April run showers plagued Yanks’ pitchers

A-Rod Roundup: Roberts' book out Monday
A RAB month to remember

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.

A-Rod Roundup: Roberts' book out Monday
A RAB month to remember
  • Jake

    Anyone know when the last time the Yanks were above .500 leaving April?

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Benjamin Kabak

      Perhaps it’s mentioned in the first line of the second paragraph in the companion post I published at 9:30.

      • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

        Ben, we don’t actually read your posts, just Joe’s and Mike’s. You’re clearly the weak link of the three.

        You’re damaging the already tarnished credibility of this socialist website.

        • http://forums.projectcovo.com/images/smilies/e6omir.gif Expired Milk

          Its the hair….

          • http://forums.projectcovo.com/images/smilies/e6omir.gif Expired Milk

            Damnit I got Joe and Ben mixed up

  • Ivan

    The pitching will eventually right it’s self. CC got off to a much worse start in April last season, and we know how that turn out. CC will obviously will be ok. Burnett if you take out that sox game has been very good.

    The key is the two young guys. If Phil Hughes and Joba Chamberlain can consistently pitch good, then the staff will be in much better shape.

    Yes, the BP has been well sucky, but I think those guys are gonna turn it around and I think Melancon is gonna be a huge part of the BP and gettin a healthy Bruney will help too.

    Overall, the pitching will be much better.

  • Evan

    You left out Swisher and his 0.00 ERA. C’mon man, you’re better than that…

    • Marsha

      IETC for the second time today.

  • Axl

    I think it’s funny that the young pitchers (Hughes and Kennedy…Joba did well) couldn’t perform last year when we didn’t have anyone else to rely on…but now this year…we sign all these expensive guys…expecting them to fill the void we had last year…and they’re faltering…and the young kids come down and NOW they end up pitching well…(albeit, just Hughes…but still)

    It’s just funny how that works…

    • Evan

      That’s why the season isn’t 25 games, it’s 162. A lot can happen in the remaining 140 games. It’s a marathon not a sprint, some players pace themselves differently than others. In the end, it will all be just fine.

    • A.D.

      Yeah its one of those things, Phil might be squeezed out of the rotation later this year, and it would be a non issue if he was able to perform last year, because he would have locked his spot then.

    • jsbrendog

      and the young kids come down and NOW they end up pitching well…(albeit, just Hughes…but still)

      just hughes? do you even watch the games? joba has been doing rather well also. not great but def better than the other guys and hsi last start was money.

      • Axl

        Yes, I mean “just hughes” as in…Kennedy is still down in the minors. Joba did well last year and is doing well this year so that’s why I said “just Hughes”. I was trying to make a broad generalization of the “young guys” one year ago to now…without actually using names…but I kind of had to I guess…and then all hell broke loose and things were confusing haha

        • jsbrendog

          haha gotcha

  • Januz

    What I really am impressed with is the fact it is the kids and the “lesser lights” that are keeping this team afloat. You are also seeing guys with the fire and desire to win: Coke and Swisher really come to mind in this vein. For way too long you had very few people with that attitude (Joba being the exception).
    I can only imagine what will happen when you get Rodriguez, Nady, and Bruney back, and Sabathia, Teixeira, and Burnett, start performing up to par?

    • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

      You are also seeing guys with the fire and desire to win:

      Great, Januz, now I have Rick James and Teena Marie stuck in my head.

      Thanks a lot.

  • http://cache.daylife.com/imageserve/00mwbIM15ofMv/340x.jpg Mike Pop

    Can’t wait for CC to start performing well.

    • whozat

      The thing I’ve liked is that Burnett and CC tend to get deeper into games, even when they’re not pitching great. Like, I feel like in the past, one of our guys who was struggling like AJ last night would make it 6 innings or less, give up 3-4 runs, and we’d be happy. 7-8 innings, 4 runs is significantly more useful than 5 innings, 3 runs or 6 innings with 4 runs.

      • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

        Like Schilling said: Aces are measured on innings pitched.

        CC and AJ have scuffled. But they’ve still pitched through their subpar stuff into the 6th, 7th, and 8th so far and kept us in the ballgames they’ve pitched (by and large).

        • jsbrendog

          dude you just quoted curt schilling….and it was useful..and rational…my word

          • http://twitter.com/tsjc68 tommiesmithjohncarlos a/k/a Ridiculous Upside

            Yup. Schilling’s an asshat, but he actually has some nuggets of truth and wisdom under those insulating layers of manboob fat and douchbaggery.

    • ARX

      Prediction for May: 19-10. Hopes for May: CC/Teix get untracked, ‘decent’ A-Rod…..and NOT getting our teeth kicked in on national TV.

  • Darth Stein

    I am really surprised by Marte. Relievers are volatile but he has a long history of pitching well. I have never been a huge Marte fan but I do expect him to be above average. I have to believe that he will get it turned around this month.

    • whozat

      The funny thing with relievers is that one pitch can turn a great outing into a disaster. Case in point: Marte in the Sox game. He was doing a great job…until all of a sudden he lost the game on one bad pitch. A guy can come on and throw the ball all over the place, but if he lucks into enough bad swings to get three outs before he gives up a run, he “did his job”. Another guy can strike out the side, come in the next inning and hang one slider, and he’s a bum.

      I’m not saying that Marte dominates every time out there and then has one bad pitch that ruins each outing…he’s been legitimately bad several times. I’m more just musing on the nature of being a reliever.

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Benjamin Kabak

      The problem is that he threw just six innings. There’s no way he’s going to get out of his funk with so little work.

  • CountryClub

    I still dont know why most people are so surprised about Pettitte. Granted, I dont expect him to pitch to a sub 3 era for the whole season. But my guess is that he’ll end the year right around 4.00, give or take a couple of tenths. As long as he was healthy, bringing him back was a no brainer.

    • whozat

      Well, we’re surprised by the sub-3 ERA :-)

      If he was pitching to a 4.20 – 4.50 ERA, I’d be like “hey, that’s about what I expected.”

      I don’t think a lot of people here are surprised that he’s a solid MLB pitcher, but he’s out-performing that expectation, which is great.

      • Babe’s Ghost

        Moose lent him his lucky thong.

    • Axl

      Does anybody even know what he did to “nurse” his elbow back to normal? I mean he was pretty terrible in the 2nd half last year. I never really heard much along the lines of therapy or surgery or anything. In my mind it seems like he just had a normal off season and now it’s better lol. I’m also curious…if this is true and not much was done…how does he plan to prevent it from happening again?

      • whozat

        He rested it and it healed. That’s why it’s better. What can prevent it from happening again? The freedom to skip a start in July if he needs to, instead of just continuing to pitch when it’s already hurt. Exercises throughout the season specifically designed to keep the area flexible and strong. I dunno, I’m not a trainer. But the biggest thing will be the ability to skip a start if he needs to and have an adequate fill-in in Kennedy or Aceves.

        • jsbrendog

          hughes since he wil be the fireman coming from aaa to extinguish blazes once wang is better

          • whozat

            Maybe. Though, if it’s spot-starts and Hughes has, in fact, been sent back down to AAA, I’d not be surprised to see one of those other guys come up if it disrupts his routine less. Like, if it’ll be Hughes on 8 days rest or Kennedy on five days rest, I’d go with Kennedy.

            Also, I’m not ruling out the possibility that Hughes will be in the rotation come July, what with the possibility of further injuries or Wang continuing to suck.

      • jsbrendog

        i thought it was his shoulder? and not his elbow? and that it was fatigue and strain, basically from prob nto being in the best shape because of the whole clemens thing….

  • http://forums.projectcovo.com/images/smilies/e6omir.gif Expired Milk

    I think we expected a bit too much out of Burnett after the first couple starts. I mean hes dominant at times but fairly average the other times. But he is what he is a guy that will go 7-8, give up a few runs and strikeout a ton.

    Tommorows game we will see if CC is back on track for another Cy Young season. Pettitte has been a pleasant surprise. We all expected him to be around the 4+ era mark and give up alot of innings. If he can manage to keep his era under 4 then we got ourselves a great staff.

    Ahh Joba what can I say its a shame people want to take one of the best pitching prospects we had in a while and turn him into a 8th inning guy. Hughes velocity is back to where it was advertised. He has above average curve to go along with it and a cutter that seems to be a awesome out pitch.

    Hughes + Joba + Melancon wil hopefully be pitching for the Yankees for the next 10 years.

    • Nady Nation

      “Hughes + Joba + Melancon wil hopefully be pitching for the Yankees for the next 10 years.”

      Agreed, but hopefully not in the same game.

      • jsbrendog


      • http://forums.projectcovo.com/images/smilies/e6omir.gif Expired Milk

        Unless its the all-star game…

        • jsbrendog

          well played. very well played

  • http://www.teamnerdrage.com leokitty

    I want to know why Girardi is not using David Robertson unless his hand is absolutely forced. He hasn’t made an appearance since the 25th, and yes I know he didn’t do so great but it was pretty out of hand at that point anyway.

    When I saw Alba warming up yesterday when the game was tied I was honestly a bit angry.

    • steve (different one)

      everybody will get a chance.

      Girardi is still feeling out what he has. right now, Coke is his go to guy. maybe that will change in a few weeks.

      i don’t know why Albadalejo was warming up, but when he went to the mound and didn’t bring him into the game, i decided not to worry about it.

      if we are sitting here in June and Robertson hasn’t got a shot, yeah, i’ll be irritated. but it’s too early to judge.

      since the 25th, we’ve had:
      1. a game where only one reliever was used (Melancon)
      2. a game where no relievers were used
      3. a game where Girardi had Melancon warming up when the score was 2-0, but turned into 10-0 after he was already warmed up. so he used Melancon, Edwar and Veras (who all needed work)
      4. a game where the starter went 7, and now Coke and Albaladejo needed work.
      5. a close game where he used Coke and Mariano

      it’s early, but also this week was probably not a typical week in terms of bullpen usage.

      • http://www.teamnerdrage.com leokitty

        You can’t let a reliever sit on the bench for a week and bring them out and expect them to be sharp. He is a more valuable asset than Albaladejo because, frankly, he’s a better pitcher.

        His next appearance is not going to be pretty, and then that’s more reason to keep him on the bench. I would agree it’s about everyone getting their work had he been warming up at any point in time last night but the people who were brought up in the bullpen other than the two who came in (Coke and Mariano) were Veras and Albaladejo.

        • steve (different one)

          You can’t let a reliever sit on the bench for a week and bring them out and expect them to be sharp.

          i agree with you, and i think so does Girardi.

          i was just pointing out that it was a bit of an odd week, and i think we can expect to see more of Robertson going forward.

  • dkidd

    this team is going to dominate

    the rotation (with or without cmw) will go 7+ every night, melancon/bruney/coke/marte (i’m a believer) will get us to mo

    not to mention a line-up so sick that cano bats 8th

    it’s going to be a great 6 months

  • E-ROC

    Ben, will you be covering the defense as you did with the pitching and offense?

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Benjamin Kabak

      I toyed with it, but defensive metrics are too impacted by small sample sizes. They’ve given up 9 unearned runs for what that’s worth.

  • Axl

    Anyone care to guess Pettitte’s line tonight?

    • Axl

      Guess not…

    • http://actyankee.blogspot.com Matt ACTY

      7 innings, 5 hits, 3 walks, 5 strikeouts, 3 earned runs.

  • Yanks27

    Everyone keeps talking about how Boston is the best team in baseball. They had a very hot start to the season. Youk is mashing and so is their captain. The Yankees have started without AROD-Wang forgetting how to pitch-TEX not hitting and CC not sharp yet. All this including losing 4 in a row just in the last week and they are only two games off mighty Boston.

    If they players perform to the back of their baseball card this team is going to be tough.

    The BP will be fine if consistently used in right situations. They do need a long man incase one of the starters lays an egg from time to time. If the rotation gets it going then maybe Wang can be the guy out of the bullpen. It seems like everyone wants Hughes to be the guy in the rotation. It would be hard to trust Wang in a big playoff type game again.

    • jsbrendog

      It would be hard to trust Wang in a big playoff type game again.

      which is the beauty of having a “5th” starter capable of winning 19 games. you only need 3-4 starters in the playoffs and I will LOVE for wang to be a 19 win a yr pitcher and then come playoff time have a starting rotation of cc-burnett-joba-pettitte (in any order). that’s SCURR-EY!

      • jon

        and with that you have the ability to have wang or hughes jump in in the 3rd when one of them just doesnt have it

    • Axl

      As much as I agree with you about the Yankees. The Red Sox haven’t exactly had stellar starting pitching performances. I’d actually be willing to bet that their starting pitching numbers are at least comparable to ours. Wang kind of is an unfare addition…but their starters have been brutal. Their bullpen is light years better than ours so far. And our hitting about the same. Just where we hit the home run…they were hitting in the clutch much much more.

    • kimonizer

      On a side note did anyone see on ESPN the series of photos of the Red Sox starting field players for the All Star ballot. Every single one of them was white. I am not a conspiracy theorist or claiming racism, but how exactly does that happen in this day and age with so many players from all over the world playing MLB. Just look at this:

      C – Varitek
      1B – Youkilis
      2B – Pedroia
      SS – Lowrie
      3B – Lowell
      LF – Bay
      CF – Ellsbury
      RF – Drew

      • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=15305165&ref=profile Doug

        Mike Lowell is Puerto Rican.

        Jacoby Ellsbury is American Indian.

        • kimonizer

          Point taken and point retracted. That was probably more of an anti-Boston flame comment than I wanted it to be, but it just seemed kind of weird considering the Red Sox history with actual racism.

          Anyway I think Papi counts as two Dominicans so that evens things out.