LADY AT THE BAT: Six Man Rotation Looms Once Again For Yankees

Friday, August 21, 2015

Six Man Rotation Looms Once Again For Yankees

Rosters expand on September 1st and expect the Yankees to take full advantage. Which means, expect the Yankees to finally realize their long rumored/anticipated/desired (pick either of the above) six man rotation, They have dabbled with such a rotation this year, but this time it could really stick.

Pennants have been won and lost based on pitching rotations down the stretch. A look back at the 1964 Phillies proves my point. Philadelphia decided to start only two starters, Jim Bunning and Chris Short, for a combined nine starts in the final 13 games. The Phillies plan was to use this unique 2 man rotation plus an occasional third and fourth, starter until the pennant was clinched. It never happened and the Yankees Series opponent became St Louis, because the Phillies blew  a 6 1/2 game lead in those last 13 games,

For the 2015 Yankees,  3-2 losers to Cleveland last night in the Bronx. pitching seems to be a question of what have you done for me lately. So here is a look at the likely rotation, all six of them, for the Yankees race to the playoffs. It looks much different than what was tried and failed miserably in Philadelphia 51 years ago.

Masahiro Tanaka (Starts tonight and probably not again until the first game of the road trip in Atlanta): How about that complete game in his last start? How big was that? Certainly a rare occurrence these days. Tanaka has established himself as the ace of the staff, but with one major qualifier: Tanaka is best used on five days rest. What to make of a starter going on five days rest come playoff time is another issue.

Luis Severino (No "Joba Rules" in his future. To start this Saturday against Cleveland):
Yes, he could be sent to the pen much like one time starter, Joba Chambelain was back in '07, but why? It was utter dominance for reliever Chamberlain down the stretch and into the '07 playoffs, at least until that swarm of  midges arrived. "Joba rules" eventually took over management of the young pitcher, but that doesn't appear to be the plan for Severino, Severino has made three quality starts since being recalled and the Yankees have no apparent qualms about an innings cap. Seems like Severino is in the rotation the rest of the way.

Michael Pineda (Starts tonight in AAA):
After what is likely Pineda's final tune up he  would be on target to start next Wednesday against Houston, thus pushing Tanaka's next start back an extra day, which has been the modus operandi of Joe Girardi and company much of the season when Tanaka is healthy. That is where the sixth starter may become a reality and hang with the club until playoff time, at which point it will be anybody's guess how the playoff rotation stacks up (assuming a playoff rotation is needed)

CC Sabathia (Sunday's starter in the series finale against Cleveland.):
Ran out of gas after pitching well for six innings in his last start Tuesday.  Velocity is up in recent starts and it shows in the results. At one time it was my opinion that CC be sent to the bullpen and long relief. CC is not going anywhere outside the rotation.

Nathan Eovaldi (In line to start Monday against Houston):
He hit 100 on the radar and pitched seven strong innings Wednesday afternoon as the Yankees completed the sweep of Minnesota at the Stadium. Eovaldi has been sharp, going 8-0 since his Miami meltdown back on June 16.

Ivan Nova (Tuesday's likely starter against Houston):
In his 10th start since his return from Tommy John Surgery, Nova, last night was not sharp, as he allowed all 3 runs in his five innings of work to take the loss. Still, it was an outing that limited the damage. Unfortunately, the hitting did too little damage, with Alex Rodriguez (home run, single, stolen base, run) in the middle of both tallies.  Overall though, the Yankees have to be pleased with the results since Nova's return from injury.

So there you have it. Instead of the Phillies Big 2, the Yankees may very well begin their six man rotation when Pineda returns. Subject to change and nothing is cast in stone. Yet. But on September 1st look for a very full bullpen. Chances are the Yankees will have around 17 active pitchers on that date. That is when there are no worries that a six man rotation will draw down the bullpen anymore.

Just how it all plays in October remains to be seen.

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