BOSTON — Gerrit Cole will get a chance to make two starts before the All-Star Break, which may make his bye less interesting. The Yankees are slightly rearranging their rotation after Monday’s day off. His ace is now scheduled to start Tuesday night against the Reds, pushing Luis Severino back to Wednesday night.
That means Cole is set to pitch Sunday against the Red Sox, the final game of a three-game series against Boston in the Bronx before the break starts. That also means Cole likely won’t be available to pitch in the All-Star Game on July 19 at Dodger Stadium.
“We’ll see,” Cole said. “He seems to be playing that way.
It will be Cole’s fifth All-Star game invitation and while he was “super excited” for the first three times (Néstor Cortés, Clay Holmes and José Treviño), he still gets excited when he hears his name has been chosen as well.
“You never take any name in the game for granted no matter how many times you’ve been in it,” Cole said. “Whether it’s the fans voting for you and being super grateful for that or from the pitching side, your teammates (voting for you). It’s always great that people can recognize a player’s hard work from afar when we vote for each other. That means he’s very special and he’s a little bit different than position players… I’m so excited to represent the organization.”
The mix not only gets Cole into that series with the Red Sox, it serves to limit Severino’s workload heading into the second half. He has been excellent this season. Severino is 5-3 with a 3.11 ERA in 84 innings of 15 starts. He has struck out 94 and has a WHIP of 1,024.
“He looks like he did in 2018,” said a scout who has watched Severino over the past week. “He is throwing the ball very well. He looks great, it doesn’t look like he wasted any time. He doesn’t look tired or coping with it.” But he is running into a red flag.
The only alarming number on Severino’s stat line right now is 84 innings pitched. Due to a torn latissimus dorsi muscle in 2019 and then a torn ulnar collateral ligament that required Tommy John surgery, the right-hander pitched just 27.2 innings in the last three years since 2018.
The Yankees have not publicly mentioned an innings limit, saying spring training went “smooth,” according to Severino’s feelings. Still, there have been talks about keeping him somewhere between Corey Kluber (who had missed nearly two years with a broken arm and shoulder injury) and Jameson Taillon (coming off his second Tommy John surgery that cost him almost two years) ended in 2021. That would be around 120-30 innings.
The Yankees also have concerns about the workload of All-Star left-hander Néstor Cortés, who has never pitched more than 93 innings in the majors in a season.
So the Yankees will do more of the rotation shakeup as the season goes on. They feel they are well prepared for the crisis and traditional mid-summer pitching hard work because of their depth. They have Clarke Schmidt stretching out at Triple-A and JP Sears has been excellent in his starts this season.
They also have Domingo German coming off the disabled list soon. The right-hander spent the first half of the season rehabbing “impingement syndrome” in his right shoulder, but after his last rehab start, Aaron Boone said he could be activated before the break.
While German appears headed for the bullpen, a place he said Sunday he feels comfortable working, he was a reliable starter in 2019 before being suspended under the joint MLB/MLBPA domestic violence policy. He went 18-4 that season with a 4.03 ERA in 22 appearances, including 18 starts.
Germán could be key to handling the entrances of Severino and Cortés. Before he was suspended in 2019, the Yankees moved him to the bullpen where he would “piggyback” CC Sabathia to keep the veteran southpaw’s workload under control. Severino would be lined up to pitch Wednesday, which means he could come in and be the biggest volume guy after Severino’s departure.