The New York Yankees seem to have their rotation set for opening day. C.C. Sabathia, Ivan Nova, Hiroki Kuroda and Masahiro Tanaka are all locks for the first four spots in the rotation. Barring a set back in his recovery, Michael Pineda will be the fifth starter. So that’s that. Right? Maybe not.
The Yankees open the 2014 season playing thirteen straight games with the first two series being in Houston and Toronto, respectively. Of course the Major League Baseball season is an every day campaign, but the Yankees do have some question marks regarding the aforementioned pitchers. Sabathia is 33-years-old and is working on re-inventing himself as a pitcher with diminished velocity. Kuroda has started out the previous two seasons like an ace, only to burn out come August. Nova has never put together a full season as a quality pitcher day in and day out. Pineda has not pitched in the big leagues for two years and is coming off multiple arm surgeries. Tanaka may be the biggest question of all as no one can predict how he will adapt to the major leagues. So, it may not be the worst idea for the Yankees to carry an extra starter for the first month of the season. Who are the candidates?
David Phelps: Phelps should be the long man out of the bullpen. He has shown to be a decent starting pitcher, but using him as a spot starter to open the regular season might work, but will leave the ‘pen short.
Adam Warren: So far this spring, Warren’s numbers look good - sort of. He has pitched to a 2.08 ERA in 4.1 innings pitched. He has struck out three and walked two. What worries me about Warren is that fact that he has given up 6 hits and batters are hitting .353 against him. So that’s eight runners allowed in 4.1 innings. Not great.
Vidal Nuno: Nuno’s numbers don’t look encouraging thus far in spring training. He has a 4.50 ERA. However. he has only pitched 2.0 innings, struck out three and has not issued a base-on-balls. Nuno has given up two hits for just one run. The run came on a home run. Hence the 4.50 ERA. We saw him in the majors last season and he looked like a guy that can be a big league starter down the road.
If Nuno can finish the spring strong, he should be the sixth/spot starter for the Yankees to open 2014 – if that’s that direction they look to go. It may not be realistic considering the Yankees have a lot of questions in the infield and will most likely break camp with six infielders. They will need five or six guys to play the outfield and DH. Add in two catchers, and that leaves the Yankees with thirteen or fourteen position players. With that being said, I think Joe Girardi should really look into giving his rotation a lighter work load to start this season. One that is surely World Series-or-bust.