The New York Yankees are faced with an off-season of uncertainty. Three-fifths of the starting rotation will need to be replaced since Andy Pettitte is retiring and Phil Hughes and Hiroki Kuroda are free agents. The Yankees are also sticking to their plan, at least for now, of getting under the $189 million luxury tax threshold. No matter what the Yankees do it will be tough to get under that threshold but there are ways.
With at least two starting pitchers needing to be replaced, assuming Kuroda comes back, the Yankees will need some of their young arms to step up. Right now, the Yankees have options, even if some of them are unproven. One option is Vidal Nuno who made his Major League debut this season with the Yankees appearing in five games and making three starts. The 26-year-old left-hander doesn’t feature any dominating stuff in his repertoire but somehow gets the job done at every level. This season, he pitched to a 2.25 ERA and 1.10 WHIP, allowing 16 hits and walking six across 20 innings while striking out nine.
Nuno’s game is far from perfect but yet somehow manages to escape every start with his team still in the game. In 95 Minor League games, 63 starts, Nuno has pitched to a 32-18 record, 2.84 ERA, 1.096 WHIP and featured a 5.05 K/BB ratio.
He isn’t a prospect like Manny Banuelos but he gets the job done and could be a somewhat successful back-of-the-rotation arm that is not arbitration eligible until 2016, giving the Yankees a little extra breathing room when it comes to the luxury tax. The only question with Nuno is whether or not he can stay healthy for an entire season after a groin injury all but ended his season in June.
The Yankees will need Nuno to show he can step into the rotation so that they can spend what little money they have to spend elsewhere. Nuno should enter into a battle for a rotation spot with David Phelps, Michael Pineda, Adam Warren and Brett Marshall.