Yankees Playing Time Battles: Pitchers

We’ve started our annual Depth Chart Discussions, re-branded as Playing Time Battles for 2016. You can catch up on every team we’ve covered in the Playing Time Battles Summary post or following along using the Depth Chart Discussions tag.

Position battles? Not so much. Like with the cross town Mets, we’ll mostly talk about depth today. The rotation in particular looks brittle, and the options beyond the sixth guy are kind of terrifying.

Starting Pitchers

Barring a spring injury, the Yankees will break camp with Masahiro Tanaka, Michael Pineda, Luis Severino, Nathan Eovaldi, and CC Sabathia in the rotation. Ivan Nova is the obvious sixth starter or long reliever. Notably, all of the top five may be restricted in some way.

After throwing about 160 innings last year, Severino will probably be capped at about 190 regular season innings. Maybe fewer if they want to lean on him in the postseason. With their stout bullpen, that’s still a full complement of starts, they’ll just be short starts.

Eovaldi had an elbow problem last year. Tanaka also had an elbow issue and had offseason surgery for a bone spur. He’s just started throwing off the mound, meaning any setbacks will result in a DL stint. Sabathia has a gimpy knee, and Pineda’s constantly hurt too. Even Nova is returning from injury.

This all adds up to a trainer’s nightmare. Adam Warren would have been a nice depth piece if they didn’t trade him for Starlin Castro. The club did pick up Luis Cessa from the Tigers. Cessa’s recent minor league performances include solid peripherals and ugly ERA’s. That’s often a sign of a hittable fastball.

If you’re looking for a surprise starter among the non-roster invitees, look elsewhere. Anthony Swarzak and Tyler Cloyd are the most recognizable names, and they’re quite bad. Bryan Mitchell, Caleb Smith, and Brady Lail may be able to soak up some innings, but they probably aren’t major league quality starters. It would make a lot of sense for the Yankees to sign Alfredo Simon.


Aroldis Chapman, Andrew Miller, Dellin Betances – woof. Miller and Betances often throw more than one frame. This combination will lock down a lot of four inning saves in 2016.

The bullpen does thin out after Betances. Chasen Shreve is a solid LOOGY option, especially if he can recover his command. Mitchell, who may be needed for rotation depth, profiles best in relief. He’s a hard thrower without a lot of swing and miss to his game.

Fly ball pitcher Kirby Yates is an unusual fit in New York. Honestly, I don’t see him making the team. He’s a solid enough pitcher in the right environment – like PNC Park. Another fly ball guy, Branden Pinder has better stuff than Yates.

Former second round pick Jacob Lindgren could become a shutdown lefty specialist. Last season, he barely tipped 90 mph and threw piles of sliders. The velocity was disappointing. Vinnie Pestano is the most recognizable NRI in camp. He’s a ROOGY. Specialists are often a smart place to look for holds.

There are others, but they’ll all have a difficult time obtaining holds (let alone saves.)

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Miller threw more than 1 IP 8 times last year. That’s not often