Mar 15, 2014; Sarasota, FL, USA; New York Yankees starting pitcher Vidal Nuno (67) throws a pitch during the first inning against the Baltimore Orioles at Ed Smith Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The New Found Beauty of Depth in the Yankees Rotation


The Yankees can breathe easy when it comes to their pitching staff this season. Going into 2014, the Yankees are suddenly very deep in the starting pitching department. With the starting five all set, the Bombers have a few viable options with David Phelps, Adam Warren and Vidal Nuno all capable of starting and each having very good spring training numbers. Last season’s staff faced more than their fair share of problems, and the Yankees did not have many options. This year, the Yankees’ staff boasts a young, talented core behind two seasoned veterans and they looked poised to compete with some of the best rotations in baseball.

The starting rotation according to manager Joe Girardi with their Spring Training numbers

LHP C.C. Sabathia: 5 Games, 21 IP, 2-1 W/L,  1.29 ERA,  16 Ks

RHP Hiroki Kuroda: 2 Games, 8.1 IP, 1-0 W/L, 6.48 ERA, 8 Ks

RHP Ivan Nova: 5 Games, 19.2 IP, 2-1 W/L, 3.66 ERA, 21 Ks

RHP Masahiro Tanaka: 4 Games, 15.0 IP, 1-0 W/L, 3.00 ERA, 16 Ks

RHP Michael Pineda: 4 Games, 15.0 IP, 2-1 W/L, 1.20 ERA, 16 Ks

While Hiroki Kuroda’s numbers are a little skewed due to one bad outing in limited appearances, the Yankees’ rotation has looked very strong. C.C. Sabathia is looking to return to his old self after a very down season in 2013. After making headlines by losing a lot of weight, Sabathia got off to a rough start this spring, but has looked terrific as of late and has not allowed a run over his last three starts. Ivan Nova is looking to capitalize on an amazing second half in 2013 and overcome some recent inconsistencies to return as one of the Yankees best pitchers. Michael Pineda is finally healthy and ready to compete as a Yankee for the first time since being traded from the Mariners before the 2012 season. He’s looked very good and has more than earned his place on the staff. Then of course there’s Masahiro Tanaka, who was the coveted pitcher of the off-season. After being posted by the Rakuten Golden Eagles (His team in Japan) the Yankees beat out every other team in baseball to acquire his services on a 7-year, $155 million dollar contract. Tanaka has dazzled in spring training and fans in the Bronx are giddy over seeing him the regular season.

But what about the pitchers that missed out on the starting rotation? Going into Spring Training the Yankees 5th starter spot was  up for grabs and Michael Pineda, David Phelps, Vidal Nuno, and Adam Warren were all in the running to claim it. In the end Warren and Phelps’ versatility worked against them and Michael Pineda was excellent and eventually won the spot. Phelps and Warren are headed to the bullpen and Nuno may also end up there but odds are that he’ll start the season in Triple-A and will make spot starts in the Major Leagues if necessary. So what exactly have the Yankees’ talented reserves been doing thus Spring?

RHP David Phelps: 6 Games, 20.2 IP, 1-1 W/L, 2.61 ERA, 14 K’s

LHP Vidal Nuno: 3 Games, 7 IP, 0-0 W/L, 3. 86 ERA, 6 K’s

RHP Adam Warren: 4 Games, 9.2 IP, 1-1 W/L, 1.86 ERA, 10 K’s

The numbers may not jump off the page, but they’re still very respectable for guys with limited experience starting. Phelps competed well against Pineda right to the end, but ultimately lost out on the starting role. Warren and Phelps could be huge pieces in the Yankees’ post- Mariano Rivera bullpen. Both hurlers can pitch in both long relief or quick outings making them too versatile to be designated to the rotation. The Yankees might want to use Vidal Nuno as a second lefty reliever to pair with Matt Thornton, but he’ll more than likely be ticketed for Triple-A where the Yankees can stash him in case of an emergency.

What the Yankees lacked last year (among other things) was depth. Now that they’re in a position to really compete in 2014, they’ll need to keep their pitching staff fresh and ready and they now have a lot of options to do just that.

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