The LoHud Yankees Blog

A New York Yankees blog by Chad Jennings and the staff of The Journal News

Best case, worst case: Rotation

Posted by: Chad Jennings - Posted in Misc on Feb 04, 2013 Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

At this time last year, the Yankees seemed to have more starting pitching than they needed. And that was before Andy Pettitte came out of retirement. But A.J. Burnett was traded. And Michael Pineda was hurt. And Freddy Garcia had that horrible month of April. And Dellin Betances had horrible command. And Manny Banuelos had a bad elbow. And Pettitte came back only to be hit by a comebacker. And Ivan Nova slipped in the second half. Is there more dependability in this year’s group of starters?

Best-case scenario
Back to their old selves
CC Sabathia turns 33 in July, and he’s finished top five in Cy Young voting three of the past four years. Another elite season isn’t out of the question. If Pettitte and Hiroki Kuroda can repeat last year’s results — a year older, but still plenty effective, and without the fluke injury this time — the Yankees will have a strong top three that could compete with any rotation out there. Add Phil Hughes pitching like he did during last year’s second half, and Nova pitching like he did in the first half, and that’s a strong 1 through 5.

But this year’s best-case scenario really centers on Pineda. He’s the one who could give the Yankees a short-term boost and a long-term fixture. He’s still in the early stages of a throwing program, just now throwing off a half mound, so it’s hard to know how well his shoulder is responding. But if he can become a legitimate big league option by the All-Star break and keep building strength through the season, the Yankees just might have the pitcher they expected when they traded Jesus Montero. Could Sabathia, Pineda, Hughes, Nova and David Phelps be a good enough rotation for 2014? What if Manny Banuelos joins that group mid-season?

With some improved control from Betances, the Yankees could regain the upper-level pitching prospect that they’ve seemed to lack this winter (wouldn’t hurt to have Adam Warren and Brett Marshall thrive in Triple-A, or to have Nik Turley do the same in Double-A). But the real minor league pitching prize comes from the risk-reward guys like Bryan Mitchell, Jose Ramirez, Jose Campos, Rafael DePaula and Ty Hensley. If their results begin to matchup with their raw stuff, the Yankees could have some extremely high-end pitching prospects to look forward to.

Worse-case scenario
Help is not on the way
Could go over the top and write about the possibility that Sabathia’s body will finally break down, but a more logical concern centers on soon-to-be-41-year-old Pettitte and turns-38-on-Sunday Kuroda. Health is one concern for an aging starter. Performance is another. It’s fair to wonder just how much longer those two can be viable No. 2 and 3 starters. And if they’re not up to the task this year, what if Hughes can’t find consistency, and Nova can’t rebound and Phelps can’t repeat last year’s success? Do the Yankees have the pieces to plug the potential holes?

Pineda could be a mid-season boost, or he could be a lost cause. Shoulder injuries can ruin careers, and that’s certainly Pineda’s worst-case scenario. If he can’t get his fastball back, can he even be a back-of-the-rotation option? Certainly Betances will be out of the picture if he can’t find the strike zone with some consistency. Warren and Marshall are steady options, but they’ll have to really open some eyes to be considered more than back-of-the-rotation starters. Could that happen? Sure. But it’s far from a lock.

Most of the Yankees other pitching prospects come with significant risk. Banuelos is coming back from Tommy John surgery, so we won’t see him this year, but there’s also reason to be concerned about Campos’ elbow. Is he also heading for Tommy John? Can DePaula have success in the States? Will Ramirez and Turley see upper-level success? Will Hensley and Mitchell show lower-level results that match their high-end raw talent? There are very few sure things in the Yankees minor league pitching, and that means an absolute worst-case scenario would leave the system incredibly bare when it comes to dependable arms.

Associated Press photos



13 Responses to “Best case, worst case: Rotation”

  1. randy l. February 4th, 2013 at 4:45 pm

    with an average amount of down time to injuries, the yankees figure to have pretty good pitching.

    it might even allow them to sneak into the playoffs.

  2. Rich in NJ February 4th, 2013 at 4:54 pm

    mick February 4th, 2013 at 4:45 pm
    what is with the hanging on to Joba as a starter?
    he was frustrating and ineffective.
    It’s called development.


    .266 .351 .407 .759
    12-7 4.18 ERA
    SO/9 8.4
    SO/BB 2.04


    .260 .319 .437 .756
    46-34 4.68 ERA
    SO/9 7.2
    SO/BB 2.50

    So if one is frustrating and ineffective, what’s the other?

  3. mick February 4th, 2013 at 4:58 pm

    A funny parody of Watergate:

  4. Giuseppe Franco February 4th, 2013 at 5:04 pm

    Excellent Pinch Hitter read this morning and my personal favorite of all the Pinch Hitters to this point because it most resembles my own emotions about this franchise. Kind of creepy, really.

    Like John, Mattingly was my hero during my adolescent years, and although I never had the opportunity to actually meet him in person, I too would have probably trembled and shed a tear or two if I had.

    John also echoes my own sentiments on how the vast majority of Yankee fans are so demanding and have taken this organization and their long and sustained run of October Baseball since 1995 for granted.

    This kind of success has been pretty damn special if you ask me and rare in any sport – professional or collegiate. Hell, even high school for that matter. And I’ve never lost sight of the fact that it’s going to end sooner or later.

    I just hope that we fans won’t have to suffer through yet another long playoff drought that plagued the organization during my generation in the 80s and early 90s and the previous generation the late 60s and early 70s.

    Now that does not mean that I’m perfectly content with the direction of the team as of this writing with so many unanswered questions regarding the future and its self imposed “salary cap” concerns.

    But its often difficult for me to relate to the most demanding of fans on this board because I understand all too well how much worse things can really get.

    Getting swept in the ALCS is certainly disappointing but a decade long run of empty seats, non-contention, and bottom feeding is a completely different animal.

  5. Oscar Madison February 4th, 2013 at 5:34 pm

    randy l. February 4th, 2013 at 4:45 pm

    with an average amount of down time to injuries, the yankees figure to have pretty good pitching.

    it might even allow them to sneak into the playoffs.


    Nice to read, a dose of reality finally. Especially the last sentence.

  6. Against All Odds February 4th, 2013 at 5:34 pm

    So if one is frustrating and ineffective, what’s the other?


    Yankees: Still learning on the Joba.

  7. Against All Odds February 4th, 2013 at 5:37 pm

    job not joba

  8. Jerkface February 4th, 2013 at 6:09 pm


    The @Athletics acquire SS Jed Lowrie, RHP Fernando Rodriguez from @Astros for 1B Chris Carter, RHP Brad Peac ock, C Max Stassi.

  9. blake February 4th, 2013 at 6:11 pm


  10. blake February 4th, 2013 at 6:13 pm

    @Ken_Rosenthal: According to Cot’s, #Astros’ commitments for this season now $14.575M. Five players under contract. Rest between 0 and 3 years of service.

  11. austinmac February 4th, 2013 at 6:20 pm


    I remember those bleak years and also the late 60s and early 70s. They were often out of contention in June. I simply want my team to have a shot to get in the playoffs. It makes it fun. Horrible teams are painful like watching an entire season of the Tigers series.

  12. austinmac February 4th, 2013 at 6:21 pm

    I like Lowrie. He will help the A’s.

  13. Stoneburner - The Return of Wax February 4th, 2013 at 6:42 pm

    @Ken_Rosenthal: According to Cot’s, #Astros’ commitments for this season now $14.575M. Five players under contract. Rest between 0 and 3 years of service.


    This is where the lohud would make a joke – - – -

    I will go with – - – - AKA Hal’s dream

    This is Stoneburner with the Wax Poetic minute – - –

Sponsored by:





    Read The LoHud Yankees Blog on the go by navigating to the blog on your smartphone or mobile device's browser. No apps or downloads are required.


Place an ad

Call (914) 694-3581