Few will argue that a healthy Masahiro Tanaka is one of the top pitchers in the American League. But, will he be healthy all season?
For the Yankees’ sake, he better be. But his partially torn UCL will be a cause for concern until Tanaka finally undergoes Tommy John surgery.
From top to bottom, the starting rotation is a mix of talented young pitchers with questionable consistency and veteran arms who could do more harm than good at this point in their careers.
Tanaka, as well as Michael Pineda, Nathan Eovaldi and Luis Severino, all are 27-years old or younger. It’s been awhile since the Bombers’ rotation was constructed to feature this many young arms to start a season. But none of these right-handers comes without at least some level of legitimate concern.
Pineda has outings during which he looks like he could anchor any staff. Then, there are times where he just doesn’t have it. It all added up to a 4.37 ERA last season. It doesn’t help that he has yet to surpass 171 innings pitched since his 2011 debut season.
Eovaldi’s ERA was consistent throughout last season. Unfortunately, it stayed between 3.81 and 5.12 from April 26 until his final start on Sept. 5, after which elbow inflammation forced him to be shut down.
Severino, 22, was superb in his first 11 career starts last season. He could emerge as the No. 2 starter, but he remains an unproven young pitcher for the time being.
Regardless of who wins the No. 5 starter role, C.C. Sabathia and Ivan Nova seem likely to wind up in the rotation at one point or another. Both have struggled in recent years and during the spring, so either one could be banished to the bullpen this season.