The Disappearing Pitching DepthBy
It’s been about a week since the Yankees officially signed Brian Gordon, a move that caused many to scratch their heads. He’s just a minor league journeyman and they have options in Triple-A, so why not give them a chance first? The kids in the minors have more upside in the sense that their best days are (theoretically) still to come, plus no one wants to see some 30-something-year-old try to hack it in the AL East when we all know he has no long-term place here. But the Yankees signed Gordon and have let him make two decent at best starts, and here’s why…
That is the extent of the Yankees’ pitching depth right now. Those three guys are the only pitchers on the 40-man roster in the minor leagues that are not on the disabled list. That’s it. Ryan Pope, Kevin Whelan, Steve Garrison, Kanekoa Texeira … all hurt in some way. That’s pretty scary. That’s why they signed Gordon, because he added some protection and depth.
David Phelps was a candidate to start last week and was clearly the team’s best in-house option had they needed a starter. I say “was” because he’s now on the disabled list with a shoulder issue, a move that was made yesterday. Adam Warren is next line now, and he had been just okay in Triple-A before a recent run of three solid starts. D.J. Mitchell has been no better than decent since the start of last season, and he’s behind Warren in the pecking order. Hector Noesi could be an option, but he’s thrown more than 42 pitches exactly once in the last 28 days. Safe to say he won’t be able to give them six innings anytime soon, should they need it.
Bartolo Colon played catch the other day for the first time since being placed on the disabled list, so maybe he comes back on Monday when eligible. In reality, it’ll probably take a little longer than that. Phil Hughes has no fewer than two minor league rehab starts ahead of him before he rejoins the rotation, most likely three. In all likelihood we’re talking about after the All-Star break for his return. Maybe Phelps’ injury is not serious and he misses one start, maybe Whelan and Pope come back next week, who knows. For better or worse though, the Yankees’ pitching staff is what it is right now.
After last night’s game, Joe Girardi indicated to reporters that they may use the upcoming off days to shuffle the rotation somewhat, which is code for “we might skip Gordon next time around.” Today’s off day and Monday’s off day means the Yankees could avoid using their fifth starter until next Saturday. I’m almost certain that’s what they’ll do, but of course things can change over the next few days. Like it or not, Gordon isn’t going away anytime soon and until some people get healthy, he’s actually a pretty important part of the team.