Yankees 2018 Positional Report Cards: Starting Pitchers

The Yankees now have the 2018 season entirely behind them, so let’s take a look at how their starting pitchers performed this past year.

Throughout the offseason, we’ve run through the entire field of the New York Yankees and graded every one of them. It’s time to dive deep into the starting pitching and their ups and downs throughout the season. From the shocking ups of a midseason trade in 2018 to the shocking downs of a midseason trade from a year prior.

To keep this article short and sweet, we’re gonna talk about six starters. Its no secret the Yankees had pitching troubles midseason with the callups of minor league talents such as Domingo German, Luis Cessa, Chance Adams and Justus Sheffield. Unless you want me to write a short novel about the trouble of every single one of those men, let us take a look at the six main starters for the Yankees.

CC Sabathia

The second-longest tenured Yankee (Brett Gardner being the first) A 19 year veteran of the game, CC Sabathia has seen everything there is to see in the game of baseball. Since struggling with the Yankees from 2013-2015 averaging around a 5.00 ERA, Sabathia has reinvented himself into a new pitcher.

Knowing his velocity isn’t what it once was, he relies more on his breaking balls than ever before. His cutter becoming the pitch for CC, since adding it in 2016 with an 89.12 average speed and Sabathia being in the top 2
percent in exit velocity with 84.6.

Report: Machado to Choose Team After New Year

At the end of the day, Sabathia will always be the car that can take you where you need to go as long as you trust. In 2018, while not having the run support of years prior, C.C still put up a great season. Sabathia finished with a 3.65 ERA, which is the best finish in ERA for C.C since 2012. Sabathia signed a one year contract, returning to the Yankees for the 2019 season and I for one welcome it.

Grade: B

Luis Severino

Pre-all-star break, there was no question that Luis Severino was the ace and the leader of the Yankees rotation. Unfortunately, From August 3 to September 19, Severino had struggled to maintain his dominance. Going from a 2.98 to a 3.38 ERA and going 3-4 in that stretch is cause for some alarm.

During the regular season, Severino stated that he needed to find a way to “be myself again.” The 24-year-old had struggled with confidence issues in the past which is also a minor red flag. All that being said, 2018 was still a very solid season for the youngster. Finishing ninth in Cy Young voting and being named an all-star for the second straight year, Sevy is a great starter and look forward to his performances in years to come.

Grade: B+

Masahiro Tanaka

Opposite of Severino, Tanaka started the season shaky. Prior to the All-star break, Masahiro Tanaka had a 4.54 ERA as he gave up 21 Home runs in a 15 game span. The long ball has been the bane of Tanaka’s existence since his debut in 2014. Returning from the All-star break Tanaka pitches a 3 hit shutout complete game against the Tampa Bay Rays dropping his ERA to 4.09. Since that time he has dropped his ERA to a respectable 3.75 and his home runs from 21 in 15 games to 6 in 12 games.

Say what you will about some of his pitches hanging up and being launched into Monument park but recently he is proving that he deserves to be in the rotation and becoming an afterthought isn’t fair for Tanaka going forward.

Grade: C+

J.A. Happ

J.A. Happ was traded to the New York Yankees in hopes to jump-start their struggling pitching rotation late in the year. On July 26, 2018, he was traded by the Toronto Blue Jays to the New York Yankees for Brandon Drury and Billy McKinney.

Since landing in New York, Happ has been exactly what the Yankees needed out of their number four. Going from a 4.18 ERA to dropping it nearly 2 whole runs by pitching a 2.39 ERA with the Yankees. Putting pinstripes on Happ has reinvigorated his pitching and puts him right into where he needs to be as a Yankee.

J.A. Happ has recently signed to a two-year deal with the third-year option in a very smart move for the Yankees and a great sign this offseason.

Grade: B+

Lance Lynn

Lance Lynn was traded by the Minnesota Twins with cash to the New York Yankees for Luis Rijo (minors) and Tyler Austin on July 30, 2018. Since that time he has pitched in 11 games and posted a 3-2 record with a 4.14 ERA. During this span, Lance Lynn has been more reliable than any Triple-A call-ups but has not done anything to make me believe he played decent this year.

Lance Lynn recently signed a deal with the Texas Rangers confirming he will not be returning to the Yankees next season. As much as I like Lance Lynn as a player, I don’t like him as a New York Yankee and I’m okay with seeing him go.

Grade: D

Sonny Gray

Finally, this brings us to a fairly big dark spot in the Yankees 2018 campaign in Sonny Gray. Gray was traded by the Oakland Athletics with international bonus slot money to the New York Yankees for James Kaprielian (minors), Jorge Mateo (minors) and Dustin Fowler. In his first half year with the New York organization, Gray showed signs of the brilliance he displayed in Oakland years prior.

Cut to 2018 and any signs of brilliance were wiped off the plate fairly quickly. Sonny Gray would finish his season with a 4.90 ERA and be demoted to the bullpen by seasons end. All signs of the offseason point to the end of Sonny Gray in the Bronx. Teams believe the potential of a great pitcher is still there but he just couldn’t handle the bright lights of New York.

I fully wish Sonny Gray all the best and would take one Scooter Gennett to forgive him for an awful 2018 season.

Grade: F+

Join the conversation