The Yankees used 6 starters and 1 “opener” in April. It is fair to say, in that regard, it was a very mixed month. Some good, some bad, some indifferent. We’ll come to that in a moment.
They used thirteen relievers in total. Nick Nelson was used both as the one time opener and a reliever. Those who were solid out of the bullpen were pretty consistent.
There were those who bounced between the major league roster and the alternate training site. Most peculiar of these was Michael King who was excellent but couldn’t seem to do enough to rise in the pecking orderabove those who were struggling.
Let’s survey the whole of the pitching part of the roster:
- – indicates throws left-handed, no * – throws right-handed
|Aroldis Chapman (RP)*||1||0||0.00||8||0||5||0||4||8.0||2||0||0||3||20||0.625|
|Michael King (RP)||0||0||0.00||3||0||2||0||0||11.0||4||0||0||4||9||0.727|
|Wandy Peralta (RP)*||0||0||0.00||1||0||0||0||0||1.0||0||0||0||0||1||0.000|
|Chad Green (RP)||0||2||0.59||12||0||3||0||1||15.1||7||3||1||2||14||0.587|
|Jonathan Loaisiga (RP)||2||1||1.17||11||0||2||0||1||15.1||9||3||2||2||16||0.717|
|Luis Cessa (RP)||0||0||1.42||9||0||4||0||0||12.2||6||5||2||7||17||1.026|
|Gerrit Cole (SP)||4||1||1.43||6||6||0||0||0||37.2||24||7||6||3||62||0.717|
|Darren O’Day (RP)||0||0||3.00||10||0||1||0||0||9.0||8||3||3||2||9||1.111|
|Justin Wilson (RP)*||0||0||3.00||7||0||1||0||0||6.0||5||2||2||2||5||1.167|
|Lucas Luetge (RP)*||1||0||4.02||10||0||4||0||0||15.2||14||7||7||3||17||1.085|
|Domingo German (SP)||2||2||4.05||4||4||0||0||0||20.0||22||10||9||4||19||1.300|
|Corey Kluber (SP)||1||2||4.15||5||5||0||0||0||21.2||24||13||10||13||19||1.708|
|Jordan Montgomery (SP)||1||1||4.39||5||5||0||0||0||26.2||21||13||13||8||24||1.088|
|Albert Abreu (RP)||0||0||4.50||2||0||2||0||0||2.0||0||1||1||2||3||1.000|
|Deivi Garcia (SP)||0||1||4.50||1||1||0||0||0||4.0||3||2||2||3||4||1.500|
|Jameson Taillon (SP)||0||2||6.23||4||4||0||0||0||17.1||20||12||12||2||21||1.269|
|Brooks Kriske (RP)||0||0||9.00||1||0||1||0||0||1.0||1||1||1||2||1||3.000|
|Nick Nelson (RP)||0||2||9.72||6||1||1||0||0||8.1||11||10||9||5||15||1.920|
The pick of the starters, as expected, was Gerrit Cole who began the season with hardly a hitch. Interestingly, he had one loss. That come on opening day when the other half of the battery was Gary Sanchez. It has been well-noted that last season Cole preferred Kyle Higashioka to be his catcher. The Yankees went into the season with a more positive outlook on Sanchez’s future but this didn’t last too long. By the second of Cole’s starts, Higashioka was back behind the plate as he was for all the other starts that Gerrit made in this month. There were no other losses for Cole – four wins and one no-decision – but it remains an open question whether opening day was just him shaking off rust or whether he simply finds that Sanchez doesn’t suit him. There seems to be no question that Cole is going to be the ace of the staff (barring injury) and his April ERA of 1.43 and his WHIP of 0.717 are very much the first step along that route.
The next two starters very much fall into the same category as each other. Corey Kluber pitched in only one game in 2020 and managed 1 whole innings. Jameson Taillon didn’t pitch at all in 2020 and only appeared in 7 games in 2019. Would they be a good investment for the Yankees? No question that they were a huge risk. Also, there is no question that, so far, if you were looking to back someone to bounce-back then, once more injuries aside, then Kluber looks the safer bet. In his 5 starts, he is only averaging a little over 4 innings per outing, but this is primarily because the staff eased him in by limiting his innings in the first few games and that he struggled against Tampa on April 9 when he survived only 2.1 innings. In the only game he pitched over 5 innings (Baltimore, April 27) he took the win, pitching 6.2 innings for 1 run.
Taillon had one good game (April 20, Atlanta) but in his other starts, his pitching location has been erratic, leaving him with a 6.23 ERA, 2 losses and an unacceptably high WHIP of 1.269. The Yankees don’t have a huge amount invested him but to stay around he needs to show that he can be more than a no.5 starter.
Next up is another risk – Domingo German. He is coming off a lengthy suspension, a domestic violence rap, and erratic off-season behaviour when he declared he had done with baseball at least once. He lost his first two decisions and was sent to the alternate training site to get kinks out of his mechanics. When he returned, in time for the April 22 game in Cleveland, he looked pretty woeful for the first three innings, but then something clicked and for the rest of that game and the next, he looked like a different guy. He took the decisions in both of those games, setting him in an upright outlook of 2-2. This has given him something to build on and his ERA of 4.05 fairly reflects this mixed start.
Finally amongst the regular starters, we have Jordan Montgomery who is also a carry over from last season. He had an excellent start in his first appearance (April 5, Baltimore) where he pitched 6 innings for 4 hits and no runs, The next three outings were not so good but he bounced back in his 5th start, where he delivered up 5 innings for two runs.
Deivi Garcia, one of the Yankees’ top prospects, was called up to make one start, but his 4 innings pitched for 2 runs was nothing special and it was a short stay on the major league roster.
Nick Nelson, it has to be said, has been very poor this season so far. He was amongst the relievers used on opening day but wasn’t good and took the loss. He then made two more relief appearances and left the latter of those with an ERA of 9.00. For reasons best not examined too closely, Aaron Boone and his coaches then made him the opener for the April 16 game against Tampa Bay. He was probably only expected to give the team one inning, which he did, but he also put them immediately in arrears – something they really didn’t want in this rivalry which has been bubbling away nicely over the last few seasons. This was his second loss as nobody else managed to get the Yankees back into a 2-8 loss.
Surprisingly, he was given further chances on he 21st and 25th of the month. The former went well, the latter went badly and Nelson was reassigned after that appearance.
Of the 5 relievers who were most central to the Yankees bullpen through April (Aroldis Chapman, Luis Cessa, Chad Green, Jonathan Loaisiga and perhaps, Lucas Luetge), it is fair to say that at least four of the five have done great and the other has been pretty good too. The aforementioned Michael King didn’t give up a run across 11 innings but I haven’t included him as a piece of the essential relievers’ puzzle because the Yankees bounce him back him forth between the Majors and the alternate training site.
Let’s begin with Aroldis Chapman. He worked hard through the off-season and the Spring to add an extra string to his bow and he has pitched in 8 innings in 8 games giving up 2 hits and no runs. You couldn’t ask for better thn that.
Chad Green did take two losses but this can’t be taken as very representative of the way he is pitching. 7 hits, 2 walks in 15.1 innings to give him a 0.59 ERA is much more descriptive of the true picture.
Jonathan Loaisiga has a slighter higher ERA in April at 1.17 but there’s nothing to stress about there. Like Chad Green, he has given the Yankees 15.1 innings and looks likely to be a solid arm out of the bullpen all year long.
Luis Cessa and his 1.026 WHIP needs to tighten up just a little and Lucas Luetge needs more consistency. Luetge is another bounce-back guy. He is on a major league roster for the first time since 2015 and most of his appearances have been good or better but two or three left a little to be desired.
Of the remaining bullpen regulars, the senior hands, Justin Wilson (a second-time Yankee) and Darren O’Day are both sitting nicely on 3.00 ERAs but O’Day has been used more and he is also the guy who was headed to the injured list by the end of the month.
The younger guys, Albert Abreu and Brooks Kriske are fortunately not being expected to carry much weight, as both have been rather inconsistent. Both have been amongst those making journeys between the alternate site and the Bronx and of the two, Abreu looks most likely to see action in the short-term future.
One last name to mention is recent arrival, Wandy Peralta who arrived from the San Francisco Giants in exchange for Mike Tauchman. The Yankees are now probably contemplating how light this leaves them in the outfield department of their roster given how the incumbents have struggled but considered on his own merits, Peralta is looking good. He didn’t allow a runner on base in his debut and at the end of April his ERA and WHIP were a nice matching set of zeros.