As spring training continues to creep toward its completion, so do many of the position battles that were up for grabs on the New York Yankees.
Earlier this week, Joe Girardi closed the book on one battle when he named Michael Pineda the Yankees' fifth starter to begin the season.
Pineda was stellar all spring, finishing with a 2-1 record and a 1.20 ERA. He struck out 16 hitters in 15 innings pitched and only walked one.
Pineda was a bright spot for the Yanks this spring, and Wallace Matthews of ESPNNewYork.com writes that his success is a feel-good story.
The Yankees don’t often have major positional battles for spots in the starting lineup, thanks in part to their heavy reliance on veterans with big contracts.
Much was the same this spring, as the only decisions yet to be made are for reserve roles. In this article, we shall take a closer look at these remaining issues and offer some predictions on their outcomes.
This battle only exists because Brendan Ryan will begin the season on the disabled list. Dean Anna and Yangervis Solarte will battle to the end for the spot.
Anna is in his first big league camp after spending six years in the San Diego Padres system. He has responded well, batting .268 this spring and currently is on the Yankees' 40-man roster, which is an advantage.
Solarte has done nothing other than crush the ball all spring long. He's been the biggest surprise in camp. He is batting .415 and slugging close to .600. Solarte is also a switch-hitter and can play multiple positions.
Prediction: If this was based strictly off spring numbers, then it would be a no contest for Solarte. Unfortunately, that isn’t the case.
With Anna on the 40-man roster already and the Yankees having original plans for Anna heading into camp, the edge is with him. My heart wants to give Solarte the shot, but my head says Anna makes the club.
The bullpen for the New York Yankees is going through a significant reconstruction. Gone from a season ago are Mariano Rivera, Joba Chamberlain and Boone Logan.
Most of the spots have been claimed, but there is still a battle for the final two spots in the bullpen. The competition has been trimmed now that an early favorite, Preston Claiborne, has been optioned to Triple-A.
That leaves five pitchers in major league camp fighting for two vacancies. Shane Greene and Matt Daley are the least likely to make the roster due in large part to not being on the 40-man active roster already.
That gives Dellin Betances an edge as the only remaining right-hander. It’s an edge he probably didn’t even need. Betances has been spectacular this spring.
In 10 appearances, he has pitched to a 0.73 ERA, striking out 11 batters in a little more than 12 innings. Betances was a former top prospect for the Yankees before injuries and ineffectiveness slowed his progress to the bigs. Now, as Matthews of ESPNNewYork.com points out, he “looks like he belongs.”
The other two relievers in a battle for a bullpen spot are a pair of lefties looking to be the second lefty in the pen.
Based off their spring numbers, Cesar Cabral would look like an easy choice for the final spot. In 10 appearances, Cabral has not given up an earned run.
Cabral has struck out 10 in more than nine innings pitched and has been pretty dominant.
Vidal Nuno hasn't had a bad spring by any standards either. Pitching in only four games, Nuno posted a 3.38 ERA. What Nuno has going for him was a nice stint in the majors last season.
Nuno made three starts and reached 20 innings pitched and was able to finish with a 2.25 ERA.
Prediction: Betances will lock down one of the spots, as he has been one of the best stories in camp.
The tough choice will be between Nuno and Cabral, but I think the edge will go to Cabral. He has been better this spring and is more suited for the job.
Nuno has the potential to be a solid starter in the future and could benefit from more time in the minors.