For me, the key to the 2017 season is Michael Pineda.
I remember when he first came up to the Bigs and was viewed as a potential solid #2 starter behind Felix Hernandez in Seattle. He had some great starts in 2011, finishing 9-10 for the Mariners, with 3.74 ERA in 171 innings. Or at least he helped my fantasy baseball team that year. It should have been a spring board to bigger and better things, but it has never come to fruition due to injuries and inconsistency.
I can't really compare Pineda to CC Sabathia as they were two completely different pitchers in their 27th years but I will anyway. By age 27, Sabathia had 117 wins, whereas Pineda has only 32. It's disappointing because Pineda has every bit the talent Sabathia had at that age. Pineda might not have the ceiling of a clear cut #1 pitcher like Sabathia did at the time but he's not too far behind in overall talent. Application of that talent has been a vastly different story.
At age 28, Sabathia, in his first year with the Yankees, went 19-8 with 3.37 ERA and 197 strikeouts in 230 innings. It's hard to predict that kind of success for the 28-year-old Pineda considering he's never come close to Sabathia's numbers. From the time he joined the Cleveland Indians at age 21 to age 27, CC never won less than 11 games (averaging over 14 wins per season). For Big Mike, the 12 wins in 2015 represents his only double-digit win total. If he could win 13-15 games for the Yankees this year, it would have a huge impact.
The Yankees carry so many questions in their rotation this year. But for Bryan Van Dusen's benefit, I will forego any requests for Jose Quintana.
Masahiro Tanaka has been outstanding, if not spectacular, this spring and is showing signs this will be a dominant year for him. But we live in fear of hearing the words, "You know that slight tear in the UCL...". I am cautiously optimistic that this will be a career year for him and that he'll be mentioned among the candidates for Cy Young at the end of the season. He may not win it but he should at least be in the conversation.
CC will be CC…the age 36 version. Last year, he averaged nearly 6 innings per start. He'll need to do it again. The days of 19 or 20 wins are over, but if he can just pitch to keep the team in games, life should be good. We'll let the bats of Gary Sanchez and Greg Bird do the rest.
For the final two spots, I am still forecasting Luis Severino and Bryan Mitchell. I think it's a certainty that Severino starts but the fifth spot could be easily taken by Chad Green or Luis Cessa. I like Mitchell and he's gotten the most looks this spring over the other back-end rotation competitors as Joe Girardi makes his evaluations. But regardless of who wins those final two spots, there will surely be a few bumps and bruises along the way.
With so many questions looming throughout the rotation, Big Mike needs to man up, put on his big boy pants and pitch like we know he can. He needs to have Tanaka's back and make sure that teams fear the 1-2 punch.
No pressure, Michael. As actor Rob Schneider says, "You CAN do it!"...
Daniel Burch has been preaching pitcher Jordan Montgomery all spring and now the 6'6" lefty is starting to get the love from other blog sites. Although Montgomery won't break camp with the Yankees, I predict that he'll make his first start on Sunday, June 4th in Toronto against the Blue Jays. Whether it is caused by injuries or if the back-end of the rotation is failing, I think we'll see Montgomery sooner rather than later.
My thoughts about Pete Rose saying that Tampa Bay Rays third baseman Evan Longoria should be playing for the Yankees or the Cubs? I honestly do not care what Pete Rose thinks (although admittedly Longoria wouldn't look too shabby in pinstripes). At 31, Longoria doesn’t fit the youth movement in the Bronx. As for displacing Kris Bryant in Chicago? Yeah, right. Daniel Burch, take this as a sign that you are now too old to play for the Yankees.
In yesterday’s Grapefruit League action, the Yankees started off the second half of the Spring schedule on the wrong foot, falling to the Tampa Bay Rays, 10-6. Despite giving up a wind-assisted home run, Luis Severino pitched well and looks to be in control of the drive for the #4 slot in the rotation. The new Core were represented by Gary Sanchez's solo homer and a 2-for-3 performance by Greg Bird. However, the man of the hour (as he is most days) was Gleyber Torres. He doubled and homered, driving in 3 RBI’s. Like Bird, he was also 2-for-3. He's making this game look way too easy.
With the loss, the Yankees fell to 13-5. Today, the Yankees face (again) Clay Buchholz and the Philadelphia Phillies at Steinbrenner Field. It’s another opportunity to pin a loss on the former Red Sock. The aforementioned Michael Pineda will be on the mound for the home team. As long as Gleyber Torres is in the lineup, I’m good!
Have a great Wednesday!