Thursday, March 31, 2016


At the trade deadline in 2015 and this past off season, Yankees GM Brian Cashman decided to stay put when it comes to the Yankees starting pitching candidates. He improved from within by promoting Luis Severino while neglecting to sign any free agents or make a splash in the free agent market. I am not against this strategy as the brass has decided to be more frugal as of late, but the Yankees now have what they have. Only time will tell how that turns out.

Masahiro Tanaka, Luis Severino, Nathan Eovaldi and Michael Pineda are locks for the rotation with just over a week to go before Opening Day. CC Sabathia and Ivan Nova are battling for the last spot and with their most recent performances, it appears CC has the upper hand.

Tanaka has struggled as of late, although he pitched rather well on Tuesday, but that it not terribly concerning since the starts during the spring really don’t mean a whole lot. The guy can pitch, we know this. He is slotted as the Yankees ace, without really being named the ace. As long as he stays healthy, which is a big if, he should be able to keep the Yankees in games more often than not.

Luis Severino has pitched well this spring for the most past, particularly as of late. He got roughed up early in the spring but has compiled a 3.86 ERA over five games while striking out 19 over 16.1 innings. He has just 11 career starts, but has the stuff to be a dominant force and the Yankees need a lot out of the young man this season if they want to make a run.

Nathan Eovaldi has been working on his splitter for over a year now and feels this could be the year it becomes a real weapon in his repertoire. He was blessed with great run support last season, 7.1 runs per start, which helped him to a 14-3 record with a respectable 4.20 ERA. If the Yankees are be compete for a title, Eovaldi will have to be very solid once again… and remain healthy.

Yankees brass and fans alike are waiting for Michael Pineda to break out. He has shown signs of brilliance and times of ‘what the hell is that’? He’s allowed just one run over nine innings in his three spring appearances through this past Sunday and will need to remain healthy and pitch up to his potential.

CC Sabathia struggled mightily as the spring got going but has pitched much better as of late. The opposite has happened for Ivan Nova, however. Nova got off to a good start but not some much his last few outings. It appears that Sabathia has the upper hand for the fifth starter role and as Manager Joe Girardi has said, the clubhouse, which unanimously had Sabathia’s back last October as he fought his alcohol battle, will likely be a factor as to who wins the job.

“This is a good man that comes to work every day and is well respected and always competes and is a fierce competitor and has meant a lot to this organization.” Girardi was quoted as saying. If Sabathia were demoted to a bullpen role, it could have adverse effects behind the scenes.
While there is a ton of potential in the rotation, there are also question marks in both the health department and the performance department. The rotation could be a reason the Yankees are successful or could be a reason they struggle to compete.

If the starters can turn the game over to the bullpen, which is strong, the Yankees will have a good shot to win ballgames. Dellin Betances, Chasen Shreve, Brandon Pinder (who was optioned to minor league camp on Wednesday) and Johnny Barbato have all had very good springs, while arguably their top two relievers in Aroldis Chapman and Andrew Miller haven’t been their best but are obviously expected to be huge parts of the team. Now with Miller possibly out for a bit (Read ANOTHER BIG BLOW TO THE YANKEES STAFF), we just have to keep an eye on everything very closely.

Behind the probable starting five, the Yankees have Ivan Nova, Luis Cessa and Bryan Mitchell, amongst others. Cessa and Mitchell have both had good springs, especially Mitchell, who was informed on Tuesday he will be on the Opening Day roster. He could fill a relief role similar to Adam Warren a couple years back and could be a strong candidate to get a start when the need arises.

The rotation has question marks and talent at the same time and the Yankees will definitely have to win games with the offense at times. That pretty much goes for all teams though. I have faith in the club and the arms, as long as they stay healthy. I sure am not going into the season expecting the Yankees to stink. There is no fun in that. It’s a ride we have to enjoy.

We are close to Opening Day and I am excited! It’s almost time for Yankees baseball!

I’d also like to give a quick shout out to my son Evan as he turned seven on Easter Sunday. Happy Birthday Bud!

 --Dan Lucia
BYB Senior Writer
Twitter: @DManLucia


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