So, moving on from the batters, we come to survey the pitchers who have made the opening day roster and those who were around in Spring Training but didn’t quite make it. No real surprises here and once the team had decided to re-sign CC Sabathia, everything was settled except the last couple of relief appointments.
Masahiro Tanaka – 19
Tanaka could have opted out of the remainder of his contract but he chose in October last year to stay the distance. He really struggled in the Spring with a 7.24 ERA and 0-3 Win-Loss line. He gave up 17 hits in just over 13 innings which is not good. He was always going to be one of the Yankees’ premier starters but it is a sign of the times that he will take the 2nd start of the season with Luis Severino going in the opener.
Luis Severino – 40
Luis had a great 2017 after a disastrous 2016. 2016 had seen the Yankees dispense with him as a starter and move him to the bullpen but they decided to start over last year and Severino repaid their faith, leading the team and proving himself amongst a handful of the best starters in the league. Even so, there is always the fear that 2016 guy will return and he needs to get another good year under his belt to build on what he achieved last season. In the Spring he did moderately well with a 3.38 ERA and 1 win and no losses. As already mentioned, he will be on the mound at the beginning of the season opener in Toronto.
Jordan Montgomery – 47
Montgomery was the only one of their five starters that the Yankees seemed a little twitchy about. They see him very much as the number five starter and if they get five innings from him each time out in that role they will be mostly content. He did enough in the Spring – two wins, two losses, and a 3.43 ERA – to ink his name into the rotation but there is no question he needs to prove himself.
CC Sabathia – 52
CC returns on a 1-year contract with a vastly reduced basic but on a contract loaded with incentives. He is the oldest player on the roster by some considerable distance but the Yankees see him as a number three starter, who if he can remain fit, will benefit the team hugely (no pun intended). The 300lb-ish, 37 year-old, had a great Spring although it must be noted he was used very sparingly. He appeared in only 2 games, pitching 6 innings, taking one win and delivering a very impressive 1.50 ERA.
Sonny Gray – 55
Brought in from Oakland in mid-season, Gray did enough in 2017 for the Yankees to want to continue with him and they signed him to a 1-year deal avoiding arbitration. Sonny will be the number 4 starter and in the Spring he delivered up a very commendable 2-0 record with a 1.98 ERA in 4 starts.
Others: Only a little to report here. Surprisingly, the Yankees took a look at using Chad Green in a starting role despite his fantastic figures in middle relief last season. Thankfully that idea has been abandoned and he will continue in his usual role. Domingo German was also given a couple of starts as well as 4 relief performances. He showed himself to be very useful but ultimately he missed out on a roster position altogether. Luis Cessa was only used as a starter in the Spring and when his 4 starts saw him produce a 6.75 ERA despite a 2-0 record, his chance came to an end. The non-roster invitee, from the farm system with perhaps a slim chance of making the grade was Chance Adams but nothing went right for him in the Spring. In 3 appearances (2 starts, 1 in relief), he produced a 11.57 ERA.
David Robertson – 30
Robertson pitched to a 1.59 ERA in 5 Spring Training appearances. The Yankees won’t be expecting him to match that figure in the regular season but a solid presence out of the bullpen is what they are looking for from the veteran.
Adam Warren – 43
Warren is in his second stint with the Yankees and they evidently no longer consider him as a possible 5th starter but he is doing okay and he will find a regular role out of the ‘pen. In seven relief appearances, he was reasonably successful with a 4.22 ERA. The Yankees will want a little more from him the regular season.
Chasen Shreve – 45
The Yankees continue to persist with, left-handed reliever, Shreve despite the many problems he has had in previous seasons. There have been times when I have watched him at the Stadium when it has been self-evident that he wasn’t gonna get the guy out he was facing no matter what he tried. In the Spring, he made eight appearances and produced a 2.35 ERA. They don’t have a lot of lefty relievers on the forty man roster so Shreve is there to balance things up. Suffice to say I’m not convinced.
Tommy Kahnle – 48
I was very impressed with Kahnle last season, particularly in the playoffs. He was great in Spring Training too, with a 1.42 ERA in 6 appearances. The Yankees will just be hoping for more of the same from Tommy in 2018.
Aroldis Chapman – 54
It is difficult to warm to the reputation that Chapman brought to the Yankees but whatever his character flaws (he is obviously no Mariano Rivera in that regard), the Yankees like what he brings to the closer’s role. In the Spring, he was once again one of the leaders of the pitching staff. Despite one poor outing which saw him pick up a loss, in total, he delivered with a 2.08 ERA.
Jonathan Holder – 56
Jonathan was the last man chosen when the Yankees decided to go with 8 relievers. Holder has made the journey between Scranton and New York several times in the last three seasons but will be hoping for a more permanent role this time. Personally, I suspect Shreve and Holder will be in and out of the team all year long unless they go elsewhere. Holder’s 1.64 ERA in Spring Training in 8 appearances was enough to claim that 25th spot.
Chad Green – 57
Chad Green was exceptional last year and a vital component of the Yankees’ bullpen. He bewildered batters and Aaron Boone will be looking for more of the same now that the Yankees have decided that returning him to the bullpen is the best option. He pitched to a 2.70 ERA in the Spring despite being used in different roles.
Dellin Betances – 68
It is not so long ago that if you said Betances was the riskiest pitcher on the Yankees staff then people would have looked at you as though you were crazy. H ewas seen as one of the safest pair of hands in baseball. But then there were times last season when his control disappeared. Some have said that he looked much more himself in Spring Training but his 6.75 ERA, and a 1.20 WHIP% belie that. One the other side of the coin, his strikeouts massively outnumbered his walks so this one is anyone’s guess. Let’s hope he pulls it all together once again.
Others: Bullpen options are always many in Spring Training so we will not list everyone who was in the mix but only the most notable.
Raynel Espinal is a young non-roster invitee who has been moving successfully up the Yankees farm system. His 2.08 ERA in 4 games was very creditable. Jonathan Loaisiga is another for the future. He only appeared in 1 Spring game but he pitched an inning and proved untouchable with two strikeouts. He is protected by being on the 40-man roster. Andrew Schwaab does not have that privilege but he too delivered in his brief sight of the Spring games – three appearances, 2.1 innings, 2 hits but 0.00 ERA. Dillon Tate was a first-round draft pick for Texas in 2015 but by 2017 he found himself in the Yankees’ system. He came across in the trade which took Carlos Beltran to the Rangers. He pitched to a 2.25 ERA with a WHIP of 1.00. Cody Carroll pitched a 2.70 ERA in 8 games.
Those were the youngsters who impressed and who will now no doubt get a chance to move further up that long ladder towards the “Bigs”.
More realistically vying for a place (and losing out) were the following:
Domingo German did very well as a starter and reliever but Holder was chosen over him. Giovanny Gallegos pitched in 9 relief games for a 2.89 ERA. He will no doubt get another chance as the season unfolds. Ben Heller also pitched in 9 games but is now headed to the disabled list and may be out until mid-season. Wade LeBlanc, a veteran who had a previous stint with the Yankees, did not impress as a non-roster invitee and was released. Finally, young prospect Justus Sheffield really struggled and did not come close to making the cut.