Last season, the Yankees’ pitching corps was ravaged by injuries.
Carlos Rodon, the team’s biggest offseason acquisition, started the season on the IL. Nestor Cortes, poised to build on a breakout 2022, made just 12 starts. Even Marcus Stroman, who was signed earlier this month, had his All-Star 2023 season derailed in the second half due to injuries.
There are a lot of question marks hovering over the Yankees rotation heading into the 2024 season. That’s why the organization has contingency plans and is figuring out who can step up and eat innings throughout the 162-game season. Their many pitching prospects may just have to do the trick.
Yankees pitching coach Matt Blake recently spoke to the New York Daily News and gave his thoughts on one prospect he believes can help this team -- Will Warren.
“I would think he’s definitely in the mix at some point this year,” Blake said of Warren. “Obviously, if health stays perfect for us, he may be the odd man out, but just with the way 162 games shake out, I’m sure his name will be called at some point.”
Warren, 24, is currently not on the 40-man roster but can easily make it at some point this season. And the right-hander, who is the organization’s second-best pitching prospect (eighth-best overall) according to MLB Pipeline, had a strong 2023 season.
In 27 games (25 starts) between Double-A and Triple-A, Warren pitched to a 3.35 ERA and 1.30 WHIP while striking out 149 batters across 129 innings.
Blake praised the second half of Warren’s 2023 season and said he’ll be “in the conversation” when it comes to who is on the initial 40-man roster.
As for prospects who are already on the 40-man roster, Clayton Beeter is nearing a call-up. Beeter, the Yankees’ 14th-best prospect, pitched to a 3.62 ERA and 1.37 WHIP while striking out 165 batters over 131.2 innings across Double-A and Triple-A last season. He was featured in 2023’s Futures Game and is the most experienced pitching prospect the team has.
And then there is Chase Hampton. The organization’s top pitching prospect and fourth-overall prospect had 20 starts where he pitched to a 3.63 ERA and 1.14 WHIP between High-A and Double-A. But his 145 strikeouts across 106.2 innings was eye-opening.
While the 22-year-old is further away from a big league call-up than Warren or Beeter, Blake can’t deny Hampton’s talent and that they’ll have to give him a look as well.
“I don’t know if it will be this year,” Blake said of Hampton, “but he’s obviously on the radar.”
Blake is also not opposed to letting these prospects start their careers in the bullpen before ultimately making the transition to a starter's role. The Yankees have had recent success with Clarke Schmidt, who will likely start the year in the rotation, and Michael King, who was a dominant reliever before he was dealt to San Diego in the Juan Soto trade.
But with the number of injuries that pop up each year, you can never say never when it comes to a big league promotion for these hurlers. It seems the Yanks have plenty of young arms to get them through a grueling season if they are needed.