We’re recapping April this morning on RAB. Earlier, I examined the offense. Let’s look at the team’s hurlers now.
As I mentioned a few hours ago, the Yanks’ pitching storylines have been dominated by Chien-Ming Wang. Returning from a foot injury, Wang looked downright terrible this spring. In three starts, spanning six innings, he gave up 23 earned runs and raised his career ERA by 0.29 runs. Ouch.
On the month, Yankee pitchers threw 188.1 innings. They have allowed 197 hits and 85 walks. The team WHIP of 1.50 is downright ugly, and the team ERA of 5.88 is even worse. Removing Wang from that equation drops the ERA to a still-ugly 4.94. In the early going, pitching just hasn’t been a strong suit for the Yanks.
Right now, we can point out fingers at the newcomers and the bullpen as the roots of the Yanks’ pitching woes. CC Sabathia, the highly-paid ace of the staff, hasn’t looked like himself. In 32.1 innings spanning five starts, he has a pedestrian 4.73 ERA. He has just 19 strike outs and has already walked 14. Last April, he went 1-4 with a 7.88 ERA but still managed a strike out an inning.
A.J. Burnett, the Yanks’ other high-paid ace, has been victimized by the home run. His strike out numbers — 7.11 per 9 IP — look great, but he has allowed six longballs 31.2 innings. His ERA stands at 5.40.
With the three front-end starters for the Yanks scuffling, the season’s pitching storylines have focused around a resurgent Andy Pettitte, an impressive Phil Hughes and an improving Joba Chamberlain. That trio has made nine starts, and they are 4-1 with a 2.72 ERA. That’s not exactly how I imagined the pitching to play out for the Yanks.
Of course, the starters are only half the tale. Half of the Yankee bullpen is currently sporting numbers uglier than CC Sabathia’s ERA. Jose Veras (5.73), Edwar Ramirez (6.48), Jonathan Albaladejo (8.18) and Damaso Marte (15.19) have left Joe Girardi with just a few reliable relievers. For the most part, those pitchers’ numbers are skewed by one or two bad appearances, but on any given night, the Yanks’ coaches are unsure which pitcher will show up. This inconsistency coupled with a Brian Bruney injury have thrust Mark Melancon and Phil Coke into the setup spot behind Mariano Rivera. It is a work in progress indeed.
So the Yankees have turned the page on April. It is just their second winning April since 2005, and it doesn’t even seem like that impressive of a month. The pitching has been scuffling, and the big bat hasn’t been producing. Yet, there they are at 12-10 and two games out of first. Despite the problems — the Boston sweep, the 22-4 loss — Yankee fans should feel confident knowing that once this team clicks, once the hitters are mashing and the pitchers dealing, it will be very tough indeed to beat this Yankee team.