The Yankees’ big weakness coming into last year’s post-season was the starting rotation. They have went out and fixed it for the 2012 season with a couple of huge moves recently. Here is a look at how the starting rotation looks for 2012:
#1: C.C. Sabathia: 31-year old lefty starting pitcher C.C. Sabathia is going to be the ace of the Yankees’ starting rotation in 2012. He started 33 games for the Yankees last year and he was 19-8 with a 3.00 ERA and a 1.23 WHIP. Sabathia has been the Yankees’ ace since the first time he stepped on the mound for them. He has pitched in 101 games (all starts) in his first three years with the Yankees and he is 59-23 with a 3.18 ERA and a 1.19 WHIP. Sabathia is a workhorse who seems to throw harder as the game goes on, but with the depth in the pen, they might try to start watching his innings a big starting this year. Sabathia has now pitched in 355 games (all starts) in his first 11 years in the majors and he is 176-96 with a 3.51 ERA and a 1.23 WHIP. He is a true ace.
#2: Ivan Nova: 25-year old righty Ivan Nova really stepped up in the second half of last year for the Yankees. He was sent to the minors for a little bit and he came back a totally different pitcher. He pitched in 28 games (27 starts) for the Yankees last year and he was 16-4 with a 3.70 ERA and a 1.33 WHIP. The Yankees resisted dealing Nova last year as a lot of teams were calling about him, and it proved to be smart to keep him as he has a very bright future. Nova has pitched in 38 games (34 starts) in his first two years with the Yankees and he is 17-6 with a 3.86 ERA and a 1.36 WHIP.
#3: Hiroki Kuroda: 36-year old righty starting pitcher Hiroki Kuroda was inked to a 1-year deal last week and he will likely be the #3 starter for the Yankees in 2012. He pitched in 32 games (all starts) for the Dodgers last year and he was 13-16 with a 3.07 ERA and a 1.21 WHIP. He has now pitched in 115 games (114 starts) in his first four years in the majors and he is 41-46 with a 3.45 ERA and a 1.19 WHIP. It will be interesting to see how well Kuroda does in 2012. He pitched in a pitchers’ park his whole career and in the National League…where the lineups are weaker. That being said, I still think he will do fine due to the lineup and bullpen that will have his back.
#4: Michael Pineda: 23-year old righty flamethrower Michael Pineda will be the Yankees’ #4 starter in 2012. He pitched in 28 games (all starts) for the Mariners as a rookie last year and he was 9-10 with a 3.74 ERA and a 1.10 WHIP. Pineda is one of the best power arms in the majors right now as he comes right after batters. That could get him into some trouble at Yankee Stadium as it’s nowhere near the pitchers’ park that Safeco Field is. That being said, Pineda has a huge upside.
#5: Freddy Garcia: 35-year old righty Freddy Garcia will have to compete with A.J. Burnett and Phil Hughes for this job in spring training. He was by far the best pitcher of this bunch last year. Garcia pitched in 26 games (25 starts) for the Yankees last year and he was 12-8 with a 3.62 ERA and a 1.34 WHIP. He has now pitched in 329 games (327 starts) in his first 13 years in the majors and he is 145-95 with a 4.09 ERA and a 1.30 WHIP. Garcia would finish a distant third in this competition stuff wise, but he really knows how to pitch which gives him a slight edge heading into spring training.
A.J. Burnett: 35-year old righty A.J. Burnett is making the most money of this trio, but that usually doesn’t matter much to the Yankees. He pitched in 33 games (32 starts) for the Yankees last year and he was 11-11 with a 5.15 ERA and a 1.43 WHIP. Burnett has now pitched in 99 games (98 starts) in his first three years with the Yankees and he is 34-35 with a 4.79 ERA and a 1.45 WHIP as he has been a bust for them so far. Burnett has now pitched in 314 games (309 starts) in his first 13 years in the majors and he is 121-111 with a 4.10 ERA and a 1.33 WHIP. Burnett will need to step up in spring training if he’s going to beat out Garcia and Hughes for the #5 spot in the Yankees’ starting rotation.
Phil Hughes: 25-year old righty Phil Hughes had an injury ravaged 2011 season for the Yankees. He pitched in 17 games (14 starts) for the Yankees last year and he was 5-5 with a 5.79 ERA and a 1.49 WHIP. He has now pitched in 120 games (71 starts) in his first five years in the majors and he is 36-23 with 3 saves, a 4.46 ERA and a 1.30 WHIP. If Hughes loses out in this competition, the Yankees will move him to the bullpen.
PROJECTED GRADE FOR THE STARTING ROTATION IN 2012: B