Hot Stove League 2019-20 — Top 5 “Ace” Pitchers On Yanks’ List

"A cartoon from The Chicago Inter Ocean on the eve of the 1913 American League meeting. " -- From

It is November 3rd, 2019 — the World Series ended 4 days ago, HEAVY winds on a warm Halloween evening swept in a cold front, and the Baseball Hot Stove League of 2019-2020 has officially begun.

Yankee Twitter is already in heavy discussion on the Yankees’ biggest needs — an ace starter, or more machine-gun bats? In this piece, well take a look at the Starting Pitching…

Current NY Starting Staff

As of right now, the Yankee starting rotation is:

  1. Masahiro Tanaka 11-9 4.45 (6’3″ Right Hander; age 31 next yr)
  2. James Paxton 15-6 3.82 (6’4″ Lefty; age 31 next yr)
  3. Luis Severino 1-1 1.50 (6’2″ Righty; age 26 next yr)
  4. Domingo German 18-4 4.03 (6’2″ Righty; age 27 next yr)
  5. J.A. Happ (12-8 4.91; 6’5″ LH, age 37 next yr), Jordan Montgomery (0-0 6.75; 6’6 Lefty; age 27 next yr), Deivi Garcia (5’9″ Righty; age 21 next yr)

The Yankees Need for Another Ace

If any of the top 4 pitchers listed above were free agents, they would be much sought after by MLB teams.

If Severino comes back the ace he was at the start of 2018; if Domingo German Paxton, Tanaka, and Happ do what they did in 2019; if Jordan Montgomery is the pitcher he was before the arm surgery; and if Deivi Garcia is as good as the Yankee Management appear to think he is — maybe the Yanks don’t need that other Ace everyone has been screaming for — the ace that will cost a $ Massive amount of money.

But with CC Sabathia retiring, and injuries always playing a part of a rotation (“You never have enough pitching”) it seems the Yanks are screaming out for another elite starter.

The Two Aces Yankee Twitter Wants

As the Hot Stove league starts, there are two pitchers seemingly on every Yankee Twitter fan’s brain:

  • Gerrit Cole 20-5 2.50 — age 29 (Sept birthday), 6’4″ Right Hander
  • Stephen Strasburg 18-6 3.32 — age 31 (July birthday), 6’5″ Right Hander

1. Strasburg

Strasburg has opted out of his contract, but word has it an arrangement has already been made between Washington and his agent Scott Boras, to renegotiate a new contract and keep him there. Strasburg seems quite comfortable and successful in DC — having just won the World Series. It would seem likely Washington makes sure he stays.

Strasburg’s numbers:

  • 18-6 3.32, 33 starts, 209 IP, 161 H, 251 K’s, 56 BB


  • He’s probably the best pitcher listed on this page.


  • Strasburg has had some arm issues during his career, and has had one Tommy John surgery so far.
  • He pitched less than 150 innings in 3 of the 4 years before this past year, when he went over 200 innings for the 2nd time in his now 10-year career (seems like just a year or two ago he was a sensational rookie).
  • He’s 31.
  • He is no doubt staying in Washington so probably should not even be listed here. We’re not even going to post his picture.

2. Cole

Gerrit Cole photo by Matt Slocum/Associated Press

There is no hesitation in thinking Cole will NOT stay with Houston. He made that pretty clear on his post-World Series interviews, when he grudingly gave an interview, and wore the company hat of his agent, Scott Boras.

Here’s his post-World Series interview:

Cole’s numbers:

  • 20-5 2.50, 33 starts, 212 IP, 142 H, 326 Ks, 48 BB


  • He is one of the best pitchers in baseball. I mean look at the IP to Hits ratio above (and strikeouts).
  • He is 29 years old.
  • He grew up a Yankee fan, and has already dismissed rumors he is going to sign with the Angels (he grew up in California) as not being necessarily so.


  • Doesn’t seem very loyal even by MLB standards! Will he be a problem in the clubhouse?
  • Will come at a massive cost, for probably many years. There is risk associated with that long-term contract.
  • He didn’t have the success in Pittsburgh that he had in Houston; will he fall back to previous results with a different pitching coach? Is he over valued?
  • The bad karma that comes from signing the ace of your rival that you just lost to in the playoffs — see Don Gullett and Mike Torrez, below:


The last time the Yankees raided an opponent they had just lost to in the playoffs of their ace starter was when they signed Don Gullett of the Cincinnati Reds after the 1976 season. It didn’t work out that well. Gullett was caught by police growing marijuana in his backyard before the season, gave the Yanks one good season, but then blew out his arm early in 1978 after 8 starts. He gave the Yanks 1.2 years of pitching for the 5-year contract they gave him.


More karma. Mike Torrez helped the Yankees to the 1977 World Series title, became a free agent and the Red Sox signed him. And how did that work out for them in 1978?

3. Bumgarner

Some, like John Snyder, have been suggesting for over a year that the Yankees should sign Madison Bumgarner. His numbers last year:

  • 9-9 3.90, 34 starts, 207.2 IP, 191 H, 203 K’s, 43 BB; 6’4 Left Hander


  • Bumgarner is coming off his best season in 3 years, after having a partial tear in his shoulder in 2017. He was still only 9-9 but that was on a bad San Francisco team.
  • Bumgarner is 30 years old.
  • He’s a lefty.
  • He has been a shutdown ace in the World Series. Maybe he’s come thru what he was coming thru


  • A MLB scout on the Steve Somers show this summer said that Bumgarner is not the same pitcher that he used to be, after that shoulder tear. He pointed out that his decent numbers were against National League lineups.

4. Odorizzi

Jake Odorizzi has been the Chicago White Sox ace. He is a very good pitcher who put up these numbers last year at age 29:

  • 15-7 3.51, 30 starts, 159 IP, 139 H, 178 Ks, 53 BB; 6’2″ Right Hander


  • Very good starting pitcher
  • 29 years old


  • Last year was by far his best year; he’d never won more than 11 games previously. How come so many starters had their best season in years last year???

5. Ryu

Hyun-Jin Ryu is had a terrific year as the ace of the Dodgers. His numbers:

  • 14-5 2.32, 182 IP, 160 H, 163 K’s, 24 BB; 6’3″ Left Hander

The Plusses

  • Seems fully back from Tommy John surgery — he had spent 3 long years of poor results making his way back, after the 14-8 season of 2013 and 14-7 season of 2014.
  • Look at the Innings to Walk ratio above!!

The Minuses

  • He’s going to be 33 years old next season.

6. Wheeler

If Strasburg isn’t really on this list, we needed to add another pitcher to make 5 — and that pitcher is Zack Wheeler. Zack was the #3 starter for the Mets.  His numbers:

  • 11-8 3.96; 31 starts, 195 IP, 196 H, 195 Ks, 50 BB; 6’4″ Right Hander


  • Good pitcher; decent numbers.
  • Will be 30 years old.


  • He is a good enough pitcher, but not sure if he brings more talent to the Yanks than the pitchers they already have. Would be a 3rd to 5th starter for them.
  • Allowed more hits than innings pitched last year, pitching in the National League


  • Kyle Gibson, RHP — 13-7 4.84 last year; will be 32 yrs old
  • Cole Hamels, LHP — 7-7 3.81 last year; will be 37; I don’t think so but he is the ultimate never-to-be-a-Yankee so must be mentioned.


Said John Snyder, “I think the Yanks have been watching the Astros’ success with pitcher reclamation’s using analytics, slow motion cameras, etc. That’s why they let Rothschild go. They will try to duplicate the Astros’ success. Steinbrenner Jr. won’t spend like the Boss, so no Cole in the offing unless he comes at a discount.”

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