Projecting the Yankees’ 2021 starting rotation

Gerrit Cole will anchor the Yankees’ starting rotation in 2021, but who will Brian Cashman and his front office slot in behind their dominant ace?

If the Yankees want to end their World Series drought in 2021 they’re going to need a ton of production from their starting rotation. Unfortunately for Aaron Boone and his coaching staff, there are far more questions than answers behind ace Gerrit Cole.

Masahiro Tanaka, James Paxton, and J.A. Happ are all free agents. There’s no guarantee that a single member of that trio will be in pinstripes next season. Tanaka is the most likely to return for another tour of duty in the Bronx, but that’s far from a certainty at this juncture in the offseason.

There are quite a few internal candidates who want to step up and fill-in behind Cole, but no one other than Jordan Montgomery has a big enough track record of success to really rely on. Deivi Garcia impressed the organization late last season, but it’s unclear whether or not he can hold up for a full season. Michael King and Clarke Shmidt also believe they are capable of stepping up and nailing down spots in the starting rotation. The Yankees’ front office might not share in their respective beliefs.

Add it all up and it’s easy to see why projecting New York’s 2021 starting rotation is fraught with difficulty. This piece gives it a shot anyway. Let’s start with two guys who will combine to fill one spot in Boone’s rotation this season.

5. Clarke Schmidt, then Luis Severino

If Severino returns to full health then he will slot higher in the team’s starting rotation. For the purposes of this exercise, he cannot be counted on to contribute a full season. That slides him down to the No. 5 spot and requires the inclusion of a partner.

Schmidt struggled during his cup of coffee in the majors last season, but he threw the ball better than Garcia during Spring Training. The Yankees want to give him more work in 2021 but they won’t expect him to nail down a rotation spot full-time. Look for him to make about half a season’s worth of starts before becoming a valuable bullpen arm down the stretch.

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