Here's what has Boone very excited for 2023

January 12th, 2023

This story was excerpted from Bryan Hoch’s Yankees Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

This statement comes with a caveat: The calendar still only reads January, much can change between now and Opening Day, and ballgames still need to be played on grass (or artificial turf). But as we examine the 2023 Yankees, it is fair to say that their rotation could be the best in the Aaron Boone era.

Why do we say that? Because Boone himself believes that to be the case, excited by the prospect of penciling in a staff paced by and in the top two spots.

“On paper, certainly it’s the best rotation since I’ve been here,” Boone said this week, speaking to MLB Network Radio on SiriusXM. “The potential is there for them to be really special. If we can keep [them] all healthy and making 25, 30, 30-plus starts, we feel like we’ve got a chance to have something really special.”

Cole (13-8, 3.50 ERA in 2022, 111 ERA+) and Rodón (14-8, 2.88 ERA in 2022, 140 ERA+) give the Bombers a couple of strikeout artists at the top, Cole from the right side and Rodón from the left. Rodón signed a six-year, $162 million deal with New York in December, receiving his Yankee Stadium introduction one day after Aaron Judge was presented with the captaincy. While Cole and Rodón spoke a bit about their past performance, they’re focused on the future.

“I think that’s one of those things where you can get distracted. It’s not, ‘Oh, look what we can be,’ because who cares what we did last year?” Rodón said. “In the moment, we do, but in about [77] days -- until we throw that first pitch here in 2023, nobody’s really going to care.”

The next three spots in the rotation figure to go to (7-3, 3.18 ERA in 2022, 123 ERA+), Nestor Cortes (12-4, 2.44 ERA in 2022, 159 ERA+) and (5-12, 4.05 ERA in 2022, 94 ERA+), with the exact order still to be determined.

Having been selected as an American League All-Star last summer, Cortes was a staff stalwart, making 28 starts while entertaining fans with his various arm angles and pitch speeds. Severino and Montas both dealt with injury issues during the 2022 season; Severino missed more than two months due to a right lat strain, and the Yankees believe that Montas wasn’t pitching at his full capability after sustaining a right shoulder injury earlier in the year with the Athletics.

“In a perfect world, you’d love to get 160, 180, 200 innings out of your five guys,” Boone said. “When that’s happening, when your starting pitchers are consistently going out there and getting you through the middle innings, it just sets you up so well. That serves the bullpen well; that allows bullpen guys to be in roles that they should be in, not picking up slack.”

Boone said that he envisions (2-5, 3.61 ERA in 2022, 108 ERA+) and (5-5, 3.12 ERA in 2022, 125 ERA+) as the sixth and seventh starters, potentially beginning the year as relievers or as depth with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

“At its best, you go in hoping that all of these guys can look up and [see] some of the most innings they’ve ever pitched in their careers,” Boone said. “I think they’re all in a position to potentially do that.”