Opposite dugout: Yankees hope rotation can catch up to solid bats, bullpen

yankees-logo.jpgManager: Joe Girardi, eighth year
Record: 2-4
Last 10 games: 2-4
Who to watch: DH Alex Rodriguez (.300/.417/.550, 2 doubles, 1 HR, 6 RBIs); 1B Mark Teixeira (.222/.375/.611, 2 HR, 3 RBIs); RHP Michael Pineda (0-0, 3.00 ERA, 1.167 WHIP); LHP CC Sabathia (0-1, 6.35 ERA, 1.412 WHIP)
Season series vs. O's (2014): 6-13, 57 runs scored, 91 runs allowed

Pitching probables
April 13: RHP Michael Pineda vs. LHP Wei-Yin Chen, 7 p.m., MASN2
April 14: LHP CC Sabathia vs. RHP Miguel Gonzalez, 7 p.m., MASN2
April 15: RHP Nathan Eovaldi vs. RHP Bud Norris, 7 p.m., MASN

Series breakdown
The Yankees meet the Orioles for the first time in 2015 with primarily the same club that ended last season in New York.

Didi Gregorius has replaced the retired Derek Jeter at shortstop and Alex Rodriguez is back after being suspended for all of last season, but the rest of the lineup is the same. The bullpen has experienced some change with former Orioles lefty Andrew Miller replacing David Robertson at closer and right-hander David Carpenter acquired from the Braves.

But the area that can make or break the Yankees is a rotation full of questions. Right-hander Masahiro Tanaka opted to not undergo Tommy John surgery and continues to pitch despite a torn elbow ligament. Right-hander Michael Pineda has made just 14 starts since 2011. Left-hander CC Sabathia is back after making just eight starts in 2014 because of a knee injury.

Right-hander Nathan Eovaldi came over from the Marlins with his productivity more of a question mark than his health. He entered his age-25 season with a 4.07 career ERA and coming off a 6-14 season where he finished with a 4.33 ERA in 33 starts. Right-hander Adam Warren, 27, starts the year in the rotation, but that might not be permanent. Veteran lefty Chris Capuano is out with a quad strain and right-hander Ivan Nova is still rehabbing from Tommy John surgery, but could be an option come midseason.

For a long time, the Yankees rotation was one of its surest areas. But that is no longer the case. So far, New York ranks 22nd in the majors with a 4.88 starters' ERA. But behind a combined 0.00 ERA from Miller, setup man Dellin Betances and Carpenter, the bullpen ranks fourth in baseball with a 1.93 ERA in six games.

In the upcoming series, the Orioles will have three interesting pitching matchups, starting tonight with perhaps the best of the three, as Pineda faces left-hander Wei-Yin Chen. Pineda allowed two runs in six innings in his first start of the season after pitching to a 1.89 ERA in 13 starts last year. He has done an exceptional job in four career starts against the Orioles, going 1-0 with a 1.78 ERA.

Sabathia takes on right-hander Miguel Gonzalez in the second game, and will be looking to rebound from a poor season debut. The 34-year-old lefty allowed five runs (four earned) in 5 2/3 innings in a loss to the Blue Jays. Sabathia has also always had the Orioles' number, entering this series 18-6 with a 3.34 ERA in 30 career starts against them.

Eovaldi takes the ball against right-hander Bud Norris in the series finale. Eovaldi had an uneven first start, allowing three runs in 5 1/3 innings in a no-decision against the Red Sox. The right-hander has never faced the Orioles in his career.

Offensively, the Yankees have quality numbers so far, tying with the Orioles and Padres for the seventh-most runs in the majors (31) while tying for third in homers (nine) and ranking ninth in OPS (.721). The majority of that production came in one game - a 14-4 win over the Red Sox on Sunday. Through their first five games, the Yankees had just six homers and 17 runs scored.

Rodriguez has been a surprise to some, leading the Yankees with six RBIs to go with a homer and a .300/.417/.550 slash line in six games. First baseman Mark Teixeira leads the club with a .986 OPS and is tied with third baseman Chase Headley for the team-lead with two homers. Headley is second on the club with five RBIs.

Catcher Brian McCann is hitting well with an .833 OPS, one homer and three RBIs in four games after a disappointing first season with the Yankees. Left fielder Brett Gardner has posted similar numbers with an .839 OPS, one homer and three RBIs. Center fielder Jacoby Ellsbury (.631 OPS) and Gregorius (.385 OPS) are among those struggling a week in.

The Yankees are coming off their best game of the season, a win that possibly put their bats on track. The Orioles have a chance to rebound from a series loss to the Blue Jays, especially if they take advantage of New York's starting pitching. It'll be difficult for the Birds if they have a late-awakening offense, as runs aren't easy to come by once the Yankees turn to their bullpen.

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