While the Yankees have loads of MLB-ready depth in their lineup sitting in the minors, they will be forced to test that with their rotation.
After New York placed RHP Masahiro Tanaka on the disabled list with a hamstring injury, pitching coach Larry Rothschild said prospect Jonathan Loaisiga and journeyman David Hale could be temporary options as replacements in the rotation.
Meanwhile, the Yankees, who entered Sunday averaging the most runs per game in baseball, have MLB-caliber players like Clint Frazier, who has a .301/.385/.551 batting line with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, and Brandon Drury, whom the Yankees acquired in the offseason but was demoted to Triple-A after recovering from migraines following the success of rookie third baseman Miguel Andujar, sitting in the minors.
Drury said he was upset when he found out he was healthy enough to return to the active roster but was instead being optioned to the minors despite playing in 135 games for the Arizona Diamondbacks a season ago.
"I wasn't happy about it," Drury said, according to the New York Post's Mark W. Sanchez. "Doing what I can right now so when I go back up I'm a better player. ... But this is going to make me better. Just gotta keep doing what I can do right now, be back up soon."
Added RailRiders manager Bobby Mitchell: "There's always a little disappointment to start [when a player is demoted], but they're playing hard."
After Jordan Montgomery underwent season-ending Tommy John surgery, the Yankees have relied on Domingo German, who is 0-3 with a 6.00 ERA in six games as a starter, to fill in.
Given Tanaka's status, it's possible Loaisiga, who is 6-1 with a 3.00 ERA with High-A Tampa and Double-A Trenton and is on the 40-man roster, could be an option despite his lack of experience. Rothschild also didn't rule out Hale, who is 2-2 with a 4.58 ERA with the RailRiders and has appeared in 69 MLB games since making his debut in 2013.
Hale is scheduled to pitch for Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on Monday, according to The Times-Tribune's Conor Foley, with other top pitching prospects Chance Adams and Justus Sheffield set for Wednesday and Thursday, respectively.
Manager Aaron Boone and GM Brian Cashman said, according to The Athletic's Lindsey Adler, that the Yankees would likely use a new starter on Friday.
It wasn't difficult to sift through the Yankees' minor league system and understand that they were loaded in position player depth and hurting for immediate impact from starting pitchers.
As such, over the offseason I was particularly concerned about the Yankees' rotation depth. I suggested the Yankees sign another starter and move Montgomery back to Triple-A for depth purposes knowing full well injury concerns loomed for the Yankees veteran arms. Montgomery didn't deserve such fate, but I felt it was best under the circumstances, figuring he would still garner over 20 starts.
Montgomery ended up being the arm to go down early, but the point remains, they had to resort to German, who is talented but severely unpolished. Now with Tanaka out, the Yankees are seemingly choosing between a retread in Hale or a pitcher with 23 Double-A innings under his belt in Loiasiga. It's something I saw coming. Why didn't the Yankees?