It was just a few weeks ago that questions were swirling around the New York Yankees as the season approached. Perhaps the biggest one – the starting rotation – seems to now be the backbone of the team so far.
It seemed every starter in the rotation was somewhat of a question mark.
Could C.C. Sabathia reinvent himself as a pitcher with diminished velocity? How will Hiroki Kuroda pitch at 39-years-old? Would 2014 be the season Ivan Nova puts it all together? What can we expect from Japanese phenom Masahiro Tanaka? Will Michael Pineda ever bounce back from his injuries and return to his 2011 form?
Sabathia has been lousy in all three of his starts. He has pitched to a 6.63 ERA and allowed no less than four runs in each start. Beyond Sabathia, the rotation has been solid. Kuroda has gone six-plus innings in each start, and although he wasn’t extremely sharp in his last start against Boston, he hung around long enough to earn a win and move to 2-1. Ivan Nova’s ERA is inflated due to him allowing seven runs in his second start versus the Orioles. Besides that game, he is 2-0 and has allowed four runs in thirteen innings pitched. The fourth and fifth starters have looked more like the one and two. Masahiro Tanaka has looked like the front-end starter the Yankees are paying him to be. In three starts, he has allowed five earned runs and struck out 28 batters in 22 innings. Michael Pineda has dazzled in his three outings, allowing just one run in two of his three starts. He has struck out 15 in 18 innings and has baffled hitters with his velocity and breaking pitches.
The Yankees have concerns all over the infield in the form of injury and age, as well as questions in the bullpen. It seems the way this team is constructed today, that they will go as far as the rotation can take them. That might have been a scary thought a few weeks ago, but now it seems like a more comforting idea.