Now that free agents Jon Lester and Brandon McCarthy are off of the board, it seems like the Yankees will be all-in on Max Scherzer. Even if that is the case, and the Yankees do sign Scherzer, there would still be one open spot in the rotation. For the past few seasons, there has been a spring training competition among the pitchers to determine who will get that final spot. What are the Yankees choices if they do choose to go that route and use internal options to fill out the rest of the rotation?
David Phelps - Phelps was part of last year's spring training competition, and he did a fine job, but just wasn't able to compete with Michael Pineda who ended up winning. Of course, Phelps later found himself in the rotation due to the plethora of injuries. He was one of the starters from May to the beginning of August, when he went down with right elbow inflammation. Through 96.2 IP as a starter last season, he posted a 4.28 ERA, 4.18 FIP, 1.39 WHIP, 6.8 K/9, 3.07 BB/9 and 0.93 HR/9. While he got the job done, he was just mediocre.
Adam Warren - Warren was also in the spring training competition, but that didn't work out for him. Instead, he found himself in the bullpen in a short relief role and he ended up thriving there. 78.2 IP, 8.69 K/9, 2.75 BB/9, 0.46 HR/9, 2.97 ERA, 1.11 WHIP. For some reason, Brian Cashman has been dropping comments that Warren might not stay in the bullpen next season. 2014 was by and far his best season as a Yankee, and moving him into the rotation could just end up weakening the bullpen.
Chase Whitley - Then there's Whitley. He was called up from Triple-A as an injury replacement for CC Sabathia on May 15th. Whitley started off strong, though he consistently struggled to go very deep into games. In fact, of the 12 games he started, he only pitched 6 or more innings three times. He went through a rough patch the end of June when he gave up 17 earned runs through just 10.1 IP (three starts in a row). It wasn't long after that before he was replaced in the rotation by Chris Capuano and sent to the bullpen. Part of the reason that he faded probably has to do with the fact that he pitched 107 innings in 2014, when he had only pitched 67.2 the year before. Through 58.2 innings in the rotation, he put up a 4.76 ERA, 3.79 xFIP, 1.48 WHIP, 6.6 K/9, 1.84 BB/9 and 0.92 HR/9. It would be interesting to see what he could do if he could get deeper into games.
Bryan Mitchell - Mitchell was called up from Triple-A and then sent back down without making a single pitch multiple times before he finally made his major league debut during a relief appearance in August. He made just two starts in the rotation in September, but he was able to hold the red-hot Orioles to two runs over 5 innings, while only allowing one run to the Red Sox through 4 innings. He started the season in Double-A, where his ERA and FIP were both lofty (4.84 and 4.09, respectively), and while his strikeout numbers were good, he was walking a lot of people. This didn't prevent him from being promoted to Triple-A, where he pitched 41.2 innings with a 3.67 ERA, 4.44 FIP, 1.46 WHIP, 7.34 K/9 and 3.46 BB/9. Though he did well during his brief stint in the rotation last season, Mitchell probably needs more seasoning in Triple-A before he's ready to join the rotation.
Esmil Rogers - The Yankees picked up Rogers last season after the Blue Jays designated him for assignment. He made 17 relief appearances and one start for the Yankees, who apparently decided that they liked what they saw since they agreed to a one-year contract with him just last week. Though he's been used as both a starter and a reliever in his career, he spent the latter half of 2013 starting for the Blue Jays without being terribly successful (106.2 IP, 4.89 ERA, 3.78 xFIP, 1.43 WHIP). He started 2014 back in the bullpen and posted an abysmal 6.97 ERA and 5.41 FIP over 20.2 innings before he was cut. We may be experiencing very dire circumstances if Rogers somehow works his way into the rotation.
Manny Banuelos - There's also Banuelos, who finally returned from Tommy John surgery after missing the entire 2013 season. He was in Triple-A when he got injured, and he slowly worked his way back up to Triple-A during the 2014 season. The bulk of his season was spent in Double-A, where he pitched 49 innings with a 4.59 ERA and 5.03 FIP. He only pitched 15 innings in Triple-A, which amounted to four starts, 7.8 K/9, 6.00 BB/9, 1.20 HR/9, 3.60 ERA and 5.56 FIP. In one of those starts, he walked 6 batters in just three innings, though he somehow avoided giving up any earned runs. Based on those numbers, he seems pretty far from ready for a promotion at this point.
Phelps, Warren or Whitley look to be the most likely candidates to take a spot in the rotation if the Yankees do have another spring training competition. Who would you like to see as the starter if the Yankees do decide to go with an internal option?