The New York Yankees will use spring training to determine their starting pitching rotation. After avoiding big names like David Price and Zack Grienke, the Yankees are left with a lot of question marks as several of their assumed starters return from surgeries and down years. CC Sabathia is coming back after a stint in rehab following a bad 2015 season. Masahiro Tanaka and Nathan Eovaldi are just a few of the names returning from surgeries. Now they are all battling for a starting spot.
Tanaka has plenty of attention on him entering spring training after he underwent arthroscopic surgery to remove bone spurs in his right elbow. Tanaka never appeared healthy in 2015 and he might not be healthy in 2016 as well. The pitcher told the media that he feels good, but he is uncertain when he will make his full return to the mound.
"Can't really say," Tanaka said, via ESPN.com. "We'll take it day by day. I feel that I can't really talk about that at this point. I just want to see myself go into the bullpen, get the innings in and see how I feel."
The Yankees need Tanaka ready Opening Day. The team simply cannot afford to not have one of their top pitchers out at the start of the year because they avoided making any adjustments to the rotation in the offseason. Manager Joe Girardi had mentioned he was concerned about the health and talent level the team had to work with in 2016 and now concerns around Tanaka only highlight that.
If Tanaka is not ready to start the year, someone like Ivan Nova could get a chance to prove himself after a bad 2015 season. The Yankees attempted to trade the pitcher in the offseason and were unsuccessful. Now he is one of the players fighting to be in the starting rotation and not get demoted to the bullpen. Nova told the media that he intends to be a starter in 2016.
"I'm a starting pitcher," Nova said, via New York Post. "I'm not a reliever, but if that's what they tell me to do, that's what I've got to do. If I feel bad going to the bullpen, what's that going to change? Whatever happened last year wasn't because of the Tommy John. I just didn't pitch good. If I didn't feel good, I would have said it."
Sabathia is another pitcher fighting his way into the starting rotation. According to general manager Brian Cashman via ESPN.com, Sabathia is not guaranteed anything this upcoming season and if his struggles continue, the team will not hesitate to demote him. With players like Bryant Mitchell also available to start, Sabathia will have to prove that he is better than he was last year.