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 Warren, Luis Cessa, Luis Severino, Bryan 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.