Yankees’ starting five is anyone’s guess

Masahiro Tanaka is just about the only sure thing in the Yankees’ rotation as the season draws closer. He’s tossed nine scoreless innings in three appearances this spring. Michael Pineda and CC Sabathia have put up mostly poor results but are all but assured roster spots. That leaves two holes to fill in the Bombers’ rotation with a host of potential candidates, including Luis Cessa, Chad Green, Bryan Mitchell, Luis Severino, and Adam Warren. So far, none of them have built a commanding case.

“I think all the guys are fairly close,” Girardi told reporters recently. “They’ve all run into a little trouble, given up some homers and had some problems with their command at times, but that’s part of how it goes. It’s still early though so we still have a long way to go, and you hope someone emerges.”

Warren will likely revert to the swing-man role he occupied in 2015, his last full season in the Bronx, despite solid statistics so far this month. Severino has struggled (http://www.metro.us/new-york/mets-yankees-spring-training-notebook-zack-wheeler-back-on-the-hill/zsJqcm---s7pOGwKXaJaw/), while Mitchell (2-1, 3.97 ERA, four appearances), Green (1-0, 1.59 ERA but a WHIP of 1.94 in three appearances) and Cessa (0-0, 3.00 ERA, 1.000 WHIP through three appearances) have produced a mixed bag of results.

 

Ellsbury excelling

Jacoby Ellsbury toiled at the plate in each of his first three springs in a Yankee uniform, but he’s turned it around in 2017.

Ellsbury is batting .348 with a home run, two walks and no strikeouts through 23 at-bats. He’s also swiped three bases and hasn’t been caught stealing yet, a welcome sign for the Yankees, as their $153 million man is just 41-for-58 stealing bases in his last two seasons in pinstripes.

 

Smoker signals he’s ready for bullpen role

Josh Smoker showed flashes of promise for the Mets at the tail-end of his 2016 rookie campaign. Now the southpaw is gunning for the secondary left-hander role behind Jerry Blevins in the Mets’ bullpen.

“I think [Smoker’s] changeup and his breaking ball have both improved,” pitching coach Dan Warthen told reporters recently. “Location on the fastball has improved, he’s not trying to throw every one as hard as he possibly can, he is thinking about movement and location and doing a great job.”

Smoker logged one of the highest average velocity marks for a lefty and posted a staggeringly-high 38-percent strikeout rate last year, but served up four home runs in just 15.1 IP and recorded a 4.70 ERA.

 

Reed reeling

Addison Reed has a 16.20 ERA through five appearances this spring, with his worst outing so far coming on Friday, in which he allowed six runs on six hits and recorded only two outs.

“Today was a bad day for him,” Terry Collins told reporters afterward. “He’s trying to pound the strike zone and he doesn’t have his command.”

Dan Warthen chalked Reed’s poor outing up to a “delivery flaw” that Reed quickly corrected.

“He was leaking out towards first base,” Warthen told reporters while motioning how Reed was leaning his body towards first on the follow-through. “He fixed it…not an issue.”