The one thing that the New York Yankees have been blessed with so far this season is the starting pitching. A lot of the Yankees’ starting pitching in previous years has never been as sharp, especially with multiple pitchers. Phil Hughes has been absolutely dominating his opponents in his previous starts. Ivan Nova has been lowering his ERA significantly. The rest of the rotation with CC Sabathia, Hiroki Kuroda and Andy Pettitte has been the major core of the pitching staff, but here’s the reality, guys get older. Kuroda will be 38 going into next season., Pettitte just turned 40 this month (and is now on the 60-day DL) and Sabathia is going to 32 in July. However, Sabathia will more than likely stay with New York until his career is over, so that’s one bit of the core we can keep. Looking forward without veterans like Kuroda and Pettitte is hard, but not impossible. What we saw from David Phelps in his brief few games this season impressed the Yankees. Phelps is currently back on the 25-man roster so we’ll see what can do in the meantime. Though, looking at 2013, expect Phelps to be a major part of the rotation, even if he were to be the fifth man. There’s also the possibility of signing a free agent. The big free agent on the market after this season will be Cole Hamels. Could the Yankees sign Hamels and have Phelps ready for next year?
From what we saw out of Phelps, he showed that he has the ability to start MLB games. His record is 1-3 with an ERA of 3.16, a WHIP of 1.32 and 34 strikeouts. While he was mainly used as a relief pitcher early on, Phelps was eventually thrust into the starting role. Phelps only started in two games this season, but overall pitched a total of 37 innings. We didn’t see enough of Phelps to fully come up with a role for him, but the fact that he could pitch two innings of relief or more tells me that he’s more of a starter than bullpen guy. Phelps has some pretty basic pitches: a four-seam fastball, a two-seam fastball, a cutter, a curveball and a change-up. His fastball speeds are pretty decent, ranging from 90-92 mph. Phelps has a lot to offer, and definitely showed us that in his time up here.
Hamels has been a pitcher for the Philadelphia Phillies that has always been a constant force in the rotation. Hamels offers great experience (with a World Series win) and he still has a prime arm. He’s only 28 and has accrued 84 career wins, 1,197 strikeouts and an ERA of 3.36 in his six-year career. He won’t come cheap certainly (as he’ll more than likely be a type-A free agent), costing not only money, but a few prospects, if not draft spots. However, Hamels would be great in New York. We know that Hamels can pitch under a microscope as he does in Philadelphia. Being a part of the “best rotation in baseball” shoulders a lot of responsibility as a pitcher because you are noted as a part of the elite. He can handle the pressure well and as we all know, New York isn’t exactly the easiest place to pitch, just ask A.J. Burnett. This season so far, Hamels is 10-3 with a 3.03 ERA, a WHIP of 1.08 and 106 strikeouts. He’s easily a contender for the All-Star Game and if he keeps up his production, a suitable candidate for the NL Cy Young.
The last part of the rotation is more of less really there as a back-up option. Adam Warren, who is taking over for Pettitte, just made his debut last night. He was speculated to be called up when Sabathia was placed on the DL, but definitely has secured that job for the time being with Pettitte following Sabathia to the DL. In Triple-A this season, Warren has gone 5-5 with an ERA of 3.86, 59 strikeouts in 86.1 innings pitched and has thrown a complete game shutout. Warren’s opponents do have a fairly high average against him at .288, so that raises a cause for concern for him in the MLB going forward. Last night, Warren did not last very long, only going 2.1 innings while giving up earned six runs on eight hits. We can’t judge Warren based on his very first outing in the big leagues, but that was not a pretty performance. His initial scouting report prior to the 2012 season said that he does have a fairly average fastball (90-92 mph) that can touch 95 mph at times and he creates a lot of ground ball outs. It will be interesting to see what Warren has to offer in 2013, providing he’ll be a factor at all.
With this information, here are five rotations that could be possible next year:
Rotation one: Sabathia, Hamels, Nova, Hughes, Phelps
-Rotation 1-A: Sabathia, Kuroda, Nova, Hughes, Phelps
Rotation two: Sabathia, Hamels, Pettitte, Nova, Hughes
Rotation three: Sabathia, Hamels, Kuroda, Nova, Hughes
Rotation four: Sabathia, Kuroda, Pettitte, Nova, Hughes (our current rotation minus the injuries)
Rotation five: Sabathia, Nova, Hughes, Phelps, Warren
There are quite a lot of other ways to look at this, but option one is more than likely the realistic one, particularly 1-A. If we don’t sign Hamels, then we’re more likely to re-sign either Pettitte or Kuroda, in this case Kuroda. Pettitte took a pretty nasty hit off of his ankle, which ended up breaking it, and already being 40 adds to the wear and tear of a pitcher. Kuroda, while no spring chicken himself, has adapted to Yankee baseball. I’m not too sure we’ll see Pettitte or Kuroda next year, but if we do, you can never have enough pitching. The latter half of the rotation with Nova, Hughes and a possible Phelps shows a lot of promise going forward. Warren makes for an interesting argument, but really, he only factors in with major injuries to the rotation to where we would need someone like him, or if we just cannot re-sign who we have. While getting Hamels would be a great addition, we have to wonder how realistic it is. First off, we would have to give away some ridiculously good talent if we were to trade for him. Signing him as a free agent however only would see us give up a few draft spots. Second off, we all thought we would sign Cliff Lee a year back or even Dan Haren two years ago, but neither deal went through. A lot of players avoid New York for the sheer microscope they are placed under, but others thrive off of it. Will the Yankees’ attempt in trying to get Hamels end in the same way as attempting to get Lee or Haren? Regardless, 2013 is still awhile off, but with the trade deadline in a month and the rumors that Philly has been talking about trading Hamels, let’s hope Brian Cashman is keeping his ears open on this one.