There has been plenty of debate recently about whether CC Sabathia or Ivan Nova should occupy the fifth spot in the Yankees starting rotation. The truth is, due to injuries that are bound to happen, the Yankees will need both of those guys plus a few others to make starts throughout the year. Last year, this duo combined to make 46 starts with an additional 89 starts coming from the four pitchers currently locked in the rotation (Masahiro Tanaka, Michael Pineda, Nathan Eovaldi and Luis Severino).
That left 27 starts to be absorbed by spot-starters Adam Warren, Chris Capuano, Chase Whitley, and Bryan Mitchell. Of that group, only Bryan Mitchell is still with the team so the Yankees will potentially be looking for new resources to add depth to the rotation this year. Here's a look at the top candidates (aside from Mitchell) to provide such depth as the roster currently stands.
The converted infielder was one of two minor league pitchers that the Yankees received from the Tigers in exchange for reliever Justin Wilson this past winter. He struggled through 2015 which was split between the Triple-A clubs for the Mets and Tigers, but has shown excellent control throughout his minor league career. He's done well enough in a handful of relief appearances this spring that he may break into the big leagues as a reliever at first before he's asked to make any starts.
This 28-year old lifelong minor leaguer was signed as a free agent by the Yankees this year. He spent 2015 with the Nationals organization splitting his time between Double-A and Triple-A. He combined for a 14-5 record with an impressive 2.57 ERA, yet he had an extremely low strikeout rate (3.4 K/9) which continued a career trend. Despite being a southpaw, that strikeout rate doesn't exactly make him an attractive relief option. If he were to make his major league debut this year, it would likely be as an emergency starter.
Cloyd has made 17 largely ineffective major league starts in his career for some bad Phillies teams in 2012 and 2013. Since that time he has spent one year in the Indians organization before latching on with the Samsung Lions in Korea for the 2015 season. At 29 years old, the Yankees signed him for the same reasons they signed Bleier. He'll be a Triple-A starter unless there's an emergent need for a spot start in the Bronx.
Most Yankee fans would like to forget that Chris Stewart ever donned the pinstripes, but when he was sent packing to Pittsburgh, the Pirates sent the potentially useful Kyle Haynes to New York. Initially a relief prospect, the 25-year old has made the transition to being a starter in 2015. He finished the year making seven starts for Scranton with mixed results. He'll likely begin the year there again and depending how he progresses, we could see him making his major league debut in 2016 if needed.
At just 22 years old, Lail has already spent time at each level of the Yankees' minor league system. Last year he made a rapid ascension from Tampa to Trenton to Scranton. At that last stop he made seven starts with results that were remarkably similar to Haynes' showing. The good news is that he was dominant in his 19 starts in Double-A and will look to build off that success in 2016. Before the year is through we could see Lail getting a taste of the big leagues if things go well in his return to Scranton.
Although he is three years older, Ruth appears to be on the same career track that Brady Lail is. In 2015 he made the same stops along the way and ended up in Scranton, although he only made two starts there to close out the year. He did show flashes of brilliance during his stop in Trenton as he was named the Eastern League Player of the Week at the close of an especially effective stretch last May. While he has the reputation of being a smallish soft-tosser, he has enough control and savvy to potentially get the job done at the big league level.
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