27 Mar 2013 02:30 PM EST
-by Justin O’Reilly, Contributing Writer; Image: CC Sabathia has won 74 games in four seasons with the Yankees. (Image Source: Kathy Willens/Associated Press)
With the 2013 Major League season less than a week away, we continue our position-by-position breakdown of the New York Yankees. Today, we take a look at the starting rotation.
Yankees Starting Pitchers:
1) CC Sabathia: There's obviously no question about who the Yankees ace is, of course it's CC Sabathia, it's been that way for the past four years. CC is still one of the best pitchers in baseball and the Yankees would be lost without him. Which is why it's very important that they don't overuse him like they have had the tendency to do in the past. When struggling, the Yankees like to push their limit which Sabathia, which landed him on the DL twice last season. He has just a good a chance as almost anyone in baseball to walk away with the Cy Young, year in and year out.
Projected Stats - CC Sabathia: 20-9, 3.21ERA, 200 Ks
2) Hiroki Kuroda: Like Sabathia, there's really no question where Hiroki Kuroda belongs in the rotation. One of the few very smart offseason moves the Yankees made was re-signing Kuroda and he'll surely prove his worth yet again in 2013. Last year Kuroda was a delightful surprise for the Yankees when he pitched as good as most aces. With Sabathia spending some time on the DL the Yankees needed someone else to step up, and that’s what Kuroda did. He never seemed to pitch poorly, but rather his losses were the result of the lack of run support. Even though he is getting older (38), Kuroda should hand the Yankees another solid season, which is critical since they won't be able to win on the power of their lineup anymore.
Projected Stats - Hiroki Kuroda: 17-10, 3.34ERA, 160 Ks
3) Andy Pettitte: Who would of thought that the guy the Yankees signed as an afterthought out of retirement last season would be such an important piece of their 2013 team? The southpaw was off to a great in 2012 when during a June outing a line drive off his ankle sidelined him until September. Now he is back for 2013 and looks to be the Yankees number three starter. On a team that's been riddled so far with injuries, the Pinstripes will look to Andy Pettitte to be the same Andy Pettitte we've known for his entire career. While he's off to a somewhat rocky spring, Pettitte is always dependable, and barring injury again, he should big a major part in the Yankees sure to be tight pennant race.
Projected Stats - Andy Pettitte: 14-6, 3.89ERA, 130Ks
4) Phil Hughes (*): In the beginning of spring training, Phil Hughes went down with a bulging disc and it seems as though he may start the season on the DL. Regardless, he will eventually be the Yankees number four guy unless his injury turns out to be more serious than expected, or his replacements (see below) pitch way above their (and his) head. Hughes has been driving Yankee fans nuts since he arrived in the Bronx because every fan knows how good he can be, but that's rarely the Phil Hughes that shows up. That's not to say Hughes isn't a solid pitcher, in fact, he could most likely be a number two guy on many teams in baseball, but it is to say that he pitches way below his talent level. Hughes is the wild card for the Yankees this season, if he can come back at full strength, he has the potential for some great numbers.
Projected Stats - Phil Hughes: 12-8, 4.21ERA, 104Ks
5) David Phelps: The battle for the fifth and last spot in the rotation has been hard fought all spring. It seems that every great start that David Phelps has, Ivan Nova follows it up with an equally impressive one. However, it seems as though Phelps has pitched just a tiny bit better, and is deserving of the fifth spot. Phelps came up for the Yankees last season as a spot starter whenever someone was injured and he impressed a lot of people in the time he was given. He has great command of his fastball, and doesn't walk many people or get rattled with men on base, a rare trait in rookie pitchers. The ceiling seems to be very high for Phelps, so do not be surprised if you hear his name around baseball over the next few years.
Projected Stats - David Phelps: 14-7, 3.63ERA, 155Ks
6) Ivan Nova: On his best days, Nova can get any one of his pitches past the best hitters in baseball, on his worst days he can't pitch into the third inning. Towards the end of the 2012 season, the Yankees were getting much of the latter from Nova and it showed when they neglected to place him on the postseason roster. Although he's been having a solid spring training, Nova will most likely lose out to Phelps for the fifth and final starting job. On the bright side (for Nova), with Hughes most likely on the DL for the start of the season, Nova will have the chance to get some starts in the regular season, extending his tryout for the rotation. If he pitches amazingly and Phelps pitches poorly, upon Hughes' return the Yankees may stick with Nova. Otherwise Nova will likely be a long reliever/spot starter, and possibly even trade bait if the Yanks are confident that Chien Ming Wang can still compete on a big league level. Nova has potential, but he needs to keep his head in the game.
Projected Stats - Ivan Nova: 10-6 4.10ERA 78 Ks
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