LADY AT THE BAT: Yankees' Rotation Woes Continue As Wild Card Game Looms

Wednesday, September 30, 2015

Yankees' Rotation Woes Continue As Wild Card Game Looms

With the Yankees loss to the Boston Red Sox on last night, it’s becoming increasingly clear that their playoff run, should they hang on to make one, will start with a Wild Card play-in.

The Yankees have dropped the first two games of a four game set against the Boston Red Sox and have erased any reasonable chance they had at the A.L. East division. Now they need to be more concerned with staving off the Houston Astros, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim and the Minnesota Twins.

Still, with the playoff probabilities still heavily favoring the Bronx Bombers, the Yankees should make the playoffs via a Wild Card spot and, barring some terrible misfortune, Masahiro Tanaka will get that start.

He’ll get one tune up start before the Yankees put the weight of their 2015 season on his shoulders (or, perhaps more accurately, on his elbow and his hamstring). He has had a mixed, and injury shortened, season during which he has thrown 149.0 innings with an ERA of 3.38 and a WHIP just under 1.00.

On the surface, those are not ace stats but he has turned it on when needed and seems to be the one pitcher who is peaking at the right time as he has a 2.55 ERA over his last seven starts.

If the Yankees earn a the wild card they will need Tanaka to have the game of his life to get the Yankees to the ALDS. If he’s successful, it becomes a question of who will follow him.

Right now, that’s not a pretty picture.

By giving up six runs in the first inning of Tuesday’s start, Michael Pineda did absolutely nothing to inspire confidence that he should be second out of the gate. Pineda, who was so promisingly dominant early in the season, has been struggling over the past two months. Over his last 15 games he is just 5-6, with a 5.02 ERA and does not give the Yankees the depth they need.

Ivan Nova has an ERA of 6.88 over his last 7 starts giving up 44 hits vs. 25 strikeouts in those 35.1 IP. He has gone 1-6 over that span and would be working out of the bullpen if Nathan Eovaldi hadn’t suffered his regular season ending injury.

CC Sabathia has been much improved since his return from the DL earlier this year but he’s still not going to give the Yankees the length or shut down starts they need either. If he gets a playoff start it will be because his rotation mates are so terrible that he looks decent in comparison.

Then there’s Luis Severino, who has been everything the Yankees could have dreamed of since being called up, but is still a rookie who has never been through a long major league season or pitched in the playoffs. As great as he has been, he is still unproven.

With those options, the Yankees post-season rotation (again, assuming they get there) looks like this: Tanaka, Severino and roll the dice. Still, stranger things have happened than a Wild Card team winning the World Series (see 2014 playoffs).

So, c’mon Yankees. Win these next two games to get into the playoffs and let’s see what you can do from there.

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