As of today, Yankee pitchers (and catchers) have officially reported to spring training. After last year's rotation disaster, it appears that the Yankees spent part of the offseason brainstorming ideas to keep the team healthy. They opted not to pursue any of the top free agent starters, but they are throwing around the idea of having a sixth starter in the rotation in the early part of the season.
Pitching coach Larry Rothschild said that the Yankees are considering using a sixth starter in spot-start situations, such as during the long stretches of play with no off days in April and May where they play 30 games in 31 days. It wouldn't be a six-man rotation, though. In terms of preventing injuries, this is probably the Yankees best bet. CC Sabathia and Masahiro Tanaka both spent several months rehabbing injuries last season. Even though they are said to be healthy now, both would benefit from an extra rest day, which a sixth starter could provide. The same can be said for Michael Pineda, who hasn't made it through a full season in years. Adding a sixth starter and providing the rotation with extra rest could even prevent new injuries from developing since this would take place at the beginning of the season when the pitchers aren't necessarily stretched out all the way.
It seems like the pros of adding a sixth starter outweigh the cons in this case. One argument against could be that an extra day of rest might throw everyone off balance, but it could be easier to deal with if they transition from spring training to the regular season with that schedule. The only problem with adding a sixth starter is that the neither the roster nor the rotation are exactly stacked with good pitchers to choose from. Adding a sixth starter would probably just increase the mediocrity of the rotation, but if that allows everyone else to stay healthy, I'm all for it.
Who would be the fifth and sixth starters then? Right now it seems like they would be Adam Warren and Chris Capuano. Although he pitched in relief out of the bullpen very successfully last year, Warren was told to prepare for spring training by getting stretched out. Esmil Rogers was told to do the same. It's not a Yankee spring training if there aren't a few pitchers battling for a spot in the rotation, so the three of them will be in the mix, possibly along with Chase Whitley and Bryan Mitchell. If the Yankees do use a sixth starter for a trial period, they might even decide to go ahead with a six-man rotation for the season. Time will tell, but it does sound like a good strategy to reduce injuries and it's refreshing to hear that the team is actively trying to avoid what happened last season.
Do you think the Yankees should use a sixth starter? Would you like to see them go so far as to have a six-man rotation all season?