The New York Yankees in September – Part Two – The Pitchers (2021)

The New York Yankees starting rotation rather fell apart in September.

Towards the end of August, they had given up on using Andrew Heaney as a starter – in September he didn’t do any better as a reliever.

Luis Gil, who had an astonishing start to his career in the majors in August, didn’t even come close to repeating that form in the following month.

Jameson Taillon spent time on the injury list. Clarke Schmidt became available but struggled. Luis Severino was available for the first time in the longest but the Yankees weren’t willing to risk him as a starter given all of his injury difficulties. Domingo German was added to the roster but wasn’t chosen to play until October. Thankfully, the bullpen regulars performed extremely well…

Let’s take a look at the whole of the pitching roster and see who shone brightly:

Lefthanded pitchers are indicated by an *. Right-handed pitchers have no indicator.

NameWLERAGGSGFCGSvIPHRERBBKWHIP
Luis Severino (SP/RP)100.00401006.0200180.50
Lucas Luetge (RP)*001.13701008.0521461.13
Michael King (SP/RP)201.237000014.27323140.68
Clay Holmes (RP)321.8413030014.212532210.95
Aroldis Chapman (RP)*012.19130100612.16336230.97
Wandy Peralta (RP)*112.6111030010.11163891.84
Jonathan Loaisiga (RP)002.70300003.1111020.30
Joely Rodriguez (RP)*003.00801006.0532281.17
Nestor Cortes (SP/RP)003.045500026.299226341.05
Chad Green (RP)313.0712030014.210553200.89
Jordan Montgomery (SP)113.335500024.1301197331.52
James Taillon (SP)013.86220009.1544370.86
Corey Kluber (SP)104.375500022.22811118211.59
Gerrit Cole (SP)325.136600033.13720199431.38
Clarke Schmidt (SP/RP)005.68211006.11184562.53
Luis Gil (SP)016.593300013.211111012201.68
Albert Abreu (RP)009.82701007.1888551.77
Andrew Heaney (SP/RP)*0110.57602007.21599182.09
Sal Romano (RP)0118.00200001.0422226.00
Brooks Kriske (RP)0045.00101001.0355316.00
Name/PosWLERAGGSGFCGSvIPHRERBBKWHIP
The New York Yankees – Pitchers in September 2021, in order of ERA

Starters

As we have indicated above, the Yankees suffered a real problem with their rotation in September. Having demoted Andrew Heaney to the bullpen, they suddenly found that very few of the other parts of the puzzle were functioning. Nestor Cortes was the best of the bunch but he, whilst reliable, was mostly only going to deliver about 5 innings per start for the Yankees. Actually, on 2 occasions he managed to top 6 innings but this needs to be balanced with the fact that on 2 occasions he left the field after four-and-a-third. Whilst his ERA of 3.04 and his WHIP of 1.05 show how he was able to keep the Yankees in games, he did come away with 5 no-decisions on the month. To the bullpen’s credit, they were able to turn 4 of these into wins. Cortes has gone from being a 2021 fill-in to someone who has a realistic chance of being the number 4 or 5 starter next year.

Jordan Montgomery had a slightly weaker month than he had produced in August but because of poor performances elsewhere, he was the second most dependable starter the Yankees had in September. His 33 strikeouts were second-best on the team this month and he managed to reduce the frequency of walks he gave up.

Jameson Taillon was out from the 9th of the month to the 27th with an aggravated ankle injury. His 0-1 win-loss record tells us less about the remaining days, in reality, than does the 0.86 WHIP which was the best amongst the starters.

Next we have Corey Kluber. As previously mentioned in our column about the batters, he found himself paired with Kyle Higashioka rather than Gary Sanchez. It is difficult to know how much this gained him but he certainly fared better than he had in the one game he pitched in August when Sanchez was wearing the mitt. Kluber took 5 starts, 1 win and 4 no-decisions. Once again, the bullpen were able to turn three of those no-decisions into wins. Kluber gave up 28 hits in 22.2 innings – something he needs to improve on if he is expecting to find himself back in the pinstripes next year.

It could be argued that September was Gerrit Cole‘s worst month of the season but because his 2021 was so up-and-down, it will always be debatable. His 1.38 WHIP is not good but, at least he managed to bring in 3 wins whilst most of the rest of the rotation were depending on the bullpen and run support to carry the day. His 5.13 ERA increased his season figure too, taking it over 3 for the first time since the end of July.

Clarke Schmidt finally made it back to the majors for the first time in 2021 this month. He split his time equally between starting and relieving but, frankly, neither went quite to plan. He was hindered by unearned runs, playing in games where Gleyber Torres, Gio Urshela, DJ LeMahieu and Joey Gallo all made errors, but even if you deduct the unearned runs, you are left with an ERA of 5.68 and a WHIP of 2.53. He allowed 16 men to get on base. It was not convincing. Despite this, in the last three games he featured in, he gave no hits and only a single walk.

The Luis Gil of September did not impress and this month no new records were set. He took one loss in 3 starts, leading to an ERA of 6.59 from the 23 batters he let get on base across 13.2 innings. A lot of off-season work is in Gil’s future.

Relievers

So, if it was the bullpen who so often saved the day, let’s highlight who were the ones that carried the weight.

Luis Severino is a player that you wouldn’t normally expect to see in the Yankees’ bullpen but after only making three starts in 2019 and not featuring in 2020 at all, it was no real surprise to see the Yankees start him off with a lighter diet than usual. Giving up only 2 hits and no runs across his 4 appearances, he was second only to Jonathan Loaisiga in terms of his WHIP record this month and Loaisiga spent some time out injured. He took his first win and first hold in a stellar return to the roster.

No-one is really surprised by Lucas Luetge anymore. He has had such a consistent season. The left-hander continued in that mode, allowing only 9 batters to make base this month and delievering a matching pair of ERA and WHIP which both settled at 1.13.

Michael King had a pretty good month in June, when he was used exclusively as a starter. This month, he was used only as a reliever but, if anything, exceeded his performance in June. In his 7 appearances, he averaged above 2 innings per outing and his 0.68 WHIP was one of the best on the roster. He also carried off two of those wins that the starters could not quite deliver.

Despite being responsible for 2 losses, Clay Holmes had another good month. He had 21 strikeouts in 14.2 innings He kept his WHIP below 1 and also harvested three of those vital wins.

Wandy Peralta who was perhaps the Yankees best reliever in August, was not so solid this month. This shows itself most clearly in his 1.84 WHIP, largely caused by the 8 walks he conceded. Fortunately, surrounded by his other bullpen mates, less runs than you might expect crossed the plate.

As already mentioned, Jonathan Loaisiga spent most of the month on the injured list. However, he was able to start and end the month with a good outing, meaning that he had proved his availability for the big finish against the Tampa Bay Rays.

I’m still not convinced by Joely Rodriguez, but to give him his due, he had a reasonably solid time of it in September. He pitched 6 innings across 8 appearances and while he did not sparkle, he did enough.

Chad Green was someone else who kept his WHIP well under 1. With a 0.89 figure, he achieved three of those all crucial wins that the Yankees needed so much this month. He still doesn’t seem to have the confidence for the ninth inning role so the Yankees will be glad to see that Aroldis Chapman is finding his stride again. Chapman took one loss but rebounded taking 6 saves in as many opportunities.

Albert Abreu had a terrible time of it in July, regained his footing in August but frankly he stunk the place up again in September. In 7.1 innings across 7 appearances, he allowed 13 men to get on base, resulting in an ERA on-the-month of 9.82 and a WHIP of 1.77.

Andrew Heaney, Sal Romano and Brooks Kriske have no future with the Yankees and their presence at the bottom of our table reveals part of the reason. Heaney struggled in relief just as much as he had in a starting role. He gave up 15 hits in just over 7 innings, his WHIP was over 2, his ERA over 10. The Yankees decided to re-assign him. He chose instead to become a free agent and try his luck somewhere outside of the media glare of New York. Sal Romano has been put on waivers by the Yankees more than once. His second home seems to be in Milwaukee, where the Brewers are equally fond of making him find his way through the waiver system. After some torrid outings during his final time in New York, he, too, will be testing the free agent market in 2022. Worst of all (again!!) this month was Kriske who the Yankees finally decided to stop protecting, after he delivered up a September ERA of 45.00 and a WHIP of 6. Upon being placed on waivers the worst team in Major League Baseball, the Baltimore Orioles promptly claimed him. It is difficult to imagine that his future is rosy.

Pitchers and contractural situations – the future

Gerrit Cole – Will receive $38m per season if he stays for the whole of his 9 year contract but he has an opt out after 2024.

Luis Severino – he is signed through 2022 and the club has an option for 2023. Currently being paid $10m per season.

Jordan Montgomery – Received $2.13m for 2021 on a one-year contract. He is eligible for third-year arbitration.

Jameson Taillon – Received $2.25m for 2021 and is also third-year arbitration eligible and also coming off a one-year contract.

Domingo German – Took $619,675 for 2021 and is first-year arbitration eligible. The Yankees will have to consider a history of domestic issues and injury before deciding what to do here.

Corey Kluber – Kluber was an $11m risk for 2021 and will become a free agent at the end of the season.

Nestor Cortes – Will become first-year arbitration eligible and it is a no-brainer for the Yankees to go forward with him. He was on a minimum wage situation in 2021.

Luis Gil – Was on a one-year contract for 2021 and on a similar wage deal to Cortes.

Clarke Schmidt – The 2017 draftee has had injury problems and played limited innings in 2021 on $571,925. Spring Training will show what he is worth to the Yankees.

Aroldis Chapman – He had a very mixed year. He is signed for one more year on a $16m per annum contract.

Chad Green – He has become a very valuable part of the bullpen. He is now third-year arbitration eligible having been paid $2.15m in 2021.

Jonathan Loaisiga – Somebody else who had a great year in 2021. He picked up $595,800 on a one-year deal and is now arbitration eligible for the first time.

Wandy Peralta – A truly impressive mid-season acquisition from the San Francisco Giants. He is third-year arbitration eligible and collected $925,000 in 2021.

Clay Holmes – Another mid-season addition, who worked out really well. He collected $650,000 and is first year arbitration eligible.

Joely Rodriguez – The Yankees have a 2022 option on this guy but it will cost them $3m against a $500,000 buyout. They should think carefully before committing.

Michael King – King will become arbitration eligible in 2023. He had a very successful season in 2021 on a one-year contract where he received $586,500.

Zack Britton – Britton is signed through 2022 but is unlikely to pitch next season following extensive surgery. He will collect the same for next year as this – $13m.

Albert Abreu – Abreu had an uneven season and is another pitcher who will enter Spring Training competing for a spot.

Other pitchers like Deivi Garcia and Stephen Ridings could breakthrough from the minors, if they do well in Spring Training.

Best Pitchers for New York Yankees in September 2021 1-5 (LtoR): Michael King, Luis Severino,
Clay Holmes, Aroldis Chapman, Lucas Luetge

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