Monday, March 10, 2014

If there was one thing that killed the Yankees more than injuries last season, it was their starting rotation.

The Yankees never had more then two starters pitching well at the same time.

CC Sabathia was terrible for pretty much the entire season. He would give a decent start every now and then, but nothing more than that. Ivan Nova was on and off for the first half of the season until be found his magic touch in the second half, and when Nova started the find his groove, Hiroki Kuroda seemed to lose his.

Nothing was going their way in terms of starting pitching, even when a very sub-par roster was fighting extremely hard just to stay in the AL Wild Card race until the final week of the season.

The Yankees came into spring training with rotation questions that they refused to answer during the offseason, but now those questions appear to be answering themselves with every passing day of spring training.

Photo by Mike Carlson/Getty Images
For starters, we all knew what we wanted to see from Masahiro Tanaka, probably the Yankees most prized offseason pick-up. But we weren't completely sure of what we are getting with him.

So far, so good. He's been as good as advertised, as Yankees catcher Brian McCann would put it.

Tanaka, in just two appearances this spring, has been very impressive. His splitter is everything people said it would be, and the way he has carried his business with the hundreds of media members following him around has made me believe that the extra attention from fans and media this season will have absolutely no effect on the way he pitches.

We've only seen Sabathia in one start so far this spring, and other than his velocity, there was nothing to bring you down.

Obviously you all know about his 2013, and the fact that he was coming off of offseason elbow surgery, and his velocity dropped, but Sabathia dropped a ton of weight in the offseason, he's been able to throw all winter unlike last year, and the lost velocity is nothing new to him anymore.

I get it, Sabathia is not going to be the ace of this staff anymore, but he's not going to let you think that. Sabathia likes to pitch and be competitive, and he's going to give you everything he's got this season to prove that last year was just a down year, now the beginning of a downward spiral.

Kuroda, he's 39 and heading into was is possibly his final big league season. Like I said, he was great for all but the final six weeks of the season, when his body began to break down from all of the work he was doing to carry the Yankees into the position they were in.

Kuroda has made two starts this spring, and they were both good. While he might tell you that things are where he wants them to be, he's right, but he's not far from what we'll see this year.

Nova has been an on and off pitcher for most of his big league career. His second half surge last season is what penciled him into the rotation in the first place.

The Yankees are banking on him to pitch better than any other 4th starter in the league, because he has the talent to do so.

Then you come to the fifth starter competition, which might not be a competition anymore if Michael Pineda builds off of his very impressive outing against the Detroit Tigers Friday night.

They say you can't judge much from a spring training game, but four strikeouts -- including one of Miguel Cabrera -- in two scoreless inning, showing off a nasty slider in the process was enough to make me tell you not to worry about the rotation this season.

Pineda was an all-star in 2011 with the Seattle Mariners before undergoing shoulder surgery, and I'm not saying he has to be an all-star this season, but anything near half as good as what he did in 2011 would be than any free-agent signing or trade the Yankees can make.

Like I said, everything you see in spring training must be taken in with a grain of salt, but I can tell you in all honesty that unlike last season, the Yankees' rotation will be anything to worry about.


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