James Paxton’s back surgery means someone needs to step up
When the Yankees signed Gerrit Cole to a billion dollar, actually $324 million, contract they immediately became the favorites in the American League.
They also thought their rotation was pretty much set for the season with Cole, arguably the best pitcher in the world, on top of the starting five.
Then it was discovered that presumed No. 3, or 4, starter James Paxton needed back surgery and would miss at least the first month of the season and probably more than that.
So who fills in as the No. 5 starter behind Cole, Masahiro Tanaka, Luis Severino and J.A. Happ? The Yanks have options.
Here are five possibilities for that No. 5 spot in he rotation.
Jordan Montgomery: The veteran of the group at 27 years old, the University of South Carolina product was pretty good in 2017 when he went 9-7 with a 3.88 ERA in 27 starts in the bigs. The following year wasn’t as good and last year he underwent Tommy John surgery. He’s the favorite, but he has to show he’s healthy and can revert back to his ’17 form.
Jonathan Loaisiga: The 25-year-old has made some spot starts for the big club the past two years and has a 4-2 record with a 4.55 ERA and 1.51 WHIP to show for it. He has a shot, but the team also likes him as a long man in the bullpen.
Mike King: A former Marlins prospect, King, 24, went 3-1 with a 4.18 ERA for the Yanks AAA team in Scranton last year. He’s getting a long look in spring training.
Clarke Schmidt: He’s considered the No. 2 prospect in the organization after being drafted out of the University of South Carolina. The 23-year-old has quickly made his way through the system and had 102 strikeouts in 90 innings for AA Trenton last year.
Deivi Garcia: The 20-year-old and No. 1 prospect in the organization went from A to AAA in 2019. He probably needs a little more time, but if he’s the best of the group in Tampa he could get the nod.