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Tampa Bay Rays: AL East – Taking Stock of Yankees Spring Injuries

Aaron Judge (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
Aaron Judge (Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images)
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Gerrit Cole (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images)

The Tampa Bay Rays are projected to finish second in the AL East. Will the Yankees’ rash of injuries be enough for the Rays to become the new favorites?

The Yankees signed the biggest free-agent prize of the offseason. Gerrit Cole has brought his 2.50 ERA, 326 strikeouts and his 185 ERA+ from last season to the Yankees. In exchange for his services, the Yankees will pay him $36 million per year through the 2028 season. If he makes 35 starts a season, that’s still over $1 million per start.

The Rays had $52 million invested in their Opening Day roster in 2019. Gerrit Cole will earn just over 69% of that for each of the next nine seasons. So, yes the Yankees upgraded their pitching staff.

What sort of impact will he have on their staff? The Yankees finished dead-smack in the middle of the league in starting pitcher ERA. They placed 15th with a 4.51 ERA last season. Here’s where their innings came from:

Chad Green picked up five starts and Luis Severino started three.

Severino had established himself as one of the best pitchers in all of baseball by 2018. Heading into the 2018 All-Star break he was 14-2 with a 2.31 ERA and 144 strikeouts in 128.1 innings. After opening the season as the Yankees Opening Day starter he finished 19-8 with a 3.39 ERA.

The Yankees were hoping the addition of Gerrit Cole would be like adding two aces to mid-level staff when combined with the re-addition of Severino. When you combine their league-leading offense from last season with this potentially dominant rotation this season, it was just dreamy.

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