Yankees Rotational Depth is There, But Who Will Account For it?

Luis SeverinoDoug Fister is off the board and the New York Yankees never did find a middle of the order bat. The latter is somewhat understandable, outside of Justin Upton nobody really made a lot of sense for the team long-term and short-term, Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez are both still under contract. You can’t replace the former because his replacement is already in the system in Greg Bird. You can’t replace the latter because DH is the only spot he has left to add some value.

Suffice it to say this is not the year the Yankees were going to find younger, middle of the order bats, but they did what they could by adding Starlin Castro into the mix and improving the bench. They will also hope Jacoby Ellsbury and Brett Gardner have better second halves, Chase Headley a better season and Teixeira, as is the case every season, can stay healthy.

But back to Fister. With the Astros snatching him up for one year, the Yankees are running out of depth options who can make a legitimate impact on the rotation. Last season, New York starters threw 927 innings using 10 different starters. Not a single pitcher threw 170+ innings. Inherently, it’s at least plausible, you can feel somewhat safe Michael Pineda and Luis Severino have a good shot at doing that this year. It’s plausible Nathan Eovaldi’s elbow is OK and he can revert to a 200 inning arm as well. So there is upside in Yankees’ rotation durability even if you don’t trust Masahiro Tanaka, CC Sabathia or Ivan Nova, which I wouldn’t.

Adam Warren, Chris Capuano and  Chase Whitley  combined for 25 starts for the Yankees and none of them are on the roster this year. In other words, almost an entire starter from the rotation is missing (but some of that is made back when you consider Nova and Severino are here for a full season.) It’s the factor of the rotation almost nobody is talking about.

So how do you utilize these arms the best? How do you account for 927 innings (and hopefully more) this season to get the ball to the dominant bullpen?

Let’s assume Tanaka, Severino, Eovaldi and Pineda stay relatively healthy. Because if any of those four go down for a long time, you have bigger problems which likely can’t be solved inside the organization. Let’s say in some combination, they make 26 starts each (minus Severino, the trio accounted for 78 last season last season so this would assume equal health.) Now let’s say Severino makes 25 starts and CC Sabathia, another year older, drops from 29 to 25. We can pretty much account for 128 of the 162 starts on auto pilot.

Bryan Mitchell, who is absolutely dreadful, should be a spot-starter if for nothing else than to guarantee he isn’t an absolutely relied upon piece of the roster. In fact, it wouldn’t be surprising if Luis Cessa and Tyler Olson surpassed him in the pecking order forming the sixth and seventh rotation options ahead of Mitchell. Add Vicente Campos and the Yankees more or less have the arms they may need to get through the season with an option like fast rising James Kaprielian a distant backup option.

As of this  moment, New York has nine viable starters (10 if you count Nova) who are major league ready on the 40 man roster. The depth is largely unproven, but it’s there and it should be relied upon for around 30-35 starts. Knowing that New York has 4-5 arms capable of filling in, it would be wise to leave Nova out of the mix and place him permanently on the 25 man roster. But more on that when we dissect the bullpen.

Additions/Upside: 

-Full season of Severino

-Full season of Nova

-Potential for Eovaldi to pitch a full season

-Potential for Pineda to have a breakout year

-Chris Capuano is gone (addition by subtraction?)

Subtractions/Downside:

– Adam Warren is gone.

– Chase Whitley is gone.

– Chris Capuano is gone.

-CC Sabathis is a year older.

-Bryan Mitchell is the most proven rotational depth beyond the starting rotation

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