Overnight on Saturday, the Yankees went from rags to riches in terms of their newly acquired pitching depth. With the additions of young Michael Pineda and the much older Hiroki Kuroda, New York appears to have a formidable rotation in the makings.
As of now, this is what we're looking at:
1) CC Sabathia
2) Michael Pineda
3) Hiroki Kuroda
4) Ivan Nova
And then we get to #5.
Granted, Ivan Nova might not even be a fixture in the rotation at this point, but I'm leaving him because he proved to be extremely valuable for the stretch run of last year. It's widely believed he's a safe bet.
Anyway, there are an abundant amount of options to plug into the #5 gap. Let's take a look at the options...
5a) Freddy Garcia - Resigned in December to a one-year, $4 million deal. He provided incredible durability for $1.5 million in 2011, pitching at least five innings in 22 of his 25 starts and lasting six innings in 17 of those 25 starts. The Yankees are milking every bit of baseball left in Garcia and he will certainly end up as a long reliever if he doesn't win a starting job.
5b) Phil Hughes - Resigned yesterday for one-year, $3.2 million. After experiencing an inflamed right shoulder that sidelined him two months last year, as well as a herniated disk in his back, Hughes should hopefully be prepared to come into camp and win over the fifth spot. Believed by many at one point to be the ace of the Yankees one day, Hughes ironically has found himself in a dog fight for a spot. Please, no meatballs this time around. We saw enough of those last spring.
5c) A.J. Burnett - What list wouldn't be complete without him? This is his fourth year with the Yankees (note the title of this article. I tried to be clever) and he'll earn a whopping $16.5 million yet again this season. Burnett may have the edge over Hughes and Garcia at this point. While he's been Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde since his first appearance in pinstripes back in 2009, he's pitched 584 regular season innings and is yet to have been injured. I guess that's what separates Burnett from Carl Pavano these days. If the Yankees don't try to dump him off and pick up the majority of his bad contract, I think he'll end up starting the season in the rotation.
At the end of the day, Joe Girardi is going to have to play his hot hand at the start of the season. Whoever looks sharpest in spring training will get the fifth spot and he'll play the hot hand until it's no longer such.
My guess is that Burnett starts the season in the fifth spot. And yes, this is wishful, hopeful thinking.
How about you guys?