(Hey new guy! Courtesy of The AP)
For the first time in what seems like ages, the Yankees enter a season without major questions in the rotation. Sure, there are still questions, but not of the usual "Who's going to be the __th starter?" variety that has been the norm for the past few years. The Yankees went out this offseason and made moves to fortify both the depth and the talent level of their rotation, starting with the new contract for CC and ending with the surprise signing and un-retirement of Andrew Eugene Pettitte. There have been a few bumps in the road in Spring Training leading up to the final determination of the starting 5, and some who were thought to be a part of the Opening Day rotation won't be, but the Yankees head into the 2012 season with a no-doubt starting 5 intact and plenty of reserves on standby to cover for injuries or ineffectiveness. The 2011 rotation ended up being sneaky good, much better than most people anticipated. Expectations are much higher for 2012's group and they should be. Despite the recent injury issues, there is no reason that the rotation can't be a major strength for the Bombers in 2012.
Starting at the top, CC Sabathia will once again be the ace of the staff, and as aces go you can't do a whole lot better than CC. He's big, he's durable, he gives his team lots of innings, and he produces at a Cy Young-worthy level in those innings. At this point, CC's transformation from thrower to pitcher is complete, as he has a firm grasp on all the pitchers in his arsenal and knows how to use them all to be effective against any type of hitter and any lineup. The hefty lefty is coming off of his best season in pinstripes (3.00/2.88/3.02 with 8.72 K/9 and 2.31 BB/9 in 237.1 IP in 2011) and will be looking to build on that with another re-commitment to managing his weight. He shed some pounds before arriving at camp last year, but over the course of the season put it all back on. He has dropped a few LBs again in 2012, and is planning to make a concerted effor to keep it off and keep himself fresh over the long haul. Despite his size, CC has never been a big injury risk, but as he starts to transition further into his 30s that injury risk becomes greater and the Yankees want to do everything they can to keep him healthy. He's struggled with his command a bit in camp this year, specifically his fastball, but right now there's no reason to expect anything other than another stellar year from him.
More after the jump