Aaron Boone announces Yankees starting rotation plan for 2021 season

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
Kristie Ackert, New York Daily News
·4 min read
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

TAMPA — Back in February, there were so many questions about the Yankees rotation. They had two veterans coming off missing almost all of the last two years because of injuries. Domingo German had not pitched in a big league game since September 2019 and Jordan Montgomery’s first season back from 2018 Tommy John surgery was not exactly a slam dunk.

After six weeks, the Yankees have some answers on who their rotation is and how they are going to manage it.

Sunday, Aaron Boone announced his rotation heading into Thursday’s Opening Day as Gerrit Cole followed by Corey Kluber, German and Montgomery. Cole will pitch in Game 5 on regular rest and then Jameson Taillon will make his Yankees debut in Game 6.

Taillon is coming off his second Tommy John surgery and has not pitched since May of 2019. The Yankees will have to manage his workload and that begins in the very first week.

“With (Taillon), it gives us an opportunity to kind of slow play Jamo a little bit, we feel like he’s in such a good spot physically, but with the off days that we have in April, we just want to be mindful of building these guys up properly,” the Yankees manager said. “We feel like a sixth starter is going to factor in at least once, maybe a couple times in the month of April. By doing it this way we keep our guys as much as possible on that kind of five and six day sometimes seventh day (routine) but kind of trying to also avoid guys going on that ninth or 10th day with different off days.

“So this kind of lines that up the best while also putting a little bit of drag on Jamo to make sure we’re building him up properly and safely,” Boone said “Hopefully we’re putting him in a spot to where we get to a point in the season where we’re just rolling through with our guys and a lot of conversation about it over the last several weeks, but this is how we’ll roll it out to start.”

Taillon, who had the first elbow surgery in 2018, said he is comfortable with the plan to skip him the first time through the lineup as a “creative” way to ease into the season cold and playing in a stadium in front of fans again.

“So, overall, on my end, I feel great about where I’m at. But that being said, it is a big jump and go into a stadium against another team with fans,” Taillon said. “I think we’re just trying to be aware of the fact that those are all things that were thrown at me that haven’t been, I haven’t faced in a while.”

The 29-year old threw 81 pitches in his last simulated game and will throw another simulated game on Friday, the scheduled off day.

Workload management, a buzz word in the NBA for a few years now, is going to become very familiar when talking pitching this season. Despite the weird ramp-up, shut-down, ramp-up quicker and abbreviated workload in 2020, Cole goes into the season expecting to be the workhorse. Kluber looked sharp in spring — even though he struggled in the third and was pulled on Sunday and had to come out in the fourth to finish off strong — and as a veteran they will likely let him self-determine his limits.

German, who has probably been the Yankees second best starter this spring, pitched a career-high 143 innings in 2019. That was in 27 appearances before he was suspended 81-games under baseball’s domestic violence policy. Montgomery’s career high was 155 in 2017, the season before he had elbow surgery. Taillon’s career high was 191 in his breakout year 2018.

“He looks great. I think the lack of rust has been probably the most pleasantly surprising thing to me. I feel like since this first bullpen that we got to lay eyes on him in spring training on in the live sessions on into the games he’s just been a guy that’s been really, really focused, really polished,” Boone said. “The stuff has been excellent and command of all three pitches. Every time he’s walked out there’s been excellent, just feel like he’s in a really good spot entering the season. Still got to build his pitch count a little bit and feel like he’s throwing the ball as well as anyone.”