Pitchers and catchers reported to George M.
Steinbrenner Field in Tampa, FL, last Saturday to kick off spring training for
the New York Yankees, who look to capture their 28th World Championship
in franchise history.
The big question heading into spring
training this year for the Yankees is who is going to be in their starting rotation.
After last year, in which their rotation and bullpen were plagued with
injuries, including key losses of Phil Hughes, Damaso Marte, and Joba
Chamberlain (remember him?) the Yankees acquired some players to strengthen
their pitching staff in 2012.
The Yankees made a trade with the Seattle
Mariners this off-season to acquire Michael Piñeda in exchange for one of their
best prospects, catcher Jesus Montero along with right handed pitcher Hector
Noesi. Piñeda, the 22-year-old, went 9-10 with a 3.74 ERA for the Mariners as a
rookie last season. The Yankees hope that Piñeda can add some youth to a
pitching staff that includes C.C. Sabathia, Ivan Nova, Phil Hughes, and newly
acquired Hiroki Kuroda.
The same day that the Yankees acquired Piñeda,
they also made a splash in free agency, picking up ex-Dodger right hander,
Hiroki Kuroda. Kuroda, who is a veteran pitcher, plans to give some leadership
and experience to a young back half of the rotation (Phil Hughes-25, Ivan
Nova-25, and Piñeda-22.) Kuroda had a career low 3.07 ERA to go along with a
career high 161 K’s in 202 innings pitched last year. Just hours after the
Yankees acquired Piñeda, Kuroda signed a 1-year, $10 million contract. The
Yankees hope that his consistent arm (lower than 3.74 ERA 4 years in a row) can
back up Sabathia in the rotation.
Just this week, the Yankees dealt right
handed pitcher A.J. Burnett to the Pirates in exchange for 2 minor leaguers,
right-handed reliever Diego Moreno, and outfielder Exicardo Cayones. Both
prospects played in Class A ball last year. In 3 seasons with the Yankees,
Burnett has posted a mediocre 34-35 record with a 4.79 ERA. In 13 seasons with
the Yankees, Blue Jays, and Marlins, Burnett is 121-111 with a 4.10 ERA. The
Pirates agreed to pay $13 million of Burnett’s $31.1 million contract, which
leaves the Yankees to pay the remaining $18 million. Getting rid of Burnett
could be the best deal that the Yankees made this off-season, due to the money
they were wasting on Burnett while he put up numbers that a Double-A player
After Burnett was traded to the Pirates, 6
pitchers were left to compete for the 5 starting slots in the rotation. These
pitchers include Sabathia, Piñeda, Kuroda, Hughes, Nova, and Freddy Garcia, who
was overlooked last year but posted solid numbers while in the rotation.
Manager Joe Girardi has already said that Sabathia will be the opening day
starter, but after that is up for grabs. I predict that the rotation to start
the year for the Yankees will be Sabathia, Piñeda, Kuroda, Hughes, and Nova.
Garcia will transfer to the bullpen, and will become the long reliever for the
days that starters don’t have their best stuff.
Leading the staff for the Yankees is
veteran C.C. Sabathia. Sabathia has been the most consistent starter for the
Yankees the last few years. Last year Sabathia went 19-8 with a 3.00 ERA, 230
K’s, and a 1.23 WHIP. He has been the horse in the rotation since he came into
the league, averaging 237 innings pitched per season. Already with 1 Cy Young
award under his belt, Sabathia placed 4th in Cy Young voting in
2011, 3rd in 2010, and 4th in 2009 since joining the
Yankees in 2009. His consistent effort has helped the Yankees stay atop the AL
East for the years he has been on the team. Heading into this season, Sabathia
has said that his arm feels as good as ever, and that he is ready to help his
team win another World Series.
One of the most underrated players on the
Yankees is 2nd year player Ivan Nova. Nova was called up from
Triple-A Scranton Wilkes-Bares to replace Phil Hughes when he went on the DL
with a dead arm. Nova did more than fill in for Hughes, he went above and
beyond what he was called to do. Nova went 16-4 last year with a 3.70 ERA in
165.1 innings pitched and 98 strikeouts. He gave the bullpen a break on the
nights that he pitched, by averaging 6 innings per start. Nova stepping up and
filling in the part of the rotation that he was called to do helped the Yankees
win the division and make it into the playoffs. He will be a key part to the
rotation this year because he could be the glue to keep them together.
As I said before, the biggest problem
heading into spring training for the Yankees is too much pitching. This problem
can be called a good problem, because you would rather have too much pitching
than not enough, right? But on April 6th, when the Yankees go down
to Tampa to take on the Rays on opening night, the Yankees will have a starting
rotation that, combined with their offense, should help them to stay as one of
the elite teams in the MLB.
About the Author
Written by Andrew Whalen