The NY Post is reporting that Freddy Garcia is all but in the rotation, along with Phil Hughes, thus leaving Ivan Nova and Michael Pineda fighting for the last spot… for now (Pettitte on the horizon).
For today, it looks as if Ivan Nova will pitch in the minor league game while in S.T. Game #27 tonight, it’ll be Garcia.
This report from the Post goes against what the general consensus has been in the past couple weeks—that Garcia would be the long man, and that Pineda would be in the rotation.
It appears that experience, as well as who has options, has won the day along with perfomance.
Hughes, Nova and Pineda have options and can be sent down. CC (32 this summer), Pettitte (40 this summer), Kuroda (37) and Garcia (35) have the experience and the track record. Hughes has more MLB time than Nova and Pineda do.
So, if we go by that reasoning, what can we expect? Well, maybe something like this: Pineda gets sent down. Cashman will take the heat for that, being that he traded Montero for Pineda, and Pineda wouldn’t be producing from the get-go. There is concern that Pineda’s arm strength isn’t where it should be, that instead of hitting 96-97, he’s in the low 90’s. Sending him down would let Pineda hopefully work it back up…or for the Yanks to see IF he can work it back up. Pineda has options, and it appears as if the Yanks will have to use them. It’s tough to send someone down that was on the All-Star team last year and had a 3.74 ERA but… let’s consider someone ELSE…
… because this scenario would leave Nova to be the #5 starter… for NOW. Once Pettitte is ready in early May, Nova would then drop down to be the long-man out of the bullpen, as well as a spot starter. Should something happen to one of the other starters (and two of the five would be 35 or over, three of the five when Pettitte returns), either Nova would be ready to step back into the rotation for a spot start (and a AAA kid like Warren could be temporarily brought up to fill the long man role) or Pineda could be brought back up to start. Either way, Nova would be bounced from #5 starter to long-man/spot starter. I don’t see him going down…but he DOES have options and COULD go down. Now, if you think it’s hard to send down an 2011 All-Star in Pineda (9-10, 3.74), then how hard do you think it’ll be to drop Nova from the rotation into a long-man role or even send him to the minors after he went 16-4, 3.70 last year?
So, if I’m following the Post story correctly, Opening Day should see CC, Kuroda, Hughes, Garcia and Nova in the rotation, with Wade (who has had an awful spring… more on that in a bit) in the bullpen as a long-man. Right now it looks as if Clay Rapada could make the team as a second lefty in the bullpen along with Logan. So the BP would have Wade, Logan, Rapada, Robertson, Soriano, Mo… and a seventh member. I don’t know who that seventh member could be. If not Pineda, it wouldn’t be surprising to me to see maybe Adam Warren make it to be a mopup guy for a bit, until Pettitte is ready.
THEN, when Pettitte is ready in early May, he joins the rotation. Now you have CC, Kuroda, Hughes, Pettitte and Garcia, with Nova dropping down into long man/middle relief and maybe Warren (if he makes the team) then going back to AAA—or, maybe doing something with Wade. This is just my reading of the tea leaves provided by the NY Post.
A lot depends on what the Yanks will be doing with Pineda.
But it appears as if experience will win out…as well as who has options. It’ll be an interesting week of news regarding the rotation. Stay tuned.
In other Yankees related news: Bartolo Colon had a good debut for the A’s today over in Japan. 8 IP, 1 R, and the win. The A’s and Mariners are opening the season with a couple of games in Japan, then will come back to the U.S., resume S.T. for a week to get readjusted to the time change/jet lag, then pick up the regular season again. But a good game for Colon. Cespedes hit his 1st MLB HR today, and Montero, I believe, has started out 1 for 8.
Kei Igawa has gone back to Japan, signing a two-year deal with the Orix Buffaloes.
Neither Austin Romine and Russell Branyan have played an inning in S.T. due to back problems. Branyan could be released. Romine won’t be able to start the season for Empire State.
Update: I mentioned Warren above, could have said Kontos… but you know what I mean. I can’t see Pineda going to the bullpen, but think they rather would keep him stretched out as a starter—thus AAA or extended spring training. What they do with Nova… anyway, one thing I DID NOT mention above is the trickle down effect. You have the good rotation of youngsters at AAA—how does THAT get affected if Pineda or Nova is sent there? What do you do then? Bump one of THOSE guys (Warren, Phelps, Betances, Mitchell, Banuelos) down to AA? There is a lot to think about here.
BTW, my friends over at the BBD blog have a post up reporting that Banuelos has now added a fourth pitch— a cutter. Let’s hope he, at age 21, gains command. He’s coming along…