With the recent resigning of Freddy Garcia many have wondered if this means the Yankees will not pursue signing a high profile free agent starting pitcher this offseason. Although the free agent pool may not be as strong as previous years Brian Cashman and the Yankees still need to go out and secure at least one other starting pitcher.
As of now (and yes I know its only November) the Yankees projected starting lineup for 2012 probably looks like:
C.C. Sabathia 237.1 IP, 3.00 ERA, 8.7 K/9, 2.3 BB/9, 0.6 HR/9
Ivan Nova 165.1 IP, 3.70 ERA, 5.3 K/9, 3.1 BB/9, 0.7 HR/9
A.J. Burnett 190.1 IP, 5.15 ERA, 8.2 K/9, 3.9 BB/9, 1.5 HR/9
Phil Hughes 74.2 IP, 5.79 ERA, 5.7 K/9, 3.3 BB/9, 1.1 HR/9
Freddy Garcia 146.2 IP, 3.62 ERA, 5.9 K/9, 2.8 BB/9, 1.0 HR/9
I would not be comfortable going to into the season with this starting pitching staff. The Yankees must add a starting pitcher if they want to contend for the World Series and here are a few reasons why.
First off no one can be certain that Ivan Nova will be able to put up numbers comparable to those of last season; and count me as a skeptic who thinks that Nova will suffer the dreaded sophomore slump. After seeing countless Yankee pitchers such as Joba Chamberlain, Ian Kennedy, and Phil Hughes, have promising starts to their careers, only to later suffer setbacks, I will not be surprised if this happens again in 2012 with Nova. Although I do feel Nova will be a starting pitcher for a long time, I would not be at all surpised if he struggles next season and is sent down to the minors. If this happens the Yankees will need to have depth at starting pitching to make up for the possible loss of Nova.
Secondly having another starting pitcher going into the season will allow Phil Hughes to start the season off in the bullpen where he belongs. In the bullpen Hughes will be able to gain confidence, help the Yankees win, and eventually he will be ready to enter the rotation when needed. Whether that reason is due to an injury or the possibility that A.J. Burnett or Ivan Nova will not be able to hold his spot as a starting pitcher; it will be reassuring to know that Phil Hughes will be sitting in the bullpen fresh and ready to go a starter instead of having to bring up a pitcher from the minors who may not be ready yet to contribute at the major league level.
In addition the Yankees need to add another starting pitcher to put ease on the bullpen. With the return of Joba Chamberlain next season, the Yankees bullpen should continue to be a major strength. To make sure it stays a strength throughout the season the Yankees need to have starters who can give them numerous innings. As of now C.C. Sabathia is the only pitcher who is all but guaranteed to give the Yankees at least six innings pitched every time he takes the mound. In this free agent pool C.J. Wilson and Mark Buehrle are the two pitchers that come to mind when I think stability . Coming in at 223.1 and 205.1 innings pitched last season there is no reason to doubt that they won't put up similar innings next season. So when that inevitable 2 and 2/3 innings pitched outing by Burnett or Hughes unfortunately occurs, it would be nice to have another 200+ inning pitcher besides Sabathia in the rotation who is capable of giving the bullpen a rest.
Finally the Yankees need to add starting pitching simply because they are the "New York Yankees." Fans last year were furious when Cliff Lee signed with the Phillies and even though there is no pitcher on the same level as Lee this, year the Yankees cannot afford to go another year without signing a big name pitcher. If the Yankees are going to force fans to pay $35 for parking, $10 for a beer, and $5 for a hotdog then the fans have the right to demand results. The Yankees have the money to go out and make this happen and it needs to be done if not only to save face with the fans.
To sum it up when Cashman was asked whether or not he would be comfortable going into the season without adding starting pitching he responded with a simple answer, "NO."