Projecting the 2012 Starting Rotation

With the “Chase for 28” continuing in 2012, the Yankees updated there pitching staff in hopes of heading above and beyond. With 7 pitchers competing for 5 spots (Sabathia, Kuroda, Pineda, Nova, Hughes, Garcia, Pettitte) it will certainly be an interesting year in the Bronx. Andy Pettitte is not slated to be ready until May which means that the Yankees rotation decision will be slightly easier until Pettitte returns. Here is how I see the 2012 rotation when the Yankees break camp next week.

1. CC SabathiaCC Sabathia has already been named the Yankees 2012 Opening Day starter and since he is the ace, it makes sense that he goes first in the rotation. Sabathia had another fantastic season last year going 19-8 with a 3.00 ERA. Basing on observation, Sabathia has had an okay Spring but I see Spring Training as a time to get Sabathia ready for Opening Day. The Yankees would much rather see Sabathia locked in during the regular season than in Spring Training anyway.

2. Hiroki Kuroda: Hiroki Kuroda may be one of the rare cases where Spring Training would actually mean something since Kuroda is trying to fight his way to get a rotation spot. Last season with the Dodgers, Kuroda was 13-16 with a 3.07 ERA. Kuroda had all the great stuff, but the Dodgers offense wasn’t potent enough to support his pitching. Now that Kuroda is in pinstripes, he should  have a better chance of a winning record due to the Yankees potent offense. Maybe the change in offense is working for Kuroda already. He already has his first 2 Spring Training career wins in a Yankees uniform.

3. Michael PinedaMichael Pineda is one of the newest acquisitions of the Yankees in the famous Jesus Montero trade which sent the former Yankee #1 prospect to Seattle. Last season with the Mariners, Pineda was 9-10 with a 3.74 ERA. The same issue with Kuroda was the same issue with Pineda; there wasn’t a potent offense to answer back to the great pitching that Pineda provided. Pineda has impressed quite a few in camp, but fans are worried about his fastball velocity. Pineda’s fastball velocity may not be there, but he has a pretty awesome changeup and that was a pitch that he learned this year before Spring Training games commenced.

4. Phil HughesPhil Hughes so far has been my favorite to watch in Spring Training. After being plagued with injuries, Hughes didn’t have a very good 2011 regular season. He was 5-5 with a 5.79 ERA in 17 games. So far Phil Hughes has out-shined the other Yankees pitchers in Spring Training going 0-1 with a 2.03 ERA while only allowing 1 HR. So far this has been Hughes’s best Spring Training in his career to date. Will all of that transfer to the 2012 season? I’m hoping so.

5. Ivan NovaIvan Nova has probably had the worst Spring Training by far of

Ivan Nova

all the Yankees pitchers but I believe that Nova can notch the final spot in the Yankees rotation. In 2011, Nova had the best year of his career going 16-4 with a 3.70 ERA.  Fans believe that Nova can easily struggle in his Sophomore year with the Yankees but even in Nova’s worst Spring Training outings he seemed to bounce back or at least start off well. It will be up to Nova to make the adjustments before the season begins because once the season begins and he struggles, he can easily be sent down to Triple-A Scranton Wilkes-Barre.

Bullpen. Freddy GarciaFreddy Garcia has done well this Spring, but I believe that he could be a good asset to the Yankees bullpen. With the unfortunate season ending (and possibly career ending) injury to Joba Chamberlain, the Yankees could use Garcia in the bullpen. In 2011 with the Yankees, Garcia went 12-8 with a 3.62 ERA. If Garcia is placed in the pen and if one of the pitchers get injured then that is when Garcia would come in the rotation and help out.

When Andy Pettitte comes back into the mold in May, there are 2 things that the Yankees could do to insert Pettitte in the rotation.

1. Send Nova/Pineda down: If either Ivan Nova or Michael Pineda are struggling during the season then the Yankees could send either Pineda & Nova down (since they both have options) to make room for Pettitte in the rotation.

2. Send Nova/Pineda/Hughes to bullpen/Trade Garcia: The second possibility would be to send either Ivan Nova, Michael Pineda or Phil Hughes to the bullpen and with that Pettitte gets a spot in the rotation. The Yankees could also trade Freddy Garcia so the Yankees could get another bat for the lineup if Ibanez comes off cold during the year.

The decision that Joe Girardi may have to make next week will not be as difficult as deciding where pitchers will go once Andy Pettitte comes back. It must be fun to be the Yankees manager.

About Delia E.

Delia Enriquez is the managing editor of Yankees Fans Unite. She enjoys analyzing the New York Yankees whether it be their pitching, roster or their manager. You can follow her on twitter @dfiregirl4 for more tweets, analysis and opinion on the Yankees.

Posted on March 30, 2012, in Personal Opinion, Player Analysis and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. That’s probably the lineup. I can’t see Pineda being left off. Usually an injury or poor start from someone will work it self out with who Pettitte will replace.

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