The Yankees had quite a few options left in camp to fill the final two bullpen spots on the 25-man roster. Matt Daley, Shane Greene, and Cesar Cabral each pitched well enough to remain with the big league club in March. The Yankees have decided to go with the left-handed Vidal Nuno and hard throwing Dellin Betances, each of which pitched well enough to earn their respective spots.
According to Joel Sherman, the Yankees are still worried about how well Masahiro Tanaka and Michael Pineda will respond to the rotation. Tanaka now has to deal with shorter rest between starters, while Pineda is coming off his shoulder injury, so the risk is undoubtedly there. For that reason, the team will bring all three starters in David Phelps, Adam Warren, and Nuno with them as long men. It’ll also allow them to keep start pitcher’s pitch counts down. In the case of Pineda or Tanaka, the Yankees may want to limit him to 80-90 pitches in the first month of the season, and then bring in one of their long men to prevent injury risk and keep his innings down.
Sherman also speculates that the Yankees may add another veteran starter to keep in Triple-A in case the injury bug hits hard again. At the moment, Shane Greene, who’s also on the 40-man roster, would be that emergency call up, but the team could still grab a Joe Blanton, Freddy Garcia, Barry Zito (who’s “rebooting”), or even Tommy Hanson. It’s hard to imagine that some of the bigger names still on the free agent market would settle for minor league deals, but some may be growing desperate. The Yankees have just recently added Alfredo Aceves on a minor league deal, but there is still 1 open spot in the Triple-A rotation.
Obviously Betances played well enough to earn a spot based on his upside. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Betances pitching in the 8th inning by the end of the year, but if he does struggle, the Yankees have an option left on him. Hopefully that doesn’t become an issue.
As I mentioned yesterday, the Yankees still have a very tough decision to make with their bench. Two spots are open for four great candidates, and Stephen Drew will soon be willing to sign after Opening Day. Not that we’ll know about the Drew situation anytime soon, but we may find out about the the final two roster spots by tomorrow.