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Who else will start for the Yankees this season?

Jordan Montgomery made his debut yesterday. Who else might get the call this year?

MLB: Tampa Bay Rays at New York Yankees Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports

Yesterday, Jordan Montgomery made his major league debut as the Yankees’ fifth starter. While he didn’t get the win, #IAmGUMBY had a solid debut for a guy who projects to be a middle-of-the-rotation starting pitcher. He looked sharp, striking out seven with 17 swings and misses over 4.2 innings, even if he gave up a mistake to Rickie Weeks Jr. There’s no reason to think he won’t stay in the rotation from here, at least until he pitches himself out of it. Assuming he remains in the rotation, he’ll likely pitch again sometime in the White Sox series early next week.

The Yankees haven’t needed to use a sixth starter this season, but inevitably they will. In the Joe Girardi era, the Yankees have used at least eight different starting pitchers every year, including nine last year and ten the year before. Teams don’t get through a season with just five starters; too much can and does go wrong on a pitching staffs. See: Kaprielian, James, 2017.

In 2014, Jeff Sullivan wrote a fantastic but slightly-dated article about starting pitcher usage and argued that teams need about 32 starts from pitchers outside the typical five-man rotation. With Montgomery as the current fifth starter, who can the Yankees ask to make up the extra starts?

The Near-Guarantees

The Yankees have two starting pitching options currently in their bullpen. Both Adam Warren and Bryan Mitchell have experience starting and were technically in the competition for the fifth rotation spot in spring training. Now in the sixth year of his career, Warren has made just 21 starts in 360 innings but is still the most experienced starter not currently in the rotation. I think at this point Warren likely won’t ever be considered a full-time starter, but his four-pitch arsenal and ability to throw multiple innings means he could make at least a few spot starts this season.

Bryan Mitchell is also currently pitching out of the Yankees’ bullpen and could act as a starting pitching option at some point in the year. His arsenal out of the ‘pen features a high-90’s fastball, low-80’s curveball with good 12-6 action, and a low-90’s cutter. Control issues have always haunted Mitchell, which will be something to watch for, even if he’s walked no one over his first three appearances of the season. Mitchell has never been able to develop a changeup, so he might be best suited to pitch out of the bullpen. Like Warren, his career as a minor league starter and ability to throw multiple innings could make him a candidate for some spot starts in the future.

The Justin Wilson trade with the Tigers that netted the Yankees Chad Green and Luis Cessa looks to continue paying dividends in 2017. Chad Green just barely lost out to Jordan Montgomery for the fifth starter job, so he should also be considered a near-guarantee to make a few starts this season. Green was a strikeout machine in his debut last season, striking out 26.3% of the hitters he faced. However, like Mitchell, Green lacks a changeup to compliment his other three pitches, which certainly contributed to his 2.36 HR/9 rate last year. To be a successful starter, he’ll need to develop a changeup, but if he can’t, he still has the stuff to be a really successful relief option.

We should also see Luis Cessa up in the Bronx at some point this season. Cessa has an above-average fastball. However, he lacks a plus secondary offering. His curveball, slider, and changeup grade out as average at best. Instead, he pounds the zone and averaged less than two walks per nine innings last year. Unfortunately, he also has had a bit of a home run problem too with 16 allowed in 70.1 innings last season.

No Guarantees

Warren, Mitchell, Green, and Cessa are the most obvious starting pitching options for the Yankees, but there are still a handful of guys scattered throughout the system who could find their way to the Bronx this year. In 2014, the Yankees used 13 different starting pitchers, so it is not out of the realm of possibility we’ll see more than just the four guys I’ve already listed.

Green and Cessa will likely anchor the Scranton rotation when they are not with the big league club. Behind them in the rotation will be Dietrich Enns. He doesn’t have fantastic stuff, but Enns is crafty and doesn’t give up home runs. His 1.88 ERA across 350.1 minor league innings certainly sticks out on the stat line. After missing time to Tommy John surgery in 2014 and 2015, Enns could force his way into pinstripes with a strong 2017 campaign.

Almost everyone from the Double-A rotation could make it to the major leagues at some point this season. Top pitching prospects Chance Adams and Justus Sheffield are the two big names in that rotation. Sheffield is fairly new to the level, making just one Double-A start last year, so it might take a miracle for him to be up this year. Adams will start the season in Trenton after a breakout 2016 performance.

The Yankees added Domingo German, Ronald Herrera, and Yefrey Ramirez to the 40-man roster this past offseason, which indicates that the organization believes in each of them. A strong 2017 campaign for any of these players could earn them a call-up to the big leagues, and their statuses as 40-man players and/or top prospects only facilitates this.

When the Yankees inevitably need to call upon their minor league depth in 2017, they will have plenty of options available. From the MLB team, Adam Warren or Bryan Mitchell could shift out of the bullpen. In Triple-A, Green and Cessa will look to build off their 2016 debuts, and Enns will push to make his own in 2017. Finally, in Double-A, that rotation is loaded with players who could conceivably force their way into the Bronx with a strong showing this year.

So far, the Yankees have only needed five starting pitchers, but the season is young and pitching staffs are unpredictable. Just a few weeks ago, James Kaprielian would have been included among this depth. Now, even in his absence, the Yankees still have plenty of pitching depth in the system.