They also have Luis Severino, who surpassed 190 innings in both 2017 and 2018 with 2.98 and 3.39 ERAs, respectively, before succumbing to injuries for the better part of the last three seasons.
Then, the Bombers also have Jordan Montgomery, a big left-hander with more than a strikeout per inning in 2021 (9.27), a solid 3.83 ERA, and the same Fielding Independent Pitching, or FIP, as American League Cy Young winner Robbie Ray, at 3.69.
There are lots of top performers in the Yankees’ rotation, so who is the ace?
Gerrit Cole Is Still The Man To Lead The Yankees Rotation
Despite struggling to adapt to pitching under the new rules – without spider tack, sticky stuff or foreign substances as a whole – and a September hamstring injury that may have cost him the Cy Young award this year, there should be absolutely no question that Cole is, in fact, the Yankees’ ace.
Yes, he couldn’t get out of the third inning during the Wild Card Game that resulted in a Yankees loss.
And yes, he was one of the many pitchers who struggled with command after MLB banned the use of foreign substances.
But nevertheless, he should be considered the Yankees’ frontline starter.
Cole managed to finish second in the Cy Young voting in 2021 despite all those situations, after finishing with a 3.23 ERA and a much better 2.92 FIP.
He carries the highest strikeout upside on the roster, and fanned 12.06 hitters per nine innings in 2021.
There is a strong argument to be made that Cole deserved the Cy Young that Ray won on Wednesday night.
Among Yankees’ pitchers, he has the best stuff, and the better numbers, too.
Only Severino can truly match him if health was on his side and with a similar workload.
Production And Durability Are An Ace’s Calling Cards
The problem for Severino is that durability is also considered one of the necessary attributes for an ace.
A pitcher shouldn’t be called an ace if he has pitched 18 innings over the last three seasons.
To enter the conversation with Cole, Severino should first prepare as a starter and make it through the whole 2022 campaign healthy, and then we can compare results.
Right now, there is a clear ace in the Bronx, and it’s Cole, because he is consistently great.
#Yankees ace Gerrit Cole finished second in the race for the 2021 American League Cy Young Award.
He's been in the top five in each of the last four seasons.
— Max Goodman (@MaxTGoodman) November 17, 2021
Some fans can’t forgive him for failing to show his best version in that Wild Card Game against Boston, but there is a good chance a hamstring injury suffered on September 7 was still affecting him.
After that injury, his rest-of-the-season ERA was over 6.00.
For now, Cole will have to regroup, find a way to consistently show good command of his arsenal even without the aid of external stuff, and let his talent put him in a position to contend for his first Cy Young next year.
Anyone pretending Gerrit Cole sucks is hilarious. He just took second place in the Cy Young voting and is a good pick to finish top 5 yet again. Yankees have an ace.
— Mike Dro 🍕 (@MikeDro_) November 18, 2021
Yet, despite his situation, other Yankees’ pitchers can only dream to perform like Cole, with his durability and overall excellence.
He remains the Yankees’ ace despite all the outside noise.