As we await further news on the future of the MLB, we have the opportunity to look at the upcoming starting rotations for the 2020 season. Plenty of standout names assisted their respective franchise into the top five of this particular segment, as parity in baseball’s pitching depth has become apparent.
The New York Yankees, who are most oftentimes known for their offensive firepower, hold one of the most elite starting rotations in the MLB. With the acquisition of Gerrit Cole in the offseason, the Yankees went from a World Series contender to a potential World Series favorite.
As mentioned, the top of the rotation for New York is dependent on Gerrit Cole during the 2020 season. After inking a nine-year, $324 million contract, he became the first pitcher in MLB pitcher to earn more than $300 million; surpassing the previous record set by Washington Nationals’ Stephen Strasburg ($245 million).
With a career winning percentage of 64.4%, Cole led the MLB last year in ERA (2.50) and strikeouts (326). In fact, his strikeout total was more than the Yankees’ top two strikeout pitchers in James Paxton (186) and Domingo German (153) combined last season.
Despite receiving back surgery earlier this year, the Yankees could be prepared for the return of James Paxton. His estimated date of return was mid-May, but with the delay of the Coronavirus, he has been throwing routinely and his recovery process is going well.
Last season, Paxton posted a career-best 15 wins across 150.2 innings pitched; the second consecutive year in which he has accumulated 150 or more innings pitched. While he won’t be viewed as a complete ace, he would be the Opening Day starter on several rosters.
Entering a contract year, Masahiro Tanaka will look to turn around his misfortunes during the 2020 season. While the 2019 campaign resulted in a winning season (11-9), his losses (9), ERA (4.45), and walks (40) were all the highest since the 2017 season.
Scheduled to make $23 million this season, Tanaka is still a serviceable asset who can provide 175+ innings pitched and 12+ wins in a single season. There is no timetable for an extension between the two sides, but his performance this season could become an important headline.
With 289 career starts, J.A. Happ will look to build upon his successful career during the 2020 season. In his first full season with the Yankees, Happ totaled a 12-8 record and 4.91 ERA; his highest ERA total since 2011 (5.35).
Still, a seasoned veteran with the ability to accumulate 150+ innings pitched and 140+ strikeouts will result in wins in the right situation. For a team that finished with a league-high 5.77 runs per game last season, the pressure on Happ towards the bottom of the starting rotation will be minimal.
With Luis Severino recovering from Tommy John surgery, the reliable Jordan Montgomery will likely be named as a member of New York’s starting rotation. Coming off a Tommy John surgery of his own, Montgomery has been named as a “lock” for a starting position by Yankees manager Aaron Boone.
With a smaller sample size as a starter, his time during the 2017 season with the Yankees resulted in a 9-7 record and 3.88 ERA. With only 186.2 innings pitched under his belt in the MLB, the 27-year old could be a fluid option for a team that only requires six innings of solid production before the bullpen can take over.