Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Pitching For An Extension

While the 2017 rotation can be set from within, the only sure thing for the 2018 rotation is Luis Severino.

"Follow me, boys!"

Ivan Nova is now going into his third year of arbitration, and will therefore be a free agent after this season. Masahiro Tanaka can opt-out of his contract following the 2017 season. The final season of CC Sabathia's contract is 2017. And finally, both Michael Pineda and Nathan Eovaldi will go into their third and final years of arbitration in 2017.

When it comes to Sabathia I think we can all agree that he will not be re-signed (at least that's what we hope). However, when it comes to Tanaka opting out of his current contract, I can see the Yankees bringing him back after tacking on a couple of years to the three he'll leave on the table ('Hiro will only be 29 around the time of his opt-out). So while Severino will be around, and even if we assume Kaprielian will be ready, that still leaves two open spots for the 2018 starting rotation.

Prospect humpers will likely point to two guys that could fill those spots from within.

One of them is Ian Clarkin. While many believe that Clarkin has the most upside in the system, thanks to three pitches rated to be average or better, his health is a big question. A good and healthy 2016 will go a long way in helping determine what the Yankees do.

The other prospect that some rave about is Brady Lail. It's believed that Lail will find himself either at the bottom of the rotation or as a good middle reliever. Brady has had some issues with command, while his fastball and changeup are his only average to better offerings. If he can at least refine his curveball then a spot in the 2018 rotation is possible, but I'm not holding my breath.

"I believe in you, Brady!"

So as of this moment the Yankees are looking to see if James Kaprielian, Ian Clarkin, and Brady Lail can be counted on for the 2018 starting rotation. If even one of those guys pans out I think the team would be really happy, and that's something that I don't think is being too optimistic at all. All three of them working out? Highly unlikely. But let's say two out of three of those guys have great 2016 seasons, making their outlook for 2018 look close to certain.

To make things easier from here on out I'll predict that Kaprielian and Clarkin are the two that make it. That means the 2018 rotation will consist of Masahiro Tanaka, Luis Severino, James Kaprielian, and Ian Clarkin. Which means one of three things will happen after this season...

1. The Yankees will look at free agency for another starter.

2. Extend Michael Pineda.

3. Extend Nathan Eovaldi.

Knowing the team's desire to get under the Luxury Tax threshold, the first option is the least likely thing to happen. Especially when you look at the list of free agent pitchers to be, and the only guy to really stand out (Stephen Strasburg) is not going to come cheap.

One of the final two possibilities will likely be the way the team goes. Frankly, neither one of those two stand out to me. Both of them have at least some injury concern, and both have flashed moments brilliance between moments of failure. If you look at their ages that doesn't help clear things up, either. Pineda is going into his age 27 season, while Eovaldi is going into his age 26 season.

Michael Pineda is my bet to earn an extension this season due to his higher upside. While his ERA was actually a bit higher than Eovaldi's last season (4.37 to 4.20), Michael gives up less walks (1.2 walks per nine innings last season to Nathan's 2.9) and strikes out more (8.7 K/9 in 2015 versus 7.1). And keep in mind that 2015 was Pineda's last full season (or close to it) since after 2011, while Nathan has thrown nearly 580 innings in that same timeframe.

In conclusion, if things work out like I think they will, the 2018 starting rotation look like this...

1. Masahiro Tanaka
2. Luis Severino
3. James Kaprielian
4. Michael Pineda
5. Ian Clarkin

I'm interested in hearing what you think of my plan, or what you would like to see happen.

Yes, I'm fishing for comments. Now shut up!


  1. Bryan I very seldom disagree with you but here goes, not much different...
    I think it should be this way:
    1. Tank
    2. Luis Severino
    3. James Kaprielian
    4. Michael Pineda
    5a. Ian Clarkin
    5b. Domingo "Ace" Acevedo, may end in the BP.
    There are a few more that could also have something to say about that....but let's not get carried away.
    I am not sure about Tank signing with the Yankees.

    1. Seeing his age and the other available arms, I think the Yankees will go hard for him. But you're right... it's not a foregone conclusion that he'll even want to return.

  2. Bryan,

    Put in Nathan Eovaldi and take out Ian Clarkin and you got me sold. Not that I don't like or believe in Clarkin but I like Eovaldi's arm more.

    1. So do you see the Yankees extending Pineda and Eovaldi?

    2. I can see it, sure. They are young pitchers with live arms that have shown flashes of brilliance at times. A lot can happen between then and now obviously but I could absolutely see them extending them both and saving a few dollars rather than letting them hit the free agency market.

  3. There are many scenarios that could be effective, which is better than we have had for the last 20 years or more. I could see Evo in a rotation along with others and yes I do like his arm also. I was worried how much it would cost to keep him. So a line of;
    1. Luis Severino
    2. James Kaprielian
    3. Michael Pineda
    4. Eovaldi
    5a. Ian Clarkin
    5b. Domingo "Ace" Acevedo, still may end in the BP unless he develops another pitch which he is working on now.
    5c. Cale Coshow is better suited as a closer type than "ACE" but is a good starter for 3/5 innings now unless he can get in better shape. As a BP pitcher, he is dominant much like Dellon

    1. If Severino takes a few more steps this year towards being a #1, and Pineda shows he can stay healthy and effective consistently, I like this. But as things stand now this rotation looks weak.

      But who knows how I'll feel after the season?

    2. You and me both, along with just about all the so called experts!

      Oh and don't forget the guy I had picked as the better pitcher in that trade along with Pineda...Jose Vicente Campos. I know he is coming back from TJ and didn't do well last year but, IF he can get it all back on track he could be a #2/3 starter in a couple of years.
      Just another one that can be added to the long list of hopefuls in the system.

    3. Ian Clarkin missed basically the entire season last year and was already a good three years or so away last year. He's at least three years away still, if not sooner. Who knows how the elbow will react. He didn't pitch all that well in Arizona this year, although obviously the stats didn't and shouldn't matter.

      I don't see how Clarkin can be relied upon in two seasons. I dno't.

      And this is the second year removed from TJS for Vicente, no? Or am I going crazy and getting old (in that order)?

    4. Both Daniel...
      But yes, it is the 2nd year! I look for him to come out slow and work all the kinks out by next spring at the latest. And be ready for 2017/18. He has (had) better stuff then Pineda...if I remember right!


Sorry for the Capatcha... Blame the Russians :)