Well baseball fans, we’re almost there. Just one month until the cold, baseball-less offseason is finished and the New York Yankees are once again playing under the warm sun at Steinbrenner Field in Tampa, Florida. The Yankees roster seems to be all but complete as Brian Cashman and the front office make their final transactions.
Just last week, they signed a veteran righty, Scott Baker, to a minor league deal with an invite to Spring Training. While it may be a meaningless signing, it still adds depth to the rather thin rotation that the Yankees have.
Anyway, this deal got me thinking about the Yankees pitching options and the idea of a six-man rotation. Currently in baseball, six-man rotations are unheard of and would be a whole new thought for the Yankees to consider. However, when you dive into it, this Yankees team really seems to be the perfect bunch of players for them to experiment this idea with.
The pitchers that will make up the 2015 rotation are set. This consists of Masahiro Tanaka, Michael Pineda, Nathan Eovaldi, C.C. Sabathia, and either Chris Capuano or newly-signed Scott Baker. In my opinion, the players that will truly be helped by this plan would be Tanaka, Pineda, and Sabathia.
First, let’s begin with why a six-man rotation would make sense for the ace of the staff, Masahiro Tanaka. In 2014, Tanaka began the season with the biggest amount of hype that you could imagine. Due to this, he seemed destined to disappoint, at least to some extent. However, he cruised through the first half of the season, going 12-4 with a 2.51 ERA and recognition as an American League All-Star.
Then, on July 9, the excitement of everyone around baseball came to a halting stop as he was placed on the Disabled List with elbow inflammation. He was later diagnosed with a small tear in his throwing elbow, an injury that usually takes Tommy John Surgery to heal. However, since his tear was less than 10% of the elbow, he was recommended to just let it heal on its own.
After doing this, Tanaka returned to the Yankees in late September and made two starts before the season’s conclusion.
While he reported no discomfort following these starts, his elbow can basically blow out at anytime. Due to this, a six-man rotation could be vital to keeping him healthy. If he makes 5-10 less starts than he would with a regular rotation, it could save him from busting his elbow and sitting out for at least all of the 2016 season. Tanaka’s success would be a great reason for the Yankees to test out a six-man rotation.
As for Pineda, a six-man rotation would be all about keeping him healthy. For instance, Pineda’s stats in 2014 were nothing less than stellar as he pitched to 1.89 ERA and a 0.825 WHIP. Of course, these statistics mean nothing if he isn’t on the mound to perform.
This was his problem last season, as he only pitched 76.1 innings and started just 13 games. If a six-man rotation meant keeping Pineda on the field, then the Yankees need to seriously consider it.
C.C. Sabathia’s situation may be a bit trickier. Although it is important to keep him healthy, this is just one of the many things the Yanks have to worry about with Sabathia’s performance. He is heading into his age 34 season and following a serious knee injury that almost ended his career, it is very unlikely that he’ll be able to pitch effectively in the future. So, while installing a six-man rotation wouldn’t fix all of his concerns, there is no doubt that it would help Sabathia at least a bit in staying healthy.
The effectiveness of the Yankees’ rotation would certainly grow if it used six pitchers. Last season, the biggest problem was health as it seemed pitchers would go down by the day. However, a six-man rotation would keep the pitchers more fresh and healthy, which is a clear key to the Yankees’ success in 2015.