Slipped into general manager Brian Cashman’s hour-plus Zoom press conference on Tuesday was a flurry of injury updates.
Perhaps the most significant was the news that Jameson Taillon will have surgery this month to repair the torn tendon in his right ankle that derailed the latter part of his first season with the Yankees.
The procedure is expected to sideline the right-hander for five months.
If all goes well, Taillon could be part of the Yankees rotation on Opening Day. But considering Taillon’s injury history, that’s hardly a guarantee.
It adds another question mark to the Yankees’ staff as they head into the offseason.
While most of those issues are lineup-related, the Yankees at this point don’t know how many innings to expect out of Taillon, who turns 30 next month, as well as Luis Severino and Domingo German.
Both right-handers threw limited innings in 2021 as they dealt with injuries, with Severino tossing 18 innings — including minor league rehab games, as well as the wild-card game — and German 102 ¹/₃ between the minors and majors.
Severino, also, hasn’t had a healthy season since 2018.
While the Yankees will have to figure out the cause of Gerrit Cole’s inconsistency — in addition to MLB’s crackdown on foreign substances, which clearly affected the right-hander — they can be confident he’ll give them regular, high-quality innings.
Jordan Montgomery took the step forward the Yankees hoped he would, and Nestor Cortes Jr. gave them another surprising option from the left side.
They’ll want 8-10 rotation arms — at a minimum — which means they could look to free agency — and perhaps bring back Corey Kluber — but they’ll also need more from young right-handers, like Luis Gil, Clarke Schmidt and Deivi Garcia, who is coming off a disastrous season.
Given how this postseason is unfolding, it’s becoming more clear that teams will need to rely on a dozen or more arms during the playoffs, rather than riding three or four starting pitchers deep into games, but to have October success, teams also need to monitor their relievers’ innings.
Taillon figures to be a significant part of that equation after the Yankees traded for him last offseason in a deal with the Pirates.
After a bumpy start to the season in his comeback from a second Tommy John surgery, Taillon found his groove in July, when he began a six-start stretch in which he allowed just six earned runs over 43 ¹/₃ innings (1.25 ERA).
Taillon faltered through much of August before initially suffering the ankle injury following a Sept. 6 start. He aggravated it in his next appearance on Sept. 28. But Taillon, who said doctors told him he couldn’t make the injury any worse by pitching with it, was able to throw 3 ¹/₃ scoreless innings on the last day of the regular season against the Rays to help the Yankees get to the AL wild-card game.
Now, he’ll likely miss at least some of spring training and give the Yankees more concern going into 2022.