There is no question that the four best starting arms the Yankees have are C.C. Sabathia, Hiroki Kuroda, Masahiro Tanaka and Michael Pineda. If you were faced with the decision of having any of them on the mound for one critical game, you would likely take any of them over David Phelps or Vidal Nuno, right?
But the danger comes, over course, in wearing them out. Girardi seemed aware of this when he observed that he wouldn’t expect to get 200 innings or thirty starts from Michael Pineda in the same report.
But for the short term, a four-man rotation could work. Obviously, it’s early in the season, so none of them are close to being over-worked yet.
Kuroda’s best results last season came in the first half. Before the All-Star game he had an ERA of 2.65. After it, he was at 4.25. Sabathia was a full two runs per game better in the first half of the season. And Tanaka was accustomed to high pitch counts while pitching in Japan.
Plus, the Yankees have seven off days between now and the end of June, which provides additional rest. Combine this with the fact that neither Phelps nor Nuno has been stretched out, and the four-man rotation has merit.
Girardi could elect to limit their innings to let’s say six per start, to keep them from wearing themselves out. With Adam Warren, Shawn Kelley, Matt Thornton, Preston Claiborne and David Robertson available in addition to Phelps and Nuno, there are plenty of arms to cover the final three innings.
That would give the Yankees time to stretch out Phelps and Nuno. At the All-Star game, Girardi and Brian Cashman could evaluate and make a decision on trading for another starter. It’s a viable short-term option, and it’s consistent with Girardi’s philosophy of considering the staff as a unit.
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