Aug 21, 2014; Bronx, NY, USA; New York Yankees catcher Francisco Cervelli (29) and New York Yankees starting pitcher Brandon McCarthy (38) celebrate after a game against the Houston Astros at Yankee Stadium. The Yankees defeated the Astros 3-0, and McCarthy pitched a complete game four hit shut out. Mandatory Credit: Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Is A Six-Man Rotation An Option For Yankees in 2015

The Yankees have a plausible option for their starting rotation in 2015. That option is using a six man rotation for the entire season in an effort to give pitchers more rest and recuperation time in between starts. Now, contrary to popular belief, there is no rule in baseball regarding the number of pitchers that can be used in the starting rotation. The problem is that most teams do not have six pitchers capable of starting at the Major League level (Some teams are lucky to have 3).

The Yankees don’t have this problem. In fact this season they’ve discovered that they possess a lot of pitching depth and with even more options available in Free Agency they are one of the few teams in baseball that could use an effective six man rotation for a full season. Don’t believe me?

Yankees Starting Pitching Options Under Contract for 2015 (With 2014 Numbers):

Yankees' top pitching prospect Luis Severino-Mandatory Credit: MiLB.com

Yankees’ top pitching prospect Luis Severino-Mandatory Credit: MiLB.com

  • Masahiro Tanaka RHP – 12-4  2.51 ERA  135 K’s
  • Michael Pineda RHP- 2-2  2.05 ERA  22 K’s
  • Ivan Nova RHP- 2-2  8.27 ERA  12 K’s
  • Shane Greene RHP- 3-1  3.17 ERA  46 K’s
  • C.C. Sabathia LHP- 3-4  5.28 ERA  48 K’s
  • Manny Banuelos LHP- 2-3  3.88 ERA  65 K’s (Combined between Tampa, Trenton and Scranton/Wilkes-Barre)
  • Luis Severino RHP- 6-4  2.46 ERA  121 K’s (Combined between Charleston, Tampa and Trenton)

Count ‘em. That’s seven viable starters already under the contract for the 2015 season and beyond. They could certainly create an awesome six man rotation just from this crop of talent.

But unfortunately there are a few bumps in this group. For the Opening Day rotation you could eliminate Ivan Nova who underwent Tommy John Surgery and won’t return until after the season is already underway. C.C. Sabathia’s best days are long behind him and his status for the start of the season is unknown. Team ace Masahiro Tanaka is on the comeback trail from a partially torn UCL and is making significant progress. Michael Pineda has returned from his previous injury woes and has been dominant of the mound.

Rookie Shane Greene has dazzled since joining the rotation and has made a big impression on the organization. Banuelos could possibly see time in 2014 as a bullpen option is September and has looked good in recent starts while working to regain his top prospect ability after undergoing Tommy John and struggling with inconsistency. Then there’s Luis Severino, the 20-year old prospect whose lights out pitching has brought up memories of Pedro Martinez and catapulted him to the number one ranking in the Yankees farm system. The Yankees already have a number of solid options but it could get even better with a nice crop of free agent starters available via Free Agency.

Aug 7, 2014; Oakland, CA, USA; Oakland Athletics starting pitcher Jon Lester (31) throws to the Minnesota Twins in the first ninth of their game at O.co Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Lance Iversen-USA TODAY Sports

Starting Pitchers Available on the Upcoming Free Agent Market (With 2014 Numbers):

  • Jon Lester LHP- 13-8  2.58 ERA  174 K’s (Combined between the Red Sox and Athletics)
  • Max Scherzer RHP- 14-4  3.07 ERA  205 K’s
  • James Shields RHP- 12-6  3.28 ERA  143 K’s
  • Brandon McCarthy RHP- 8-12  4.01  144 K’s (Combined between the Diamondbacks and Yankees)
  • Justin Masterson RHP- 6-7  5.64 ERA  107 K’s (Combined between the Indians and Cardinals)
  • Jake Peavy RHP- 3-12  4.48 ERA  123 K’s (Combined between the Red Sox and Giants)
  • Ervin Santana RHP- 13-6  3.71 ERA  141 K’s

A recent report by Jon Heyman has pegged the Yankees as favorites to land former Red Sox ace and current Oakland Athletics’ starter Jon Lester and that would be huge for the Yankees in 2015 and after.

If that does come to fruition he’d likely be the number two starter behind Masahiro Tanaka (If he continues to make progress in his rehab). If Lester decides to go elsewhere they’d likely chase 2013 American League Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer or former Tampa Bay Ray James Shields.

A betting man would put very good money on the Yankees acquiring one of these starters in this coming off season. Since joining the Yankees Brandon McCarthy is 5-2 with a 1.90 ERA in 8 starts and resigning him is a real possibility for the Yankees. Other options  like Masterson, Peavy and Santana would be more emergency signings in case the Yankees are in real need of a starter.

Like I said before, the Yankees are one of the few teams that could actually make a six man rotation work. Come Opening Day the Yankees could have a starting core of Masahiro Tanaka, Jon Lester (Or Scherzer or Shields, etc.), Michael Pineda, Brandon McCarthy, Luis Severino and Shane Greene. C.C. Sabathia and Manny Banuelos among others could factor into the the decision and Ivan Nova’s return would likely push Greene to the bullpen or back to the minors.

Pitching coach Larry Rothschild spoke about the possibility of an expanded rotation and described it as a way of avoiding injury and giving the pitchers more time to rest from the stress and strain that pitching can put on the body.

In Japan they work with a six man rotation and it causes Nippon Professional Baseball to be a league dominated by great pitching. Were the  team to acquire a pitcher or two in the off season (Which most people believe they will do) they could find that a six man rotation will be the best way to utilize their suddenly deep starting pitching.

However this is a decision they’ll have to make after Free Agency has concluded and Spring Training begins so that they can have a better assessment of their options in such a scenario. This is very interesting concept that the team is debating and if they do decide to use a six man rotation it’ll have an effect on the Yankees entire 2015 season and perhaps the future of baseball going forward.

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