Last week was rather eventful for the Yankees’ pitching staff. It gained Phil Hughes as its fifth starting pitcher and lost Chad Gaudin as a long man/reliever/whatever he was going to be. Both of these moves obviously affected the Yankees’ depth at starting pitcher, so let’s look at how it’s going to shake out.
No matter who won the fifth starter’s competition, Joba or Phil, the pitching depth was likely to be hurt. While Brian Cashman hasn’t ruled out sending Chamberlain to AAA, I still think it’s unlikely (I hope this is what happens, but I’m not holding my breath). Because the loser, now Joba, will likely be relegated to the bullpen, the Yankees lose a starting pitcher and their depth takes a bit of a hit.
This leaves Alfredo Aceves and Sergio Mitre as the 6th and 7th starters as swingmen out of the bullpen. While this isn’t necessarily bad–either one would likely be in the starting rotation of many, many teams–I’d prefer it if these guys were the 7th/8th starters behind Joba.
After Aceves and Mitre, it gets kind of dicey. The next candidates are guys like Jason Hirsh, Ivan Nova, and Zach McAllister. Hirsh isn’t young, he just turned 27, but he’s not over the hill yet and he’s pitched very well since joining the Yankee organization. Nova had a solid season last year, but still has a way to go; the same goes for Z-Mac, whom I like a lot. It’s doubtful that these guys see any meaningful Major League time, but they’re there just in case. The fact of the matter is, after the 7th starter, most teams don’t have anything too great. If the Yankees have to count on these guys for meaningful innings, something as gone terribly wrong (see: Ponson, Sidney and Rasner, Darrell in 2008).
With Joba likely heading to the bullpen, the Yankees’ SP depth has gotten a little more shallow. It’s not bad by any means and with a starting five as strong as the Yankees’, it’s quite possible that no one past the sixth starter really matters this year. For the second straight year, I’m very confident in the Yankees’ pitching staff going into the season, no matter who’s taking the mound.
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