The Angels won more games than any other team last year despite being 15th in runs scored and 10th in batting average. Why? Their top four starters; Santana, Saunders, Weaver, and Lackey.
Their fifth starter, usually Jon Garland, got 14 wins despite giving up the second most hits in all of baseball and 59 walks for a WHIP of 1.52, ouch! His ERA was 4.90 and he still got 14 wins. Sounds to me like he was hogging a lot of the few runs scored by the best team in baseball last year.
The fifth starter is more of a spot to be toyed with and let your young players grow. There is not a team in baseball with a for sure 1-5 rotation. Why? Because a 5th starter is really just someone to guarantee that the 1st starter is rested and ready to go to ensure less injuries. With most teams getting four staggered days off in the 1st month of the season alone a 5th starter would be a formality until half way through may.
The Yankees have come under fire from Yankee lovers and haters alike for not wanting to up the ante and seal the deal with Pettitte but, unlike Peter Abraham of the Journal News I have the utmost confidence in the group of Hughes, Aceves, Brackman, and Kennedy as a fifth starter for now.
The Red Sox are placing Penny as their No. 5 right now according to MLB.com. Penny pitched 94.2 innings last year going six and nine with a 6.27 ERA. Not that scary. Smoltz is admittedly not going to be ready until June for the rotation and he was injured in just 28 innings last year. Clay Buchholz showed great potential in '07 but, in '08 he went two and nine with a 6.79 ERA, again not impressive.
Justin Masterson is a possibility but the Red Sox seem content to use him in long relief. Spring training is exactly the place you want to hold tryouts for your fifth starter, and the Yankees have just as many qualified contenders as the Red Sox and with the exception of Burnett a fairly sturdy staff.
If the Angels can win 100 with four studs then the Yanks can do the same. Let the breakout players have the opportunity to breakout instead of worrying that they won't contend and shielding them with a very expensive fifth starter.