Yankees handle Nestor Cortes and Luis Severino workloads

In a season in which almost everything went well for the Yankees, their rotation led the American League in the ERA and won the substitution until Tuesday. Keeping things that way as the season progresses will involve careful workload management for two of the team’s brightest stars: Nestor Cortes and Luis Severino.

Cortes, 27, has never reached 100 innings in a major league season (although he has passed the mark several times in the lower leagues). Left-handed, he’s already 79 this season, establishing himself as an unlikely ace and All-Star contender despite a recent slip-up that saw his ERA jump to 2.51, a full run higher than it was. June 2.

Severino, meanwhile, is expected to start Thursday when the Yankees make a one-game stoppage in Houston. He is 72 innings this season after throwing a total of 29⅔ between majors and minors in the previous three years, the result of Tommy John surgery and setbacks during rehab. The 28-year-old right-hander has pitched as many as 193⅓ innings in a single season but hasn’t had a full campaign since 2018.

He has a 3.38 ERA in his first 13 starts this season.

No inning limits or guidelines have been revealed for Cortes or Severino — avoiding the public countdown that accompanied Joba Chamberlain and his so-called Joba Rules — but the Yankees are thinking ahead when it comes to know how they can keep their starters safe during their workload. reached uncharted territory.

“The eye tests, listening to them, and then the things you can measure,” manager Aaron Boone said when asked how he screens for fatigue as his pitchers prepare for the long season. Boone added that strength and conditioning are factors, as is feedback from his pitchers. “A bit of everything,” he continued. “Being a bit proactive, but also very attentive to their physical situation through measurable elements and listening to them as well.”

Tossing in a sixth starter occasionally is one way to give the other five starters some extra rest. The Yankees did it with great success on Tuesday when left-hander JP Sears was called up to start against Oakland. He pitched five and two-thirds scoreless innings, picking up the win as the Yankees beat the Athletics, 2-1.

Sears, a 26-year-old rookie, has been amazing so far. He’s yet to allow a run in 12⅔ innings of work and Tuesday’s outing gave the Yankees cover amid that 20-game-in-20-day streak. Boone also said the use of an additional starter was in line with the club “trying to think a little bigger”.

It was Jameson Taillon’s turn to start on Wednesday, with an extra day of rest provided by Sears, and although he wasn’t at his best, he pitched well enough to win (with help from the home runs). ‘Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton). He allowed three runs in five innings, up his ERA slightly to 3.32, as the Yankees beat the A’s, 5-3, to complete a three-game sweep.

After that 20-day period, a few days off will make it easier for the Yankees to give their top five starters extra rest, which should require less use of Sears, who was dropped to Class AAA after Tuesday’s game. . Boone noted that Severino has already received up to eight days between starts.

The Yankees should also be able to realign their rotation after next month’s All-Star break, though their second-half schedule begins with a double at Houston on July 21. There’s a chance Cortes has pitched in the All-Star Game, however those appearances are usually brief.

Another way to alleviate workload issues for Cortes and Severino is to rely on other members of the rotation. Gerrit Cole is the staff’s workhorse — he led the Yankees in innings pitched in 2020 and 2021, and is doing so again this season — and Jordan Montgomery and Taillon suffered major injuries that put the Yankees in a similar situation. last year.

Taillon didn’t pitch in 2020 and went to just 37⅓ big ​​league innings in 2019 after undergoing his second Tommy John surgery. Montgomery totaled 75⅓ big ​​league innings from 2018-20 due to his own surgery at Tommy John and the shortened 2020 season. This season, however, both pitchers are more than halfway through their 2021 innings.

“I think I’m far enough away from TJ now where there’s really no limit. I threw 160 last year, so I can really handle almost anything,” the southpaw Montgomery said before offering some suggestions. ways he and others can help Cortes and Severino.” They could arrange the rotation where me, Gerrit and Jameson go five days more often, and they get an extra day. Or maybe we go a little longer and use the bullpen more strategically for them.

Taillon, in particular, provided Boone with a plan after he returned in 2021 after missing the entire 2020 season. The right-hander didn’t want to limit what he could do in his first year. He missed a few weeks with an ankle tendon injury, but Taillon eventually pitched 144⅓ innings.

Now Boone is comfortable with a similar approach.

“Just be smart about it,” Boone said when told Cortes wanted to go past 150 innings. “It will kind of declare itself as we move around.”

Then, referring to Taillon, he said: “I always come back to Jamo last year. He was a guy we were aware of, paid attention to, and he did a good job and responded and probably went further than we expected.

“So I don’t want to put a limit on that, but also be very aware and monitor.”

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