Tuesday, March 18, 2014

By: Gavin Ewbank | Lead Writer

Exactly two weeks from today, the Yankees will be in Houston, playing the Astros to open the 2014 season at Minute Maid Park. Between now and then, Joe Girardi will have quite a few decisions to make regarding who he would like to have with him for the opening series.

As I did last week, I'm picking this roster off of the assumption that the Yankees will bring 12 pitchers and 13 hitters with them to Houston.

The hitters: Brian McCann, Francisco Cervelli, Mark Teixeira, Brian Roberts, Derek Jeter, Kelly Johnson, Alfonso Soriano, Brett Gardner, Jacoby Ellsbury, Carlos Beltran, Ichiro Suzuki, Eduardo Nunez, Brendan Ryan.

A lot of the same coming over from last week. I put Nunez on the roster this time around because he is actually playing well lately, and even though you could make a case for Yangervis Solarte, he's never played in the majors before, and his career minor league numbers kinda tell you why that might be.

Without realizing it, I left Ryan off of my list last week, so he's on there now. He was pretty much a lock to make the team coming into camp, especially after the Yankees gave him that two-year contract in the offseason.

You could also make a case for Scott Sizemore, who has been able to stay healthy this spring as he comes back from a second torn ACL. He probably won't be 100 percent ready until a couple weeks into the season, and has an opt-out on May 1st, so the Yankees could wait until then to bring him up, giving Nunez one last chance to prove himself, or else the Yanks won't hesitate to give Sizemore a chance.

The pitchers: CC Sabathia, Hiroki Kuroda, Masahiro Tanaka, Ivan Nova, Michael Pineda, David Phelps, Matt Thornton, Adam Warren, Shawn Kelley, David Robertson, Dellin Betances, Cesar Cabral.

The starting five was a pretty easy choice. Michael Pineda, I think, will be the fifth starter. He's had a very impressive spring so far and the Yankees don't know if he'll be able to pitch out of the bullpen as well as David Phelps and Adam Warren can.

In the bullpen, David Robertson, Shawn Kelley and Matt Thornton were basically locks, and even though Girardi said in the offseason that Preston Claiborne would have a spot in the pen, his performance this spring has been below that of many other pitchers fighting for job. Phelps and Warren will start in the bullpen, and their roles will probably be ironed out through the first month of the season.

Dellin Betances hasn't done anything but show me that he's ready to be a reliable arm for Girardi this season. I really like the way he's been throwing the ball, and has more than earned his spot.

I had a tough time filling the final bullpen spot. I figured that with Thornton, the Yankees might find it useful to have a second lefty in the bullpen, and you could make a case for that to be Vidal Nuno, but I went with Cabral because he has been throwing the ball well down south, too. Like I said before, the Yankees have had a lot of pitchers throwing well this spring, and Cabral is one of them.


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