So the Yankees have three pitchers with strong recent histories to go with Gerrit Cole, their $324 million leading man. It’s a rosy vision for this time of year, when the best-case scenario is still in play.
“Gerrit is one of, if not the, best pitchers in the league, and Jameson’s had spurts when he’s healthy that he’s right up there with those top-tier pitchers, too,” Kluber said. “Severino, if he’s able to come back healthy, obviously he’s got great stuff and has proven that he can pitch at that extremely high level, too. I know they’ve got some younger guys in the rotation that got a chance to pitch last year that they feel really good about.
“It’s like any rotation, any year — you can feel as good as you want about it in January, February and March, but it’s all about that process of getting through a spring training, getting ready for the season and then hitting the ground running when you do.”
So while Cole and the returning Jordan Montgomery offer predictability, Kluber, Taillon, Severino, Deivi Garcia and the rest present a broad range of possible outcomes. The Yankees could have the best rotation, a broken rotation or something in between. Likewise, the offense depends greatly on Aaron Judge and Giancarlo Stanton, the supersized sluggers who struggle to stay on the field.
Against such a backdrop — imposing and imperfect, in equal parts — LeMahieu is a refreshing exception: a pro in his prime, reliably elite and fiercely motivated.
“We’ve got to get over that hump, and we’re ready,” he said. “I’ve been saying it for two years, but it’s time. That’s just another reason why I wanted to be back. We’ve got some unfinished business.”