Coming out of Spring Training, the Yankees had a great rotation on paper: the ace of the staff CC Sabathia looking for redemption, veteran Hiroki Kuroda hoping to build on a successful 2013 season, Ivan Nova hoping to prove to the Yankees that what they had seen in 2013 wasn’t a fluke, Masahiro Tanaka hoping to prove that he was worth the $155 Million contract and Michael Pineda, who fans finally would be able to get a glimpse of after sitting out the last two seasons with a tear in his shoulder.
Fast forward to May 19, 2014 and 60% of the Yankees rotation is missing: Ivan Nova will be out until mid-2015 with Tommy John Surgery, Michael Pineda is expected to return in mid-June from a strain in his teres major muscle and CC Sabathia is out until July at the earliest with issues in his surgically repaired knee. Hiroki Kuroda hasn’t performed as well as he should and Masahiro Tanaka has been the only bright spot since the season began. It’s miraculous the Yankees are sitting a half game up of the American League East coming into the series with the Chicago Cubs (the entire AL East has the night off tonight), but they need the plug-in rotation to step up.
Vidal Nuno, David Phelps and Chase Whitley are three names taking over the Yankees rotation for the time being; there’s a chance a young Yankees fan has no idea who any of them are, yet they’re in the rotation because the Yankees need help. Whitley only had one start and didn’t make it past the fifth inning although he did pitch shut-out baseball, Vidal Nuno’s ERA hasn’t been pretty and David Phelps has been inconsistent. the Yankees are in Chicago this week, and if there’s anything the Yankees need, it’s for those three to step it up against the Cubs, White Sox and then the Cardinals once the Yankees make the trip to St. Louis.
Brian Cashman admitted he made some calls about possible trades to help the rotation, but no one is dealing their pitchers when so many teams are in a race for contention. The Yankees are forced to use the current rotation, but the Yankees hope the rotation they have now can pull it together and keep the team afloat until Pineda and Sabathia return from their disabled list stints.