Dipping into the depth

Remember that time in February and March when it looked like the Yankees had too many starting pitchers? There were CC Sabathia and Hiroki Kuroda who were obviously guaranteed rotation positions. Then, there was the return of Andy Pettitte. Phil Hughes, Ivan Nova, and Freddy Garcia were all in play, as was (for at least a short period of time) trade acquisition Michael Pineda. David Phelps and D.J. Mitchell, already on the 40-man roster, were knocking on the door to the Majors and Adam Warren was just behind them. Our prospect-loving hearts were, of course all a flutter, thinking that Manny Banuelos, or even the electric-if-hair-pulling-inducing Dellin Betances could get a start. Then, like it always does, the “problem” began to work itself out.

Starting from the bottom, Betances and Banuelos have been some combination of unhealthy and/or ineffective for most of the AAA season. Freddy Garcia was just awful for the first month of the season and needed to be replaced by Phelps until Pettitte came back. Neither Phelps nor Mitchell has had an extended shot at starting, though I’m sure each one will get starts as the year progresses, especially with the recent injuries to Sabathia and Pettitte. Oh and Pineda had year-ending, major shoulder surgery. Let’s not forget that. Ugh. Anyway, the Yankees have already had to test their depth at the starting pitcher position and will continue to do so.

CC’s minor injury won’t make the team stretch itself two thin, as he’ll miss just two starts, but the Pettitte one might. While Freddy Garcia has been solid in the last few weeks, it may not “re-translate,” so to speak, back into the rotation. Or, perhaps Adam Warren will wow the organization in his two starts and he’ll get to take over for Pettitte while Garcia shifts back to a long role. Or maybe David Phelps will reemerge and eclipse both Warren and Garcia. And, yes, even D.J. Mitchell could get in on the action. Regardless of what happens over the next six to eight weeks in the Yankee rotation, their already-tested depth should be enough to hold them. At this point, it doesn’t make sense for them to attempt to fill the void in the rotation via trade.

As you read this, there’s a little over a month left before the trading deadline and in that time, the Yankees will be able to evaluate not only their own pitchers, but everyone else’s. While the season isn’t in its infancy anymore, the trade market certainly is. There’s no sense in making a rushed move to acquire a pitcher when the Yankees have plenty of in-house options available to them. Garcia, Warren, Phelps, and Mitchell may not have the biggest upsides or the highest ceilings, but they’re all capable of holding down the fort while CC and Andy rest up and get healthy. They’ll also be backed up by a superb lineup and a spectacular bullpen. Like the “problem” of too much pitching, this problem will–as all things in the baseball world do–work itself out. Considering the depth they have, the Yankees are well equipped to weather this storm. And if by some stroke of bad luck or poor performance they find that they do need to seek other shores for pitching riches, they’re well equipped with assets (money and/or prospects) to acquire what they need. The Yankees will be just fine.

One thought on “Dipping into the depth

  1. Phil C

    74 games into the season and the Yankees are in good shape, despite the short term loss of CC and the long term loss of Andy.

    Baltimore has exceeded expectations but I doubt that they will get better without significant additions. Consequently, they are on pace to win 90 games. If the Yankees go 45-43 for the rest of the season, they beat out Baltimore.

    Boston & Tampa Bay would have to play .600 ball over their remaining 87 games to exceed 91 games.

    No offense to Toronto, but while they may be spoilers I doubt they can win 92 games. That would require a .620 pace.

    Two things do worry me however. The Red Sox are currently on a tear and to have the ability to maintain that for a significant period of time, especially if Beckett & Buchholz come back strong.

    The other concern I have is that the Yankees has played between 7 & 11 fewer games within the division, That signifies a tough schedule going forward. However, many of those games will be in September when Pettitte should return.

    Consequently, I hope that if the Yankees decide to add a pitcher they don’t overpay for a rental. Standing pat should not be considered giving up. Of course much will depend on how Garcia pitches during Andy’s absence, but if he does become and effective 5th starter, and all other things being equal, the Yanks will be fine and should win the division.

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