Considering the New York Yankees have lost 60% of their original rotation (C.C. Sabathia, Ivan Nova, and Michael Pineda), it’s pretty amazing their rotation has amassed the 17th best ERA in the majors at 3.88.
Despite being slightly distorted by Masahiro Tanaka and his stellar 1.99 ERA, looking through the rotation as a whole, you can clearly see they are a solid group.
Chase Whitley has unexpectedly been phenomenal for the Bombers this season. At this juncture he’s collected an impressive 2.56 ERA and 2.70 FIP in seven starts.
Hiroki Kuroda has been up and down this year, but constantly puts his team in a position to win the game. And in his last ten starts, has only allowed north of 3 earned runs twice — his June 6th outing versus the Oakland Athletics when he went 4 and 2/3 innings while giving up four earned runs, and his May 12th start against the New York Mets when in six innings, he allowed 4 earned runs.
David Phelps has been nothing short of incredible his past two contests. Pitching against tough opponents in the Athletics and Toronto Blue Jays, Phelps totaled 13 and 2/3 innings and surrendered just two earned runs. If you take away his horrendous outing against the Kansas City Royals on June 7th, the 27-year-old righty has composed a 3.00 ERA in eight of his last nine starts.
Then, there’s Vidal Nuno, who is the lone southpaw on the staff. Nuno, 26, has been bad, and that’s putting it lightly. In 61 innings this season, he’s produced an underwhelming 5.90 ERA and 5.17 FIP. The five runs and three home runs he’s allowed today, will not help improve those numbers.
While it’s fairly obvious the Yankees need more out of their fifth starter (Nuno), the options internally to replace him are not too appealing. Adam Warren, New York’s reliable bullpen arm, is said to be the most likely candidate to take over.
Warren spent all his time in the minor-leagues as a starter, so naturally it makes sense the idea of him moving to the rotation has sprung. Keep in mind, however, his numbers as a starter (in the minors) are not that impressive. They’re not horrible by any stretch of the imagination, but not something you’d glance at and say, “hey, this guy will be a staple in the Yankees’ rotation for years to come.”
Further, removing him from the pen will significantly weaken a bullpen that ranks with the 8th highest ERA in baseball. Outside of Dellin Betances and David Robertson, — and maybe Preston Claiborne and Matt Thornton — Warren’s been their only efficient and consistent bullpen commodity.
Lastly, I’m not crazy about the idea of a rotation of all right-handed pitchers. This gives opposing teams no variety, and ideally, teams prefer to have a balance to keep teams off-balance. The absence of a left-hander inhabiting the Yankees’ staff, concerns me. That said, is it worse than having Nuno start every fifth day? Probably not.
David Huff, a current Yankee reliever and someone with starting experience, would be the most sensible option to alleviate the concern surrounding an all right-handed pitching rotation. But Joe Giradi is probably not too crazy about that prospect when he has compiled an ugly 5.63 ERA in 24 inning out of the bullpen.
It’s easy to agree something has to be done to remove Nuno out of the rotation. The obvious solution to the problem would be to acquire a left-handed starter via trade. However, it’s not that easy with C.C. Sabathia and Michael Pineda supposedly returning at some point.
Honestly, it seems New York is in some sort of limbo because of the uncertainty around Pineda and Sabathia’s injuries. Although, the old adage, “you can never have enough pitching,” has proven true more times than not.
Take the Boston Red Sox last year for example. They acquired Jake Peavy at the deadline, despite having five proven starters on their staff in Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz, Felix Doubront, John Lackey, and Ryan Dempster. As fate would have it, Buchholz’ injury sidelined him to just four starts after June 8th of last year.
But does having two starters set to return some point make a difference? All I know is if New York does decide to attain a starter within the next few months, it better be a lefty.
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