Mapping out the rotation for the rest of the year

Jeter hurt, Granderson homers twice as Yankees hold off Red Sox
David Phelps and first pitch strikes
(Jared Wickerham/Getty)

The Yankees continued to get good news about Andy Pettitte‘s fractured left leg yesterday, as the left-hander threw a four-inning simulated game and declared himself ready to return to the rotation, albeit on a limited pitch count for the time being. The team wouldn’t commit to a plan going forward, but Joe Girardi gave some pretty strong indications that Pettitte will replace David Phelps when his turn comes around against next Tuesday. “It might be something that we do, I can’t tell you right now,” said the skipper, presumably with his fingers crossed behind his back.

Getting Pettitte back wasn’t the only good news of the day, as it was announced that Ivan Nova will take Freddy Garcia’s spot in the rotation starting Saturday. Garcia’s really struggled in his last four outings, failing to complete five innings in three of them, so the switch isn’t a surprise. Nova wasn’t pitching all that great before he got hurt, but I think we can all agree that the chances of him pitching well over the next three weeks are greater than Freddy’s. The Yankees need all the help they can get right now, so any move that brings even a marginal upgrade is worth making.

Since the rotation just got a bit of an overhaul and there are only 20 games left to play, let’s take a quick look at how the pitching lines up through the end of the season…

  • Game 143 @ Red Sox: Phil Hughes
  • Games 144-146 vs. Rays: CC Sabathia, Nova, Hiroki Kuroda
  • Games 147-149 vs. Blue Jays: Pettitte, Hughes, Sabathia
  • Games 150-152 vs. Athletics: Nova, Kuroda, Pettitte
  • Games 153-155 @ Twins: Hughes, Sabathia, Nova
  • Games 156-159 @ Blue Jays: Kuroda, Pettitte, Hughes, Sabathia
  • Games 160-162 vs. Red Sox: Nova, Kuroda, Pettitte

The big series in there — they’re all big at this point, but I mean the really big one — is this weekend’s series against the Rays at Yankee Stadium. The Yankees have both Sabathia and Kuroda lined up to pitch in that one, and if things go well they could really bury Tampa in the race for the AL East crown. Joe Maddon’s club is three back right now and could be four back depending on how things go tonight.

Phelps made it very difficult for the Yankees to take him out of the rotation with his performance last night — 5.2 innings of one-run ball at Fenway Park — but not impossible. Even a limited Pettitte is still an upgrade, plus shifting Phelps to the bullpen figures to help the still sketchy middle relief situation. I figure he’ll piggyback with Andy at first, but will soon enough join the improving Joba Chamberlain to shore up the middle innings that have been such a problem since about June.

If you’re an optimist and want to look ahead to the postseason, the Yankees would be set up well with Sabathia, Kuroda, and Pettitte lined up for Games One, Two, and Three of the ALDS, respectively. Ivan Nova is sandwiched between Sabathia and Kuroda right now, but that would surely change in October. If the Yankees are stuck playing a tiebreaker or a wildcard play-in game, the ball would go to Hughes. Well, either him or Sabathia on short rest, but let’s let the Bombers actually clinch something before we worry about the that. The important thing is that both Nova and Pettitte are set to rejoin the rotation the next turn through, and that should be a big help down the stretch.

Update: As Andy In Sunny Daytona points out, the Yankees can use that one off-day to flip Sabathia and Hughes in the rotation. Phil can probably use an extra day of rest at this point of the season while Sabathia already had his extra rest during his two DL stints. Switching the two would keep CC in line to start Game One of the ALDS if they manage to win the division while also lining him up perfectly for a potential tie-breaker/wildcard play-in game. The Yankees should really consider making the switch.

Jeter hurt, Granderson homers twice as Yankees hold off Red Sox
David Phelps and first pitch strikes
  • Better off Eddard

    The ball would go to Hughes in a potential tiebreaker? Yuck. Let’s hope it doesn’t come to that. It doesn’t look like we’ll get best record so we’d be matched up against the Central winner if we win the division. Could be a chance at revenge against the Tigers.

    • CS Yankee

      If the tie-breaker decided Divison or WC…guessing they go Hughes. If it was the WC game, CC.

      • Andy In Sunny Daytona

        Just have CC and Hughes switch spots in the rotation after the off day on Monday. Problem solved.

        • mj

          hey andy who is your breakout prospect for next year?

          • Andy In Sunny Daytona

            Abiatal Avelino.

            River Avelino Blues…

    • Robinson Tilapia

      It should be “Big Game” David Phelps, apparently.

      • gc

        Or Joba. Because “he’s back.”

  • LarryM., Fl.

    Just getting to the playoffs as the consideration, we are in a better position with Andy and Nova coming back. Any signs of Pettitte tiring then bring in Phelps ASAP. Our offense especially against Lefties is weak with the group of Pearce, McGehee, Nix and Jones. I don’t know how effective and the time frame for Teix. to come back but the team is setting up better,slowly.

    I think we all have issues with some of Girardi’s moves but he is saddled with injured position starters and under performing fill-ins who can’t bunt or at least have productive outs. As was witnessed last night in Boston. So, I guess he hasn’t seen enough of Jones and the gang.

    I hope he gives Jeter the DH spot and lets Alex can off his fat a$$ and play third. Nunez should play short not Nix while giving Jeter rest.

  • UpstateYanks

    Next post: Mapping out the rotation next year. Thoughts? I’ll go first.

    Kuroda (1 year deal)
    Pettitte (crossing fingers he comes back)

    *Phelps and Williams are packaged in a deal for Upton (justin) and a bullpen arm over the winter.

    •!/Clay_Bellinger Clay Bellinger

      “*Phelps and Williams are packaged in a deal for Upton (justin) and a bullpen arm over the winter.”

      That doesn’t get it done.

    • Kosmo

      OK OK OK. D-Backs have excellent young SP in Bauer, Bradley and Skaggs plus the current rotation, they really don´t need someone like Phelps.
      Pineda only by miracle would be back in time for opening day.

      • jjyank

        Even then, I think the Yanks will start Pineda in the minors to see how he looks post-surgery and perhaps to push back his arb clock.

    • Robinson Tilapia

      Swap Pineda and Nova. I don’t even pencil Pineda in anywhere at this point.

      I could see one of the three younger starters as tradebait. Sure.

      It’d surprise me to see BOTH Kuroda and Andy back, but it wouldn’t surprise me much.

      Gun to my head, I’ll go with:


      Banuelos and Pineda are the depth guys. Nova is somewhere in the NL West drawing “why’d we get rid of him? Cashman can’t evaluate talent” comments.

    • Cuso

      Yeah, there’s just so much incorrect about this that it’s barely worth commenting on, but I will anyways.

      They’re not getting both Kuroda AND Pettitte on 1-year deals again.

      Pineda won’t be pitching until May, and when he does in won’t be in the majors.

      And do you really think the Yankees could get Justin Upton for ONLY Phelps and Mason Williams? That’d be a tough sell if the Yanks and D’backs were the only two teams in MLB. As it is, there are 28 others. The D’Backs could get offers for J-Up 20 times better than what you propose from other teams .

      • Cuso

        Oh, and the reason they’re not getting both Kuroda and Pettitte on on-year deals again is because each will command over $12M for the one year. They’d have to go to at least a 2-year deal on one of them to spread the cost because they’re going to have to spend (some) money on RF this offseason, too. Kuroda’s value shot up and I guarantee the Red Sox will pursue him, and Pettitte was actually offered an incentive-based $10M+ contract back in JANUARY before he made the Spting Training announcement at discounted-prorated contract.

        • Robinson Tilapia

          Why would you think they wouldn’t have the money to spend in 2013 on these guys on one-year deals? Not getting that….yet.

      • Robinson Tilapia

        To his defense, he didn’t really specify they’d constitute the entire deal.

        While, like I said, it’d surprise me, I don’t think it’s super-outlandish that the team could actually get Kuroda and Pettitte on one year deals. I just think one of them will choose to not come back at all.

        We’ll hear more outlandish rotation scenarios than this, I’m sure.

  • joek

    Its funny how you’re getting excited about nova when you were calling for him to be sent down before he got hurt and by putting in a disclaimer that he didn’t pitch all that great is not helping your cause you’re still suffering from short term memory loss about how bad nova was

    • Better off Eddard

      Maybe the time off will help him. Freddy wasn’t getting it done at all. He couldn’t even get through 4 innings. Nova should be able to do that at least. He’s an upgrade over what Freddy has been giving us so there is reason for optimism in Nova’s return.

    • jjyank

      There’s a chance he wasn’t pitching well because he was hurt. Even if that’s not the case, there’s a chance that the time off could help him. As Mike said, I believe there’s a better chance that Nova goes on a good run over Freddy.

      • Kosmo

        4 inning freddy vs. 6 innings 8 hits 5 run Nova. I hope for the best from Nova but I ain´t counting on it.

        • jjyank

          Not counting on him per se, but I do think he’s a better bet than Freddy at this point.

  • jon

    Is the pitching rotation really…REALLY…the issue? I think that the starting pitching has given this team at least a chance to win most games. Making it better is going to improve on that of course but this is just a terrible offense…we had one out burst of a game against Britton; besides that its is below league average especially against lefties.

    Maybe we should let CC with RISP and see if he could do better…could he really do worse?

    • Robinson Tilapia

      It’s part of the issue. Is it the biggest part? Probably not, but every guy in that rotation who’s pitched meaningful innings has suffered through bouts of maddening inconsistency, even the guys who we assumed would be rocks.

    • Cuso


      No, it’s not really, REALLY “the” issue.

      But it’s really, really AN issue

    • JLC 776

      Pitching is the only thing we can look at and somewhat forecast right now.

      Do you want a post on what the lineup should look like for a potential play-in game?

  • mike_h

    the way CC pitched his last 3 starts I think he needs a day off, so I’d skip him. Having him rested and ready is crucial