Meet the homegrown 2018 Yankees: The rotationAdam Warren goes from swingman in '13 to ace in '18
But as any fan knows, no matter how great a team’s offense may be, it still needs a solid pitching staff to keep every game from being a slugfest – and in our world, the 2018 homegrown Yankees rotation has, like the lineup, a solid balance of left and right, power and finesse, and, incredibly, youth and experience.
If this scenario were happening a year earlier, there would be a couple of wild cards in the mix, two pitchers whose fate is based on service time, remaining Minor League options, and the potential of “Super Two” status; they were not included in this potential scenario because they are not fully guaranteed to be under team control in 2018, but we have included them (with an explanation of their situations) in a sixth spot…because after all, no team ever sees only five starters account for all 162 games started, right?
With that, here is our projected rotation for the 2018 homegrown Yankees:
No. 1 SP Adam Warren: Following a similar path as David Phelps, Warren spent 2013 as the Yankees’ long man and will have a chance to lock down a rotation spot in 2014. Either way, he seems destined for the Majors in one way or another, and if he stays his whole welcome, 2018 would be his final arbitration year – but by that time, he could and should be the undisputed ace of the staff based on seniority. He was 3-2 with a 3.39 ERA in 77 innings over 34 appearances (two starts) last year, and was 28-25 with a 3.11 ERA in 90 career Minor League starts, so he seems to have the pedigree to at least be a solid rotation starter sometime soon anyway.
No. 2 SP Nik Turley: Added to the 40-man roster last winter, southpaw Turley saw Major League camp last year but spent most of the season at Trenton, going 11-8 with a 3.88 ERA in 26 starts, and he also pitched six innings of one-run ball in his lone emergency start at Triple-A. Turley has two Minor League options left and will surely use at least one of them in the “real” world, as he seems ticketed to spend 2014 with Scranton/Wilkes-Barre; the former 50th-round pick would follow the same path in our world, so he’d either be in his last true team control year of his first arbitration year (depending on how much if any of 2015 he spent in the Minors) come 2018.
No. 3 SP Rafael De Paula: Power is the name of the Yankees’ rotation come 2018, and De Paula fits that bill. After going 8-2 with a 1.46 ERA and a 12.4 K/9 ratio in 2012 in the Dominican, De Paula came to the States and showed flashes of that dominance last year; while his overall ERA ballooned a bit to 4.29, he was at 2.94 in 13 starts at Class-A Charleston before moving up late in the year and still had a total K/9 ratio of 11.6 on the year. He misses bats, and while he’s going to need some time to develop in the Minors, he still has two years before he’s Rule 5 eligible – meaning he doesn’t even “need” to be in the Majors until 2019 in real time. In our world, though, 2018 would be either his rookie year or second season, and he seems to slot in just fine in the middle of the rotation like a young Andy Pettitte or Chien-Ming Wang did back in the day.
No. 4 SP Manny Banuelos: In real time, Banuelos has been a prospect seemingly forever, but he still has two Minor League options remaining, even after missing almost all of 2012 with arm soreness and then missing 2013 after having Tommy John surgery last October. That surgery will be a good 16 months behind him when he reports to Yankees camp next spring, but even GM Brian Cashman has said that the lefty should spent most if not all of 2014 at Triple-A; it’s much the same in our world, and with an option for 2015 as well, the fantasy Yankees could bring him along slowly, perhaps getting him his first taste of the Majors as a September 2015 bullpen call-up. No matter how it’s done, the team will hope he regains the form he showed while dominating the lower Minors from 2008-11, and he’ll make a fine No. 4 starter even if his left arm isn’t as electric as it was before he had a new ligament put in there.
No. 5 SP Scottie Allen: There were a lot of choices for the back end of the rotation, but after the 2013 season he had, Allen gets the nod; he went 9-5 with a 3.54 ERA in 21 starts at Tampa, and after being moved up to Trenton, he was great in both August (2-0, 1.59 in four starts) and the postseason. That earned Allen a 40-man roster spot, and while he’ll likely be the ace of the Thunder rotation in 2014, he might end up in the Bronx in some capacity by 2016 – so he’ll also be a very cost-effective No. 5 guy in our world.
Wild Cards – RHP David Phelps and Michael Pineda: Phelps and Pineda would, undoubtedly, be the top two starters in this rotation, likely bumping Allen and maybe Warren to the bullpen or off the roster, but their statuses are too cloudy to include. In Phelps’ case, enters 2014 with 1 year, 156 days of service time, meaning he will be “Super Two” eligible if he spends all of 2014 in the Majors – meaning that he will be arbitration eligible four times instead of three, which could eventually price him out of a job before he hits free agency.
As for Pineda, he has 2 years, 99 days of time and two Minor League options remaining, so he could go either way; he could end up as a free agent after 2017 if he never sees the Minors again, but he could also have two years of arbitration eligibility if he uses the entirety of his options. If he’s healthy it’s more likely going to be the former than the latter, and if he’s not, chances are he’ll be gone anyway, so we chose not to include him either.