For the 2020 season the Yankees will be running out one of the top starting rotations in all of baseball thanks to this offseason’s addition of Gerrit Cole. His signing immediately made the Yankees rotation better while simultaneously adding stability into a rotation which had an uncertain future.
Masahiro Tanaka, James Paxton and J.A. Happ could all become free agents after the post season, and the Yankees only have three pitchers locked down for 2021 who have currently pitched more than 200 innings in the major leagues. With potential vacancies in the Yankees rotation after this season, multiple pitchers within the Yankees organization will be performing a season-long audition to enter the mix.
Jordan Montgomery stands out as the top candidate considering his experience as a major-league starter, but his return from Tommy John Surgery is a hurdle he will have to overcome. Jonathan Loaisiga could once again join the rotation in Scranton and be stretched out a starting pitcher, but he has his own injury history to battle on top of ineffectiveness when he faced major-league bats. Loaisiga most likely will be fated to a bullpen role if he gets called-up this season, but his potential could gain him one more opportunity in the rotation if he succeeds early.
Micheal King enjoyed his cup of tea with the Yankees late last season, keeping a perfect 0.00 Era over two innings. Much like Deivi Garcia did in 2019, King received multiple promotions through the Yankees minor league system in 2018 gaining some much deserved attention. Unfortunately for King, injuries halted what could have been an earlier promotion for the Yankees’ 2018 minor league pitcher of the year.
With renewed health, King could prove to be the top depth pitcher available in the Yankees organization come Spring Training. However, a pair of prospects yet to make their MLB debuts could shake things up. Deivi Garcia and Nick Nelson both started in High-A Tampa last season and worked their way up to Triple-A Scranton, with Garcia in particular nearly breaking through in a September call-up bid. Both pitchers enter 2020 a step away from making it, and could see action this season.
Assuming that the veteran Happ ends up as the Yankees’ fifth starter in 2020, the Scranton rotation could feature Montgomery, Loaisiga, and three pitchers on the Yankees top 30 prospect list by MLB Pipeline. As early as spring training, Garcia, King and Nelson will be must watch as some of the most exciting Yankee pitching prospects the organization has had in years.
All five will have a legitimate chance of joining the Yankee roster if an injury occurs to any starting pitcher on the major league level. Any opportunity given will have to be taken and run with if these pitchers want to separate themselves from the rest. Given the history of the big-league rotation’s health and the odds of a staff making it through an entire season healthy, there will be several chances available to take. Even if none of them make it up long-term this year, the race will be alive and well in Scranton to make their case.