How does Joe Girardi evaluate the starting rotation competition?

Starting rotation competitions aren’t anything new to manager Joe Girardi.

Last Spring, Girardi evaluated a starting rotation competition that saw two pitchers fighting for the final spot in the rotation. This year, there are five pitchers fighting for two spots that were recently vacated by Ivan Nova and Nathan Eovaldi.

The starting rotation competition has been the main show for the Yankees this Spring, with all five starters (Adam WarrenLuis CessaLuis SeverinoBryan Mitchell and Chad Green) pitching well as they begin the second go-around.

We know that Girardi has to choose two starters at the end of Spring Training, but what exactly is the process of Girardi choosing the final two starters?

“I try to watch [hitters’] swings. I don’t look so much at line scores. In spring training the wind can blow out and infields can get really fast,’’ Girardi said prior to the Yankees 8-1 win at George M. Steinbrenner Field on Thursday night. “I try to watch how many pitches they have and how effective they are with those pitches. You can have four pitches, but if you are only effective with two, the other two don’t do a ton of good. I watch how they field their position and hold runners because if you are pitching six and seven innings those things will come up more.’’

Last year, it took Girardi until the final week of Spring Training to pick a fifth starter. He eventually sent Nova to the bullpen and slotted CC Sabathia in as the fifth starter. Mitchell was originally chosen for the rotation last year before suffering a freak injury in Spring Training.

Warren was the latest starter to have a second go-around, and other than allowing one run on a solo-shot to Orioles catcher Caleb Joseph, he was extremely sharp. While Warren has the stuff to be a starter, he knows his versatility in the Yankees bullpen could affect Girardi’s decision.

Despite that, Warren felt very good about his recent outing as he hopes it gives him a leg-up in the competition.

“I felt really good, used all my pitches and had quality off-speed stuff,’’ said Warren, who gave up a homer to Caleb Joseph on a two-seam fastball he has been experimenting with. “I felt like the slider was much better and the changeup was really good. As a starter that’s an important pitch for me.’’

Severino, who has to make the rotation or risk starting the season in Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, will make his second start of the Spring on Friday afternoon against the Toronto Blue Jays.

Severino is slated to go to the World Baseball Classic shortly after and play for Team Dominican Republic.

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7 Responses to How does Joe Girardi evaluate the starting rotation competition?

  1. ERIC PELLIS says:

    Why do the Yanks hand over a starting spot for Pineda? This is suppose to be earned on performance and he has certainly been given every chance imaginable. They have five or six starters that would be better than he is. Girardi's loyalty is so annoying and this is not what is best for the team. Thank goodness he is a free agent at the end of the season.

    • mosc says:

      3.79 2016 FIP and didn't miss a start. It's not an aberation either he's had a 3.42 FIP over the past 3 years combined. Durability has also been excellent since his 2014 return missing fewer starts than you can count on one hand.

      His ERA has not lived up to his FIP in 2016. What's foolish is to get caught up in small sample size and shoot yourself in the foot from using a guy with incredible stuff and control.

      He's earned a shot at starting against ANYTHING others could do in spring training, it's just that simple. You can re-evaluate in May if it comes to that.

  2. Jim says:

    Pineda's upside is pretty high and he will probably log the 3rd most innings in the rotation. It is not loyalty as much as reality.

  3. Jim says:

    Last year was 32 starts for 175.2 innings. His record & ERA were not good but K/9 was solid and he shows stretches of brilliance. I think having the job to lose is legit. None of the kids are like to match his innings and if he falters agains, he'll probably get pushed out of the rotation. Innings are really important and we don't have a supply of proven innings eaters and don't have a single pitcher that got 200 last year though Tanaka was just shy of it. Even CC was at 179.2

  4. ERIC PELLIS says:

    Accountability means nothing anymore. You can evaluate with your numbers all you want but I go the old fashioned way and that is with my eye test. Pineda can give all of you the strikeouts and innings but this guy does not have a brain in his head to be a succesful major league pitcher. Anyone who leads the league in giving up hits with two strikes tells me all I need to know. He is very similar to Yankee pitchers in the past with horrible body language (Pavano, Vazquez, and Weaver) to name a few. So go ahead and enjoy Michael Pineda, while I dream and wait for the young studs that will head our way in seasons to come.

  5. Terry says:

    I'm with you Eric. He's just not getting it done. It's different if there are no other options, but this year we have options. He's got great stuff, no doubt. But he just can't put it together. Plus 32 starts and only 175 innings is what about 5 and a half innings per start. I think we can insert Warren, Mitchell or Cessna and get at least that if not better. I don't get a choice but for my money, he's got a short leash this year. I know there will be some juggling with innings limits towards the end of the year and what not. But we need to get out to a better start this year. Hopefully he proves me wrong but we'll see

  6. Jim says:

    I agree with the short leash, just defending why he has the job to lose.

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