Can the New York Yankees Rotation Be the Team’s Strength?
When you think of the 2016 New York Yankees and the strengths of the team, starting pitching finds itself near the bottom of the list.
Although many experts point to the new “Super-Pen” and the youth movement as the best parts of this Yankee team, Brian Cashman thinks that his rotation has the potential of being within the Top 10 in baseball.
“They have a chance to pitch to their ceilings as long as they’re all healthy. This rotation can match up with anyone’s rotation in my mind and be considered in Major League Baseball’s top 10, easily” -Brian Cashman
There is one exception though: they have to avoid the disabled list. In 2015 every Yankee starter had a DL stint and the rotation as a whole ranked 19th in ERA, 20th in batting average, and 21st in innings pitched (according to ESPN).
No Yankees’ starter reached enough innings to qualify for the ERA title.
Cashman’s list of questions include Masahiro Tanaka‘s elbow, Nathan Evoldi’s elbow inflammation, the workload on Luis Severino, whether Michael Pineda can stay on the mound for a full season and how well CC Sabathia can adjust to life after alcohol rehab.
Although the rotation got hit hard, gave up a ton of runs, and left a huge burden on the bullpen, Yankee starters did post a 3.12 SO/BB rate in 2015, good for seventh best in the MLB. If starters can become more durable and stay on the field, and the historic bullpen lives up to the hype, there’s no doubt this rotation could be in the Top-10.
Call to the Pen
But what are the odds that this rotation holds up? Or maybe the better question is: if the rotation flops again, will they be able to make the playoffs again? Since 1995, only the 2015 Yankees reached the postseason without at least one starter qualifying for the ERA title. The chance that it happens again is slim to none.
There is plenty of upside for the 2016 New York Yankees’ rotation, but it’s more likely than not that injuries and ineffectiveness of the rotation will be the major hurdle for this team.
Yes, the Yankees just might have the best closing trio ever in Aroldis Chapman, Andrew Miller and Dellin Betances, but the rotation has to be good and durable in order to get the ball to them and not overuse them. Either that, or a bunch of sub-par relievers like Nick Goody and Jacob Lindgren and Nick Rumbelow need to perform at a high level in order to bridge the gap, which is a tall-task.
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So yes, the rotation could be a top-10 rotation IF they are healthy, we all know that. But not one pitcher was able to combine durability and excellence in 2015, and with the uncertain health of the rotation heading into 2016, it’s hard to envision that changing.