Its official, Andy Pettitte made his decision. No it wasn't like the LeBron James debacle this past summer but it was a big decision. It took Pettitte nearly two months more to decide this year around weather to comeback or not. This is a big loss for the Yankees. Right now the question isn't weather he's a hall of famer or not, we have five years to debate that. The real question is; can the yankees get enough out of their starting pitchers to reach the postseason?
Right now, if the season were to start tomorrow, the Yankees would have a starting rotation that consists of CC Sabathia, Phil Hughes, A.J. Burnett, Ivan Nova, and Sergio Mitre, yikes! As you can see the Yankees have a real problem. Especially with the number four and five starters in Ivan Nova and Sergio Mitre. Ivan Nova was pitching in the minors last year until September call ups, and Sergio Mitre is a boarderline mop up man in the bullpen. Also, A.J. Burnett struggled tremendously last year posting an ugly 10-15 record with an uglier 5.26 ERA in 33 starts. And, Phil Hughes struggled in the second half of the season going 6-6 with a shaky 5.03 ERA while allowing 14 HRs. He did rebound in the ALDS against the Minnesotta Twins pitching 7 shutout innings allowing just four hits and striking out six. But in the ALCS against Texas it was a different story. In two starts he pitched just 8.2 innings with an 11.42 ERA while walking seven and striking out six.
In my last issue I talked about the Yankees newest starting pitching additions which include Mark Prior, Bartolo Colon, and Freddy Garcia. Right now in my opinion unless one of them is near perfect in Spring Training, or an injury to Ivan Nova and/or Sergio Mitre, one or two of those guys will make the rotation. I dont think any of those guys have a good shot to make it, but I wouldn't be shoked out of my mind if one of them make it. If you read my last post you would know that I would favor Freddy Garcia.
Also the Yankees have a surplus of young minor league pitching down on the farm. That list includes Dellin Betances, Manny Banuelos, Hector Noesi, Adam Warren, David Phelps, and Andrew Brackman. Now I doubt even one of these guys breaks camp as the number five starter. But don't kid yourself, barring a blockbuster trade by Brian Cashman to bring in current Seattle Mariner ace Felix Hernandez the Yankees will call up one of these kids by seasons end. Until that time the Yankees will have Betances and Banuelos start in AA. And they'll probably have Noesi, Warren, Phelps, and Brackman start in AAA. It will be interesting to see.
For now the Yankees will have Ivan Nova and Sergio Mitre fill the number four and five spots, respectively. Like we said earlier Nova came up in September to start a few games for the Yankees. Nova seemed to pitch pretty well the first two times in the order but come the third time around he struggled. This is why he was just 1-2 with a 4.50 ERA. In order for Nova to stay in the majors the entire year he will have to improve on pitching to the opposing lineup the third time around. Meanwhile Sergio Mitre fills in the number five spot. Although everyone knocks on Mitre for his poor performance in the postseason, (10.13 ERA against Texas in 2.2 innings in last years ALCS) he has pitched well in the regular season. Last year in 27 games, three starts, he had a 3.33 ERA in 54 innings, while allowing just 43 hits during the season. He probably won't repeat that kind of season, but we'll see.
With this in mind the pressure will be back on Cashman after failing to sign Cliff Lee and failing to convince Andy Pettitte to comeback he will now have to try to trade for a quality starting pitcher. There were rumors in November about the Yankees trying to trade for Felix Hernandez. That was shot down and the Mariners will not trade him maybe until the July 31st trade deadline if they are terrible like they were last year. There was also a false rumor a few weeks ago the the Yankees would send Brett Gardner and minor leaguer, and brother of Gerald Laird, Brandon Laird to the Los Angeles Angels for Ervin Santana. That would have been a good move for the Yankees if it was a true rumor. Yes I know that was an oxymoron, but either way if that deal would have happend we wouldn't have to worry about the Yankee rotation. Brian Cashman, the ball is in your court so make a move...Now