Joe Girardi announced today that CC Sabathia, Hiroki Kuroda, and Ivan Nova would start the Yankees' first three games in their opening series against the Astros in Houston next week. No real surprises here. Masahiro Tanaka is likely to start the first game of the Blue Jays series on Friday with the unnamed fifth starter making their debut on Saturday. Girardi says he has made the decision on who the fifth starter will be, likely choosing between Michael Pineda and David Phelps with Pineda being regarded as the favorite, but he hasn't spoken to all of the players yet and will make his final announcement tomorrow.
Sabathia, Kuroda, and Nova will pitch in their final spring training games this Thursday, Friday, and Saturday to line themselves up for Opening Day next week. If throwing Tanaka into the fire too soon was a concern, the Yankees have lined up his schedule pretty well to receive some extra rest in his first month in MLB.
As @Joelsherman1 noted, w/ Tanaka starting April 4, he's in line to go April 9, 15, 20, 26, May 2, meaning extra rest 3 times in 1st month.— Jack Curry (@JackCurryYES) March 24, 2014
Despite the fact that both Pineda and Phelps have pitched extremely well this spring, it would be a bit of an upset if Girardi didn't officially name Pineda the fifth starter tomorrow. Pineda's potential likely earns him the nod, even if all things between he and Phelps are otherwise the same. Phelps has also had experience pitching out of the bullpen that Pineda does not. All signs point to Pineda opening the year as the fifth starter and Phelps as the long reliever. Still, Pineda will surely be on an innings limit as he returns from a long hiatus, lining the likes of Phelps up to make at least a few starts over the course of the season.