Friday, October 26, 2012

State of the Rotation: What New York Yankees Should do About Their Starters

Despite the fact that some sportswriters were calling for an overhaul of the Yankee position players in recent weeks, the team's starting pitching staff also needs a bit of a tweak. Following the 2012 MLB All-Star Game, Ivan "Super Nova" Nova's ERA exploded, and he pitched to an ERA of 7.05, more than three runs higher than his pre-mid-summer classic ERA of 3.92.

Freddy Garcia was also unimpressive as a starter this season, pitching to an ERA of 5.93 in 17 starts.  

Combine the ERAs of those two pitchers with the fact that Andy Pettitte isn't guaranteed to return to the mound next season, and the Yankees need to be shopping for a starting pitcher or two in addition to their other needs (such as a designated hitter and a backup outfielder).

One way the Yanks could get a new pitcher is through free agency.  There aren't a lot of big-name pitchers in the market this year, but that could work to the Bombers' advantage since they'd like to decrease their payroll.  

Any new additions to the New York Yankees' starting rotation should have the following requirements: low ERA, young, come relatively cheap, and give up few home runs (Yankee Stadium is a home run haven, so the ideal starting pitcher for the Yanks will be able to keep the ball in the park during the majority of his starts).   

So who should the Yankees try to signPerhaps they should start with Mat Latos.  He's only 24, yet has been pitching in the majors since July 2009 and has put up consistently good numbers thus far in his career.  In his 105 starts he's gone 41-33 with a 3.41 ERA and 64 home runs surrendered.  He made just over $0.5 million last season, and despite his sneakily good numbers, his salary has only climbed a tiny bit each year.  Maybe the Yankees can sign him for a minimal deal (perhaps $1 million or so will do?).  

The second-best choice for the Yankees would be Jarrod Parker, who has given up only 11 home runs in his 30 career starts.  As long he continues to keep the ball in play, he should be able to maintain his success if he really does don pinstripes.  He also has a relatively low 3.37 career ERA and is only 23, so he just might be the perfect fit for the Yanks.

One final choice for the Yankees: Kris Medlen.  Medlen, who has spent his first four seasons with the Atlanta Braves, has incredible numbers in his 30 games as a starter: 15-2 record, 2.81 ERA, 19 home runs given up, and a 1.059 WHIP (walks and hits per inning pitched).  He might also come cheap, since he made less than $0.5 million in each of the last three seasons (his 2009 salary wasn't given on Cot's).  The only problem with Medlen is that he hasn't been a full-time starter during his Major League tenure, making three times as many relief appearances (90) as he has starts (30).  

The Yankees should be able to compete as always in 2013, and should be able to perform even better should they succeed in signing any one of these three pitchers.  Any of them would be an upgrade over Nova or Garcia, and Latos and Medlen in particular probably won't explode, given that they've got some MLB experience under their belts and have pitched well thus far in their careers.

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