The New York Yankees entered the 2015 season with a lot of question marks. Most of those questions surrounded the pitching staff.
Q: Would Masahiro Tanaka’s elbow hold up?
A: Maybe. Tanaka is on the 15-day DL with forearm tightness and is making progress toward returning soon.
Q: Will CC Sabathia return to form?
A: Kind of. The former staff ace is RECORD here and has looked both good and bad so far in NUMBER starts. He has a ERA and would likely have a better record if it wasn’t for some bad luck concerning run support from the offense.
Q: Will pitching coach Larry Rothschild work his magic on Nathan Eovaldi?
A: So far, yes. Eovaldi is 3-1 with a4.14 ERA and has looked adequate so far in this short 2015 season.
Q: How will the Yankee’s staff fare against the AL East?
A: Pretty darn good. Joel Sherman answers this in this weekend’s NY Post. The Yankee’s are doing just fine against the AL East, and Sherman claims that the Yankees not only have the best starting rotation. But that they are in the best position going into the rest of the season.
As the first-place Yankees wrapped up a four-game series against the second place Tampa Rays and head into a weekend series with the 2014 AL champion Kansas City Royals they are in first place in the AL East and pitching has been one of the reasons why.
Apr 19, 2015; St. Petersburg, FL, USA; New York Yankees starting pitcher Michael Pineda (35) high fives teammates as he is taken out of the game during the sixth inning against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
For most fans, if we were told that Tanaka would be placed on the DL for a month we would have thought the team’s chances would be closer to “doomed” than to an AL leading 21-14 record. But MLB seasons are long, and injuries are common. So, the major questions that remain are, “Can the Yankees continue winning?” and “Do they need to add another arm in order to do so?”
The Yankees’ current starting rotation of Michael Pineda (5-0 2.72 ERA), Sabathia (1-5 5.20 ERA), Eovaldi, Adam Warren (2-2 4.50 ERA), and Chase Whitley (1-1 3.06 ERA) has been adequate even without Tanaka. Within a month or so that rotation should look even better with the impending return of Chris Capuano, Tanaka, and Ivan Nova, allowing Warren and Whitley (maybe depending on injury) to return to an already stellar bullpen.
While it may not seem as if the Yankees need to make a trade now, if they were to do so the three major trade targets, as mentioned by Sherman, are Philadelphia Phillie lefty Cole Hamels (3-3 with a 3.53 ERA), Cincinnati Red righty Johnny Cueto (3-3 with a 2.98 ERA), and Oakland Athletic pitcher Scott Kazmir (2-1 with a 2.78 ERA). Both Cueto and Kazmir would be considered “rentals” as they are free agents after the 2015 season, and Hamels has a not overly terrible, at least by today’s standards, contract of 23.5MM per year through 2018.
In looking at the rest of the AL East it may seem more likely that another team may need to trade for one of those three than the Yankees. The Toronto Blue Jays chose to improve their offense in the off-season, but so far it has not paid off and they may be looking to deal for a pitcher soon. The Boston Red Sox have already fired their pitching coach this season and their current rotation sports a hefty 4.90 ERA. Similar to the Blue Jays, they invested heavily in offense this off-season, signing third baseman Pablo Sandoval and (now) left fielder Hanley Ramirez to large contracts. The Baltimore Orioles are not faring much better and are hoping some underperforming starters can bounce back. Really, only the Rays and Yankees pitching staffs seem to be holding their own in the AL East.
Right now, it doesn’t look as if the Yankees have the need to make a trade just yet. But, if the Yankees were to trade for another pitcher who would you want them to trade for? And if other teams in the AL East were to make a trade, which of those three pitchers would you hope stayed out of the AL East? Let us know in the comments below.
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