Week three of spring training games has narrowed us down to the pitchers who are the most likely to either make the Opening Day roster or be called up at some point in the season. Everyone who has looked bad, like Bruce Billings, Brian Gordon, and Robert Coello, is gone and the prospects, including Chase Whitley, Manny Banuelos, Bryan Mitchell, Mark Montgomery, who were just trying to make an impression have been sent down. Now who joins the rotation, who ends up in the bullpen, and who gets sent to Triple-A is becoming much clearer:
While it was a complete surprise that Montgomery was cut, especially so early, the rest were generally expected. Whitley could have made an impression if he performed well, but he will now return to Triple-A and try his hand as a starter. It's unlikely that any of Billings, Coello, and Gordon will remain in the organization for the 2014 season, so they could get cut loose soon in order for them to pursue other opportunities.
Everyone left in the running for a roster spot has pitched well enough to earn a major league job. Unfortunately, that can't happen and only five out of the remaining 15 players will be leaving camp with the team. It's pretty easy to point to those not currently on the 40-man roster as the ones who won't make the final cut. Danny Burawa, Fred Lewis, Matt Daley, Shane Greene, David Herndon, Chris Leroux, Jim Miller, and Yoshinori Tateyama can all be sent down to Triple-A and provide minor league depth.
The competition for the fifth spot in the rotation is really down to Michael Pineda and David Phelps, and as well as Phelps has been, Pineda is probably going to win. That would move Phelps to the bullpen, likely in a longman role. Adam Warren could then be sent to Triple-A in order to remain stretched out as a starter. It really all depends on how they choose to use Phelps.
That's really what I want to know. How will they use both Warren and Phelps this year? Will they be two long reliever? Will Phelps be a middle reliever and Warren the longman? Will one be sent down to the minors to stay stretched out? This is really the pivotal decision that will determine the makeup of the bullpen.
Dellin Betances likely already has a bullpen spot won, so that's another spot. Vidal Nuno, the forgotten man, will likely end up in the Triple-A rotation if he's not recruited as a second lefty out of the bullpen. Same goes for Cesar Cabral, and that leaves just Preston Claiborne to take the final spot in the bullpen.