The Yankees are giving 155 million reasons to believe that this year’s pitching is upgraded — one for every dollar in Masahiro Tanaka’s contract.
Although the pricey Japanese import, who will enter the season as the team’s No. 4 starter, was 24-0 with a 1.27 ERA last season for the Rakuten Golden Eagles, nobody really knows how he will do in the major leagues, where the ball is bigger and the hitters are better.
The question marks don’t stop at Tanaka, however.
CC Sabathia, who will start tonight’s opener against the Astros, is 40 pounds lighter, but does that mean he will bounce back from his disappointing 2013 season in which his ERA skyrocketed to a career-worst 4.78? Although his velocity, clocked in the low-90s this spring, is a concern, it is still hard to imagine that Sabathia will replicate his poor performance. Don’t expect a Cy Young-worthy season, but his new cutter should bring his numbers back to respectability.
Hiroki Kuroda, 39, is now the oldest starter to wear the pinstripes following Andy Pettitte’s retirement. While Kuroda’s overall numbers from 2013 look solid — 11-13 with a 3.31 ERA — he was dreadful in the final two months of the season, going 1-7 with a 5.40 ERA. His shaky spring only poured gasoline on the fire.
The Yanks will need Ivan Nova to build on his solid 2013 campaign and progress toward becoming a reliable starter. He had nine wins and a 3.10 ERA in 20 starts last season, but consistency is the biggest issue with “Super Nova.” He was 12-8 with a 5.02 ERA in 2012 after breaking out for 16 wins and a 3.70 ERA in 2011.
Michael Pineda is set to round out the rotation this season. He was injured for the entire 2012 and ’13 seasons, but the 25-year-old will try to revive his once-promising career.