Matt Blake puts Yankees rotation spots up for grab based on individual showings
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The Yankees’ rotation for the 2023 season transitioned from promising to precarious at the speed of a Gerrit Cole fastball through the strike zone. Injuries took a toll on the lineup, creating uncertainties in a once-stable pitching staff. Marcus Stroman, a valuable addition with his own injury history, entered the scene. Now, how will the Bronx Bombers address the remaining openings?
The candidates beyond usual Yankees starters
Pitching coach Matt Blake envisions a “rotation roulette” scenario with several “interesting candidates” competing for spots. Three notable names in the mix are Luke Weaver, Cody Morris, and Cody Poteet.
Weaver, a former top prospect, brings versatility and experience, having played roles as both a starter and a reliever. Blake sees untapped potential in him, emphasizing a revamped cutter and Weaver’s commitment to adding more ride to his four-seam fastball.
The coach recently commented on Weaver, stating that he is a good athlete with a solid delivery and a history of throwing strikes. The coach noted that starting with these qualities is advantageous because such individuals tend to be adaptable. Upon bringing Weaver into the team, they began to understand more about his ability to quickly grasp and implement adjustments, and the coach observed that he certainly responded well to some changes.
He also expressed, “Bringing him back this year, I believe there is untapped potential that we aim to explore and capitalize on.”
Morris, acquired in a trade, showcases a mid-90s fastball and a plus changeup, but the challenge lies in maintaining good health. Developing his curveball and cutter-slider hybrid are key focal points for improvement during spring training.
Blake mentioned that when Morris is performing well, he showcases a strong combination of fastball and changeup. Blake emphasized the importance of assembling complementary elements to determine the specific role Morris will assume.
Poteet, on the comeback trail from Tommy John surgery, possesses a robust changeup and a mid-90s fastball. Armed with three minor league options, he aims to leave behind injury concerns and demonstrate his complete potential.
Selected in the fourth round of the 2015 draft, Poteet had no pre-existing association with Blake. Nevertheless, the 29-year-old has been working out at Eric Cressey’s training facility for an extended period. Cressey holds the role of the Yankees‘ director of player health and performance.
Blake provided an explanation, stating that they conducted homework on the player, and Eric, presumably someone associated with the team, was well-acquainted with him. Blake mentioned that their familiarity with the player’s story assisted them in recognizing his upside. He noted that the player had faced injuries in the previous years, perhaps leading to limited opportunities, but towards the end of the last year, he returned and is now poised to potentially make a significant impact again, provided he maintains good health.
The unique situation in 2024
Blake mentioned that the situation this year was unique, where they had more openings, and there were more individuals who expressed interest in the available spots.
These three pitchers, alongside Luis Gil, Yoendrys Gómez, and promising prospects like Will Warren, Clayton Beeter, and Chase Hampton, form a captivating pool of talent. The rotation dynamics are expected to shift throughout spring training, with decisions influenced by health, performance, and roster requirements.
While some fans may desire a more established rotation, Blake emphasizes that the acquisition of these versatile pitchers isn’t merely a reaction to the previous year’s injury challenges. He views it as a distinctive opportunity to uncover hidden gems and leverage available roster space.
In the end, the Yankees’ rotation may resemble a patchwork quilt, woven together with experience, potential, and a touch of optimism. Its durability over the course of a demanding season remains uncertain. However, one certainty is that spring training will be an intense audition for these pitchers, each striving for the opportunity to leave an indelible mark on the fabric of the Yankees’ rotation.
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