Now that the Yanks have invested millions of dollars in their pitching staff over the next few years, the biggest issues surrounding the rotation concern the health of their pitchers. CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett are coming off career high innings pitched. Joba Chamberlain, Chien-Ming Wang and the two leading candidates for the final rotation spot — Andy Pettitte and Phil Hughes — are coming off of injuries.
To that end, Dave Eiland, the Yanks’ pitching coach, has a plan. Pete Caldera offered some insight into the Yanks’ pitching approach as Spring Training nears:
Given the unprecedented career workload that Sabathia and Burnett faced in 2008, the Yankees intend to ease their prized new starters into form when pitchers and catchers report on Feb. 13.
“We’re going to be careful with them and make sure they peak April 6, not March 20,” Eiland said, referring to opening day. “We’ve already got a plan in place.”
Eiland has already spoken to Sabathia and Eiland about the gradual approach. “We’re not going to jump right in the fire of spring training,” Eiland said. “We’re not going to push them too early.”
But with Chien-Ming Wang, the idea is to get him in front of hitters as soon as possible.
In a rather telling quote, Eiland also noted the role Wang will play on the Yanks in 2009. “Wang’s as good a No. 3 as you’ll find as well,” he said to Caldera.
I’d be more inclined to see Wang as the Yanks’ number two. He has a better track record of success than Burnett and has certainly earned the designation for his work over the last few years. It is, however, mostly a matter of semantics.
In the end, the Yanks’ success will come down to pitching and health. As we’ve learned for too often over the last few years, a healthy pitching staff is something of a Holy Grail in baseball. But for now, the Yanks’ coaches are saying the right thing. Whether that can translate to on-field success is something we’ll find out in a few months.
A RAB hat tip to our own Mike Pop for sending in this article.