The Thunder's starting rotation is in a world of hurt. Josh Romanski is on the disabled list with a blister (although he was charting yesterday, so he's getting closer). Graham Stoneburner went on the shelf yesterday after he re-aggravated a previous injury to his groin. Then there's Craig Heyer, who left yesterday's start after three innings with tightness in his arm/shoulder region.
That leaves Trenton with Cory Arbiso, Shaeffer Hall and Brett Marshall for the moment. That, of course, will pose a problem. Unless Romanski's ready to return, here's how the rotation shakes out for the next five games:
5/15 - Hall at Binghamton
5/16 - Marshall at Binghamton
5/17 - Arbiso at Binghamton
5/18 - TBA at New Hampshire
5/19 - TBA at New Hampshire
One of those TBA's could easily be Romanski, who's been out for nearly three weeks with the blister. That second TBA, Heyer's spot, is a bigger issue. Tightness in a pitching arm is never a good sign, and I'd expect him to, at the very least, wind up on the DL.
So, what to do, then? Here are a few solutions I've thought about.
The Pontiff: Ryan Pope's began 2010 as a starter but moved to the bullpen when Hector Noesi was called up. Sixty-three of his 156 career appearances have been starts, but he hasn't made one since May 10, 2010. He's pitched into the third inning three times this season, so stretching him back into a starter's role wouldn't take as long as, say, a reliever who typically goes one inning at a time.
Help from above: Scranton has an absurd 14 pitchers active, and might get a 15th if newly acquired Justin Thomas is sent there. A half-dozen starters are included among the staff, so, under normal conditions, it would be easy to simply send one down to Trenton and plug the hole. Problem is, Scranton's conditions are far from normal.
Four of those six starters -- Dellin Betances, Manny Banuelos, D.J. Mitchell and Adam Warren -- are prospects who have already conquered Double-A. A move for any of those pitchers could stunt their development, and the last thing the Yankees need is to add to the public perception that they can't properly identify and develop major league pitching.
The other two pitchers, Ramon Ortiz and Nelson Figueroa, are, to put it nicely, overripe. The pair has a combined 441 major league appearances and 279 starts. They are also 39 and 37, respectively, and wouldn't likely accept a demotion, even if it meant a respite from the Triple-A Traveling Road Show and a chance to pitch every five days.
From Florida With Love: Obviously, most alluring option from a media standpoint is a promotion from Tampa. New guy, new story, etc. etc. Here's the thing, though: It's May 14, and Tampa's rotation has been a bit inconsistent, and it just underwent a bit of a shakeup when Matt Tracy was added and Shane Greene was reassigned to extended spring.
Here's what the numbers look like among the High-A hurlers:
Zach Nuding: 2-1, 5.14 ERA, .310 BAA, 36 hits in 28 IP, 11 ER on 19 H over last two starts
Jose Ramirez: 2-4, 4.89 ERA, .294 BAA, 47 hits in 38.2 IP, 3 ER over last 18 innings
Mikey O'Brien: 4-1, 2.92, ERA, .230 BAA, 31 hits in 37 IP, 3 ER over last 23 innings
Nik Turley: 2-1, 2.83 ERA, .252 BAA, 39 hits in 41.1 IP, just made first start after DL stint
Matt Tracy: Just off DL
A Yankees person I spoke with earlier told me that, of those options, Turley is the only one he thinks would be considered, and he seems unlikely. O'Brien's numbers look great, and he does fit in perfectly with the slot Stoneburner vacated (although rain in Binghamton could mess that up), but it doesn't sound like he's an option.
Those are my thoughts. What are yours?