Even though Mike Mussina and Andy Pettitte are getting old they have both continued to pitch well so I would expect that they will be fine. Chien-Ming Wang has the look of a future star in New York who will be around for a long time. Kei Igawa (from Japan) and Carl Pavano are huge question marks for the Yankees rotation. 39 year old righty Mike Mussina just keeps rolling along for the Yankees. Mussina had his best season since 2003 last year as he was 15-7 with a 3.51 ERA and a 1.11 WHIP. He whiffed 171 batters last season and held them to a .241 batting average which shows the old guy still has plenty left in the tank. Part of the reason for Mussina’s success is his pinpoint control….he only walked 1.6 batters every nine innings that he pitched. Look for Mussina to win 15-19 games for the Yankees this season. I would think he could win 20 but he’s never done that in his 16 years in the majors despite having 239 career wins.
26 year old righty Chien-Ming Wang was the most sought after player on the Yankees roster near the trading deadline last season and the Yanks were smart to keep him. Wang has a great arm but he doesn’t blow the ball by many hitters as he only whiffed 76 batters in 218 innings last season. The fact that Wang only walked 2.15 batters per nine innings really helped him as opposing batters hit .277 against him last season. Look for Wang to again be successful for the Yanks, but he might be hard pressed to repeat the 19-6 record with a 3.63 ERA and 1.31 WHIP of last season. Expect his ERA to be closer to 4 while winning 15-17 games.
34 year old lefty Andy Pettitte has returned to the Yankees after three seasons in Houston. Pettitte had an off season for the Astros last year as he was 14-13 with a 4.20 ERA and a 1.44 WHIP. The Yankees didn’t seem to worried about his 2006 season and gave him a 1 year contract for big money. Being back in pinstripes might reinvigorate Pettitte and having an all-star team lined up behind him on defense will certainly boost his confidence. Pettitte will be adding on to his 149-78 career record with the Yankees. Look for him to add 15-17 wins to that total while having an ERA in the low 4’s.
27 year old lefty Kei Igawa was signed for big money to be the Yanks #4 starter this season. He was 13-9 last season with a 3.11 ERA and a 1.10 WHIP. He also whiffed 184 batters in 200 innings despite not having a big arm. Igawa is a crafty lefty but he could have some problems against major league hitting as they are just better than the Japanese batters. Igawa has a career record in Japan of 85-60 with a 3.15 ERA and a 1.24 WHIP. Look for him to be more Irabu than Nomo.
31 year old righty Carl Pavano will be the likely #5 starter for the Yankees and he will have to have a good season to rebuild his reputation. He didn’t pitch at all for the Yankees last season as he was injured almost the whole year. His season consisted of 7 starts in the minor leagues. He was 2-2 with a 2.20 ERA on his various rehab assignments. In 2005 Pavano was only 4-6 for the Yankees with a 4.77 ERA and a 1.47 WHIP. Pavano is not that good of a pitcher but he pitched great in the World Series in 2003 for the Marlins and he had a super 2004 with a 18-8 record with a 3.00 ERA and a 1.17 WHIP and that made Brian Cashman think Pavano was worth the big bucks and he was WRONG! Don’t look for Pavano to have over a .500 record for the Yankees this season as the pressure will make him crumble.
24 year old Jeff Karstens has been a steady riser through the Yankees farm system. He pitched well in 8 games (6 starts) for the Yanks last season as he had a 2-1 record with a 3.80 ERA and a 1.20 WHIP. Look for Karstens to start the season in AAA but he will probably be the first Yankee to get a call. He also could break camp with the #5 job in the rotation if the Yanks can find a taker for Carl Pavano in a trade.
26 year old righty Darrell Rasner pitched well for the Yankees after they picked him up on waivers from the Washington Nationals in 2006. He pitched in 6 games (3 starts) and he was 3-1 with a 4.43 ERA and a 1.13 WHIP. Look for Rasner to be in the same boat as Karstens as they both will be waiting in AAA for a call from the Yanks.
20 year old Philip Hughes is the Yankees most prized prospect as many scouts are comparing him to a young Roger Clemens. Hughes started 26 games between A+AA ball and he was 12-6 with a 2.16 ERA and a 0.86 WHIP. Hughes whiffed 168 batters in 146 innings last season and he only allowed opponents to hit .179 against them. The Yankees would be smart to let Hughes pitch in AA+AAA ball this season and then bring him up in September, but you never know with the Yanks as they might promote him earlier if they think he can handle it.
23 year old Humberto Sanchez was acquired for Gary Sheffield and it could wind up being a steal for the Yanks. Sanchez started 20 games last season between AA+AAA ball for the Tigers and he was 10-6 with a 2.63 ERA and a 1.17 WHIP. Sanchez has a big arm and he’s almost ready for the bigs as he whiffed 129 batters in 123 innings last season. Sanchez will likely get called up before Hughes as he’s a little more polished and experienced.