If the Yankees want to thrive in the upcoming 60-game regular season, they will need these three under-the-radar pitchers to come up big.
Pitching is only going to become more important for the Yankees with the news that the regular season will be shortened by over 100 games. To thrive under those circumstances, Aaron Boone will need big contributions from everyone on his staff.
There’s no denying the organization’s need for stars like Gerrit Cole and Masahiro Tanaka to pitch at a high level. Depth is also going to be an important differentiating factor for the Yankees. The talent that New York has at the back end of its rotation and in the bullpen could be the difference between a mediocre season and one that concludes with a parade down the Canyon of Heroes.
In particular, Boone needs the following three guys to step up whenever their number is called.
3. Jordan Montgomery
Some Yankees fans have almost forgotten about Montgomery since he’s missed the majority of the last 12 months recovering from Tommy John surgery. Injuries to guys like James Paxton and Luis Severino will give the southpaw a chance to start the season in the rotation.
If he can pitch like an above-average starter to begin the campaign it will get the Yankees season off to a great start. They don’t need Paxton to pitch like an ace, but they do need him to give them quality starts when he gets the ball.
2. Michael King
King is a guy who might not start the season on the Yankees’ big league roster. However, his versatility and maturity give him a chance to be the first call the organization makes if they need to replace an arm on the active roster.
King can help the big league club as a starter or as a long reliever out of the bullpen. He won’t blow major league hitters away with elite stuff, but his craft allows him to coax quality batters into weak contact. His ability to eat innings and keep New York in games could earn the Yankees an extra win or two in 2020.
1. Jonathan Loaisiga
The news that Domingo German won’t be eligible to throw a single pitch in 2020 puts Loaisiga under a lot of pressure. He’ll be expected to compete for a spot in the starting rotation during Spring Training. Even if he can’t win that job, he’ll go into the bullpen as an arm who can be trusted in high-leverage situations.
The organization would prefer Loaisiga to grab hold of a spot in the starting rotation, but the Yankees need him to carve out a meaningful role. If that happens to come out of the bullpen, so be it. It’s very possible his stuff can play up another level or two if he’s permitted to throw with more effort.
Loaisiga isn’t the first name Yankees fans will worry about heading into 2020, but he’s got a big role to play for this team.