The Yankees rotation is in shambles right now. Between Ivan Nova and Michael Pineda‘s injuries, coupled with Hiroki Kuroda and C.C. Sabathia‘s inability to be effective, the Yankees are not in a good place on the mound. Masahiro Tanaka has been a god send thus far; without him, the Yankees’ staff would be atrocious.
Filling in for the two injured pitchers are left-hander Vidal Nuno and right-hander David Phelps. Nuno has had three outings; one was good and the other two not so much. Phelps on the other hand is made his first start of the season last night, moving from the bullpen to the starting rotation. While Phelps hasn’t been as sharp as we expected out of the bullpen (11.2 innings, 10 hits, three home runs, 7 walks to 16 strike outs), he is still sporting a respectable 3.18 ERA and 1.24 WHIP. He pitched well enough to win in LA last night, and the offense failed him. I would still expect the Yankees to give him more than one start to prove himself in the rotation. What about if Nuno stinks again? Where do the Yankees go from there?
Enter Alfredo Aceves. The long time reliever is back for his second stint with the Yankees, recently being called up when the Yankees designated Chris Leroux for assignment. His first game back in pinstripes was Sunday’s loss to Tampa Bay, relieving Sabathia after his nightmare of an outing. To much of everyone’s surprise, Aceves was masterful; he pitched 5.1 innings, giving up only three hits while striking out five. That performance should catch the eye of Joe Girardi as the Yankees continue to search internally for solutions to their bullpen problems. As Caitlin Rogers at Pinstripe Alley suggests, if Nuno continues to struggle, it would not be shocking to see Aceves jump into his spot in the rotation. Either way, Aceves is most likely not the long term solution at this position and neither is Nuno. It would be wise of the Yankees to start looking into available starting pitchers as more and more question marks arise in their rotation. Maybe Brian Cashman should pick up the phone and call Theo Epstein to check in on the availability of Jeff Samardzija. Maybe the Yanks look internally one more time and give Manny Banuelos a crack at the fifth starter spot. He’s started off great this year in the minors (2.89 era combined over seven starts between Tampa and Trenton), so I’d keep an eye on him throughout the summer.
Alfredo Aceves may be a plug in one of the Yankees many rotation holes. At what point does he get his shot?