The Yankees have had a pretty good Spring Training with a 15-12 record at the point I am writing this article which ranks them 4th in the American League and 4th in the Grapefruit League.
In this article, we will survey the players who are possibles to make the opening day roster and check out what they have done in the Spring games…
At this juncture, the Yankees have 39 players on the 40-man roster of whom 30 are technically still possibles to be part of the 25 that make the opening day roster.
We’ll look at them by position and order them within each category by shirt number.
Tanaka has done enough in Spring training to assure the Yankees that he is sufficiently recovered from his arm troubles that he will deliver, at least in the opening games of the season.
He has pitched in 3 Spring Training games, winning one and losing one for a 1.71 ERA in 10 and a 1/3 innings. He says that he has decided to concentrate on his two-seam fastball over his four-seam fastball and this is the reason that his pitch velocity hasn’t been as high as last season – the fall off, he says, has nothing to do with his elbow problems.
Capuano has had a troubled Spring and will not be on the roster for opening day. He limped to the dugout after just one innings of a loss to the Red Sox. He has a grade 2 strain of the right quadricep which manager, Joe Girardi says is likely to keep him out for quite a while. Capuano was likely to start the season as the 5th starter so this is a sizeable blow for the Yankees who have talked about operating with 6 starters at some point early in the season.His Spring Training stats stood at 0-1 with a 6.75 ERA when the injury occurred on March 11 – figures which didn’t inspire much confidence – but that was very early in the Spring games.
Right-handed reliever, Carpenter is someone the Yankees must be feeling cautious about as he heads into his first season in the Bronx pinstripes. His Spring has seen him post a 5.40 ERA in 6 games with 1 win. On the face of it, this is nothing to be particularly concerned about but it is noticeably rather different from the 0.82 ERA he achieved for Atlanta over the same period last season.
Eovaldi, whose ability to hit the strike-zone has been a little erratic to say the least during his time with the Miami Marlins, has given the Yankees good reason to feel confident in his ability with his performance in the Spring and this has resulted in him being awarded the no.4 starter role going into the regular season.
He hasn’t given up a walk all Spring whilst keeping his strikeout numbers high. His ERA of 1.00 in 9 innings is beyond negative comment although he did take an unfortunate loss in one of his three games.
Pineda, who the Yankees have pegged as their number three starter, is another who has every reason to feel happy with his Spring workouts.
After last season’s controversial and injury-struck season, Pineda needed to prove himself and has done so. He has a 1.32 ERA in 4 starts, pitching 13.2 innings with 17 strikeouts. With a large question mark against Sabathia, a smaller one against Tanaka’s name and with Eovaldi relatively unproven, he may just be the Yankees’ biggest reason for confidence in their rotation going into the season.
Chase Whitley, who made his major league debut last May, has had a very solid Spring and looks likely to be a long reliever or even that mooted no. 6 starter on the big league club.
He has had his best ever Spring and has been used as a starter, as a middle reliever and as a closer – showing his versatility to the watching coaching staff. In 5 games, 11 innings, he has 0.82 ERA and 1.09 WHIP. He would be very unlucky to find himself heading for Scranton come April.
Former Pirate, left-handed reliever Justin Wilson achieved 7 Spring Training games with the Yankees (up to 27th March) without giving up a run.
In the 7 innings involved in those games, he conceded only 2 hits and collected a win. The Yankees are leaning heavily towards a left-handed staff and Wilson will be among that number.
Warren, in his 4th season as a Yankee, has been pushed hard in Spring Training to find if he was up to the role of a starter. With the injury to Capuano this necessity has become more urgent and fortunately, he appears to fit the bill.
He has five starts in the Spring and has collected two wins without a loss. His ERA is 2.70 and his WHIP of 1.08 is a real encouragement.
At the moment, he stands to be the Yankees’ number five starter when they need one and a long reliever until then.
In late February, Nova threw a bullpen session off a mound of 25 pitches. Nothing to get too excited about there you might think, until you remember that Ivan is coming off Tommy John surgery and that this is a good sign of his recovery.
Everything I’m hearing suggests we shouldn’t be looking for him to return to the Yankees until June time.
Newly clean shaven and a new New York Yankee, Miller is one of the two candidates who were mentioned going into the Spring as possibles for the closer’s role. Assuming there is no-one new who has come into that equation, he seems the obvious choice even though he has only one save lifetime and none this Spring.
Indeed, he has had quite a flat Spring but he has been much better than the other contender – more on whom in a little while. He has given up 6 hits in just over 6 innings and a 2.84 ERA which is not David Robertson and certainly not Mariano Rivera but it might be the best the Yankees have – which makes the decision the Yankees made not to pursue Robertson seem even crazier. …Unless, of course, you believe that the Yankees foresaw that Robertson would struggle this Spring as well. He is 7.71 ERA and has blown his only save opportunity so far.
In short, Sabathia has not impressed in Spring Training.
Last year, his solution was to lose weight. This year, he has gained weight. Will anything help?
It’s not an easy question. In the Spring, so far, he has an 11.57 ERA, a .409 AVG and losses in both games he has pitched in.
The Yankees have decided he will be the no.2 starter going into the season. I wouldn’t bet the Store on him managing to retain that position into the second half even if he can remain fit.
Rogers has played in 7 Spring Training games to date and has been given 4 starts. He hasn’t done badly but I like him less than Warren and so would put him in the shake-up with Whitley to see who gets a long relievers slot. Esmil has conceded 15 hits and given up 3 walks in 14 innings which might make him a little bit of a luxury.
Martin had a difficult year in his first year in the majors. In 2014 whilst with Colorado, he gave up a 6.89 ERA and his move over to New York has not seen a huge improvement – at least not in the Spring.
In his 9 games and 8 innings so far, he has taken 1 loss and achieved a 5.63 ERA with 13 hits spread across those 8 innings.
Like Rogers, it is questionable whether I would have him on the roster come opening day but the decision in that regard will fall to greater minds than mine.
Left-hander Chasen Shreve is involved in his first extensive test in Spring Training having come good at the tail-end of last season for the Atlanta Braves.
His performance in the 2015 Spring hasn’t matched his 2014 regular season stats and again, he will be one of the ones scrapping over the last few pitching spots on the roster.
Everything looked set for 2015 being the season when Betances established himself as the closer of the New York Yankees. The plan was that he would take the role by the scruff of the neck and wrest it from the only other major contender, Andrew Miller and then blossom as the season progressed.
And then Betances, as we hinted earlier, had to go and spoil it all and have a wretched Spring.
In six and a third innings spread across 7 games, he has allowed 11 men on base and is carrying a 7.11 ERA. His performances have not been good and the extent to which he is struggling is shown by the fact that his ERA during Spring Training has increased by nearly 7 runs from its level at this time last year.
What should the Yankees do? Take the pressure off Betances and assign him to the role of set-up man that he handled last year. This might mean making Miller the everyday closer or going to some committee arrangement. Maybe later in the year they can give Betances another roll of the dice but at this moment with only 1 save in 6 opportunities (5 regular season, 1 Spring Training), he is simply not ready to carry that burden.
Our selection (assuming the Yankees start the season with 12 pitchers)
19 Masahiro Tanaka
52 CC Sabathia
35 Michael Pineda
30 Nathan Eovaldi
43 Adam Warren
29 David Carpenter
39 Chase Whitley
41 Justin Wilson
48 Andrew Miller
53 Esmil Rogers
64 Chasen Shreve
68 Dellin Betances
Non-Roster Invitees who could change this situation? Former Red Sox, Andrew Bailey, would be an outside chance of a relief spot.
Next time: Infielders, Outfielders, Catchers……