Remember during spring training when the Yankees had too many starting pitchers and not enough spots in the rotation? Oh, how the tides have changed. Thanks to an abundance of injuries, Vidal Nuno, David Phelps and Chase Whitley have worked their way into the rotation, which hasn't been great.
Thankfully, Michael Pineda is getting closer to making his return; he threw two innings in an extended spring training game on the 27th without any setbacks, and is expected to pitch in another spring training game over the weekend. Actually, Pineda experienced a setback after my completion of this post last night. He experienced discomfort while throwing yesterday, and has been shut down for now. Prior to his suspension-turned-DL-stint, Michael Pineda was arguably the Yankees second best starting pitcher. Through his first four starts, Pineda had a 1.83 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, and opponents were only hitting .230 against him. Having him back should improve the rotation, without a doubt, whenever that happens. Since Pineda's been shut down, CC Sabathia might stand a chance of returning before him. It seems like Pineda or Sabathia (or both), should be able to rejoin the team before the season ends though. Then the question would be: who of Nuno, Phelps, and Whitley should lose their spot in the rotation when Pineda or Sabathia are ready to return?
Of the three, I think that Nuno stands out as the obvious choice. After last night's game, he has an ERA of 5.48, 6.99 K/9, 3.21 BB/9, 1.70 HR/9, 1.51 WHIP and .278 BAA. Nuno hasn't really helped to take the workload off of the bullpen, as he's only pitched six or more innings in four of his eight total starts. Neither Phelps nor Whitley have been great in that regard, either, but Phelps at least sports a higher K/9 (8.55), lower HR/9 (0.90), lower ERA (3.38) and lower BAA (.252) over almost the same amount of innings as Nuno. While Nuno has been pulled from games early because he's struggled and given up a lot of runs, Whitley hasn't made it deep into games mostly because of his pitch count. He was held to around 75 pitches during his first two starts due to concerns that he wasn't stretched out. It's a small sample size, as Phelps and Nuno both have roughly 30 innings on him, but Whitley has made three starts, giving him an ERA of 2.79, 5.79 K/9, 1.93 BB/9, 1.36 WHIP and .280 BAA. If the decision is based solely on who has the most experience, then I could see Whitley being in danger of losing his job. Otherwise, Nuno has struggled the most and given the choice between the two, I'd rather see what Whitley has to offer.
Do you think the season is doomed or do you agree that Pineda and Sabathia have to come back at some point, eventually, right...? Tell us what you think and vote in the poll below.