Friday, February 19, 2016


With pitchers and catchers having reported on Thursday, the Yankees spring training has officially begun. The bullpen added Aroldis Chapman who joins Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller at the back of bullpen. It's the starting rotation though that has me really intrigued...and worried at the same time!

The rotation has gotten much younger over the past two seasons and includes some hard throwing youngsters like Luis Severino and Nathan Eovaldi. It also includes a proven, but potentially ticking time bomb in Masahiro Tanaka and his right elbow. Rounding out the likely candidates are Micheal Pineda, Ivan Nova and CC Sabathia.

Luis Severino has all of us Yankees fans excited and hopeful that we have found our Jose Fernandez. Obviously Severino is unproven but in his two months in the Bigs last summer, he pitched like a front of the rotation guy. Severino shot through the minor leagues and made his debut right after the trade deadline, helping the injured Yankees staff clinch a Wild Card berth.

While he has proven he can get Major League hitters out, he still has some fine tuning to do. He often threw too many pitches early in the game and struggled to get past the fifth inning. With experience and a little better control, that can be overcome. Severino has the makings of a number one starter and hopefully he comes out guns blazing in April.

Nathan Eovaldi was acquired in a trade I loved, and still do, in December 2014. He can hit 100 MPH on the gun and throws a tight slider to compliment the heat. He has been working on a splitter and gained more confidence in it in 2015 as the season rolled along. He, in my opinion, also has the makeup of a front of the rotation starter but needs to work on command. He misses his spot in the zone too often and has a tendency to walk a few too many. I expect and hope his second year in Pinstripes is his breakout season.

We all know what Masahiro Tanaka can do on the mound and is a front of the rotation starter, and gets paid like one. His partially torn UCL is the concern with him. He made it through 2015 rather unscathed. As the season got longer, he seemed to rear back and fire more and was a better pitcher. He needs to stay healthy for the Yankees to have a chance at a championship run.

Michael Pineda and Ivan Nova are both looking to stay healthy for an entire summer but both have upside. We have all seen what the good Michael Pineda can do when healthy and precise. Ivan Nova is just about two years removed from Tommy John and should be much improved from his middle of the road 2015. 

If both, or either, of these guys can be the number four/five starters, that would go a long way to helping the Yanks succeed in 2016.

Last but not least is the now sober and mentally tougher CC Sabathia. I've always loved CC and his workhorse style. He has battled the injury bug over the past few seasons but seems to be where he needs to be now. He reported early and seemed happy with taking the alcohol issues head on. I commend him for that! 

I hope CC can rebound and give the Yankees the innings they need. I'm rooting for him to earn, probably for the first time in 12-13 years, a spot in the starting rotation.

There are obvious concerns with the Yankees rotation, but also some serious upside. If, and it's a big if, they can stay healthy and pitch like they each have in the past, the Yankees could have a stud group that could lead them to an AL East crown and beyond. On the flip side, two or three injuries to the above mentioned players, could mean the season will be lost.

If you've read some of my work in the past, you'll know I'm a glass half full kind of guy. I feel the rotation could be top 10 or better in the league if all goes well. I'm sticking with that story for now!

Let's hope I'm right!


 --Dan Lucia
BYB Senior Writer
Twitter: @DManLucia

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