Part 16 of a series analyzing the New York Yankees
Had the 2020 season opened March 26, the Yankees had a group of right-handers in the mix for the fifth spot in the starting rotation because James Paxton wasn’t going to be ready for Opening Day due to back surgery in early February.
Aaron Boone didn’t tip his hand by March 12 when spring training was shut down because of the COVID-19 pandemic, but Jonathan Loaisiga appeared to be a slight favorite to join Gerrit Cole, Masahiro Tanaka, J.A. Happ and Jordan Montgomery in the rotation.
Now, with the possibility of a shortened season starting in July, Paxton should be ready — barring a setback. When he had the surgery the timetable for a return was June.
Paxton’s return would leave Loaisiga in an expanded bullpen as a long man or available to work the middle innings.
As has been the case for years, health will play a role in determining what the 25-year-old from Nicaragua is. As a Giants minor leaguer in 2014, Loaisiga didn’t pitch due to shoulder problems and he missed all of the next season when he was released in May. Signed by the Yankees in February 2016, Loaisiga pitched one Single-A game in May and was shut…