Inside The New York Yankees Starting Rotation
Okay, so we know that the Yankees pitching staff (and most of the team for that matter)
will look pretty similar to 2012. That isn’t necessarily a good thing. Below is the 1-5
rotation and the upside and downside to each pitcher this season, along with who is in
line to join the staff should an injury happen or surprising progress take place.
1. CC Sabathia.
Upside: CC wants the ball. He stops losing streaks. He eats innings. He saves bullpens.
He is the horse of this rotation and has pitched through postseasons, which in New York,
is literally priceless. You could make the argument that CC has been the best big game
pitcher in MLB since 2008 and certainly the most important ace to a respective team in
all of baseball as well.
Downside: Weight and work. When does Sabathia finally crumble due to his frame and
amount of work? While he does eat innings and save bullpens as mentioned above, you
feel every year that his arm is going to snap off or his big body will cause injury. Is 2013
the year where he breaks down or starts to break down?
2. Hiroki Kuroda.
Upside: Kuroda proved he could pitch in the AL East and helped erase the unknown
question mark that was the Yanks staff going into 2012. So the proof is there.
Downside: Teams may have figured him out. Elite hitters (Major League hitters for that
matter) coupled with the amount of video are cause for concern that Kuroda won’t be
able to give the Yanks 16 wins and nearly 220 innings pitched from a year ago.
3. Andy Pettitte.
Upside: The Yankee veteran on this team and one of the greatest Yankee arms of all-
time keeps the staff steady and is the lefty they need. He works with the youngsters and
is another guy who wants the ball in big spots and isn’t afraid of failure. He also attacks
people as opposed to #4 to come.
Downside: The usual Pettitte injury, wait for him to come back, and then not be himself
by October. This has happened the last two years. Frankly, the Yanks should have let
him walk after 2012. Is it really worth $12 million to get 4-12 wins? Eventually, time is
going to be up for #46 who turns 41 in June.
4. Phil Hughes.
Upside: He is still just 26 and has an arsenal of pitches. He is a power guy who’s
fastball, when it is on, can set-up one of the most devastating curve balls in the game.
Downside: How long can you wait for Hughes to be a big part of the future in the
Bronx? The Yanks have developed him the right way for the most part, now it is time for
“In Phil We Trust” to come to fruition. That starts with Hughes attacking hitters and not
nibbling around the strike zone.
5. Ivan Nova.
Upside: Nova (PP believes he will beat out David Phelps for the 5 spot) won 16 games in
2011 and is only 26 years old, like Hughes. He throws four pitches and brings a unique
style to the staff from the right side. His down year in 2012 after success the prior season
is part of the growing pains in the big leagues. The problem with that is you aren’t
allowed growing pains when you wear a New York Yankees uniform.
Downside: Confidence. It was enough that Nova regressed from 16 wins to 12 and his
ERA ballooned from 3.70 to 5.02 from 2011 to 2012. But Nova’s confidence was shot in
the early going and he never recovered. He has to get his mind right in Spring Training.
Next in line:
1. David Phelps.
Upside: 26 years old and a utility arm you can use in the rotation and bullpen who
throws strikes early in the count.
Downside: Hasn’t developed enough for the Yanks to this point.
2. Michael Pineda.
Upside: Throws 97+. Just 24 years old. Fastball-slider combo has the potential to be
Downside: He is recovering from a torn labrum and appears to be damaged goods. This
was Brian Cashman’s worst trade in years, acquiring Pineda from Seattle for top prospect
Jesus Montero on January 23, 2012 (Hector Noesi was shipped to the West Coast as well
and could have been used as trade bait in another deal). The Yanks don’t expect much
from him in 2013.