Monday Mail: Yankees’ Starting Pitching Injuries Are a Problem

The Yankees are already down 40 percent of their starting rotation

It’s been a few days since the Yankees last reported an injury. I feel like the team needs one of those signs in warehouses recognizing how many days since the company’s last incident. The good news is there aren’t any new injuries. The bad news is Luis Severino and James Paxton are still injured.

This week’s questions and comments are related to the team being unable to rid themselves of the injury bug.

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Everybody’s overreacting. All we have to do is play decent the first two months then get some arms bck. We will be fine. The rest of the division is mediocre at best. We were without two pitchers last year and won over 100 games. – Joe

I don’t think anyone is overreacting to the Yankees’ pitching injuries. The fact is 40 percent of the current rotation is out, and it’s not like it’s the Yankees’ fourth and fifth starters they’re without, it’s their No. 2 and 3 starters.

Yes, the Yankees will be fine in terms of steamrolling the AL East, winning around 100 games and reaching the postseason. But the goal isn’t to win around 100 games and the division and reach the postseason. The goal is to win the World Series. Somewhere along the way I think that goal has been diminished. Doing what the team did last year or the year before isn’t good enough. Not when the championship drought is going on 11 years and the Yankees are about to begin their fourth season with their current core. At some point the Baby Bombers won’t be babies anymore and with each season we’re getting closer to that point.

The Yankees need Luis Severino and James Paxton to win the World Series. Otherwise eight months from now Yankees fans will be watching another team win a championship and saying what the Yankees need to do in the coming offseason to get back on top of the baseball world.

Luis Severino got his bread and now he’s hurt all the time. Same with Aaron Hicks. – Kevin

Pitchers get hurt and when you throw as hard as Severino does and have for as long as he has, and when you have the drastic increase in workload, injuries happen. They happen even without those things. Here are Severino’s innings since 2015, including the minors and majors (regular season and postseason) with Severino’s age in parentheses:

2015 (21): 161.2
2016 (22): 151.1
2017 (23): 209.1
2018 (24): 198.1
2019 (25): 21.1

Last season, Severino managed to come back and threw just 12 innings before being thrust into the highest leverage of situations with postseason starts. His current injury was mentioned after his ALCS Game 3 start and he was cleared to start a potential Game 7. The injury went away over the offseason because he was no longer pitching and then returned this spring training when he started pitching again.

Maybe we’ll find out this week it’s nothing more than something that needs rest. I don’t think that will be the case, but I’m hoping it is.

However, don’t ever compare him to Aaron Hicks.

I guess we should have gone after another starter. – Donnie

I do wish the Yankees had splurged and gotten themselves another true major league starter the same way I wish they would every offseason since you can never have enough pitching. Now that they’re down two starters and will most likely be to begin the season, it’s going to be up to the team’s depth to fill in like it did last season.

J.A. Happ is now the team’s No. 3 starter and that means Jordan Montgomery is the No. 4, which leaves the No. 5 spot open. If it’s not Deivi Garcia, it could be journeyman Chad Bettis, another prospect or maybe we see Chad Green as an opener again to begin the season. The Yankees have options for how they can patch together a rotation, but we won’t have any real insight into how they plan on doing so until the end of spring training.

What happened to the new conditioning coach? – Barbara

After setting the all-time single-season record for most players placed on the injured list last year, the Yankees did a complete overhaul of their training staff. Both the Paxton and Severino injuries were holdovers from last season so there is nothing yet to blame the new medical staff for.

In an ideal world we won’t have to question what measures the Yankees took to prevent such an unprecedented amount of injuries and the team will get healthy and stay healthy. Unfortunately, that ideal world isn’t realistic.

Don’t be surprised if Gerrit Cole doesn’t live up to the money the Yankees are paying him. Look what happened with the money they spent last year with Giancarlo Stanton on the bench for most of the postseason. – Norman

I have no doubt Gerrit Cole will live up his talent and ability, at least in the first few years of his deal. Asking him to maintain his current level for nine years just isn’t something that can be done. If the Yankees win a single championship during Cole’s tenure, his contract would have been worth it. Now I want them to win multiple championships over the next nine years, but let’s start with one since it’s been more than a decade since the last.

The thing that worries me about Cole is his health the way every the health of every Yankees pitcher worries me. It’s rare a starting pitcher doesn’t experience some issue or issues during his career and Cole is no different. To this point in his career, he’s been about as healthy as you can ask anyone with his velocity and workload to be, and it’s why he was able to get nine years out of the Yankees. As long as Cole is healthy, I expect him to be one of, if not the best pitcher in baseball.

As for Giancarlo Stanton, his contract is actually a bargain compared to the rest of the market … when he’s healthy. The problem is he wasn’t healthy last season, playing in 18 regular-season games and missing the final games of the postseason. I have said I’m giving Stanton a clean slate to begin the season and will try my best to hold back on negative comments and criticism for as long as he lets me. The first two years of Stanton as a Yankee haven’t gone well. Luckily for him, he has a lot of time left to change the narrative on his Yankees career.

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My book The Next Yankees Era: My Transition from the Core Four to the Baby Bombers is now available as an ebook!