Breaking down top options to be Yankees' fifth starter

March 21st, 2024

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.

TAMPA, Fla. -- One half of the mystery created by Gerrit Cole’s right elbow injury has been solved, as the Yankees anointed Nestor Cortes as their Opening Day starter for March 28 against the Astros at Minute Maid Park.

With Carlos Rodón, Marcus Stroman and Clarke Schmidt in line to follow Cortes, a significant decision remains to identify the fifth starter. It is a call that manager Aaron Boone indicated could take until the end of Spring Training.

“It’s still coming down to this last week for a few guys,” Boone said. “I would say that there’s probably a couple of guys that have clearly put themselves in the frontrunner position of that. But it’s four or five guys still in that mix … and certainly at different points of possibility.”

Yankees general manager Brian Cashman said that conversations and debates are already underway.

“We have a number of different choices to consider, and that’s a good thing, right?” Cashman said. “A number of people have thrown well.”

Here is a closer look at the candidates in play.

2023 stats: 9-7, 3.62 ERA in 27 games (26 starts) for Double-A Somerset and Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre; in 131 2/3 innings, permitted 54 runs (53 earned) and 105 hits, with 75 walks and 165 strikeouts

Spring 2024 stats: 3.46 ERA in four games (two starts); in 13 innings, permitted five earned runs and 12 hits, with four walks and 13 strikeouts

What to know: Acquired from the Dodgers in the August 2022 Joey Gallo trade, the hard-throwing Beeter is rated as the Yankees’ No. 14 prospect by MLB Pipeline. Catcher Jose Trevino has raved about Beeter, advising him to trust his fastball and slider. Boone wants to see Beeter throw more strikes but likes his deception, saying that “you can tell guys don’t get great swings off him all the time.”

RHP , 25

2023 stats: 11.25 ERA in two starts for Single-A Tampa; in four innings, permitted five earned runs and six hits, with three walks and six strikeouts

Spring 2024 stats: 2-0 with a 2.31 ERA in four games (two starts); in 11 2/3 innings, permitted three earned runs and five hits, with four walks and 18 strikeouts

What to know: Though Gil was optioned to the Minors on March 3, he has re-entered the mix in the wake of Cole’s injury. Appearing to be fully recovered from Tommy John surgery, Gil has flashed some of the most dominant stuff in camp, including a high-octane fastball that Boone described as “elite.” Gil’s slider is still sharp, and his improving changeup has been a difference-maker.

RHP , 29

2023 stats: 0.00 ERA in one start (two innings) for Triple-A Omaha (Royals)

Spring 2024 stats: 2.35 ERA in four games; in 7 2/3 innings, permitted two earned runs and seven hits, with one walk and seven strikeouts

What to know: The Yankees like what they’ve seen from Poteet, with pitching coach Matt Blake highlighting the 29-year-old’s four-pitch mix and polish. Though Poteet hasn’t pitched in the Majors since 2022 due to recovery from Tommy John surgery, he could make the club as a swingman. Boone recently said that he feels like Poteet is “a guy who can help us.”

RHP , 24

2023 stats: 10-4, 3.35 ERA in 27 games (25 starts) for Double-A Somerset and Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre; in 129 innings, permitted 60 runs (48 earned) and 109 hits, with 59 walks and 149 strikeouts

Spring 2024 stats: 2-1, 4.35 ERA in four games (two starts); in 10 1/3 innings, permitted nine runs (five earned) and 15 hits, with three walks and 13 strikeouts

What to know: Rated as the Yanks’ No. 8 prospect by MLB Pipeline, a nine-run first inning on St. Patrick’s Day was not a death knell for Warren’s chances of making the team. Quite the opposite, as decision-makers were impressed by how he retired eight of 10 after the disastrous frame. Boone has lauded Warren’s “competitive edge,” noting that he looks like a big leaguer. Warren is not on the 40-man roster.

RHP , 30

2023 stats: 3-6, 6.40 ERA in 29 games (25 starts) for Reds, Mariners and Yankees; in 123 2/3 innings, permitted 90 runs (88 earned) and 155 hits, with 40 walks and 109 strikeouts

Spring 2024 stats: 1-0, 4.15 ERA in four games (two starts); in 8 2/3 innings, permitted four earned runs and nine hits, with two walks and five strikeouts

What to know: Weaver has the most sizable commitment of this group, guaranteed $2 million for this season, which indicates he’ll be on the roster either as a starter or reliever. Weaver made three starts for the Yanks last September, when he posted a 3.38 ERA while striking out 16 over 13 1/3 innings. Cashman said that Weaver “has been there and done that,” and Weaver said he is comfortable in any role.