The Disappearing Pitching Depth


Things aren't going so well for the Brackmonster down in the minors. (Photo Credit: Flickr user john.murden via Creative Commons license)

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…

Andrew Brackman
Dellin Betances
Lance Pendleton

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.

Categories : Pitching


  1. Will says:

    Stop scaring me Mike!

    • Jim says:

      The way the pitching in the minors is performing and getting hurt, maybe it’s time to change the instruction…Maybe Connors (The Boss’ guy) and Nardi Contreras’ time has come and gone. I just keep thinking about how the Giants let Lincecum pitch. The babying might’ve hurt Hughes, Chamberlain(Starting, relieving, pitch count, innings limits), and Kennedy. Either the coaching is at fault or NEWMAN! and the selection decisions are at fault. Nolan Ryan is changing the thinking in Texas, maybe the Yanks should follow. What say you?

  2. smurfy says:

    How is Carlos Silva doing?

  3. nsalem says:

    Still not as unpleasant as the Colter Bean/Darrell May/Tim Redding /Sean Henn/Wayne Franklin days from
    the summer of 2005.

  4. 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.”

    So, the Milwaukee threesome will be Garcia, Burnett, and Sabathia, all on regular rest. Makes sense.

    Thu 6/23 – OFF
    Fri 6/24 – Burnett v. COL
    Sat 6/25 – Sabathia v. COL
    Sun 6/26 – Nova v. COL
    Mon 6/27 – OFF
    Tue 6/28 – Garcia v. MIL
    Wed 6/29 – Burnett v. MIL
    Thu 6/30 – Sabathia v. MIL (/2008′d)
    Fri 7/1 – Nova @ NYM
    Sat 7/2 – ______ @ NYM
    Sun 7/3 – Garcia @ NYM
    Mon 7/4 – Burnett @ CLE
    Tue 7/5 – Sabathia @ CLE (/2007′d)
    Wed 7/6 – Nova @ CLE
    Thu 7/7 – _____ v. TBA
    Fri 7/8 – Garcia v. TBA
    Sat 7/9 – Burnett v. TBA
    Sun 7/10 – Sabathia v. TBA

    Bartolo should most definitely be ready by July 2nd, I’d imagine.

  5. Mickey Scheister says:

    Brian Gordon > Triple A Options (and their development)

    I wouldn’t be opposed to see Betances get a start, he’s not young anymore but he got lit up his last start. I’d much rather see him take his lumps in AA/AAA versus getting hammered in AL East. He still has a year or more left until he’s ready for the Show, IMO.

    The ninja will make a deal, for a Cubs pitcher via a contract gobble or perhaps a Jesus trade for a legit #2 or #3. There’s no guarantee Hughes will regain his ’10 form or Colon will continue to flush the competition.

    Before I get blasted for suggesting Jesus get traded for a 2/3 pitcher. I can’t think of a single legit #1 starter that is or would be available, unless Hoyer would do a Kelly – Montero swap.

  6. Tom B says:

    How many other teams could take their 3 best set-up men, 2 and 3 starters and put them all on the DL… and have anything “left”?

    … and still be winning?

    I’d say the pitching depth did just what it was supposed to.

    • Ted Nelson says:

      Yeah, I haven’t even really thought of it that way I guess… Injuries haven’t been kind to Yankees this season, though at the same time most fans did seem to assume Colon, Chavez, Soriano, and Garcia would all get injured.

    • 28 this year says:

      The Red Sox could survive. I mean, they have five aces, 12 closers, and everyone they drafted are future Hall of Famers. They could survive their whole team crashing in a plane because they drafted so many amazing players that don’t even need the minors.

      • Theo Epstein has an emergency 40-man roster full of studs all waiting in an undisclosed, hermetically sealed bunker in somewhere in Framingham. They’re suspended in cryogenic homeostasis to prevent any injury until they’re needed.

      • China Joe says:

        I’m pretty sure Andrew Miller is the best pitcher in baseball…Theo just kept him down in AAA because it wasn’t fair for the other big league teams.

      • thumper says:

        Icing on the cake -> we had to hear the Sox whine all of last year about all the injuries they had (which they legitimately did). Thankfully the Yankees have depth to overcome those same problems.

        • Johnny O says:

          In fairness, they had Youk and Pedroia go down for half the year. If Cano and Tex or Arod went down that long we’d be in big trouble. you thought yesterdays day lineup was bad? Try that for 3 months.

          • CP says:

            In fairness, Youk and Pedroia went down for the year because they tried to play through injuries. Proper management of those injuries likely would have led to DL stints and then a return.

    • CP says:


      The title of the post could just as easily have been:

      “The Value of Pitching Depth”

  7. Ted Nelson says:

    I’m good with Gordon. He’s held his own. He’s faced the #3 and #5 offenses in MLB and kept the Yankees in both games. Looks like a really smart pick-up to me. Really impressed with the Yankees’ pro scouts. Besides the added depth, I’m not sure any AAA prospect has earned a call-up over Gordon anyway.

  8. Chris says:

    Ian Kennedy and Mark Melancon….gone. Grrrrrrrrr

    • Favrest says:

      Kennedy’s numbers are great in the Southwest, but I think the feeling was that he wasn’t going to be putting up those numbers against Boston and Tampa. I tend to agree. Melancon is different, because we just gave him away for nothing. Him and Clippard were careless moves by Cash Man

      • Melancon is different, because we just gave him away for nothing.

        We gave him away for Lance Berkman, who helped us get within two games of the World Series.

        Lance Berkman was not “nothing”. Lance Berkman was a valuable contributor towards a title push.

        • Ted Nelson says:

          As frustrating as it is that Berkman mostly underperformed for the Yankees and is raking this season… I find it encouraging. Perhaps the Yankees pro scouts saw something that just took longer to click than they hoped.

          Obviously you’re judged on the moves you do make and the way things do work out, but things like Berkman’s resurgence and the Yankees apparently zeroing in on Votto to the point a Yankee scout was in his house on draft night… makes me feel comfortable that the process is sound.

        • jsbrendog says:

          seriously, wtf is wrong with people

      • Kosmo says:

        You have to get over this nonsense about pitching in the NL West.
        Kennedy could easily get thru Tampa Bay´s lineup.IPK has pitched thru the best NL lineups and has certainly held his own.Check his splits. Boston and NY are a challenge for most pitchers veteran or otherwise.
        Let´s admit that IPK is a very good pitcher.Probably an NL All-Star in 2011

        As far as Melancon is concerned the Yanks didn´t advance to the WS with Berkman so in a way agree with you. Melancon is now the Astros closer and doing quite well.
        Clippard for Albie is a head scratcher.

        • Ted Nelson says:

          I tend to agree that IPK is a good pitcher, but Curtis Granderson is also a good player…

        • CP says:

          There’s a huge gap in talent between the NL and AL, and that’s accentuated even more since the AL East is the strongest division in baseball.

          Just because a player succeeds in the NL doesn’t mean they would in the AL, and particularly the AL east.

        • Jared says:

          I don’t think anyone is denying what Kennedy is doing. It is fair to say that pitching in the AL is a bit different. The batting lineups are substantially deeper and the run differential in the AL East is higher than any other division.

          Could Kennedy survive in the AL? Sure, why not. However, any pitcher is going to suffer when they have to play the Sox or Yankees 18 times.

    • T-Dubs says:

      Reasonable option but not on the 40man. If you’re going to DFA someone to clear a roster spot, might as well call up Warren instead of Smith, I’d think.

  9. China Joe says:

    Big moment coming up for Nova. Hopefully can continue mixing his 3rd and 4th pitches like he did last start, give them some quality innings now when they need him most.

  10. Tom Zig says:

    Are Steve Garrison and Kanekoa Texeira really that essential to have on the 40 man?

  11. Jerome S. says:

    I think I’m with everyone when I say What the Fuck?

  12. Pat D says:


    Seriously though, I guess I didn’t realize it was in quite this bad a shape. This article proves there is one thing you can predict about baseball: injuries. Of course, you can’t predict the to whom and when and what aspects of those.

    I still feel like there’s no real need to panic as of yet. And because I’m a little stitious (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P5r-TG8cCeE), irrational I know, I’m not going to say those things that would make me panic.

  13. leftylarry says:

    It’s absolutely impossible that Warren could be worse than Gordon.

  14. infernoscurse says:

    3rd times a charm, Sidney Ponson clap clap

    clap clap clap

  15. M-Three says:

    I can’t wait until Colon and Hughes return. Then the Yanks can tell Gordon to get lost and sent him back to where he belongs, the minors. Gordon shouldn’t worry though because he will be joined on the bus to Scranton by another overvalued pitcher, Buddy Carlyle. Getting Colon and Hughes back will be great but getting both Gordon and Carlyle off the team will be even better.

    Infact lets get rid of them both before Sunday so they can’t be at Old Timers Day. Neither of those 2 deserve to be anywhere near what will a great day at the Stadium.

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