The Stories For The 2016 Yankees: #1 Starting Rotation

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Let’s break the Yankees down for this season and try to see what is what. It can be said that for the Yankees there are the three main questions from the past few seasons which continue to trouble the team as they get ready to start Spring Training.

1: The health of the pitching rotation.

2: The health of the older players who were signed to big contracts, but whose health and hitting ability is fast on the wane.

3: The inability to make scores, often failing to get players in scoring positions back home.

These are issues that we hope will be sorted out in time. But can we really feel that they will have gone from being the problems of October, just to be wiped clear during the off-season? That is the big question indeed.

So to see if there is any change I shall break the Yankees roster down by their positions. Starters, Infield, Outfield and Bullpen and see what has been done to tackle those three question marks. Seeing which of those three questions which dogged the Yankees last year have carried over to this year and whether enough has been done (a) to resolve them, or (b) whether they will form the major talking points leading into the Spring Training games.

It is impossible this early in the run in to Spring Training to be able to say for sure who will be the regular roster for this season, from the pitchers to the outfielders and so on. But we will have a look at the guys who were the starters from last season.

 

Yankees stretch

New York Yankees pitchers and catchers stretch while working out at the Yankees’ minor league complex Tuesday, Feb. 17, 2015, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O’Meara)

1: Tanaka

While he certainly looked good in some games. There were serious question marks hanging over his performance. Should he have gone for surgery after the 2014 season when he picked up a partial tear on his UCL? Was his bad performances down to a problem with mechanics as he has claimed? Or was there something else wrong with him? Certainly he has had his fair share of injuries over the past two years. I put this down to the medical and training staff who should be able to pick up on injuries, or treat them sufficiently that they are repaired. But they failed to get him healthy and we saw that in the hot and cold performance of Tanaka. Sometimes even within the one game, or innings, he would fluctuate from good to bad. The questions still hang over him, and there has been no confirmation as to whether he will start the opening day game or not.

2: Sabathia

Injuries, bad pitching, a stint in detox for alcoholism…. it has been one thing after another with CC. Last season we saw him bulked up and ready for action. But he lost the opening day starter spot to Tanaka, and continued to struggle for the most part of the season. He now has to play with a brace on his knee permanently. The worries about his loss in speed as well as the health problems means that he will not be expected to be the linchpin of the rotation as he once was, which might help him because he has less pressure as before. There are too many questions about whether he can be relied on every fifth day.

3: Pineda

The best of the lot last season. There are injury concerns about him too. But he was sharp, fast, and certainly exciting to watch. He could loose it, as he did at times. But he was so good that he could very well be in contention to get the opening day slot this year.

4: Nova

Eeesh! This was Nova’s first season back after a long injury saw him miss 2014 and half of the 2015 season. We had a lot of hope that he would return and be a big part of the pitching rotation last year. But it was not to be. It was an awful season. However the hope is that he will go into the spring stronger and pitching a whole lot better than he did last year. He could be a big part of the rotation next year if he is able to improve. But if he has anything like the season he had last year then I fear he will be put in the Bull Pen.

5: Eovaldi

Nathan was another bright spot in the pitching rotation. He was fast, mostly sharp, but could miss the plate. He needs to learn about accuracy over speed, as Kofax did and the will be a force. But as it stands his speed often left hitters flapping at the air and I really felt that with him on the mound we were in the game. Another pitcher let down all too often by the lack of scoring by the hitters. Injury took its toll on him and he lost time on the DL. So even he goes into the spring with question marks over his fitness and whether he has recovered from the injury that ended his season or not.

6: Severino

Luis Severino was a star of the new generation of Yankees players. Long touted as a prospect, last year he stopped being just a prospect for good and established himself as a star in the making. To me a prospect is the kind of guy who will make it in the big leagues and play well. There are many like that who are great to have in a team, but there are few who could be stars, or will make the HOF. Severino showed that he was not among those who would be players in the league who had the potential to be a star. But he is only young and this is his second season in the big leagues and whether he will be able to match his first year remains to be seen. Some say that while he looked good, when you look at his FIP for last year you see that he was below the league average and this they reason is evidence that he is not as good as he seemed.

What ever the case, he is certainly one that we want to watch out for this spring as his youth and health stands him in good stead given the battles with injury the majority of the starting rotation are getting over.

 

In Summary:

The Yankees have a lot of problems with the starting rotation. The question over their health and ability to stay healthy has not gone away and will be a major concern going into the season. There are also too many questions as to how they will perform also. None of these will be answered of course until we get deep into the spring. By then we will get a better understanding as to whether the health issue, and indeed performance issues that dogged the pitchers last year will have gone away.

However going in to spring it can be said that this will be one of the major stories of the run up to the start of the Spring Training. It will not go away until then. That there are questions even now over the health of Tanaka, and the performance of Nova, Eovaldi, and Severino, for many the pitching rotation is definitely not going to be the strong point of the team, and may even turn out to be the weak point in the team. It will definitely be one of the major talking points going into Spring Training.

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