Masahiro Tanaka proved himself to be not only Major League ready but also the unquestioned ace of the Yankees staff in the first half of 2014 – especially since C.C. Sabathia missed the majority of the season with a knee injury.
However, the club’s new Opening Day starter has found himself at the center of a great deal of injury discussion this spring after suffering a partial of his ulnar collateral ligament last summer. He missed all of August and was roughed up in two September starts.
Tanaka is expected to be limited to around 90 pitches early this season, but as long as he’s healthy, he’ll be one of the top starters in the American League.
New York’s injury concerns continue throughout the rotation. Michael Pineda was great last year when he was able to take the mound, but only healthy enough to make 13 starts after missing all of 2013. Still, he was terrific with a 1.91 ERA over his final 56.3 innings of the season with 44 strikeouts and just four walks.
Sabathia has 11 Opening Day starts under his belt, including the last five for the Yankees, but is expected to take over the third spot in the rotation at the beginning of the season. Nathan Eovaldi (who allowed just one earned run in 13.2 innings this spring) and former reliever Adam Warren (2.70 ERA in five starts this spring) will round out the rotation early.
Ivan Nova had Tommy John surgery last year, and could work himself back into the rotation once he is fully rehabilitated. Veteran left-hander Chris Capuano will begin the season on the DL, but is expected to return in May.
Next: 17. Oakland Athletics