The Yankees’ rotation is far from stable, with inconsistency hampering many of the team’s arms. Masahiro Tanaka is a clear ace and potential Cy Young front-runner. But uneven pitching can be found up and down the rotation and even in the bullpen.
Tanaka has been rock solid for three seasons in the Bronx. The right-hander recovered fully from elbow issues last year, making 31 starts. Even better, the former star in Japan has looked progressively more comfortable acclimating to an MLB workload and only surrendered one earned run this spring.
Beyond their ace, it may take a bit of luck for the Yankees to be successful on the mound. Lefty CC Sabathia will turn 37 this summer, although last season he posted his best numbers since 2013. Meanwhile, right-handers Michael Pineda and Luis Severino have shown potential but nothing close to consistency.
Pineda reached the seventh inning only twice last year and gave up five earned runs or more on 11 different occasions. Severino, 23, has bounced between the majors and Triple-A, similarly showing occasional glimpses of quality work. If the Yankees are to stay competitive, he will have to produce more while avoiding injury.
The fifth starter is yet to be determined. Yankees manager Joe Girardi told reporters Wednesday that the decision wouldn’t be made until April 16. With three days off in the first two weeks of the year, the Yankees will keep an eighth reliever on the roster until the final starter is named. Those in the running for the fifth spot include Bryan Mitchell and lefty Jordan Montgomery.
Much was made of the dream bullpen last year in the Bronx. But the trio of Dellin Betances, Andrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman didn’t last long. Miller and Chapman were both traded to pennant winners, although Chapman is back from a brief stint with the world champion Cubs. Look for Chapman to pick up where he left off.
Now likely in an eighth-inning role, Betances did an effective job as temporary closer at the end of last season. However, his 12 saves and phenomenal strikeout rate were quickly forgotten after he imploded in a crucial loss to the Red Sox.