees with pitchers and catchers reporting to Tampa. And  a record number of injuries last season, the Yankees were able to win 100 games, and get to the ALCS. 

So one would say the Yankees will be fine.

You can also say, the Yankees are deep without Paxton. You can say the Yankees with Geritt Cole are in a deeper position with their rotation.

Not bad with Cole, Luis Severino, Masahiro Tanaka, and J.A. Happ. But they still need a number five starter and avoid the opener that became a constant last year..

 But this latest injury, and  by all standards, should not hinder their rotation. Though, there is the concern that the absence of Paxton will have an impact based on his finish in the second half last year with a 3.82 ERA,

And it is a blessing that the Yankees did not trade Happ, a  subject of trade talks this off-season.

GM Brian Cashman will be looking in.  That Number 5 spot in the rotation will become one of the few decisions to determine before Opening Day in seven weeks.

“There’s a competition now for whoever wants to step up and take it,” Cashman said.

The prevailing thought, and heard often, the Yankees could go with top prospect Deivi Garcia, or, 27-year old Jordan Montgomery. A longtime scout, and with knowledge of the Yankees, said that either would be the option.

But there is that caution with Montgomery. The 27-year old lefthander was limited to four innings last year after his recovery from Tommy John surgery.

“Montgomery is there but with that eye of caution,” he said. The obvious concern is the four innings after his recovery from  surgery and being placed in that fifth role.” 

With that being said, and with the loss of Paxton, there will be that question and who gets the fifth spot? One thing we know is the Yankees never fall short in getting their needs.

The thing here, it is not easy to fill a void in the rotation, more so with the unexpected circumstances of Paxton. The Yankees, though, saw that void last year without having  the availability of Severino until September.  

This year could be different with the addition of Cole, but that’s one part of the equation. You can’t expect Cole to duplicate his Cy Young Award season and be the complete piece every fifth day but the expectations are riding on him. 

 Manager Aaron Boone said about Montgomery “ He had a really good off season. He has proven himself at this level.”

Assume the  Yankees decide to slot in Montgomery as the beginning option. They can also put Garcia in the pen. Remember, also, this is a 26-man roster now.

Garcia or Montgomery could change roles, all depending of course on what transpires in those early season games of April. There is always a need to carry an added pitcher and with the roster expansion this could lead to more possibilities.

“They have depth,’ said the scout.

He mentions Jonathan Loaisiga, the 25-year old right-hander, 2-2 with a 4.50 ERA in eight career starts, 5.13 ERA in 16 relief stints  with the Yankees. Loaisiga, starter or could be dispatched out of the bullpen, and that is part of the depth.

Luis Cesa, “Capable and can give the Yankees some innings before going to the pen,” he said  Cesa, 27, has 234 innings on his resume and the most experience among the options.

Also,  24-year old right-hander Michael King, in the Yankees minor league system,  has developed a reputation for throwing strikes and getting the ground ball out.

Waiting, Domingo German, the most reliable Yankees starter last year. He has to fulfill a domestic violence suspension and won’t be available until June. 

So, yes, the loss of James Paxton will have an impact. But from the looks of things it’s not all that bad for the Yankees and this number five slot. 

Of course the expectations are Severino, Tanaka, Haap, and Cole will get it done.

In the meantime, filling that void for James Paxton will be one of the few storylines in the weeks ahead down in Tampa.

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