AL East 2015: Ranking the Starting Pitching

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Feb 22, 2015; Tampa, FL, USA; New York Yankees pitcher Masahiro Tanaka (19) throws in the bullpen during Sunday

5. New York Yankees – Masahiro Tanaka, Michael Pineda, C.C. Sabathia, Nathan Eovaldi, Chris Capuano, Adam Warren, Ivan Nova (Out until at least May)

The Yankees are a very intriguing case, kind of like their whole team. Hiroki Kuroda, gone. David Phelps, gone. Brandon McCarthy, who was for the second half of the season their best pitcher, gone. Vidal Nuno, gone.

But, they get back one of the most electric pitchers in baseball in Masahiro Tanaka. We already know how good he is, as Jonathan Schoop is about the only person who can figure him out.  He probably would have won the Cy Young if he was healthy all season. The team says there are no restrictions on Tanaka in Spring Training. But, with his offseason partially filled with recovery, you have to wonder if he will be the same Tanaka of last year.

At age 25, Michael Pineda might have figured it out. The righty went 5-5 with a 1.89 ERA and a WHIP of .825. Pineda doesn’t walk many, gets a good number of strikeouts, and also does not  allow home runs.  However, he has had major issues staying healthy in his career…which sounds like a good segue to our next player.

C.C. Sabathia is another pitcher who has a lot of miles on his arm. And also his knees. Joe Girardi commented recently that he is worried about Sabathia and his knees.  That isn’t a good sign. And, not only are there injury concerns, but Sabathia has steadily reggressed over the past few years, even ignoring last year. His ERA went from 3.00 in 2011 to 3.38 in 2012 to 4.78 in 2013 and then 5.28 in 2014. The Yankees are going to try to coax Sabathia’s body to fulfill his contract, but the truth is he just might not be able to.

Everyone knows the Yankees’ rotation was ravaged by injuries last year.  So the concern is certainly high about the health of their top pitchers.  Tanaka and Pineda can be a fearsome duo in baseball if they both are healthy and perform like 2014. But, injury concerns are there. As for Eovaldi and Capuano, both are likely nothing more than long relievers. Eovaldi is a career 15-35, playing for the Los Angeles Dodgers and the Miami Marlins.  That is awful. Now, some of that is run support-related, as his career ERA is 4.07. But, he led the majors in hits allowed in 2014 and is now coming to the AL East. Good luck.

Capuano was mainly a spot starter in 2014, bouncing between the Red Sox and Yankees. But he is not the next Babe Ruth. A career 76-97, Capuano does not have overpowering stuff, and I don’t see how he lasts the whole season as a starter.  However, Adam Warren has not shown he is ready to be a starter, and Ivan Nova won’t be back until at least May, and he was downright terrible last year before getting hurt.

The Yankees have a star, a potential star, and then nothing but giant question marks, and that is what lands them in last place.