And then to the fourth and final part of this survey with our overview of the men who might take the mound for the Yankees in 2014. Again, some old favourites, some trying to enhance their reputation and some new arrivals………
Dellin Betances Born 23 March 1988
Betances has been a late season call up for the last two years and has played in eight games over that period without setting the world alight. At the moment, he is sufficiently down the pecking order with the Bronx Bombers that a similar situation is likely. Unless he has an outstanding spring, he will begin the season at Scranton with the Railriders.
Cesar Cabral Born 11 February 1989
Cabral finally made it to the majors after a number of seasons kicking around the minors with both Boston and New York. The key factor for him is that he is a left-hander on a team that is short of left-handed relief and, consequently, he has a very good chance of making the opening day roster.
Preston Claiborne Born 21 January 1988
Despite a less-than-stellar 2012, a great spring last year resulted in Claiborne making the major league roster for the Yankees at the beginning of the season. He opened the season in great form but the longer the season went on the more he struggled. He ended the year with a 4.11 ERA having endured a couple of demotions to Scranton Wilkes-Barre. Ultimately, he only made it back to the Bronx when the rosters were expanded in September. The 40-man roster is a little thin for relief pitchers this year but even so he will need a good Spring Training to make it to opening day.
David Huff Born 22 August 1984
After 4 ½ seasons with Cleveland, Huff was claimed off waivers by the Yankees last season. He was used mostly in long relief but was also given two starts in place of the faltering Phil Hughes. He finished the season with a 4.67 ERA with some great performances but a few where he let himself down. For 2014, he has three possibilities, all of which are enhanced by his being a southpaw. He could make the team as fifth starter, long reliever, or as a left-handed specialist. He will have a battle for each role but he should make the roster.
Shawn Kelley Born 26 April 1984
In 2013, his fifth season in the majors (first with the Yankees), Kelley was a regular fixture in the Yankees bullpen. He was seldom outstanding but he took his share of the weight throughout the season. He finished with a 4.39 ERA which is higher than his career average (3.77) but he should take up the same role in the new season.
Ivan Nova Born 12 January 1987
Nova was excellent some of the time in 2013 but sometimes he struggled. He finished with a 9-6 win/loss record having been demoted to Scranton at one point to figure out problems with his mechanics. He goes into Spring Training inked in to be the third or fourth starter and he will need to blow it pretty badly to change that arrangement.
Vidal Nuno Born 26 July 1987
Nuno played in 5 games for New York in 2013 and performed pretty well but ultimately the team decided he needed more time at Triple-A before the big transition became permanent. He finished the season at Scranton with a 1.03 ERA. However, these figures are somewhat deceptive as he spent a considerable time on the disabled list last year. There is no reason that to assume that the Yankees will rush him back to the majors and in all likelihood, he will begin the season once more at the lower level.
David Phelps Born 9 October 1986
Phelps is 10-9 in his first two seasons in the majors and has split his time between starting and long relief. Again, there seems no reason to assume that he will not be on the major league roster come April and that he will once more be an essential part of the Yankees’ pitching staff through 2014.
Michael Pineda Born 18 January 1989
After the 2011 season, the Seattle Mariners traded Michael Pineda to the Yankees for Jesus Montero in a trade which included several other minor league players. The trade was something of a disaster for both teams. Pineda still hasn’t played for the Yankees and Montero has struggled horribly and was ultimately suspended in the BioGenesis drugs controversy. Scouts say that Pineda, whose fastball was once measured as the fastest in the majors, is not the pitcher he was before his injury. There is little doubt that he will go in to Spring Training needing to prove that he is still worth a role in the majors.
David Robertson Born 9 April 1985
Robertson is the major candidate to take over Mariano Rivera’s closer role as 2013 turns into 2014. The question then would be who takes over Robertson’s role in the 8th inning. The Robertson / Rivera tandem was probably the best the Yankees have had since Rivera / Wetteland in 1996. Robertson played in 70 games with a 2.04 ERA in 2013 and is going to be the most vital component in the 2014 bullpen and needs to repeat something akin to that level of form.
CC Sabathia Born 21 July 1980
Sabathia looked like he had begun to decline in 2013. He had lost pace off his fastball and whilst he was still good and competitive, he was no longer the player he once was. Crucially, he has still four years left on his contract and is entitled to between $23 and $25m for each of those years. Last year, by pitching concentrating on location, he got through the year with a 14-13 record and a 4.78 ERA. The Yankees will be looking for an improvement on that in 2014.
Adam Warren Born 25 August 1987
Warren is yet another pitcher who could possibly be a long reliever in 2014 and like Phelps has two years in the majors, having spent the whole of his tenure with the Yankees. He has made three starts over that two year period but is unlikely to be part of the rotation in 2014. He will battle it out with a number of others for a spot on the roster.
Free Agents who are Coming Back
Hiroki Kuroda Born 10 February 1975
The 39 year old Kuroda moved across from the Dodgers to the Yankees in time to enjoy his best season in the States in 2012. After considering his options, he has re-signed for the Yankees on a 1-year contract for $16m. He will be the number two or three starter and the Yankees will hope for a similar season to the one he delivered in 2013 when he pitched to an ERA of 3.17 (career 3.19).
Matt Thornton Born 15 Sept 1976
The Yankees need a left-handed reliever now that Boone Logan has headed elsewhere. Thornton finished last season at Boston having moved from the White Sox and whilst he has not yet been added to the Yankees 40-man roster, he is said to have signed a two year deal, pending a physical.
Players with no major league experience
Manny Banuelos (Did not pitch in 2013 because of surgery)
Jose Campos (one of the minor league players acquired in the Pineda / Montero deal)
Shane Greene (pitched last season in Tampa & Trenton in the Yankees organisation)
Bryan Mitchell (pitched last season in Tampa & Trenton in the Yankees organisation)
Jose Ramirez (pitched last season in Trenton & Scranton in the Yankees organisation)
Nik Turley (pitched last season in Trenton & Scranton in the Yankees organisation)