With the suspension for Domingo German (63 games in 2020) finally coming out, the New York Yankees have a spot open in their rotation. The fifth and final spot is open and up for grabs, and we truly don’t know who it will be come opening day.
Following the signing of Gerrit Cole, the Yankees have a good problem on their hands. Not every team has a handful of quality starters pining for the final spot in the rotation.
Here are three pitchers that could be the Yankees’ fifth starter when the season arrives:
This the obvious choice for the fifth spot in the rotation. Monty has been in this spot before as he pitched out of the fifth spot in 2017 and in 2018 before he had Tommy John surgery. Monty didn’t really pitch much in 2019 as he came back from T.J but overall in his career Monty is a good fifth starter.
In 2017—his rookie year—Monty pitched to a 9-7 record with a 3.88 ERA while striking out 144 batters in 155 innings. In his short 2018 season (six games), Monty pitched to a 2-0 record with a 3.62 ERA. At 27 years old, he is the go-to choice for that final spot in the rotation.
We truly don’t know what is going to happen to Happ come opening day. In 2019, Happ had a very disappointing season for the Yankees after signing a two-year, $34 million contract. He pitched to a 12-8 record with a 4.91 ERA while striking out 140 batters in 161 innings.
Happ again struggled with keeping the ball in the park. In 161 innings Happ gave a career-high 34 home runs. That comes out to an HR/9 of 1.9. He did turn it around for September and October, showing more shades of his 2018 self. In those months Happ pitched to a 1.65 ERA.
With Happ, there is a chance the Yankees find a potential trade partner to get his contract off the books. However, it doesn’t appear there has been any traction with that thus far.
This could be the darkhorse choice for the Yankees. Mike King has been in the Yankees system for a while and has always been considered to be in the rotation. King battled with injuries for most of the 2019 season but did end up making his Major League debut.
But in his last full season in the minors (2018) King pitched very well. Across three minor league levels in 2018, King pitched to an 11-5 record with a 1.79 ERA while striking out 152 batters over 161 innings. While I don’t see King getting the 5th spot, I do think he will be considered.
With spring training just over a month away, King should have a chance to crack the roster with a strong enough showing.