Evaluating the New York Yankees Current 2017 Rotation Options

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Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Wendell Cruz-USA TODAY Sports /

The New York Yankees will enter 2017 with three established major league starters who, barring injury, are nearly certain to begin next year as members of the teams starting rotation.

Ace Masahiro Tanaka can opt-out following the 2017 season, but until then, he’s far and away the best pitcher on the team. The partial UCL tear in his right elbow will always be in the back of everyone’s minds, but it’s hard to overstate how important Tanaka’s consistency has been for the team’s pitching staff this year.

With a 3.04 ERA and 3.23 FIP through his first 29 starts, the 27-year-old is on the short list for the American League Cy Young award in the season’s final month. Aside from the ever-present injury concern, Tanaka is the one true lock for the Yankees 2017 rotation.

The two other returning veterans come with some serious questions about their performance. Michael Pineda is one of baseball’s most prolific strikeout artists, doesn’t give up many free passes, and keeps the ball in the yard, but is a master of finding new and increasingly frustrating ways to blow games.

Big Mike is entering the final year of his contract next year at age 28. At this point the Yankees can’t really count on him for more than being a decent back-of-the-rotation type, although he continues to trick fans and presumably the team into believing he might be more.

The final returning vet will be CC Sabathia assuming his 2017 option vests. The 36-year-old has been one of the league’s very worst starters over the past four years, and despite a brief turnaround earlier in the season, there is very little reason to expect that to change in 2017.

New York could do worse than having Sabathia and Pineda as their number four and five starters, but at the moment they are being counted on to fill the number two and three slots, which isn’t wise for an aspiring contender.

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