Earlier in the week, we briefly mentioned Luis Cessa and Jordan Montgomery as potential candidates to take Nathan Eovaldi‘s spot in the rotation for the rest of 2016 at the very end of our Nate Eovaldi article. This one will be more about in-depth explanation of who the Yankees’ internal options to fill Eovaldi’s shoes are going forward in 2016 and next year. If a player has an asterisk next to their name, that means that they will only be an option for 2017.
#1- Luis Cessa (LEVEL: AAA/MLB)
Cessa, who was acquired from Detroit for Justin Wilson this offseason, seems to be the most logical candidate here. Luis made 14 starts for Triple-A Scranton this year, where he compiled a good 3.03 ERA in 77 innings. The innings are no concern for Cessa, as he hurled 130 for a Mets’ affiliate in 2013. And even though he is always being shuffled on and off the big league roster, Cessa has made only 8 relief appearances this for the Bombers, so transitioning back to the starter role should be no problem. Expect him to go out there every 5th day for the rest of this year. Considering our #2 choice, Cessa does not have a guaranteed spot, as Jordan Montgomery could conceivably come up in September.
#2- Jordan Montgomery (Level: AAA)
With September callups less than two weeks away, Montgomery is an intriguing candidate. A 2014 4th round pick, Jordan has finally put it together in 2016. In 22 starts this year (19 with Trenton AA, three with Scranton AAA), Montgomery has posted a sparkling 2.31 ERA. He has totaled 18 frames and has allowed only two earned runs with Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes Barre. He also strikes out nearly a batter per inning, but has a 3.1 BB/9 rate, which is a little high. Jordan has hurled 120 frames in 2016, and his career high was 134.1 innings in 2014, his first pro year. So, it is possible that the Yankees could shut down Montgomery now and call him up for three or four September starts or possibly as a spot starter. If not, expect him to be in the running for that #5 spot next year in Spring Training.
#3- Dietrich Enns (LEVEL: AAA)
In 10 starts this year in Triple-A, Enns has posted a great 1.24 ERA in 10 starts, compiling a 6-2 record in 58 innings. Dietrich received a ringing endorsement from recent callup and former teammate Tyler Austin, who said “He goes out there and he throws strikes, and he’s not afraid to go after you. That’s one thing that you’ve got to love about Dietrich: going after hitters and seeing what you’ve got that day. He does it consistently every time he’s out there.” The roadblock standing in Enns’ way is his 128.1 innings, far and away passing his career high of 82.2 in 2013. Still, it is possible he could get a start here or there to give the rest of the staff some extra rest. Like Montgomery, expect Enns to compete for a spot in 2017.
#4- James Kaprielian (LEVEL: AA)*
Kaprielian was drafted by Seattle in the 40th round of the MLB Draft in 2012, but he declined their offer and decided to go to college. It turned out to be the right move, as the Yankees selected him with their 16th overall pick in 2015. He had been given rave reviews during the 2015 season, and started out 2016 with 22 strikeouts to just three walks in 18 frames. That prompted Blue Jays’ advisor, and MLB Hall of Famer, Roberto Alomar to assert “To me, he’s a big-league pitcher right now.” Unfortunately, Kap’s season was halted prematurely thanks to elbow soreness/inflammation that he first reported in late April. James has not pitched since then, as the Yankees understandably want to be cautious with their young righty. Kaprielian is a long shot, but if he picks up where he left off and impresses management in 2017 Spring Training, he could break camp on the 40 or even 25-man roster.