Friday, March 3, 2017

Sorting the Yankees 4th and 5th Starter Options

The New York Yankees have brought competition to their spring training camps this season and no position is seemingly more wide open right now than their 4th and 5th starting pitcher slots. New York has brought at least five options to fill two potential slots while there are always the dark horses that seemingly come to camp every year and at least make things interesting so this morning I wanted to try and sort out the Top 5 candidates for those last two slots and tell you a little bit about them if you didn’t already know. Which I’m sure that most of you that are reading this know all you need to know about these five men but we gain new and exciting readers and fans daily… so there’s always that.

Chad Green made eight starts with the New York Yankees big league club in 2016 before straining his ulnar collateral ligament and flexor tendon which ended his season prematurely. Green was solid, not overwhelming by any means truth be told, in those starts and would make a solid 5th starter type for the Yankees. Green will not be the Green he was in Triple-A last season that posted a 1.52 ERA in 94.2 innings but he could give the Yankees six innings every fifth day and hand the ball to that Yankees bullpen with a lead more times than not and honestly that’s all you can and should expect out of a fifth starter in today’s game. As of right now I have him penciled in as the Yankees fifth starter and I think manager Joe Girardi probably does too barring any health concerns.

The fourth starter I have already named on the blog in recent weeks and his name is Luis Severino. Severino has been said to be working on his changeup command and control all offseason long and early indications from camp and from the Grapefruit League shows that he may finally have a third pitch added to his fastball/slider arsenal. If Severino can throw his fastball at 98 MPH and repeat his mechanics, release point and delivery on a changeup that dives out of the zone at 88 MPH then Major League hitters just better watch out because Severino would be the best fourth starter in all of the game next season and it wouldn’t even be close.

Another arm for the Yankees that actually made starts for the team at the Major League level last season is Luis Cessa. Cessa, just 24-years old, started nine games for the Yankees last season after coming over with Chad Green in the Justin Wilson trade with the Detroit Tigers posting a 4-4 record with a 4.35 ERA. Those stats included eight appearances in the bullpen for New York which is likely where he will begin the 2017 season with the club as well. Cessa is not the type of pitcher to overpower a batter or the type of pitcher to strike out 200 a season but he limits walks and hits and simply gets guys out which makes him a great candidate for the 5th starter spot in the Bronx. The problem for Cessa is the Yankees, and this is the best problem to have, have too many options in front of Cessa going forward this season. For that reason alone I see Cessa in the bullpen as the long man on Opening Day 2017.

Adam Warren is always an option for the Yankees starting rotation because the right-hander has this uncanny ability to switch back-and-forth between the starting rotation and the bullpen like it’s something that is done every day in today’s game. Warren, a former Yankees draft pick out of North Carolina and now 29-year old bullpen piece for the club, was atrocious with the Chicago Cubs last season before being traded back to the Yankees midseason in the Aroldis Chapman trade and before posting an impressive 3.26 ERA with New York in 30.1 innings. Warren would make for a great Plan B in the rotation and can always switch back to the bullpen whenever another option or direction arises.

Bryan Mitchell is one of my personal favorite Yankees starting pitching options and prospects but the Yankees don’t seem to share the same thoughts on the young right-hander as I do. I mean, sure, I may be speculating here but it seems like the team hasn’t given Mitchell as many options to fail, succeed or figure it out at the Major League level as they have other arms but what do I know. I’m just a fan, not a professional blogger and journalist by any means. Mitchell, if we’re being honest here, hasn’t done himself any favors with his toe injury last spring and with him taking a line drive off his face that ended his season prematurely. Nor has he helped his own cause with his 4.52 career ERA in 65.2 innings, sample size people, but still at just 25-years old this may be the make-or-break season for him with the Yankees. Given the opportunity, again there’s that word opportunity when it comes to Mitchell, he may make it but he will definitely break it if he toils around in the Yankees pen or minor league system again like the Yankees have been known to do with their arms.

So who wins the fourth and fifth starter competition? Right now I have Luis Severino and Chad Green winning the slots but it is anyone’s game at this point. I guess you will all have to just stay tuned. 

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