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Girardi On WFAN: Battle For Last 2 Spots In Yankees' Rotation Is Down To 4 Candidates

NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) -- The final two spots in the Yankees' rotation are a near dead heat between four pitchers, manager Joe Girardi said Tuesday.

Girardi told WFAN's Mike Francesa that the competition is down to Jordan Montgomery, Luis Severino, Bryan Mitchell and Chad Green. Masahiro Tanaka, CC Sabathia and Michael Pineda are already locked into the rotation.

Adam Warren and Luis Cessa had also been vying for starting spots. But Girardi said Warren will begin the season in the bullpen, while Cessa has been optioned to Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

Girardi said he only plans to declare the Yankees' No. 4 starter by Opening Day. He'll wait to name the fifth starter.

The Yankees' skipper said he hopes the pitchers' final starts in spring training will help clarify matters.

"We have guys that we think are a little bit ahead, but we want to see how they react in these starts, in a sense," Girardi said. "Montgomery's going to face a really good lineup. Severino's probably going to face Philly's Opening Day lineup, in a sense. So we think these are important innings."

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Montgomery, who is not on the 40-man roster, wasn't in the rotation battle when camp opened, but his strong spring has put him on the radar. Over five appearances and 14 2/3 innings, the 24-year-old lefty with no major-league experience has a 3.68 ERA and 0.82 WHIP. He has struck out 13 batters and walked just two.

"He wouldn't be here if we weren't seriously considering him," Girardi said.

Girardi said the organization has hoped Severino would step up after a shaky 2016. As a starter last season, Severino was 0-8 with an 8.50 ERA. After being moved to the bullpen, he was 3-0 with a 0.39 ERA in 11 appearances.

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Severino has a 3.95 ERA this spring.

"He's been better, but we need to see more," Girardi said.

Green's spring ERA is 1.50, while Mitchell's is 4.57.

To listen to the interview with Girardi, click on the audio player above.

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