The fifth and final spot in the New York Yankees‘ rotation is as wide open now as it was at the start of Spring Training.
However, that is not necessarily a bad thing, as the difficult decision is a result of the two front-runners, Michael Pineda and David Phelps, having such solid preseasons rather than both having bad ones.
Phelps looked like the most appealing candidate after his impressive start on March 9 in which he allowed only three base runners over five shutout innings of work. Today, it was Pineda’s turn to show the Bronx Bombers what he was capable of when he took on the Baltimore Orioles. Pineda gave up three hits and a walk in only 2.2 innings of work, but he gave up zero runs and struck out five batters.
This start brings a lot of positives to Pineda’s case to close out the rotation, yet also a few dark spots. There are two ways of looking at his start in comparison to Phelps’ last start. One way is that Pineda gave up more baserunners in half the amount of work that Phelps did and was thus less effective. On the other hand, Pineda was able to strike out almost twice as many batters in half the amount of time, meaning that his stuff was a lot more electric.
The two pitchers offer very different styles and backgrounds, which makes this race one of the most exciting of Spring Training. Phelps is a homegrown talent who was brought up in the Yankees’ system and is not necessarily an overpowering pitcher, but definitely an effective and capable one.
Then there is Pineda, who was traded to New York from the Seattle Mariners after the 2011 season with the high expectations of being dominant arm in the Yanks’ rotation for years to come. However, injuries have stopped Pineda from making his first official start, but he entered this year healthy and ready to go.
Manager Joe Girardi will be the man to make the decision, and likely will not make it until the very end of Spring Training. However, it seems like he cannot go wrong with either pitcher.