Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Yankees receive good and bad injury news

The New York Yankees received some good and then bad news concerning their starting pitchers on the disabled list. Masahiro Tanaka came out of Monday’s 29-pitch bullpen session without any issues and could begin a rehab assignment later this week while Ivan Nova is move one step closer to appearing in some minor league games. Unfortunately, the bad news was that Chase Whitley will be undergoing Tommy John surgery Tuesday.

Masahiro Tanaka
Photo credit: Keith Allison via Flickr
With both Tanaka and Nova set to begin rehab assignments, the blow of losing Whitley does not really sting so much. Let’s face it, Whitley ranks about eighth when all Yankees’ starters are healthy (at least in the club’s eyes). And worse for Whitley, he will likely be pushed way back in the Yankees’ depth chart by the time he is ready to return (at best next June and at worst the 2017 season).

Tanaka might need just one rehab outing, but if rusty he could be sent for a second. Nova will be on a 30-day assignment in order to take the time to readjust to “real” game action. Nova has been pitching in extended spring training games thus far. Tanaka could pitch Thursday, while Nova’s first start is still up in the air.

Assuming there are no setbacks, Tanaka could be back by the end of the month and Nova by the latter part of June. The Yankees will need to make some decisions with Adam Warren and Chris Capuano upon each of the injured players returning to the fold.

Warren has been up and down so far this season as a starter, and the Yankees could slide him into an important setup role right away if they wanted. Capuano just made his first start of the season Sunday, and was quite unimpressive.

If Michael Pineda, CC Sabathia and Nathan Eovaldi remain healthy and effective, there is no chance Warren and Capuano remain in the rotation when Tanaka and then Nova are back in the mix. Warren could have a defined role, but Capuano might be subjugated to long relief and/or mop up duty.

Moving Warren and Capuano into the bullpen would require two transactions with David Carpenter, Esmil Rogers or Chasen Shreve among the players in danger of being designated for assignment or optioned down to the minors.

The Yankees' rotation depth has been tested to date. If all remains on course, they'll have a welcome problem on their hands over the next month with excess rotation arms.

Christopher Carelli is a freelance baseball writer. Besides his work here, Christopher is a featured Yankees writer for His baseball commentary has also been published on Yahoo Sports and linked multiple times on MLB Trade Rumors’ Baseball Blogs Weigh In. He is a member of the Internet Baseball Writers Association of America, the Baseball Bloggers Alliance and the BYB Hub.