Yankees fans clamoring for a 6-man starting rotation need to stop dreaming. The presence of Gerrit Cole in New York makes that a bad idea.
The battle between Domingo German and Deivi Garcia for the No. 5 spot in the Yankees rotation has some fans arguing that manager Aaron Boone should go with a 6-man rotation to accommodate them both. That would be a big mistake for any rotation anchored by a bona fide ace like Gerrit Cole.
Garcia’s ugly outing against the Blue Jays on Wednesday likely means that German is going to win out to break camp as the team’s No. 5 starter. That’s a disappointing outcome for Garcia fans. The reality is that it doesn’t change much for New York in terms of how they’ll begin the 2021 regular season.
The most important thing New York can do to bolster their projected win total for the season is to get Gerrit Cole on the mound as much as possible. That doesn’t mean they should ignore his pitch count late in games, but it does mean that the Yankees should feel motivated to maximize his number of starts.
Clearly, going from a 5-man to a 6-man rotation would significantly cut down on Cole’s workload. He’d likely pitch approximately 30 fewer innings if Boone went in that maverick direction. Trading 30 innings of Cole for 30 innings of any other pitcher on the Yankees staff is a bad move by Boone and his coaching staff.
Why won’t the New York Yankees won’t use a 6-man rotation?
There is a cogent argument to be made that going with a 6-man rotation might help the guys lined up to take the ball on days when Cole isn’t the team’s starter. The injury histories of Corey Kluber and Jameson Taillon are well documented. Even Jordan Montgomery and German might see a mild uptick in their performances if they received the extra rest.
That’s not worth sacrificing innings of Cole. Instead, the Yankees should rely on the terrific work they’ve done to build rotation depth. The aforementioned Garcia is ready to come up to the bigs the moment any member of the current rotation needs to miss a start. Team officials hope the same can be said for Clarke Schmidt once he returns from injury. There’s even the possibility that Nick Nelson can transition to a starter as a result of adding a new pitch to his repertoire.
The ace in the hole for the Yankees down the stretch should be the return of Luis Severino from Tommy John surgery. It might make sense to ease him back into the action with a bullpen role, but the odds favor the team needing him to become an impact starter by the time the postseason arrives. His potential return is another compelling reason why the Yankees shouldn’t go with a 6-man rotation.
The Yankees will certainly need more than six starting pitchers during the 2021 season, but that’s not how Boone and the team’s brain trust should kick things off. They need to cater to their ace whenever possible. Since Cole provides the most value in a 5-man rotation that’s what New York should go with. It’s just that simple.