Mar 2, 2014; Dunedin, FL, USA; New York Yankees starting pitcher Vidal Nuno (67) pitches during the first inning against the Toronto Blue Jays at Florida Auto Exchange Park. Mandatory Credit: Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports

Why The Yankees Should Begin ’14 With A 6-Man Rotation


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.

Tags: Adam Warren AL East David Phelps New York Yankees News Rumors Vidal Nuno

  • http://twitter.com/kumerle Kenneth Kumerle

    Sabathia may become the fifth starter at some point!

    • artie999

      You’re absolutely correct. Pitching Cc against the other team’s worst starter might jump start his confidence and prevent him from muscling up his fast ball and getting hurt.

  • artie999

    Michael, this is without doubt the finest article about the Yanks I’ve read this spring. It IS certainly unusual to start a season with 13 straight. Add in the unseasonable cold weather and old and or fragile/ injured vet pitchers and Tanaka adjusting to a bigger, heavier ball, a longer season, much better hitters and pitching every 5th day, instead of once a week a six man staff is the way to go – especially when you have a number of roughly equal 5th starters and Pineda hopefully in the rotation. Also our pen is on paper shorter and weaker than last year, so one more arm ( fresher, stronger, less work for the whole pen) can be a God send. Remember, last season we had the best pen in the league – lowest ERA and highest winning pct. in one run games. I still think the Yanks were wrong not to add one of the FA closers and 2M chump chang for everyday slugg

    • artie999

      and spend 2M chump change for an everyday slugging 3rd basemen (Mark Reynolds). Again, great article. What do you think? (Sorry, my smart phone got dumb for a bit. LOL