The New York Yankees are expecting their young phenom back to the rotation and may take part in a six-man rotation upon his return.
Entering this season, the New York Yankees were flying on cloud nine being held afloat by optimism towards a rotation congested with encouragement.
Entering spring training, Masahiro Tanaka’s elbow looked as strong as it looked in years, Luis Severino was ready to take over as the future ace of the staff, Michael Pineda was coming off a year in which his 4.37 xFIP in 2015 was the fourth-best in the American League, Nathan Eovaldi entered this year with the highest average fastball velocity in the majors aside from Noah Syndergaard, with a fastball that averages 96.6 MPH (according to FanGraphs) and CC Sabathia was ready to bounce back now sober from the evils of alcohol.
When 2016 commenced we got a glimpse of the rotation at it’s best, and at it’s worst. After taking it all in, one can make a defensible declaration that: a six-man rotation can benefit the overall well-being of the unit.
Severino, who is recuperating from a right triceps strain sustained in the beginning of the month is anticipated to take part in a rehab stint on Sunday as a member of the Tampa Yankees.
According to manager Joe Girardi, the Yankees could embrace a six-man rotation upon his return which might not be as absurd of an approach as you may imagine.
Tanaka, despite surviving two years with the ticking time bomb of a right elbow, still can blow at any time despite appearing like he has returned to ace status. Of course, an extra day of rest could benefit the health of his elbow in the long run.
But it goes further than the 27-year old’s health.
When Tanaka pitches takes five days in between his starts (which means an extra day was taken) here in 2016, he owns a 1.57 ERA while maintaining a WHIP of .872.
On normal rest? The Japanese native owns a 5.68 ERA and has surrendered four home runs including 21 hits in 19 innings of work. In his final season in Japan in which they take five days in between starts, Tanaka went 24-0 with a 1.27 ERA for the Rakuten Golden Eagles.
Even with a quality start his last time out, Pineda owns a 6.34 ERA in his first nine starts of 2016 including a whopping 64 hits in 49.2 innings of work. Want to scratch your head? His K/9 ratio is 10.1 which ranks twelve in all of Major League Baseball.
Anyway, his numbers with an extra day of rest (although his overall statistics pop off as putrid) are relatively suitable compared to his starts on a normal schedule.
This year, Big Mike owns a 4.50 ERA featuring 23 strikeouts in 22 innings compared to his six walks allowed. On a regularly scheduled start, Pineda’s ERA climbs to a laughable 8.64 with five home runs allowed in three starts on normal rest.
Last season, Sabathia surrendered a disheartening 20 home runs while pitching on normal rest. Give him in an extra day? He sliced that number by more than half (eight) and his ERA was more than a run lower.
Eovaldi seems to be the only one who would be somewhat affected in a negative way as his ERA was one point higher than usual. Other than that, his K/9 was identical (7.4) and he even gave up five fewer home runs.
For Nova, his numbers are actually prominent when he is given six or more days of rest as his career record is 12-5 with that much time but when a pitcher is returning from Tommy John surgery, it seems as though additional days in between starts can only help a recovering hurler.
Additionally, it’ll be very challenging to give him the boot after he has diminished his season ERA from 5.14 to 3.65 since entering the rotation from his long-man position.
So it’s understood that a move to the six-man rotation will help the quality of starts from the current pitching staff, but what about Severino?
Sure, keeping him out of the rotation and giving him some time to work out his kinks in Triple-A seems like the most reasonable option for the 22-year old, but the Yankee manager has other plans.
“I think at some point, we’ll consider injecting the sixth man in there,” Girardi told Newsday. “I can’t tell you at what point. It depends on how hard your starters have worked, what they look like, how they feel. But at some point, we would do it.”
As New York embarks on a stretch of 40 games in 41 days, Severino may return to the Bronx instead of assumed minor league assignment to lighten the load on the somewhat fragile rotation.
Sure, there are drawbacks when an organization decides to take this route, such as the altering of the timing by starting pitchers who ordinarily rest four days in between outings.
The extra day hinders the frequency in which your ace takes the hill, force you to play with one reliever less than you commonly would, and if you fix that, you’ll possess one less bench option.
Regardless, the numbers don’t lie here: the New York Yankees’ starting rotation in its entirety is more productive when given an extra day off. And do you really think the “three-headed monster” would be affected by this?
Neither Brian Cashman nor Girardi went away with the idea prior to the season starting. In fact, they even considered it a possibility down the road but it just wasn’t on the current agenda.
Now? Don’t be surprised if the pitching staff features one more arm than normal and don’t be even remotely shocked if we pay witness to a surplus of success when starters experience an extra days rest in between their starts.