Who Will Fill the Fifth Spot in the New York Yankees' Rotation?

Eliot PodgorskyContributor IJanuary 11, 2009

The New York Yankees rotation is shaping up to be a good one. Through free agency this year the Yankees have added a dominant ace in C.C. Sabathia and they've added a solid number two starter with no-hit stuff in A.J. Burnett. In the third spot in the rotation they will have Chien-Ming Wang, who had 19 wins two years in a row before an injury.

Sliding into the fourth spot in the rotation will be Joba Chamberlain who showed why scouts think he will be an ace and he will look to improve and grow from last year.

Four solid starters, the only problem is that a baseball rotation has five spots. So the question in who should fill the fifth spot?

Many assume that it will be Andy Pettite but with each passing day the one-year $10 million dollar contract seems less and less likely. I have no problems with Pettite and would be more then happy to see him back next year but there are other options.

The Yankees could go the free agent route adding a solid starter in someone like Oliver Perez or Derek Lowe. Or take a low-risk, high-reward flier on Ben Sheets. Barring an unforeseen change in circumstance this will not happen.

The option that at this point is most likely and in my opinion the best would be allowing the young pitching core of Phil Hughes, Ian Kennedy, Alfredo Aceves, and Phil Coke to compete for the spot in the rotation.

If it comes down to this I believe Phil Hughes will claim the spot.

We haven't heard much about Aceves or Coke but we have all heard about how Hughes has ace like stuff and how Ian Kennedy is a young Mike Mussina. When the Yankees relied on these two last year they flopped, with the pitchers failing to win a single game.

However with the free agent additions a young pitcher could fill the fifth spot in the rotation and could suffer growing pains if need be without pressure. This is the main benefit, less pressure on the young guns.

When Kennedy and Hughes where given rotation spots last year there was immediate pressure to live up to their potential and obviously that did not happen.

I believe all these guys could capably fill the fifth spot in the rotation and I believe that the low pressure the spot offers could allow these guys to begin to grow and reach their potential.

What do you think, should the Yankees go with an established starter or let one of the young pitchers fill the spot?

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