The New York Yankees are coming off a disappointing 2016 season that saw them finish fourth in the American League East division with an 84-78 record. The club finished nine games back of their division rivals the Boston Red Sox, who took the division, as well as five games back of a Wild Card slot.
The team has done a ton to revamp their starting lineup going into this season, with the additions of Matt Holliday and Chris Carter, who should both add some serious power to the order. But it will be the pitching staff that will make or break the season for the Bronx Bombers.
The team has a ton of questions surrounding their rotation. So let’s take a closer look!
Masahiro Tanaka – Tanaka is hands down the Yankees ace and he will be entering his contract year. The only question that ever seems to surround Tanaka is his health, as he ended last season with a forearm issue, which was just the latest injury he has had during his three years in pinstripes. But heading into Spring Training, it appears Tanaka is all set to go, according to pitching coach Larry Rothschild. Tanaka will be sitting out this year’s World Baseball Classic, which is something Yankees’ fans should be happy to hear. The clubs ace seems totally focused on doing whatever he can to help his team win in 2017.
The Safe Bets
Michael Pineda – There is no player on the roster who frustrates Yankees’ fans more than Michael Pineda. Pineda has such a high ceiling thanks to his talent, but he just never turns it into great results. Yes he has been piling up the strikeouts, 207 in less than 180 innings pitched in 2016, but that’s about it. He sported a 4.82 ERA and 1.35 WHIP on his way to a 6-12 record a season ago. The main reason for those numbers are the fact that batters make solid contact off of his pitches. He now enters his prime age wise (he will be 28 this season), so hopefully he can start to turn things around a bit.
CC Sabathia – Sabathia had a minor knee procedure over the Winter to clean some things up, but he is expected to be a full-go for Spring Training. Sabathia’s time in pinstripes have not gone as well as the team’s fans would have liked, but as he enters this season he looks to be a solid veteran presence who can eat some innings. He will not post ace like numbers, but he simply is not being counted on for those anymore. If he can replicate his 3.91 ERA and get close to 200 innings, the Yanks will sign for it.
The Final Contenders
Luis Severino – Severino entered last season with such high hopes. But then the season started. To say 2016 was a bad year for the promising right-hander is an understatement. In total, he was given 71 innings in which he put up a 5.83 ERA, 1.45 WHIP, won three games and struck out 66. Despite the poor campaign, he is still a youngster, turning 23 later this month and he probably has the best skills of these final contenders. He is likely to be a favorite for the four slot because of that talent but he needs to avoid a poor Spring.
Adam Warren – Warren is a bit of a veteran amongst this group, having pitched in five MLB seasons and entering his age 29 season. Warren is the type of guy who can be used for spots starts, long relief, short relief or straight up as a starter. This flexibility actually may hurt him in terms of this competition, however, as he has shown he can take on those other roles. He is nothing special, but he is serviceable. He was a part of the Yankees before being traded to the Cubs in the Starlin Castro trade, only to be traded back during the Aroldis Chapman deal. He will need a dominant Spring to great the rotation most likely.
Bryan Mitchell – Mitchell is a very intriguing option going into the 2017 season. He will be turning 26 during the season and we were given a small glimpse late in 2017. He was given five starts in which he totaled 25 innings pitched for the Bronx Bombers, posting a solid 3.24 ERA. Despite the solid ERA, there were signs that he simply is not ready for the show. For starters, he walked 12 men, which is not a good number for 25 innings. On top of that, he only struck out 11 men, meaning he actually allowed more walks than strikeouts. Mitchell has some promise, but more minor league seasoning is likely needed.
Luis Cessa – Cessa is the guy I liked the most from what I saw a season ago. In total, he pitched in 17 games, nine of which were starts. He compiled an ok 4.35 ERA, but did hold a solid 1.11 WHIP. He is not much of a strikeout guy, only sitting down 46 men, but his minor league resume says he can certainly improve a little in that area. His biggest issue, and the prime reason for the bloated ERA, is the fact that he couldn’t keep the ball in the park. In his short stint, he allowed 16 long balls. If he shows that tendency during Spring Training, he will not be cracking the rotation. But I am holding out hope for him.
Chad Green – Green will be turning 26 in a few months and he is also recovering from an elbow issue that ended his 2016 season. His UCL was not damaged to where he needed Tommy John Surgery and Green elected to rehab his elbow without undergoing any form of surgery. I am always skeptical of when someone does not have surgery to repair an injury like the one Green had. He is certainly a talented prospect, but I still see him as having an uphill battle to earn a slot in the rotation.
So when all is said and done, the Yankees’ rotation will likely end up looking like this:
- Masahiro Tanaka
- Michael Pineda
- CC Sabathia
- Luis Severino
- Luis Cessa
How do you see the New York Yankees’ starting rotation shaking out for the upcoming 2017 MLB season? Tell us in the comments!
For more on the Yankees, be sure to check out their projected starting lineup as well, which you can find here.