ESPN New York’s Andrew Marchand writes that the Yankees are considering moving to a six-man rotation whenever Masahiro Tanaka is activated from the disabled list in September. Not only that, but the Yankees could stick with the six-man rotation in 2015 as well.
Tanaka, who has been sidelined since July 9 with a partial tear of the UCL in his right elbow, threw 35 pitches over two innings of batting practice to Zelous Wheeler and Brendan Ryan on Saturday morning. He threw all of his pitches and could throw a simulated game as he takes the next step towards a return.
Pitching coach Larry Rothschild explained the logic behind potentially going to a six-man rotation:
“We have 21 games in 20 days so we are going to have to use six starters at some point,” said Rothschild. “So I think everyone in baseball is going to look for alternative ways to keep guys healthy. If that’s part of what is on the radar, you look at it and consider it.”
Tanaka went on the disabled list as an early candidate for the American League Cy Young and Rookie of the Year awards, sporting a 12-4 record with a 2.51 ERA and a 135/19 K/BB ratio in 129 1/3 innings across 18 starts.
Nationals right-hander Jeremy Hellickson has been assigned to the 10-day disabled list after spraining his right wrist during a 4-2 loss to the Cardinals on Wednesday. The assignment is retroactive to August 15, though it’s not yet certain that Hellickson will be able to resume his role in the rotation after the minimum 10 days.
The 31-year-old righty was through 4 1/3 innings during Wednesday’s start when he threw a wild pitch behind the Cardinals’ Yadier Molina in the bottom of the fifth. He sprinted to cover home plate just as Harrison Bader took off from third base, and the two collided at the plate as Spencer Kieboom‘s throw home sailed over Hellickson’s head. He tumbled to the ground and rolled over his right wrist, then was forced to make a prompt exit from the field after feeling considerable soreness in his right hand.
While the X-rays returned negative, it makes sense for the Nationals to shelve Hellickson for the time being. In a best case scenario, he should miss only one turn through the rotation, provided that he’s able to work back up to full strength in the next week or so. The veteran righty is 5-3 in 18 starts this year with a 3.57 ERA, 1.9 BB/9 and 6.5 SO/9 across 88 1/3 innings. This will be his second official stint on the DL after missing nearly a month due to a right hamstring strain back in June.
In a corresponding move, fellow right-hander Jefry Rodriguez was recalled from Triple-A Syracuse and will fill in for Hellickson during Saturday’s set against the Marlins. Rodriguez, 25, has yet to get comfortable on the major league stage: entering Saturday, the rookie owns a 5.84 ERA, 4.7 BB/9 and 7.3 SO/9 through 24 2/3 innings.