Fight for the Fifth Spot, Round 1

Saturday, March 6, 2010

I wanted to put this up yesterday after Phil Hughes and Joba Chamberlain pitched, but I didn't get around to it. The big question this spring training is who is the fifth starter for the Yankees? Hughes and Chamberlain are expected to be the front-runners, but after their performances yesterday, and the performances of some others this spring, it can easily be said that it is wide open. Now that the Yankees have played four spring training games, and each has gotten roughly 35 pitches in, let's breakdown how they have looked and the chances each have.

Chad Gaudin:
2 IP, 1 H, 1 K, 0 ER, 34 pitches, 23 strikes.

Sergio Mitre
2 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 1 K

Alfredo Aceves
2 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 1 K

Phil Hughes
2 IP, 1 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 33 pitches, 18 strikes.

Joba Chamberlain
1.1 IP, 3 H, 5 ER, 3 BB, 1 K, 33 pitches, 14 strikes.

Kei Igawa (Yeah, I know. But Girardi has said not to rule him out)
1.2 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 2 K

Analysis: Obviously it's still very early, but, there should be some cause for concern with Chamberlain and Hughes. All candidates had similar lines, with the exception of those two. My theory is that Hughes and Chamberlain could be putting a little more pressure on themselves whereas the others are pitching with no pressure at all. What really bothers me is Chamberlain's performance. Maybe it was because he was coming back from having the flu, but 14 strikes out of 33 pitches? Sounds like the exact same Joba from last year that we know.

On the other hand, the darkhorse of this group is Gaudin. He has the most experience out of anyone in this group, and pitched well for the Yankees at the end of last year. He went 2-0 with a 3.43 ERA in 11 games (6 starts). If Gaudin remains consistent and efficient for the rest of the spring, he has a legitimate chance of being the fifth starter. The the question becomes, do you put both Hughes and Chamberlain in the pen? Or one in the pen and the other to the minors to work as a starter?

There is still plenty of time left for decisions to be made, but this gives you a good idea of where the competition is at the first mile of a five mile race (yes I run cross-country I must make a running reference).

Other Yankees news:

  • The Yankees lost 9-1 to the Toronto Blue Jays today. A.J. Burnett pitched, working out of a first inning bases loaded jam, but couldn't get out of the second, giving up 2 doubles and a single, surrendering 2 runs on 5 hits . His main concern was developing a changeup since he is only a two-pitch pitcher. He said that it's "only going to help."
  • Francisco Cervelli was hit in the head today by a pitch and suffered a concussion. It was his second concussion in four months, so you know they will be careful with him. Girardi said that Mike Rivera is the third string catcher, not Jesus Montero, should Cervelli not be on the team come April.
  • Gaudin and Mitre will pitch tomorrow against the Twins in Fort Myers, Florida. Andy Pettitte will pitch a two-inning simulated game.
  • Mariano Rivera, Damaso Marte, and Chan Ho Park are the only pitchers who have not faced live hitting and will throw a batting practice session Monday.
That's it for today...See Ya!


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