Aaron Boone confident Yankees' starting rotation is World Series worthy despite big question marks

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Scott Thompson
·4 min read
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Aaron Boone during spring training media session
Aaron Boone during spring training media session

When you envision a World Series contender, one might think of a stacked lineup with power hitters galore, as well as a starting rotation and bullpen that are rock solid. The rotation, specifically, features an ace and a couple studs behind him who can power through a tough October series.

The Yankees certainly have the first part, with past All-Stars all over their starting lineup and the ability to hammer the ball over the fence everywhere you look. But as for the rotation, it isn't as powerful as one might think behind Gerrit Cole. It could be, but as for right now, there's a few question marks.

And yet, the Yankees are still greatly considered to be one of the best teams in the league and a clear World Series contender in 2021.

Why is that if their rotation has a lot to answer? Manager Aaron Boone addressed that very question during his first media session at spring training on Wednesday, as pitchers and catchers reported to get the ball rolling on the new year.

"I think when you look at the names and the guys and the track records, there's a lot of talented people and I think everyone can acknowledge that," Boone said. "I also acknowledge some of the risks and questions that certainly people will have when you bring in Jame-O (Jameson Tallion) and Corey (Kluber), who haven't pitched a lot in the last couple years. We feel like, physically, they're in a really good place and can be championship-caliber contributors to a team. But time will tell."

These are the two pitchers expected to be behind Cole when Opening Day arrives, and like Boone mentioned, there are risks involved despite both of them being solid pitchers over their careers. Kluber has an upper hand over Taillon due to his Cy Young Award-winning past. He has one of the most devastating sliders in the game when it's on, and he relishes moments in the postseason.

But Kluber has only pitched in eight games over the past two seasons due to multiple injuries, including the need for shoulder surgery. A showcase to provide teams with a look at his arm prior to signing with the Yanks was needed to prove he still has what it takes.

As for Taillon, he just recovered from his second Tommy John surgery, one that forced him to reevaluate his entire mechanics because his arm was clearly taking too much of a beating.

So, while these two pitchers have tremendous upside, it's a coin flip at this point. However, Boone has seen their work thus far and believes they're ready to prove the skeptics wrong.

"Jameson and Corey both are ready to go," Boone said. "Corey threw a few innings the other day to live hitters and Jame-O has had a number of bullpens, so they come in ready to go. Obviously, not having pitched a lot in the last couple of years, it's going to be something we're not only monitoring closely in spring training but as the season unfolds and hopefully they're pitching well and thriving. But we have to be mindful."

Also, it's worth mentioning that there is a battle behind the No. 2 and 3 as well entering camp. Jordan Montgomery figures to get one of those spots, being the only lefty who had a solid 2020 campaign. But Domingo German, Deivi Garcia, Clarke Schmidt, Nick Nelson, Michael King and others will vie for that final spot in the rotation, too.

And then there's Luis Severino and his potential return from Tommy John surgery. Who knows what to expect from him midseason when he might get the green light to return?

Will it all be enough behind Cole? Starting pitching was an obvious crutch in 2020, and along with untimely hitting, led to the ALDS demise against the Tampa Bay Rays.

The Yankees know what the lineup will give them, granted everyone is healthy. That isn’t the issue. Even the bullpen, with Aroldis Chapman, Zack Britton, Chad Green, Darren O'Day, and now Justin Wilson, is extremely solid.

Starting pitching is what normally sets teams apart in the postseason. If the Yankees wish to accomplish that recently elusive goal of winning their 28th championship, Kluber and Taillon will need to be the high-reward pitchers the organization believes they signed.

Not the high-risk ones.

OddsMoney LinePoint SpreadTotal Points
NY Yankees
-162--
Detroit
+135--