The first player to get hurt during spring training this year may have been Brendan Ryan, but Chris Capuano became the first to get injured during a game. In case you missed it, Capuano strained his quadriceps yesterday while running to cover first base in the very first inning of the game against the Red Sox. It's a Grade 2 strain, and those types of strains usually take four to six weeks of recovery time, so Capuano will likely start the season on the disabled list. Who becomes the favorite to take the fifth spot in the rotation, now that Capuano is out of the running?
Adam Warren and Esmil Rogers appear to be the two most likely candidates. Though he thrived working in relief out the bullpen last season, Warren was told to stretch out in preparation for spring training. It probably feels somewhat like deja vu for him, since Warren was in last year's competition for the fifth spot in the rotation also, eventually losing out to Michael Pineda. This year Warren seems like the frontrunner, especially since he started the spring opener, which will give him more starts than anyone else by the start of the regular season. He'll make his third start on Friday, and so far he's given up just one run through 5 IP.
Warren may be the favorite, but it is Rogers who has gotten the most positive attention lately. Both Brian Cashman and Joe Girardi have had good things to say about him. Girardi went so far as to say that Rogers has been really good this spring, and that he'd be one of the guys the Yankees are "really looking at." He also said he thinks of him the same way he used to think of David Phelps, and Phelps was frequently given the opportunity to make spot starts. Given Rogers' track record as a starter, I'd rather see Warren get the job. The Blue Jays actually removed Rogers from their rotation because he was so terrible. He finished last season with a 5.72 ERA and 4.73 FIP through 45.2 innings. He may be pitching well so far, but we're only into the second week of spring training. If anything, give Warren the fifth spot, and let Rogers be the guy who acts as the sixth man and makes spot starts where needed.
With all likelihood, the Yankees will wait until the end of spring training to decide who the fifth starter will be, and let the others compete to earn it. Girardi also tossed around the names of Bryan Mitchell and Scott Baker as pitchers they were considering for the rotation spot. Chase Whitley should be in the mix as well. Considering the health concerns of the rest of the rotation, it's not a good time to have relatively few options to choose from. The Yankees might end up wishing they had signed one of the free agent starters after all.
Who do you think should be the fifth starter?