When things get dicey for the Yankees in a season, I try my best to focus on things that leave me optimistic for the future. Sitting seven games out of first and 3.5 out of the Wild Card has me looking for all I can to keep myself out of the baseball-related doldrums. It's made all the more difficult when the team's starting rotation of the future is the equivalent of scribbles on a dry erase board: there's just no permanence there. The players who are contractually obligated to be here are injured (or just recently recovered) and most of the ones who are still pitching unscathed are free agents to be. There's a lot of juggling to be done and risks present, so my optimistic self has struggled to figure out what to look forward to. One distinct possibility is Shane Greene, the unheralded farmhand whose stellar start to his career has made the Yankees' cupboard seem just a little less bare.
Considering that Greene's minor league numbers were never particularly outstanding, there's been reason to not rush to judgment on his potential as a major league pitcher. But after 43 innings and seven starts, I'm comfortable feeling that there's something more here than just a flash in the pan and that he's not doomed to go the same route as guys like Vidal Nuno or Chase Whitley.. He's sporting a 2.91 ERA and 3.41 FIP and striking out hitters at a solid clip while only having allowed three homers. The stats are accompanied by a fastball that sits around 93 on average and a slider that has proven to be a more than capable out pitch. It's not a "smoke and mirrors" situation when it comes to Greene's success, which I think lends itself to the sustainability of his performance.
Even if he's not an ace in waiting, Greene's done enough to be considered a part of the Yankees future. 2014 has been a nice reminder that even running seven to eight starters deep can turn out to not be nearly enough, so Greene will help to replenish that depth that has been lost. A healthy, young and cost-controlled arm that has shown competency is exactly what the Yankees are going to need to have on call with injury questions hovering around Michael Pineda, Masahiro Tanaka, Ivan Nova and CC Sabathia. You can't really expect a free agent of any quality to come aboard and fill that role.
There's obviously the possibility the Yankees are so fond of Greene that they give him a starting spot outright next year, but I'd wager that as an outside chance. A free agent or two plus the aforementioned names combined with a dash of "pray they don't fall apart" is the route I suspect they'll go considering the team's history. Even then I'm excited at the possibilities for Greene in 2015. A Yankee farmhand making good can warm the heart of even the most embittered Yankees fan, and I think Greene is heading down that path. My anticipation is likely the kiss of death and his arm will fall off at some point, but until that occurs he'll be one of the reason's I'm excited about the Yankees future. Unapologetically so!