The back end of the rotation, you perverts.

As it currently stands, the reported candidates for the 4th and 5th spots are the following:

Pineda – only threw 40 minor league innings last season
Phelps – two separate right forearm strains last season, threw only 86 innings
Warren – threw only 77 innings as Yanks’ long man
Nuno – Threw 45 innings total between MiLB and MLB last season, didn’t pitch after a June 8th groin injury
Banuelos – Didn’t pitch at all in 2013, recovering from TJS

Every back-end candidate, except Warren, will be coming off recent injuries, and not one even threw 90 innings at any organizational level in 2013. Thus, it would be quite enthusiastic to plan on any one of these pitchers being a significant innings-eater in 2014, and giving both the 4th & 5th spots in the rotation to a combination of these candidates is not realistic based on their recent resumes. Additionally, (and this is a point many have overlooked), there’s a decent chance at least one of CC/Nova/Kuroda hit the DL this season and one of those five pitchers will be called upon to fill in.

Thus, it’s imperative the Yankees find a more guaranteed source of innings, and push everyone down a level on the depth chart. Signing Tanaka would obviously be a solution. If that doesn’t happen, we’ve already begun to highlight some cheap dumpster-diving options that could be available.

Another option, although not a Garbage Pail Kid, could be 31-year old free agent Paul Maholm. Fangraphs Crowdsourcing predicts his contract to be in the 2 year / $14 million range, which wouldn’t be bad because he’s basically an average pitcher.

Maholm threw 153 innings (bruised left wrist caused a DL stint) for the Braves last year with a 4.41 ERA / 4.24 FIP / 3.89 xFIP. His 13.8% HR/FB rate was the highest of his career, which can help account for the below-average ERA. In general, the lefty does a nice job keeping the ball on the ground with a career 52.1% groundball rate. Over the last three years, Maholm has the 20th-best groundball rate in the bigs. Being a lefty and keeping the ball on the ground isn’t a bad combo to have if pitching in Yankee Stadium.

Maholm is a low-velocity guy (fastball around 87.5 mph) who throws just about everything: sinkers, cutters, sliders, curveballs, and changeups. He’s not a high-strikeout guy with a career 5.75 K/9 and has decent control with a 2.95 BB/9.

He is what he is: A stereotypical “crafty lefty” who relies on groundballs and various types of pitch shenanigans to get hitters out. He’s an average-ish pitcher (105 ERA-, 102 FIP-, 100 xFIP-) who will normally get you about 165-175 innings. He shouldn’t be expensive and 1.5 wins above replacement is a realistic expectation.