Can the Yankees’ 2024 rotation deliver a winning season?

Gerrit Cole, player of the New York Yankees
Amanda Paula
Wednesday January 24, 2024

Table of Contents

The counterpart to the worst season the Yankees have experienced in the last 5 years is that the expectations extend beyond the preliminary stages, with success defined as at least reaching the round of 16 in the MLB playoffs – a feat the Yankees failed to achieve last year.

The signing of Juan Soto and Alex Verdugo has prompted many to see the Yankees as serious contenders, given the club’s expenditure of around 20 to 40 million on free players so far, as Jon Heyman of MLB.com reported.

Echoes of 1990-91: Can This Yankees rotation avoid past pitfalls?

According to Joel Sherman, NY Post’s columnist, the years 1990-91 represented a low point for the New York Yankees, marked by their worst winning percentage since 1913. Struggling to find success during this period, the team faced a challenging drafting position in 1992, ultimately resulting in the selection of the iconic Derek Jeter. Reflecting on these difficult times, akin to baseball’s version of Stockholm syndrome, the focus was on finding optimism even in the face of adversity.

In the 1990 season, pitching coach Billy Connors expressed enthusiasm about a quartet of starters—Andy Hawkins, Dave LaPoint, Tim Leary, and Pascual Perez—all of whom had achieved double-digit wins within the previous two seasons. The optimism continued into 1991, with Mark Connor highlighting another set of four starters who had accomplished similar feats in the previous three seasons. However, reality did not align with expectations, leading to overpaid free-agent signings and disappointment.

Fast forward to 2024, and the Yankees find themselves in a situation mirroring the past, but with a crucial difference—the presence of a dominant ace in Gerrit Cole. This time, the rotation boasts three recent All-Stars Marcus Stroman, Nestor Cortes, and Carlos Rodon. The question arises: Can these pitchers collectively propel the Yankees to a successful season?

The parallels are evident: the need for optimism, the reliance on recent successes, and the potential pitfalls. The responsibility to tap into the recent past falls on pitching coach Matt Blake, who, armed with Yankee optimism, aims to extract the best from his rotation. Gerrit Cole stands as the beacon of hope, providing what the 1990-91 Yankees sorely lacked—a true ace.

In 2022, Cortes, Rodon, and Stroman showcased their prowess, combining for 84 starts, a stellar 2.92 ERA, a .206 batting average against, and an impressive 11.9 Fangraphs Wins Above Replacement. The trio spent minimal time on the Injured List, demonstrating skill and durability.

However, the success of the 2024 Yankees rotation hinges on the unpredictable nature of injuries and performance fluctuations. The trio’s 2023 season painted a different picture, with 53 games (51 starts), a 4.90 ERA, a .240 batting average against, and 3.4 WAR. Injuries played a significant role, raising concerns about the overall health of the rotation.

The Yankees’ starting pitching depth has faced challenges in recent years, and the loss of key prospects during the offseason raises questions about their ability to weather potential setbacks. Manager Aaron Boone cites the restocking of rotation depth, but the reliance on prospects and new signings like Cody Poteet and Luke Weaver adds an element of uncertainty.

As the 2024 season approaches, Yankees fans are left wondering about the health and consistency of Stroman, Cortes, and Rodon. Can they replicate their stellar 2022 performance? The stakes are high, with the team’s success dependent on the rotation’s ability to complement Gerrit Cole.

In the unpredictable world of baseball, optimism is crucial, but so is a dose of realism. The 2024 Yankees rotation has the potential to be among the best in the majors, but only if they can overcome the challenges that plagued their counterparts in 1990-91. As the season unfolds, all eyes will be on the mound, hoping for a resurgence that transcends the ghosts of the past and propels the Yankees to new heights.

What do you think? Leave your comment below.

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