Tuesday, March 21, 2017


Source: Getty Images
The Yankees' so-called competition for the 4th and 5th rotation spots has been the topic of much discussion this spring. But as Michael Kay pointed out last week on the YES Network, teams are always looking for their 6th, 7th and 8th starters since the average MLB rotation's 8th man sees roughly 5 starts in a season.

And in the case of the Yankees,  who have used the third most  pitchers in the majors over the last three seasons, the need for additional arms who can provide length is always especially urgent.

So it will probably surprise nobody when all of the known competitors for those spots wind up getting penciled into the starting lineup sooner or later, along with some names who have yet to make themselves known.

(April 13, 2016 - Source: Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images North America)    
One name that could find its way onto a starting lineup card down the road this season could be quite a surprise, though, and that's   Johnny Barbato, who was optioned to Triple A camp last week after being lit up for five runs in 2/3 of an inning in his final relief appearance with the big club.

"After coming out of the bullpen in 43 of his 44 appearances for the Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders and New York Yankees last season, the right-hander might see a different role in his future," wrote the Wilkes-Barre Times-Leader's D.J. Eberle on Sunday. " 'I think my spring’s been really good,' Barbato said.  'They’re going to try to put me into the rotation and all of that stuff, so I’m trying to make sure I command all of those pitches to try to get into the fifth or sixth instead of going just one inning.'

Photo: Times Tribune
"Barbato has appeared in five games this spring — between the Yankees’ big-league and Triple-A camps — and while the results have been mixed, the 24-year-old has been pleased with his progress and so has his Triple-A manager Al Pedrique.

“He threw the ball real well, kept the ball down, showed good velocity, threw some good breaking balls for strikes and I think he’s going to be working on the changeup,” Pedrique said after Sunday’s 7-5 loss to the Toronto Blue Jays. “We’re happy with what we’ve seen so far. His velocity is back, the command of the breaking ball is better.'

"While the decision to turn Barbato into a starter isn’t final yet, Pedrique said they’re going to let him get his innings count up and see if he can handle the length more accustom to a starter than a reliever.

“If everything works out, I’m assuming that he’s going to be in the rotation to start the season and go from there,” Pedrique said. “I think he’s such a strong guy. For me, if he can manage the changeup and the breaking ball with the velocity that he has, I don’t see why he cannot be a solid starter.”

 --Barry Millman
BYB Writer
Twitter: @nyyankeefanfore


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