The past week has been a big one for the Yankees’ pitchers and catchers. A backup catcher was crowned, a bullpen was bolstered, and the rotation battle to end all rotation battles was won. As the last week of spring training heated up and cooled down, the Yankees made big decisions as they neared closer and closer to their final roster with Opening Day just around the corner. So here we go. The week that was for the Yankees’ pitchers and catchers.
Early in the week manager Joe Girardi announced that Michael Pineda would be the Yankees’ 5th starter after a spring-long battle between he, David Phelps, Vidal Nuno, and Adam Warren. Pineda has pitched great all spring, returning to the mound after 2 years of injuries and weight troubles. Since being traded from the Mariners for Jesus Montero before the 2012 season, Pineda has yet to throw a pitch in a Yankee uniform. Now he’s finally healthy and is scheduled to make his first start in 2 years on April 5th against the Toronto Blue Jays at Rogers Centre. David Phelps, Adam Warren, and Vidal Nuno will pitch out of the bullpen after losing out to Pineda. The Yankees also announced that Dellin Betances will join the bullpen with them. After struggling as a starter in the minor leagues, Betances found great success after being moved to the bullpen. He pitched to a 0.73 ERA in 12.1 innings of work this spring.
After signing free agent catcher Brian McCann this past off-season, the Yankees solidified the catcher position. So going into spring training, the team made it known that fellow catchers Francisco Cervelli, Austin Romine and John Ryan Murphy would compete for the role of backup catcher. Top prospect Gary Sanchez would also be in camp but was not expected to be in the mix. The competition went on in the midst of trade rumors with no catcher being dealt for another piece. As of this week, Francisco Cervelli has secured the spot after Romine and Murphy were sent down. Cervelli certainly earned it after batting .405 with 4 home runs and 8 RBI. Recent reports have said that the Texas Rangers inquired on Cervelli after the team lost catcher Giovanni Soto, but the Yankees obviously decided to keep him. Romine and Murphy could still be dealt during the season with Sanchez more than likely off limits.
Stand Out Performances:
C.C. Sabathia has been lights out over his last three spring starts, allowing no runs and striking out 12 while walking just one batter and 7 hits in 16 innings. Sabathia has been named the Yankees’ Opening Day starter in Houston despite an awful 2013 campaign. He has added the cutter to his arsenal of pitches and his control has been great. He’s been very effective even though his fastball velocity topped out at 91 MPH. He’s looking to silence critics and return to some form of dominance in 2014.
Masahiro Tanaka was spectacular on Friday against the Marlins. He pitched 6 scoreless innings of relief allowing only 3 hits and struck out 10 without allowing a walk. Tanaka will finish the spring with a 2.14 ERA over 21 total innings in 5 appearances. According to Joe Girardi, he’ll make his debut on April 4th against the Blue Jays and will pitch out of the 4th spot in the rotation. He’ll make his start after Ivan Nova in the finale of the Houston series and will be followed by Michael Pineda.
The last week before the regular season is coming to a close. The Yankees have set their final roster and their top spring training battles have all concluded. The bullpen and starting rotation is locked up and the catchers are all set. Opening day is this coming Tuesday in Houston against the Astros. It’s time for baseball and the Bronx Bombers are ready and waiting to compete in 2014.