A few days ago, the Red Sox cut ties with John Smoltz because he couldn’t get Major League hitters out. Over eight starts spanning 40 innings — just 5 IP per start — Smoltz had allowed 59 hits, 39 earned runs and eight home runs. While his proponents pointed to a decent 33/9 K/BB ratio, Smoltz had nothing, and the Red Sox knew it.
Last night, Sergio Mitre made his fifth start in Yankee pinstripes, and he is nearly Smoltzian in his efforts. In his five starts, Mitre is averaging 4.6 innings pitched per outing. He has allowed 38 hits in 23 innings. He has surrendered 4 home runs and has a K/BB rate of 15/6. That 1.91 WHIP is helping no one.
Staked to a lead he could not hold, Mitre got off to a decent start last night. He recorded six of his first nine outs via the K, but in the fourth, he couldn’t make his pitches. He threw an easy double play ball into center field for a costly error and needed 96 pitches to record 15 outs. His own error aside, it was an ugly outing.
In recapping the game last night, Joe wrote, “There’s no shame in having a seven-game win streak snapped with your fifth starter on the mound.” He also expressed his belief that Alfredo Aceves could wind up drawing the start on Saturday in Seattle against the Mariners instead of Mitre. I’d like to take that argument a bit futher: Sergio Mitre should not be the starting pitcher come Saturday.
Right now, Mitre is offering up the same nothing for the Yanks that Smoltz gave the Red Sox. The best I can say is that he hasn’t walked too many hitters. As a supposed sinkerball specialist, he’s given up too many home runs. As a pitcher, he has allowed far too many hits. He is fooling nobody, and while the Yanks have a 5.5-game lead and some leeway, they shouldn’t be trotting out a five-run handicap every five days.
During the post-game show, Joe Girardi seemed more than willing to commit to Mitre going forward. Joe’s reason? Outside of his own error, Mitre would have tossed a great game. That’s revisionist analysis if I ever I heard it. Mitre still give up the hard-hit balls later in the inning that plated the unearned runs. He still gave up a booming home run that led to the Yanks’ loss.
Right now, the Yankees have a few better options idling away in the bullpen. Aceves could get another shot. Phil Hughes is throwing one inning or less every few days out of the bullpen. Chad Gaudin hasn’t done anything since arriving in the Bronx, and even Russ Ortiz and the recently-DFA’d Josh Towers could be at least as good — or as bad — as Sergio Mitre.
We praised the Yanks for the strong bench and bullpen yesterday afternoon. As long as Sergio Mitre continues to pitch every five days and as long as better pitches sit in the pen, the same cannot be said of the back end of the Yankees’ rotation. It’s time to cut ties with Mitre. His presence gave the Yanks some depth, but the results just aren’t there.