Musing On The Rotation A Week Away From Opening Day

Pineda ST 2015 - Masahiro Tanaka: 3 G, 10.1 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 12 K - Michael Pineda: 4 G, 13.2 IP, 10 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 17 K - Nathan Eovaldi: 4 G, 13.2 IP, 10 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 14 K - CC Sabathia: 2 G, 4.2 IP, 9 H, 6 ER, 0 BB, 6 K - Adam Warren: 5 G, 16.2 IP, 17 H, 5 ER, 1 BB, 11 K

That's the official Spring Training statistical breakdown for the projected Yankee rotation so far, and if you're the type to put any stock in ST stats for any reason then there's a lot to like there.  The Yankee rotation was expected to be the roster area of greatest concern this spring, in terms of performance for some but more importantly in terms of health for most.  It was almost written as a foregone conclusion that the Yanks were going to suffer multiple injuries to their rotation in camp.  Tanaka's elbow was definitely going to tear again and he was going to miss the season with TJS.  CC's knee wasn't going to be able to hold up and he was going to end up back on the DL.  It was all going to fall apart and the Yankees would be screwed.

Fast forward a month and not only has nobody from that core group of starters suffered a setback or a new injury, they've been pictures of perfect health.  Tanaka has looked free and easy with his mechanics from the first time he threw a bullpen and does not appear to be inhibited in any way physically.  Sabathia has his weight back, his velocity back, and while the on-field results haven't been there he's been very happy with his body and how his knee feels, which isn't something we've heard from him a lot over the past few seasons.

Pineda has looked as good as he ever has in pinstripes and there hasn't been one peep about his shoulder or anything in that previously troublesome right arm.  His stuff is popping, his command is pinpoint, and he looks poised to take that next step up.  Ditto for Eovaldi, who already looks like a new pitcher under the tutelage of Larry Rothschild.  His stuff and command have been flashing above-average all spring, his 2-strike approach has been much better, and did you honestly know that he hasn't walked a batter all spring?  I had no idea.

Even Adam Warren has been a pleasant surprise, stepping into the 5th starter's spot when Chris Capuano went down and so far looking like he's more than capable of handling the job.  He might not be as untouchable as Tanaka or Pineda in terms of stuff, but he throws enough pitches and knows enough about how to work at this level to be effective, and it's not like the Yanks need him to be an ace from the 5-spot.

In fairness, Sabathia's struggles to locate his fastball are a bit of a concern.  He wasn't any better in an unofficial MiL game over the weekend than he was in either of his first 2 Major League outings, and his responses to the media's questions have come with some hints of anger and frustration.  Still, I'm staying in the camp that's willing to cut the guy some slack and recognize that he's missed a lot of time over the last few years.  I'm willing to give him a longer grace period to knock off the rust.  If he's still scuffling and giving up multiple homers in May, that'll be a different story.

It could be a different story for the whole group in May, as that risk of injury to Tanaka's elbow and CC's knee and even Pineda's shoulder will always be there.  But for now, the Yankee rotation's story is one of positivity and one of hope.  They're healthy, they're throwing a lot of strikes, limiting walks, and getting plenty of swings and misses, and for the most part they're getting good results.  Yes it's only been in limited ST innings, but considering all the worst-case scenarios that were being discussed before ST started, the collective performance of the rotation thus far has to be seen as a good sign.