We conclude our organizational breakdown series with probably the most important part of any winning club; good starting pitching. The New York Yankees have question marks up and down the rotation so let’s delve in.
First is CC Sabathia. Is he starting to decline? Will he be the pitcher of 2012 or 2013? Did he lose too much weight? Is he healthy? Next up is Hiroki Kuroda. Is Kuroda the first four months who went 10-6? Or is the guy who just won one game the final two months of the season? Third is Masahiro Tanaka. How will he adjust to pitching in the majors from Japan? Next comes Ivan Nova. Nova pitched like an ace after being demoted early last season to Triple-A. Which Nova is in the cards?
Then the fifth starter spot. The Yankees want it to go to Michael Pineda, who’s yet to throw a pitch in a regular season game for the Yanks. Is he healthy and can he regain his all-star form with Seattle? If Pineda falters, they could turn to David Phelps, Adam Warren or even Vidal Nuno. Manny Banuelos is someone to watch for later on in the season. Even though he could start the season in the bullpen, he could start in Triple-A and be an option later on in the season.
Down on the farm at Triple-A they will have Jose Ramirez, who could end up helping out in the bullpen instead. Nik Turley will find himself there after putting up good numbers including almost a strikeout per inning. Shane Greene was added to the 40-man roster this year after going 8-4 in Double-A Trenton last year with a 3.18 ERA last season. At High-A Charleston, you’ll find two prospects; Jose Campos, who was the additional piece to the Pineda deal and uber-prospect Rafael De Paula. De Paula struck out 94 is just 69 innings at that level last year.
Starting pitching is the most expensive thing to buy in the free agent market. Even with the possibility of Max Scherzer, James Shields and Jon Lester being free agents, you have to try and develop your own. The Yanks have some arms to watch for, but it’s much better for them to continue to develop their own. In a lot of ways, the pitching will be the key to a good 2014 season.