The New York Yankees rotation went from being their biggest strength, to becoming the question mark of the team in a span of two weeks.
Early on, it seemed the Yankees would have one of the best rotations in baseball. They were getting quality starts almost every day. They had young, up-and-coming arms mixed in with savvy veterans who know how to battle.
That has all changed recently. C.C. Sabathia and Hiroki Kuroda have put together two lousy starts. Ivan Nova is done for the season after having Tommy John surgery Tuesday. Michael Pineda will be out 3-4 weeks with a shoulder injury. Pineda is also serving a 10-game suspension for using pine tar.
So now the Yankees are left with a rotation of Masahiro Tanaka, Sabathia, Kuroda, David Phelps and Vidal Nuno. A group that looked so promising early on, and was paramount to the team’s success, is now full of question marks beyond Tanaka, who has pitched like an ace so far. With Nova out for the season, the Yankees are already missing a middle of the rotation starter. They have to hope Pineda doesn’t miss more than a month, and is effective upon his return. Beyond that, Brian Cashman is going to have to get creative.
This early in the season, the trade market is scarce. Teams will be reluctant to trade a quality arm, until they see how the season is shaping up. As far as help from the farm, Bruce Billings, Brian Gordon and Al Aceves have all pitched fairly well at Triple-A and could be called up. None of them are viewed as a difference maker in the rotation. The staff in Double-A is just as uninspiring.
We have seen Cashman catch lightning in a bottle before, and if the Pineda injury is more significant than originally believed, he’ll have to do it again, for the sake of the pitching staff.