Friday, February 14, 2014

The Yankees already know who will fill up four of the five spots in the rotation this season, and the last spot is still up for grabs. Four starters will enter camp with a chance to win the job, but only one will emerge victorious.

David Phelps, Michael Pineda, Adam Warren and Vidal Nuno will be the four pitchers battling for the final rotation spot.

They're working to be slotted in behind CC Sabathia, Hiroki Kuroda, Masahiro Tanaka and Ivan Nova.

Pineda, in my opinion, will enter camp with the best chance to win the job. The Yankees have been waiting more than two years to see what he can give them. They gave up, at the time, one of their biggest prospects in Jesus Montero, and though he hasn't been much for the Seattle Mariners, either, the Yankees can finally win their trade for him if he's able to show that he is healthy, and able to be the fifth starter.

Just being able to come back as half of the pitcher he was in 2011 when he put together an all-star first half of the season, Pineda can make himself, possibly, the best No. 5 starter in the league.

Phelps technically won the fifth starter job last spring when Phil Hughes had to start the season on the DL with a bulging disk in his back, but never had to chance to actually make a starter until later in the season when Nova hit the DL in late-April.

I liked what he was able to do while being starter, and though he was only able to make 12 starts before going on the DL himself, I thought that he set himself up in a good position to be back in the rotation this year.

Warren is a guy like Phelps -- he's a talented arm that is capable of giving you some quality innings. He pitched pretty well as the long-reliever last season, and I think that he's more suited to be in that role again, and he'll probably get it if he doesn't win the fifth starter job.

Like Warren, I think that Nuno is a good pitcher, but might not have as much of a foot in the race as Phelps and Pineda do.

He impressed me in his few outings with the Yankees last year. His control has been praised by many, and his ability to throw strikes is far better than most pitchers in the league. We've heard some talk already about Manny Banuelos having a chance to make the club as the second lefty out of the bullpen, and Nuno might have a chance to do that if Banuelos starts in Triple-A, like he should.

Of the five positions battles we previewed this past week, this is definitely going to be that one that I'll be watching the most. Like the other positions, I'll also have periodical updates on how things are going throughout the spring.


Gavin Ewbank is the Lead Writer of Yanks Beat Blog, and you can follow him on Twitter (below).


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