What’s wrong with the Yankees pitching?

Posted on May 27, 2009. Filed under: Uncategorized |

The Yankees are on pace to give up over 900 runs.  This will probably not happen because they are the Yankees and not the Colorado Rockies or the Texas Rangers.  Chen Ming Wang will finish with an ERA better than 25.00 if at all healthy, Jonathan Albaladejo (who?) will finish with a better ERA than 6.00, Edwar Ramirez will improve (uhh..not sure about this either).  It is a little odd that a team with a 2.3 billion dollar payroll (fine 200+ million), would be using so many no-names and unproven pitchers on a regular basis.  The Yankee bullpen was the core of their success during their last championship run, with Mike Stanton and Jeff Nelson nailing down the later innings before Mariano came in for his automatic save.  That stability really helped during the postseason too, where the Yankees have struggled recently.

Its not like they’re using these guys because they are pitching well, either.  Albaladejo, Edwar and Jose Veras (who did pitch well for them last year) all have ERA’s over 5.00.  I know putting together a bullpen is the toughest thing in all of sports, but it shouldn’t be this tough.  I mean, they have unlimited funds at their disposal.  They should have paid K-Rod twice what the Mets offered and put him in the 8th inning with a promise of Mariano’s job when he retires.  I’m only half kidding here, folks. 

Here is some perspective:  How many Yankee teams have allowed even 800 runs in a season?  The answer is 5: 2004, 2000, 1930, 1912 (as the Highlanders) and 1902 (as the Orioles).  2000 turned out ok for them and 2004 was fine until Dave Roberts and Big Papi.  They will probably improve: Sabbathia is already turning it on, Joba and A.J. have unbelievable talent and Phil Hughes can’t be this bad (right?).  Actually, though, Phil Hughes is pitching just like he did last year, when he went 0-4 with a 6.62 ERA. 

In fact, the numbers overall are already improving, although there is no guarantee that it will hold.  Over their last 12 games, they went 10-2 with a much more Yankee-like 3.60.  Even with a positive trend, there are reasons to be concerned.  The first major reason is the bandbox that is the new Yankee Stadium.  Last year, their home ERA was 4.11, this year it is 5.48.  It could be that the pitchers are only now adjusting to the Coors-like home run totals.  It might be tough to “adjust” to a bandbox, look at Colorado.  Another thing messing with the overall numbers is a few huge individual run totals allowed, like 22, 16 and 15.  Not good, but localized in a few really bad games. 

I am not a Yankees fan, in fact quite the opposite.  I do expect them to at least compete for a playoff spot this year and probably import some high priced talent at the trade deadline if the Albaladejo experiment doesn’t work out.  All in all, the numbers are deceiving right now because it still puts them at the bottom.  They’re not a top flight pitching staff now, although they have plenty of talent.  They’re more middle of the road, like Seattle or Oakland.  I doubt that will be make Yankee fans jump with joy.  If I were a Yankee fan, I would feel ok at the starting pitching, uneasy about the stadium, nervous about the relief corps and wondering a little bit why this is all we got for a half trillion dollar spending spree this offseason by Hal and Hank.

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