New York Yankees

Yankees should be looking to add pitching with James Paxton hurt

With James Paxton slated to be on the shelf for an extended period of time, the New York Yankees should look to add an arm to bolster their staff.

No MLB team wants to deal with injuries before the season even begins. Unfortunately for the New York Yankees, they’re already down a starter.

James Paxton, one of the team’s more productive starters, recently underwent a microscopic lumbar discectomy to get rid of a peridiscal cyst that was giving him problems in his back. Initially, his recovery time was set at 3-4 months by the team. While he’s on record hoping it’s about half that duration, he likely won’t return to the rotation until nearly June at best.

Paxton put together one of his best seasons in 2019, posting a 15-6 record while spinning a 3.82 ERA and striking out 186 hitters in 150.2 innings. He caught fire down the stretch, winning 10 straight games to close out the regular season. He then played a critical part in the Yankees’ postseason run, but they’ll be without that production for quite some time.

With that said, the rotation should still be fine at the top. Superstar flamethrower Gerrit Cole signed a megadeal with the team this offseason, headlining what should be a solid stable of guys. Behind him, Luis Severino, Masahiro Tanaka and J.A. Happ will fill out the other three rotation spots. Who takes the last one seems to be a mystery at this point.

Jordan Montgomery is the main name thrown around by many, as he put together a 9-7 season in 2017 before pitching just 31.1 combined innings over the next two years. Now healthy and ready to go, both the Yankees and their fans are hopeful he can get his career back on track.

That’s far from a certainty, though. Tommy John surgery is a difficult procedure to come back from, as players not only experience physical challenges but also mental hurdles they need to overcome. Montgomery is just 27 years old and has time to figure it out, but there’s lot of pressure on him.

If the Yankees wanted to ease Montgomery back into playing, perhaps pursuing another starter via free agency or trade would be the best option. Instead of promoting Deivi Garcia, which would be another high-pressure situation, maybe another veteran arm could be more effective for as long as it takes for Paxton to return healthy.

Coming off a 103-59 season, expectations are sky-high for this year’s team. The lineup is plenty talented and with the acquisition of Cole in the offseason, Aaron Boone should lead his squad to a third-straight year with at least 100 wins. Anything other than that — along with a deep postseason run and a championship — is a disappointment.

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