Yesterday, I graded the Yankees position players and today is probably the toughest task: the starting rotation. I’ll start by grading the five original pitchers in the rotation and finally, I’ll grade David Phelps and Chase Whitley (I can’t really grade Shane Greene or Brandon McCarthy because they didn’t make enough starts for consideration. It also wouldn’t make sense to grade Vidal Nuno considering he’s not here anymore). Here are the grades for the Starting Rotation.
CC Sabathia: CC Sabathia got off to a rocky start for the Yankees after an abysmal 2013 season, but he didn’t have a chance to turn things around when he went down with a knee injury after making eight starts. In the eight starts Sabathia made, he was 3-4 with a 5.28 ERA, but because he didn’t make to the halfway mark, it’s almost impossible to grade him.
Sabathia’s Mid-Season Grade:
Hiroki Kuroda: Hiroki Kuroda got off to an un-Kuroda like start, but has since settled down and has given the Yankees decent outings. He’s not going to be vintage Kuroda since he’s 39-years-old, but a 6-6, 4.10 ERA is respectably solid in the American League East. The only complaint I have: the Yankees offense almost never gives Kuroda run support, so his 6-6 record is a little deceiving. On top of that, Kuroda is the only one who wasn’t bit by the injury bug in the rotation, so good for him. He wins the 2014 version of Survivor: Yankees Pitching edition.
Kuroda’s Mid-Season Grade:
Masahiro Tanaka: Before partially tearing his UCL, Masahiro Tanaka had been everything the Yankees envisioned and more. He had taken over the “ace” role from Sabathia, going 12-4 with a 2.51 ERA. Not only that, he was recently named an All-Star in his rookie season. Tanaka’s main goal is to return at some point during the second half of the season, but he had an excellent first half.
Tanaka’s Mid-Season Grade:
Ivan Nova: Ivan Nova only made four starts for the Yankees before he tore his UCL and needed Tommy John Surgery, so it’s incredibly difficult to grade him. In his four starts he was 2-2 with an 8.27 ERA but the main question for Nova is when will we see him on the mound again? One thing is certain: Nova’s not coming back this season.
Nova’s Mid-Season Grade:
Michael Pineda: Michael Pineda was the story coming out of Spring Training and he had been dazzling coming out of the gate. But then there was the pine tar incident against the Boston Red Sox where he was ejected and ultimately suspended. Then while throwing a bullpen session, he hurt his shoulder, which resulted him in missing the rest of the first half. Pineda is slated to return sometime in mid-August if his rehab goes well, but he’s just another piece the Yankees had been without for most of the year.
Pineda’s Mid-Season Grade:
David Phelps: David Phelps found himself in the rotation with the injuries of Michael Pineda and Ivan Nova, and since then he had been solid for the Yankees. He’s 3-4 with a 4.29 ERA this season in 89.0 innings. The only question with Phelps is if he could have a successful run in the second half of the season–or until either CC Sabathia or Michael Pineda come off the disabled list. Just know one thing, if he keeps pitching well, he’s not coming out of the rotation.
Phelps’s Mid-Season Grade:
Chase Whitley: The Yankees originally brought Chase Whitley up so he could make the start against the New York Mets following CC Sabathia’s injury. Whitley had never started a Major League game, but he was effective enough that he earned another start, then another, and then another. Finally, Whitley became a fixture in the rotation until the recent road trip where he was placed in the Yankees bullpen because he was reaching his innings limit. Whitley eventually made a start in Sunday night’s rain shortened game, earning the tough loss. Whitley has done better than what most expected, but he’s creeping up there in innings and it will be interesting to see his role in the second half of the season.
Whitley’s Mid-Season Grade:
Tomorrow: I grade the 2014 Yankees bullpen, including closer David Robertson. How will he fair in my grade book?