Less than two weeks ago, the New York Yankees appeared to have one of the deepest starting rotations in baseball with C.C. Sabathia, Hiroki Kuroda, Ivan Nova, Masahiro Tanaka and Michael Pineda. However, a combination of injuries and pine tar-related suspensions have led to some doubt about the stability of the Yankees’ rotation.
First, Nova left April 19’s contest against the Tampa Bay Rays with what would turn out to be a torn UCL. This will result in him having Tommy John surgery and missing the rest of the season. Just four days later, Pineda was ejected for using pine tar on the mound during a start against the Boston Red Sox. As a result, he received a 10-game suspension.
Then on Friday night Kuroda caused more concern about the rotation when he was shelled by the Los Angeles Angels, giving up eight runs and 10 hits in just 4.2 innings. After a solid first two outings, the 39-year old has looked very hittable in his last three starts. In just an eight-day period, a flurry of question marks arose about a Yankees starting rotation that was looking like it would be a strength for the team in the first three weeks of the season.
The biggest question is who will fill the fifth spot in the rotation. For now, the answer is Vidal Nuno, a rookie who struggled to get through 4.1 innings in his start on Saturday. If Nuno continues to put up short outings every fifth day, then it will put a great strain on the bullpen. The other top candidate to fill the role is David Phelps, but he is currently filling in for the suspended Pineda on Wednesday.
Aside from Tanaka, there is not one starter in the Yankee rotation the team can feel completely confident in at the moment.
It is unlikely that any moves to add depth to the team’s starting five will be made in the near future. So for the short term, the Yankees will have to hope that Sabathia and Kuroda raise their games, and at least make the front end of the rotation secure. For now, there is no reason to panic as the team is in first place and is finding ways to win series. However, the starting rotation does not seem to be as potent as once thought.