Earlier this week I looked at 5 bold predictions on the offensive side of the diamond. Now, I’m looking at our pitching and trying to determine where we can expect the unexpected. Our big losses this offseason were Mariano Rivera, Andy Pettitte, Phil Hughes, and Joba Chamberlain. Our big addition was Masahiro Tanaka.
5. CC Sabathia will win less than 12 games and not be the #1 starter by the end of the season.
Sabathia had a poor season last year. I don’t look to wins and losses as the end all be all of pitching statistics, but I believe they have a place when looking at a pitcher’s profile. Last season was awful for Sabathia. He set a career high in earned runs, home runs, hits/9, and ERA. Most of these weren’t even close to previous career highs. His 2013 ERA ranked 76th out of 81 qualifying starting pitchers. This offseason he claims to have not lost any weight, but turned much of his fat into muscle. Losing weight was an issue for him in 2013, and I do not see him reacting well to this massive transformation he’s undergone. I believe we have already seen the best of Sabathia.
4. David Robertson will have more than 45 saves.
Here comes year one without Mo. Yes, he missed nearly the entire 2012 season, but now he is gone. Robertson has been the set-up man for years, and has had a great last 3 years. He’s a quiet, but confident pitcher, ready for the 9th inning. The Yankees are going to be winning a lot more games this season with a revamped offense. The result will be Robertson owning the pitching mound for 3 outs a night. Look for Robertson to be a top saves earner this season.
3. Michael Pineda will win 15 games.
Pineda came to New York in the Jesus Montero trade two seasons ago. He hasn’t pitched for the Yankees yet, and was just a rookie when he came over. However, he looked to have great stuff and he is finally healthy. The 6’7 righty will be just 25 this season. Along with his size and strength, being at the back of the rotation will allow him to face weaker pitching league wide. Think Ivan Nova in 2011. Pineda will be a force at the back of the rotation in 2014.
2. Vidal Nuno will join the squad by July and play a key part in making the playoffs.
Nuno is a long shot to make the squad coming out of spring training this year. The tentative rotation is Sabathia, Hiroki Kuroda, Tanaka, Nova, Pineda. As we have seen in previous years, no spot is safe, both from performance and from injury. There will be a need for Nuno to come up this season. When he does, he’s not going back to the minors. He had a strong showing in 2013 before being shut down for an injury. In a light minor league system, Nuno is one of our best.
1. Tanaka will win 20 games.
If the spotlight will be on any pitcher this season, it will be Tanaka. He arrived in New York in a rented 787 for his family. The man knows style, and is ready to take on Broadway. Despite the money the Yankees threw at him, he will open the season as the Yankees 3rd starter, as mentioned by the front office this past week. Dropping to 3rd level talent will help his stats, and his own abilities will take him to 20 wins, leading the team.