During spring training, the Yankees floated the idea of using six-man rotation during the regular season. The idea was that all of the starters would benefit from additional rest, especially considering that most of them missed time on the disabled list last year and are recovering from various injuries. That idea was ultimately shot down, but the Yankees later discussed having a sixth starter make spot starts during the season. Yesterday, the team announced that they are going to implement this plan by calling up Chase Whitley to start Tuesday's game against the Rays.
Based on spring training performances alone, Whitley is most deserving of the start. He had a strong performance during spring training, allowing just two earned runs through 15 1/3 innings pitched, but the Yankees decided to carry just one long reliever (Esmil Rogers) and Whitley was sent to Triple-A. Since Chris Capuano is still on the disabled list, the only other real six starter option among the players already on the 40-man roster would have been Bryan Mitchell. Mitchell didn't quite have it during spring training, giving up nine earned runs through 12 1/3 innings pitched. Both Whitley and Mitchell have pitched well since the minor league season started though. Whitley has 6.88 K/9, 3.18 BB/9, 0 HR/9, and a 2.85 FIP through 17 IP. Mitchell has 8.44 K/9, 3.80 BB/9, 0 HR/9, and a 2.71 FIP through 21.1 IP.
This week is the best time to use a six starter because the Yankees are in the middle of stretch where they play 30 baseball games in 31 days, even though it wouldn't have hurt to use one sooner. Their only day off between today and May 18th is this Thursday after the series against the Rays wraps up. Masahiro Tanaka was scheduled to pitch on Tuesday which incidentally happens to be Tanaka Bobblehead Night at the stadium and now he'll miss that, but this will push everyone back a day and gives the rotation the benefit of some much needed extra rest. In order to call Whitley up, the Yankees will need to make a spot on the 25-man roster. There hasn't been any official word on whose spot he will take, but it will probably be Chasen Shreve's, even though he's been great, because he has options and is part of the team's surplus of left-handed relievers.
The Yankees may decide that the spot start is just a one-time thing, or they may use Whitley until this long stretch of games is over. If he has a good outing, and everyone else pitches better with extra rest, then they could consider using a six-man rotation on a permanent basis. Are you for or against a six-man rotation?