There are just two games left of spring training, and barring any unexpected injuries — knock on wood — the Yankees are just about ready to finalize their Opening Day roster. The team will kick off the 2021 series with a six-game homestand against the Blue Jays and Orioles, which will be their first games with fans in attendance since 2019.
After much deliberation, Yankees manager Aaron Boone announced the team’s starting rotation. Here’s how they’ll line up for the first steps of 2021:
Thu. 4/1 vs. Toronto, 1:05pm: Gerrit Cole
Sat. 4/3 vs. Toronto, 1:05pm: Corey Kluber
Sun. 4/4 vs. Toronto, 1:05pm: Domingo Germán
Mon. 4/5 vs. Baltimore, 6:35pm: Jordan Montgomery
Tue. 4/6 vs. Baltimore, 6:35pm: Gerrit Cole
Wed 4/7 vs. Baltimore, 6:35pm: Jameson Taillon
Understandably, Cole gets both the Opening Day start and the one five days later to keep him on normal rest. He’s the ace for a reason, and the lone pitcher on the staff likely to exceed 200 innings, so he’s going to get as much work as they can give him.
Kluber next up is no shock, but Boone threw a bit of a curveball by announcing Germán for the third game. No, it’s not just so that he can start Domingo on Sunday. Although one would normally have expected Taillon to be the No. 3 starter, Boone said that the team is taking it easy and “slow-building” with him coming off his Tommy John surgery:
Boone: "By doing it this way we keep our guys as much as possible on that 5th-6th day. Kind of lines up the best." Said #Yankees also wanted to be careful w/Taillon (he's throwing a sim game ahead of 1st start) and mindful of all the off days the first couple of weeks of April. https://t.co/6CsxFwSzgw— Marly Rivera (@MarlyRiveraESPN) March 28, 2021
Indeed, Taillon won’t be the only pitcher whose innings will be closely monitored after the shortened 2020. Germán hasn’t pitched since 2019 and Montgomery hasn’t thrown 100 innings in a season since undergoing Tommy John surgery himself in early 2018. The team will need support, and that’s where the Deivi Garcías of the world enter into the picture.
In addition to slow-playing Taillon, Boone noted that he expects the team to use a sixth starter here and there with April. So even though García is beginning 2021 at the alternate site, the odds are quite good that he’ll pop up and make a start at some point during the season’s first month (and beyond).