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The Yankees’ all-decade rotation

The Yankees have had some great pitchers over the last 10 years, but who have been the best five?

Tampa Bay Rays v New York Yankees Photo by Rob Tringali/Sportschrome/Getty Images

The decade is coming to a close in a little over two weeks from now, so now’s as good a time as ever to take stock of this stretch of Yankees baseball. Today, I’ll look back at the 2010’s to determine the team’s All-Decade rotation. Let’s start off with the ace of the staff, a recently retired left-hander who just might be headed for the Hall of Fame.

1) CC Sabathia

This one was extremely obvious. Sabathia signed with the Yankees in 2009 for seven years, $161 million. At the time, that was the most amount of money given to a starting pitcher in baseball history. I think we can all agree it was worth it.

Since the start of the decade through the 2019 season, Sabathia recorded 115 wins compared to his 80 losses and pitched to a 3.87 ERA over 1688 total innings. His above-average FIP of 3.99, ERA+ of 110, and 1,503 strikeouts helped anchor the Yankees rotation for many years. He even finished third and fourth in the Cy Young voting in 2010 and 2011 respectively, including All-Star seasons from 2010-2012.

For the decade, CC led the Yankees in innings (1688), fWAR (25.7), strikeouts (1,503), and games (272), among many other stats. It’s without any doubt that Sabathia is the ace of the all-decade team.

2) Masahiro Tanaka

Signing with the Yankees out of Japan, Tanaka has been in pinstripes since 2014. He seemingly took over as the team’s ace in his first couple of years with the team. Now 31-years-old, he is still an occasionally dominant pitcher who has performed at his best when the lights are the brightest. He’s thrown over 1,000 innings for New York in 163 games started. He has a career 3.75 ERA with 947 strikeouts and 18.1 fWAR.

Tanaka turns into a different beast in the postseason and comes through when needed most. He’s tossed 46 total innings in October, sporting a 1.76 ERA. It may be fair to say that Tanaka was one of the better playoff pitchers in the decade, maybe the best this side of Stephen Strasburg. Because of the workhorse he’s been for the Yankees these past six years, he deserves to be recognized as the second-best starter of the decade for the Bombers.

3) Luis Severino

Severino entered the league a year after Tanaka did. He pitched very well in his rookie season, but did have some control issues. He regressed heavily in his second year, pitching to a near-six ERA in 22 games (11 starts). However, the next year, he had his best season. Sevy finished third in Cy Young with a 2.98 ERA and 10.7 K/9 in 2017 and was selected as an All-Star. He kept it going in 2018 with back-to-back All-Star appearances and just missed 200 innings. For the decade, he owns a 125 ERA+ and 3.35 FIP.

He obviously had an injury plagued 2019 season, but should be healthy to rebound in 2020, especially with reduced pressure to be the ace of the staff with the signing of Gerrit Cole.

4) Hiroki Kuroda

Another hurler to cross the Pacific, Hiroki Kuroda, comes in as my fourth-best starter of the 2010’s for the Yankees. He pitched three seasons with New York from 2012-2014, going 38-33 with a 3.44 ERA over 620 total innings. His 9.8 fWAR in pinstripes is good for fourth-best in the decade. While Kuroda may not have been a top-flight starter, he contributed 200+ inning seasons in ‘12 and ‘13, and 199 innings in 2014. He’s in the top-10 in wins, games, innings, ERA, FIP, and fWAR among Yankee starters since 2010.

5) Andy Pettitte

The Yankee legend pitched just three seasons this decade, which included a one-year retirement in 2011 before returning for two more years. He made his 63 total starts really count, though, recording a 3.42 ERA with a 121 ERA+ and 3.71 FIP. This was the tail end of Pettitte’s career, but he was still a productive arm, as he had the sixth-highest fWAR of the decade with 6.8, and was even voted into the All-Star Game in 2010. He retired at age-41 after a season in which he started 30 games in over 185 innings.