The Yankees are off to a good start, but not everything is going well. Much of the Bronx Bombers’ success has to do with the offense, powered by Aaron Judge, Aaron Hicks, Starlin Castro, Matt Holliday, and Brett Gardner. Although the bullpen has been incredible so far, the rotation hasn’t been, to put it lightly:
It’s ironic that Masahiro Tanaka is the worst starter so far, and Michael Pineda the best, but it’s no surprise that this rotation is on shaky footing. I will clamor for the Yankees to shell out the necessary pieces to get a Gerrit Cole or Jose Quintana, but, in fact, there might be a solution within the organization: Chance Adams.
Now, the rotation isn’t changing anytime soon. It seems that Jordan Montgomery will get an extended look, and he deserves it. My guess would be the next pitcher on the totem pole to get an extended look is Chad Green, who has been competent so far out of relief. However, pitchers get injured, and the fifth spot is likely to morph and shift over the course of a long season. In short, you can never have enough pitching.
Adams is a 22-year-old right-hander out of Dallas Baptist University, a fifth round selection from 2015. He was, to say the least, a very fast riser in the system, and while I would almost say his ascendance was as fast Luis Severino, he seemingly never got the same press in the prospect media coverage. I think he could be just as good, or even better.
Featuring a plus-plus fastball that supposedly climbed to 97 mph last year, a plus slider, and a change that flashes plus, there are still a few things holding him back. As Eric Longenhagen wrote in March, inconsistent release point, pitch selection, and smaller size could make him more of a late-inning reliever.
Nonetheless, he has had success throughout the minors. In 104.2 innings at Double-A he had a paltry 1.72 ERA with 103 strikeouts and 39 walks. That earned him a promotion to Triple-A this season, and that has, rightfully, brought up the question of if or when Adams could contribute to the rotation.
The timetable for this, though, is likely unclear. He is just 22 years old after all, and the Yankees are the last team that would rush a prospect, especially considering how much success they’ve had in the last couple of years by being patient.
Brian Cashman kept those answers close to the vest, stating something vague that performance would justify a call-up. We’ll see. My initial guess is that if he really is ready, but the rotation is filled, they could call him up as a spot starter, or use him out of relief just to get him reps against big league pitching. Or, they wait until September so he doesn’t accrue service time (that seems most likely).
That means his “real” call-up would be sometime early next season so as to preserve the service time, while still getting a brief cup of coffee this season. Let’s just say I’ll still be checking on his numbers at Triple-A every week, even if he could be a year off.
The Yankees are going to need help. It may not be now, and it may not even be in a couple of months, but the time of reckoning is coming. Injuries and departures at the end of the year will create openings, and the Yankees will need to fill those spots. While the Yankees will have money and I expect them to spend, Adams very well could be relied upon in 2018... or sooner.