Monday, February 6, 2012

What The Order Of The 2012 Rotation Should Be

I've been thinking about this since almost the moment the Yankees added Pineda and Kuroda to the rotation.  It was inspired by the ideas proposed in the comments section of my next-day reaction post, those voices strongly in the corner of Freddy Garcia as not even the #5 starter, but the #2 right behind CC.  I don't think that will happen, and truth be told, the order of the rotation is really only important when the season begins and in the last month of the regular through the playoffs.  So in constructing my rotation for this season, I envisioned it heading into a 4-game postseason series.

1) CC Sabathia

Every good rotation needs an ace at the top, and CC has been nothing short of that since he first put on the pinstripes.  He's big, he's strong, he can give you a ton of innings, he strikes guys out, he limits damage, he's pitched in a ton of big games before, and his performance backs up the big contract he was given this offseason.  The Yankees are building the rotation for the future, but CC is still the head of the rotation right now.  In a big game, who else would you rather have taking the ball?

2) Michael Pineda

I've heard all the arguments against him- struggled in the 2nd half, doesn't have a 3rd pitch, will get hurt pitching in Yankee Stadium, etc.  But I've also seen the stuff he has and how it's worked for him, and I can point to his overall body of work last year, in his rookie season, and say that Pineda has the makings of a top-tier starting pitcher.  I don't think the Yankees would trade away their best hitting prospect in a long time for a back-end starter, so why not give the kid this spot?  He's got top-of-the-rotation stuff already; let him use it to grow into a top-of-the-rotation role.

3) Hiroki Kuroda

As much as I don't get too concerned with Pineda's negatives, knowing that they are there and could come up to bite him once or twice, I'd like to have a veteran pitcher behind him in the rotation, and that's exactly what Kuroda is.  He won't blow anybody away with his stuff, but he knows how to pitch, he isn't going to get rattled by anything, and he can give you innings even when he isn't having his best stuff day.  Kuroda would almost be like 2009 Andy Pettitte in this role, there to steady the ship if things in front of him get a little rocky.

4) Ivan Nova

While some have visions of the future #2 or #3 starter in their heads from the way he ended last season, the more likely case is that Nova tops out as a #4 starter.  And to be a #4 starter with his potential is nothing to be ashamed of, so I'd like to see Nova down a bit in the order where he can work on improving his offspeed stuff and continue to build on the momentum from his strong finish to 2011.  If Nova truly can replicate that success, then his ceiling will raise to that #2-#3 range and we all rejoice.  But I'd rather let him see if he can reach that level in a low-stress role as the #4 guy.

5) Whoever

Whether the Yankees end up going with Phil Hughes' potential, Freddy Garcia's recent track record, or A.J. Burnett's contract, I think the winner of the last rotation spot will be in exactly that spot.  And with what each brings to the table, there really isn't a bad option in the bunch for what the Yankees will need from the 5th spot in the rotation.

It seems pretty cut and dry to me.  You put your best in the best spots in the rotation.  But maybe not everybody shares my thoughts.  So what do you think, Yankee fans?  How would your 2012 starting rotation look?


Greg Corbell said...

I'd have to agree with you. Pineda is dynamic enough to have as a front end guy, despite his previous "flaws," which won't necessarily show themselves again this season. Kuroda's veteran status, and ability to put up solid numbers is good for the middle of the rotation, if for no other reason than to "right the ship" if Pineda gets a bit shaky. Nova's year this past season leads me to think that he has the potential (and I hate that word in baseball) to have #2-3 starter stuff, but why not have him towards the back of the lineup so teams really can't have an off day from a potent staff. I like the idea of having Freddy in the 5 spot if he can keep a similar level of productivity, for much the same reason as I like Kuroda in the 3 spot. Veteran presence who can steady the Yanks if Nova has a slip up or two, and bridge the gap to get back to CC. All in all, you're right on.

Unknown said...

Glad somebody else out there agrees with me, Greg.

It just makes perfect sense to me. I don't think anybody would say that Nova is a better pitcher than Pineda, so Pineda gets the nod there. And with a 1-2 of CC-Pineda, the Yanks would really be looking for consistency in the 3 slot, which is exactly what Kuroda brings to the table.

Delia E. said...

I think the 5th spot should go to A.J Burnett for many reasons. He improved at the end of last season, saved us from elimination at Detroit & his contract might have a say as to where A.J ends up. He makes too much money to be in the bullpen, so the only place to put him is the rotation.

Unknown said...

All fair points, Delia. I just feel that A.J. is past the point of having his big contract dictate what's done with him, especially with his performance continuing to be terrible.

And yes, he's pitched some good games in big spots. But when evaluating him, you have to look at his entire body of work, and there's more bad than good in there.

If A.J. truly is the best pitcher for the job, then yes, he should get the spot. But he has to earn it by pitching better than Hughes and Garcia.