2014 Midseason Grades: The Rotation

DotF: Bichette and Torrens both extend hitting streaks
Aaron Judge ranks 45th on Keith Law's midseason top 50 prospects list

Even though it is not really the halfway point of the season, there is no better time to review the first half than the All-Star break. This week we’ll hand out some simple, straightforward, and totally subjective grades, A through F, for the catchers, infielders, outfielders, rotation, and bullpen. We’ve already covered the catchers, infielders, and outfielders, so now let’s move on to the rotation.

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Masahiro Tanaka — Grade A

I didn’t think it would be possible for Tanaka to meet, nevermind exceed expectations after the Yankees invested $175M in the 25-year-old right-hander this winter. A contract (and release fee) like that comes with ace-sized expectations and given everything he had to adjust to — five-day pitching schedule, new hitters, tougher parks, new culture, etc. — I didn’t think there was any chance he would pitch that well right away. I didn’t think he’d be bad, he’d be really good but there would be an adjustment period, right? How could there not be?

Well, there wasn’t. Tanaka showed up to Spring Training on the first day and looked like he had been wearing pinstripes for years. The transition was seamless, or at least he made it appear that way. He was all business from day one, embracing the five-day schedule and the new workout routines (remember all the running early in camp?). Tanaka was the position player of Hideki Matsui. The guy who fit in so well, so soon that it was like he was born to wear pinstripes.

Tanaka lived up to the hype on the field, of course. That’s most important. He has thrown 129.1 innings in 18 starts, and among the 45 AL pitchers with enough innings to qualify for the ERA title, Tanaka ranks third with a 2.51 ERA, third with 4.1 bWAR,, fourth with a 3.7% walk rate, fourth with a 7.1 K/BB ratio, fifth with a 26.6% strikeout rate, sixth with 3.2 fWAR, tenth with a 3.07 FIP, and 20th with a 45.9% ground ball rate. The only negative in his game is the long ball; he’ll give up some dingers (1.04 HR/9 and 14.4 HR/FB%). It’s a minor nuisance. Other than that though, Tanaka was one of the five best starting pitchers in the league in the first half.

Unfortunately, Tanaka suffered a partially torn elbow ligament in what was scheduled to be his second to last start before the All-Star break. Three doctors recommended he rehab the injury rather than undergo season-ending Tommy John surgery, so Tanaka received a platelet-rich plasma injection earlier this week and is currently resting before starting a throwing program. The expectation is that he will be able to return to the rotation later in the year, but surgery will remain a possibility if the rehab is less than perfect. It sucks but it is what it is. Tanaka managed to exceed expectations before the injury. What a stud.

(Eric Christian Smith/Getty)
(Eric Christian Smith/Getty)

CC Sabathia — Grade F

I was optimistic about Sabathia’s chances of rebounding this year, though I didn’t have much to base that on other than blind faith and Sabathia’s track record. I’m not even talking about getting back to being an ace. Just being a solid mid-rotation workhorse would have been plenty good enough for me. Instead, Sabathia gave the team a 5.28 ERA (4.79 FIP) in eight starts and 46 innings before going down with a degenerative knee condition. A stem cell procedure apparently did not work and now he’s facing the possibility of microfracture surgery, which could be career-threatening.

Rather than shake off the career worst 2013 season, Sabathia got worse and added in a serious injury this year. Not good. I mean, if you really want to squint your eyes and find a silver lining, know that his strikeout (9.39 K/9 and 23.0 K%) and walk (1.96 BB/9 and 4.8 BB%) rates were outstanding. That … really doesn’t make me feel much better at all. Maybe an incomplete would be a more appropriate grade given the injury (which might have led to the poor performance), but eight starts is one-fourth of the season. That’s not insignificant.

Anyway, Sabathia’s knee injury is very serious and remember, he’s only 33. We’re not talking about some guy approaching 40 here. Sabathia is still relatively young and an ultra-competitive type who leaves everything on the field — remember when he started four games in 12 days for the Brewers on the eve of his free agency? You’re kidding yourself if you think he’s just going to walk away from the game because of the knee injury — and now there’s a chance he may never pitch again. Like, for real.

(Jim McIsaac/Getty)
(Jim McIsaac/Getty)

Hiroki Kuroda — Grade C

There were plenty of reasons to be skeptical of Kuroda coming into the season, specifically his age (39) and brutal finish to the 2013 season. The Yankees re-signed him though, and while he has not pitched as well as he did the last two years, Kuroda has given the team innings every fifth day and is the only Opening Day rotation member not to come down with an injury. His 4.10 ERA (3.91 FIP) can be split up into a 4.62 ERA (3.75 FIP) in his first eight starts and 48.2 innings and a 3.72 ERA (4.02 FIP) in his last eleven starts and 67.2 innings, if you choose.

With Tanaka and everyone else going down with injuries — for weeks too, these aren’t 15 days on the disabled list and you’re good to go type of injuries — the Yankees need Kuroda to remain that reliable innings eater in the second half. Actually, they need him to be better than that, which is a problem because of his late-season fades. The Yankees absolutely can not afford that this year, not if they want to contend. Kuroda is currently the staff ace by default and the team needs him to reverse his recent trends and be better in the second half than he was in the first.

Big Mike

Michael Pineda — Grade D

It was fun while it lasted, wasn’t it? Two years after the trade that brought him to New York, Pineda was finally healthy enough to help the Yankees, and he started the year by pitching to a 1.83 ERA (2.73 FIP) in four starts and 19.2 innings. He was an ace! An ace on a very strict pitch count (no more than 94 pitches or six full innings in his four starts), but an ace nonetheless. The Yankees were finally getting some kind of return on the trade and it was glorious.

Then it all came to a crashing halt in Fenway Park in late-April. Two starts after the internet caught him with a glob of pine tar on his hand, Pineda was caught with an even bigger glob of pine tar on his neck. Red Sox manager John Farrell did not let it slide this time. He alerted the umpires and Pineda was ejected and eventually suspended ten games. While serving the suspension, he suffered a back/shoulder muscle injury and has been sidelined since. He just started throwing off a mound last week (after the #obligatorysetback). Given his recent history, there’s no possible way the Yankees could count on Pineda to return to help the rotation in the second half. If he does come back, it’s a bonus. But man, those 19.2 innings were pretty awesome, weren’t they?

(Brian Blanco/Getty)
(Brian Blanco/Getty)

Ivan Nova — incomplete

I went back and forth between giving Nova an F or an incomplete. He did make four starts this year, after all. Four terrible starts, with 40 base-runners and an 8.27 ERA (6.91 FIP) in 20.2 innings. But he also blew out his elbow and needed Tommy John surgery in late-April. I’m giving him the benefit of the doubt and assuming the elbow contributed to his poor performance and that he was never really healthy this year. I don’t know, an F just seems too harsh for a guy that barely pitched before his elbow ligament snapped. Maybe I’m being too kind.

The Yankees lost Nova for the season and that’s a pretty significant blow. Not just for this year either, the timing of the injury means he will start next season on the disabled list and the team won’t really know what to expect from him. This is an injury that impacts two seasons, not only one. This was supposed to be the year for Nova to build on his strong second half of 2013 and stop the up and down nonsense, establishing himself as a no-doubt big league starter. That won’t happen.

David Phelps — Grade B

Once the injuries started to strike, Phelps worked his way into the rotation and has remained there ever since. He’s pitched to a 3.94 ERA (4.31 FIP) in 89 total innings, including a 3.96 ERA (4.08 FIP) in 13 starts and 77.1 innings since moving into the rotation. The Yankees have also been able to count on Phelps for innings — he’s thrown at least five full innings in all 13 starts (even before he was fully stretched out) and at least six full innings eight times in his last ten starts. That’s been much-needed.

(Mike Stobe/Getty)
(Mike Stobe/Getty)

There were some questions about Phelps and his ultimate role coming into the season — remember, he missed most of the second half last season with a pair of forearm strains — but things worked themselves out and he’s become one of the team’s three most reliable pitchers in the wake of the injuries. He’s been a godsend. You can’t ask anything more of a sixth starter. Now the Yankees need Phelps to keep it up in the second half. He’s in the rotation for good.

Chase Whitley — Grade C

It was definitely a tale of two first halves for Whitley. He came up following all the injuries and was outstanding in his first seven starts, posting a 2.56 ERA (2.75 FIP) in 28.2 innings. Considering he was a full-time reliever as recently as last July and the rotation was in total disarray, getting that kind of production out of Whitley was a minor miracle. The Yankees needed it desperately.

Then everything came crashing to a halt one night in Toronto last month, when the Blue Jays punished Whitley for eight runs in 3.1 innings. It wasn’t just a bump in the road either. He has a 9.43 ERA (6.14 FIP) in 21 innings since. (That includes two scoreless innings in relief.) After allowing eleven runs on 44 base-runners (one homer) in his first seven starts, Whitley has allowed 20 runs on 40 base-runners (five homers) in his last four starts. Those first seven starts were so good that I’m not going to go any lower than a C, especially since we’re talking about a guy who had never started regularly until this year. All things considered, Whitley’s been a plus even if he’ll only be a reliever going forward. He helped much more than I thought he would as a starter.

Vidal Nuno — Grade D

Nuno was actually the first guy to be pulled out of the bullpen and stuck in the rotation, but that had more to do with timing than anything. He was the only one rested and able to make a spot start because of a doubleheader in April, and he lined up perfectly to replace Nova after he blew out his elbow. That’s all. Nuno had a 5.42 ERA (5.18 FIP) in 78 total innings for the Yankees, including a 4.89 ERA (4.86 FIP) in 14 starts and 73.2 innings before being traded away two weeks ago. There were some good starts mixed in there and more than a few duds as well.

(Patrick McDermott/Getty)
(Patrick McDermott/Getty)

Brandon McCarthy and Shane Greene — incomplete

These two both joined the rotation last week. I mean literally. Greene made his first career start last Monday and McCarthy made his first start in pinstripes on Wednesday. Throw in Greene’s second start last Saturday and they’ve combined to allow six run (three earned) in 20.1 innings. They also have a combined 57.1% ground ball rate, which is pretty awesome even if it is a super small sample. Greene’s mid-90s sinker and upper-80s slider make me think he has more rotation staying power than either Nuno or Whitley, but, either way, we’ll see plenty more of these two in the second half.

* * *

Any time a team loses four of its five Opening Day rotation members, including three within the first six weeks of the season, they’re going to be scrambling for pitching. No team has enough depth to go nine starters deep. The Yankees have been able to tread water thanks to Phelps and some timely outings from Whitley and Nuno, who have since been replaced by McCarthy and Greene. The team clearly needs another starter in the wake of Tanaka’s injury and, frankly, they could have used another starter before that. This is a patchwork staff held together by Kuroda, Phelps, and McCarthy at the moment, and there’s no telling how much longer the duct tape will hold.

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DotF: Bichette and Torrens both extend hitting streaks
Aaron Judge ranks 45th on Keith Law's midseason top 50 prospects list
  • Farewell Mo

    How in the world does fangraphs have Phil Hughes at 3.7 WAR and Tanaka at 3.2 WAR?

    Seems ludicrous.

    • Paco Dooley

      Makes no sense, especially given Tanaka’s consistency – all of those quality starts in a row have to have a lot of value.

      • The Guns of Navarone

        FG WAR is all based on FIP and home runs kill your FIP. Hughes has actually been really good this year, and he has microscopic BB & HR rates. There’s no question Tanaka is the better pitcher, but if you’re looking for a reason why Hughes has him beat in WAR, look no further than the home runs.

        • ChuckIt

          That is why those stupid “stats” are just that.

          • Jorge Steinbrenner

            Sabremetrics < Any 3:00 AM DOTF "I see it with my eyes" comment.

        • KeithK

          FIP is a very useful stat and I’m sure it correlates very well with future performance. But using it over ERA to determine how valuable a pitcher was in the past is silly. What matters is how many runs the guy has already given up. Just because a guy may have gotten lucky so far doesn’t mean he hasn’t been valuable. (Good luck is damn valuable, just don’t count on it going forward.)

    • Rick

      Home runs. Fangraphs seems to inordinately weight home runs given up by a pitcher. While the long ball has certainly been the achilles heel of Tanaka, the majority of them have been solo home runs. The WAR formula doesn’t seem to distinguish between a solo home run or a grand slam. If it does, then there needs to be a subsequent adjustment in regard to how heavily each is weighted.

    • NYYROC

      Hughes also has the 4th best FIP in MLB. Trails only Felix, Wainwright and Lester.

  • I’m One

    Tough grading on Big Mike. I understand that he might not come back due to his continued injuries, but Nova gets the benefit of the doubt with a terrible start to the season, yet Mike gets no love even though he was awesome for a short time.

    Oh well, just one man’s opinion. I think I’d also give Tanaka an A+.

    • Captain Bawls

      Yeah, that was my thought as well. Sucks he got hurt, but I’d give him no lower than a C or an incomplete maybe. The D makes it sound like he was terrible when he was pitching

      • ChuckIt

        Good point.BUT,his pitching was a “sticky’ subject.Was his success(?) based on talent,or on a little help from other means?

        • I’m One

          Personally, I don’t care what it was based on. It happened and it was good. Will he be that good going forward? I don’t know and his grade isn’t based on that. It’s based on what he did. Too bad he didn’t do it longer.

  • Paco Dooley

    Remember when this team had too many starters and we though that they could trade some of that depth?

    If Pineda can actually come back and stay in the rotation and Tanaka is not lost for a really long stretch, the team could have a decent rotation next season. So many question marks though – what will Nova look like? Can CC ever be effective again.

    With Joba and Hughes looking good this year, you have to wonder whether the team also needs some change in their management of the staff…

    • The Guns of Navarone

      I think they need a ton of help in the rotation next year even if you assume Pineda and Tanaka come back totally healthy. Nova’s never been too good over a full season even when healthy, Kuroda might be done after this year (as in retired) and you’d have to expect further decline if he did come back, and I personally don’t believe CC will be an effective pitcher again.

      Hughes and Joba had some good seasons with the Yankees, too. This is their first (half) year with other teams. They’ll have their bumps in the road. They always do. I’d expect Hughes to start giving up more long balls in the 2nd half. A 6% HR/FB seems really unsustainable for such an extreme fly ball pitcher regardless of what ballpark he’s in.

    • Steve (different one)

      When I look at Hughes’ numbers, I see a guy who just needed the confidence that every ball hit in the air wasn’t going to leave the park.

      That’s not the same thing as saying “moving 2013 Hughes to a bigger park will make him good”. It’s the change in approach knowing there is more room for error and it lets him be more aggressive in the strike zone. He’s always had good control, but when he made a mistake in YS, his day was ruined.

      That’s armchair psychology for sure, but it makes sense to me anyway.

      • Rick

        I don’t think there is any difference between the two. They are interchangeable and exactly the same thing. If you’re saying the bigger park helps him mentally, that’s the exact same thing as saying “move 2013 Hughes to a bigger park,” because it’s that precise reason you’d move him to a bigger park. I would like to see an overlay of his flyballs in his home games this year as compared to last year and see how many would’ve been gone.

        • ChuckIt

          What “mentally” helped Hughes wasn’t moving to a different size park,it was a park in a different city.

          • Jorge Steinbrenner

            I think what helped Hughes the most was a still-small sample size of time away from New York.

          • Rick

            Again, you would need to see the ballpark overlay to even begin to make the incredibly extraordinary leap to that assertion.

      • Jorge Steinbrenner

        That’s a nice armchair, though. Where’d you get it?

    • The Great Gonzo

      “With Joba and Hughes looking good this year, you have to wonder whether the team also needs some change in their management of the staff…”

      Right… Because its the management of the staff’s fault they sucked (ALOT) last year. Certainly coaching fault Hughes couldn’t get a 3rd strike or keep the ball in the yard.

      One could argue that in a bubble, either one of those guys should be able to pitch circles around Phelps, but here we are. Maybe Phil and Joba just weren’t cut out to wear pinstripes. Just speculating…

      • TWTR

        I don’t buy the pinstripes thing, but I think it’s reasonable to assign blame to both Hughes and Joba and the Yankees.

        First, the current version of Hughes is/was an extreme flyball pitcher, and as a result was a poor fit for YS. For some reason, his flyballs are down this season and his groundballs are up. We don’t know if that will be enduring. Also, he may have suffered the worst hamstring injury in the history of the world, because subsequent to that injury in 2007, his plus plus curve was never the same, which made him more FB reliant. He also seemed to throw up in the zone more. OTOH, it didn’t help his career that he was moved back and forth from the rotation to the pen because it probably affected his ability to build up arm strength.

        Second, Joba was clearly rushed when he was moved to the pen at the end of 2007. He had four really good pitches and had too much upside to mess with. Maybe he would have gotten hurt and/or regressed if he had been able to get sufficient minor league starts to finish off of his development. We will never know.

      • Farewell Mo

        Maybe Phil and Joba just weren’t cut out to wear pinstripes. Just speculating…

        or maybe young pitchers just come into their own at some point in time not to mention both are likely helped by playing in much more pitcher friendly ballparks.

    • Jorge Steinbrenner

      I really don’t understand your last sentence. These pitchers aren’t allowed to have success when they leave the Yankees? Also, for the period of time they’ve looked good in other uniforms, did they not look as good, or better, for the same amount of time as a Yankee? Why would their successful periods as Yankees be mirages, while their success somewhere else is the real thing?

      I wish Joba and Hughes the best, just not against us.

      • Farewell Mo

        I still think Hughes is gonna regress in a big way in the 2nd half. He did this with the Yankees a few years ago too.

        • Jorge Steinbrenner

          I do too. I honestly don’t really wish it upon him, though. I’d rather live in a world where Phil Hughes is a successful pitcher.

          At least it’s not in Boston.

          • ChuckIt

            ESPECIALLY NOT IN BOSTON !

  • Michael

    and Kennedy, and AJ, and Quintana, and Melancon, and Axford, and Colon, and …………….

    /tiresome, but true

    • nyyankfan_7

      Ah yes because everyone loved AJ Burnett when he actually was a Yankee and nobody wanted him to ever leave….

      • I’m One

        That’s sarcasm. Trust me. I can tell. :-)

    • Jorge Steinbrenner

      What are we referring to here? I’m honestly clueless.

      • I’m One

        I’m sure there are some people on here that would agree you’re clueless.

        • Jorge Steinbrenner

          And they’d be right sometimes.

      • nyyankfan_7

        The RAB mantra of course! /CASHMAN FAILED

        • Jorge Steinbrenner

          I mean, I get the usual low-hanging fruit, but AJ? Colon? How the hell do they wind up here?

          Wait, is this another “you’re only supposed to suck when you leave the Yankees” thing? My god, some folks need to get back on the titty.

  • JGYank

    First of all, props to Phelps. Really the only replacement that has been consistent and hasn’t blown up after joining the rotation. Greene might be on his way to join phelps as another consistent starter for us.

    Could tanaka have done any better? This guy carried the team and his starts were as close to an automatic W as it gets. At or near the top of the league in nearly every category. Amazing. Too bad he got injured and couldn’t last longer. It was great to watch him pitch. Would be fantastic if he comes back in 6 weeks and is perfectly fine and good to go.

    Kuroda needs to step it up a bit. Part of me is just happy he hasn’t gotten injured, but coming off of his great overall performance last year, I expected a little more. Hasn’t been bad but he could be better. Don’t like relying on guys in their upper 30s but we don’t have a choice. Hope he doesn’t tire out.

    Nova had a rough start that I’m hoping was from the injury. Thought he would break out this year. Best case scenario he comes back early next year and figures everything out and pitches even better than he did in the 2nd half last year.

    CC…. is pretty much an expensive lottery ticket at this point. Chances he comes back and pitches well are very slim. Thought he would rebound, but he is still ineffective and now the injury makes things worse.

    Pineda looked great, for like 20 IP. Really need him back soon to contend. Needs to stay healthy obviously. And figure out where to put pine tar. Still young and cheap, so let’s give him some time to get healthy and give him a pass if he doesn’t succeed at first.

    Whitley was great at first but tired out and has really struggled recently. Let’s not relegate him to the pen permanently yet since there’s still some potential as a starter there. For now hes the 5th guy until we get someone else, and then will probably be moved to the pen temporarily.

    McCarthy is obviously a rental and green has looked promising in a short sample. Let’s see what he could do up here, but I have no problem with sending him back down to develop if we get 2 more starters, which is pretty unlikely.

  • Mandy Stankiewicz

    Is a D for Mike is a little harsh? People were wondering if he’d ever pitch again, and he did–like whoa. Now we have to hope he can get back and stay. Man, our rotation was really promising in April…

  • ropeadope

    Maybe I’m being too kind.

    What, seriously?

  • TWTR

    From an end of the season perspective, Phelps could turn out to be the best rotation addition, and a mainstay going forward. Damn.

    • I’m One

      Outside of Tanaka, I wouldn’t mind if that comes about.

      • TWTR

        It would be good. The downside is his limited upside (iow, he doesn’t project to be a #3 or higher).

        Since I wrote that, I thought that an even more positive development would be a very good finish by Greene, since he is several years younger than Phelps and would seem to have a higher ceiling.

        Now, if both of those happen, then there would be reason to have some optimism that they can FINALLY develop starting pitchers.

  • Chip Rodriguez

    CC’s fall is really a tragedy. There’s a guy who carried a mediocre team in 08 into the playoffs single handedly, a guy who was a huge part of that 2009 championship with his second half/ALCS performance, and until 2012 was a legit ace.

    Sigh, remember a couple of years ago when people wondered if he might have a shot at 300 wins and a HOF spot?

    • TWTR

      It’s certainly disappointing. The lesson may be that however painful it may be in the (very?) short-term, if a pitcher has an opt-out in his contract and is in his 30s, the risk-reward probably argues in favor of letting him walk if he exercises that option.

  • Chip Rodriguez

    and yeah, major props to Phelps. He’s really exceeded expectations, and seems to have stepped up his game with a lot more quality starts since the flood of injuries. I hope he keeps this up, and doesn’t regress in the second half, though I’m a bit concerned how his arm might hold up.

    Tanaka – what more can be said. Absolutely amazing.

  • Jorge Steinbrenner

    http://www.historiann.com/2009.....s-to-mr-d/

    I was searching for an Alex P. Keaten quote about getting a D+, but couldn’t find it, but found this.

    I call for Mike assigning the worst culprits a D+ instead of an F.

    • Jorge Steinbrenner

      KeaTON.

  • Jorge Steinbrenner

    A bit harsh all over, actually. Pineda really should be more an incomplete, to me, as we still don’t know what we have. What we had, when healthy, was a beautiful and, potentially, a bit cognitively challenged, thing.

    A bit harsh on Kuroda as well, to be honest.

    Otherwise, other than Tanaka and BGDP, you get a D+! And you get a D+! And you get a D+!

    This was the one time where that worst case scenario we all thought was extremely unlikely occurred.

    *shakes fist at trolls*

    • Farewell Mo

      Tanaka having a tear in his UCL and maybe needing TJS and CC likely being finished because of an arthritic knee is probably way beyond anything the worst cynic could have dreamed up IMO.

      • Jorge Steinbrenner

        The only worse Tanaka scenario would have been him going full-on Igawa, but this is up there.

        I assumed that, in a rotation with high potential but plenty of questions, some guys would overachieve while some underachieved. Everyone went in the wrong direction. Everyone. Not even the most negative of Negative Nancies could have predicted that with a straight face.

        • Chip Rodriguez

          if Tanaka has TJ – then we at least look forward to him returning healthy in 2016, and hopefully getting two great years before that opt out clause hits.

          But even then, the half of a season we got from him was amazing. Feels like a long time since we’ve seen an ace be that dominant in pinstripes, and it was beautiful.

          • Jorge Steinbrenner

            I think the last season of pitcher injuries and re-injury should make us adjust our adjustment as to TJ recovery a bit. I’d consider Tanaka needing surgery to be a very bad thing, at this point.

            Losing at least a season of him at full strength isn’t something I can put any sort of silver lining on.

  • Slap-Ass

    So if CC can’t pitch anymore due to medical conditions is he a able to just stay around, not pitch and collect his millions until the end of his contract?

    • ChuckIt

      I’m not sure how much was guaranteed,but the better question is,will it count against the cap? I,personally,could do without his performance from last season up until now.

      • Farewell Mo

        It’s all guaranteed and all will count against the salary cap regardless of what happens. The Yankees might be able to recoup some if they have insurance and CC retires.

        • ChuckIt

          SOoo…We have to go higher over the cap to replace him if he’s gone,or just because he lost it?

  • mt

    Hopefully Mike will write a post about ace contracts and whether Yankees play in this arena in future – for example, should Yankees even think about doing the Lester/Scherzer big contract this off-season (say 7 years at $140 million plus) asssuming Sabathia is out and Tanaka has TJS thereby missing 2015. Lester and Scherzer will both be in their age 31 season next year.

    Facinating dilemma with these ace contracts – Hernandez (currently 28.5) and Kershaw (26.5) look pretty good so far on their big deals but they still are relatively young (and early in the deals). Besides what looks like a disastrous CC extension (he’s relatively old compared to this group turning 34 next Monday), the Justin Verlander decline (31.5) this year is shocking and Matt Cain (30 this October) has deteriorated. Halladay also disappeared from baseball rather quickly and now Cliff Lee, who has historically been very durable, now has an arm injury.

    At least Tanaka will still be only 27.5 on Opening Day 2016 even if he has to have TJS this year.

    Also Joel Sherman wrote a column recently saying that all the TJS surgeries this year may cast a damper on teams’ willingness to etxend Lester/Scherzer big contracts even though their pitching this year has been great which would normally bump up their next contract’s value – I wonder if Mike agrees with that theory.

  • Lehman College Rocks !!

    get well soon Tanaka
    we all love you and miss you

  • Denzel Crocker

    Tanaka- F
    Did not even apologize for not attempting to roll in nuclear waste to try to get super powers so he can pitch every single inning for us throwing 150 mph fastballs.

    Sabathia- F
    Won’t admit to being fat and tried to lose weight and succeeded,but did not share his workout regime.

    Kuroda – F
    Does not age like fine wine. Also doesn’t apologize as much as Tanaka does. Need to take responsibility.

    Pineda – F
    Did not even attempt to get plastic surgery to look like Big Mike to fit our meme better.

    Nuno – F
    Spelling is too close to Nunez

    Phelps – F
    Does not throw knuckleballs

    Greene – F
    Did not do well enough to warrant a promotion earlier

    McCarthy – F
    For being so tall and skinny. (6ft7 200lb)

    Whitley – F
    For not keeping it up and disappointing me

    • htmlfreak

      This is hilarious. How fast would Phelps’s knuckleball have to be? Dickey’esque or wakefield’esque?

  • Tyrone Sharpton

    Mike, nice graphics on the Pineda pic. World class