Rotation concerns are nothing new

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(AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

The date is August 26th and the Yankees seemingly have one sure thing in their starting rotation. CC Sabathia has been nothing short of brilliant for months, A.J. Burnett has pitched to an ERA north of six for a month now, age appears to be catching up with Andy Pettitte, the 24-year-old phenom in his first full season as a starter in the AL East is starting to show signs of fatigue down the stretch, and the various journeyman dreck filling out the back of the rotation inspires confidence in no one. It’s a scary thing when a team built to win year after year suddenly starts to show cracks in the most vital part of the roster.

And here’s the kicker: that was last year.

Last year’s rotation was led by Sabathia, who as I said was absolutely money. There are zero concerns about him in any shape or form, and everyone involved feels extremely comfortable trotting him out there in Games One, Four, and Seven in a playoff series. Any negative you can drum up about CC is nothing more than nitpicking.

Burnett, as always, is a wildcard. Last year at this time he was coming off a nine run, five inning outing against the Red Sox in Fenway, his third clunker against the Yanks’ biggest rival in four starts. He was in the middle of a stretch that extended into mid-September and saw him post a 6.14 ERA with a .273/.347/.445 batting line against in nine starts, including a 6.32 ERA, .293/.370/.447 ledger that August. Is that really all that different than the 6.08 ERA and .288/.362/.490 line against Burnett has put up this month? No one really feels 100% comfortable with A.J. on the bump today, and guess what, no one did last year either.

Pettitte had been solid most of last summer, coming into this date with a rock solid 4.25 ERA on the season, though that was on the way up after he allowed at least six runs in four of his last 11 starts. This year he’s on the disabled list with a groin injury that, as Brian Cashman likes to say, isn’t career ending. He’ll be back in mid-September and more likely than not resume being the same pitcher he’s been for the last decade-and-a-half.

(AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

Phil Hughes, meanwhile, has assumed the role of Joba Chamberlain, the young kid with a big time bullpen background thrust into the rotation for a full big league season for the first time. He got smacked around last night and hasn’t recorded an out after the 6th inning since before the All Star break. But Joba … do we even have to relive that late season nightmare? Last time at this year he had allowed at least four runs in each of his last four starts, and had pitched to a five-plus ERA for the better part of two months. Once the Joba Rules took over in September, things only got worse. Thankfully, the Yanks have learned from that and aren’t planning to jerk Phil around in the same way.

I find myself doing this all the time, saying that this year’s team doesn’t make me feel as confident as last year’s, but you know what? That’s a load of crap. The only reason we feel that way is because we know what happened at the end of last season. There’s no mystery. It’s like seeing a horror movie for the second time; while everyone else jumps and screams at the scary parts, you sit there and try to act tough like it didn’t scare you even though you knew what was coming. It’s a false sense of security brought on by the power of hindsight.

Just take a quick look at the archives, late last August there were injury concerns about both Jorge Posada and Alex Rodriguez, complaints about Joba using his slider too much (much like Hughes and his fastball this year), rumors of the Yanks pursuing Brad freaking Penny, and talk about all the games they had left against teams with better than .500 records in September. It’s the same story this year, just with different a different cast of characters. We were no more confident then than we are right now; it’s the (mostly MSM driven) shock factor, where every little thing that goes wrong late in the year is shoved down our throats as a potentially fatal flaw.

Example: I’ve seen plenty of people talk about not being able to use just three starters in the playoffs like last year and act as if it’s a big problem, yet no one seems to remember that – hello! – the other team has to use their fourth starter too. Go ahead, give me Tommy Hunter in a playoff game, or Kevin Slowey, or Jeff Niemann, or Edwin Jackson. I’ll take my chances with this club against those pitchers eight days a week and twice on Sundays.

This year’s starting rotation is a bit of a wreck at the moment, but frankly it’s in better shape than last year’s because they have a ton more options. Offense and individual players slump all the time and we accept it as part of the game, yet we don’t afford the same luxury to the starting pitching. Dustin Moseley has been better than either Sergio Mitre or Chad Gaudin was late last year, Hughes has been demonstrably better than Joba was last year, and they still have Javy Vazquez in reserve. He might figure it out and contribute down the stretch, he might (probably) not. And who was 2009’s Ivan Nova? Exactly. The rotation won’t sink the Yankees because the core of the team is extremely strong, and that’s what will carry them to where they need to go.

Exactly one year ago today the Yanks’ record stood at 79-47 with a +113 run differential, pretty damn close to their 78-49 record and +164 run differential this year. Well, the run differential isn’t all that close, last year’s team would finish the season at +162, worse than the current team’s with 30-something games to play. Of course the 2009 club had the luxury of a six game lead in the division on this date, but the fact that they’re tied atop the AL East today isn’t their fault. The Rays are much, much improved and have forced their way the picture. The Yanks didn’t let them in.

Remember, it’s never, ever as bad as it seems, and we’ve been here before. Just last year, in fact.

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Guest Post: Winning without A-Rod
In the news: Metro-North stop, Gov. Paterson's tickets
  • CBean

    And I really liked the way the story ended last year! :)

    • illinoisfan

      may i just add what in the world is wrong with this kid!!! (AJ) i can’t watch a game when his pitching is painfull , i schedule my yoga class around his start so i don’t bang my head against the wall, i feel for Joe and this guys bs!!, why doesn’t he get send down to the bullpen and see how it feels, enough of him and this come from someone who actually likes him

  • Pete

    All of this. They’re in a similar position to last year, except they aren’t. At this point last year, they had CC, AJ?, Andy?, and then Serge/Chad. I’d argue that Nova is an upgrade over both of those guys, and there’s no reason to think that the team can’t score a couple of good starts apiece out of Javy, Phil, and Andy the rest of the way. In other words, last year’s post-July Joba, Mitre, and Gaudin have been replaced by Javier Vazquez, this year’s Phil Hughes, and Ivan Nova. I’d call that a pretty sizeable upgrade.

  • King of the Troglodytes

    The Yanks whole season will hinge upon Pettitte’s bullpen session tomorrow. If he feels a twinge, they’re screwed.

    • http://youcantpredictbaseball.wordpress.com/ bexarama

      Thanks, NY Post.

      I wouldn’t say the season. The playoffs? Well, never say never in the playoffs, but I would not feel comfortable in the playoffs without Andy. But who knows.

      • King of the Troglodytes

        The Yanks season starts in the playoffs. And I don’t get the NY Post here in beautiful Detroit.

        • http://youcantpredictbaseball.wordpress.com/ bexarama

          http://www.nypost.com/p/sports.....+Report%29

          Other than teh PANIC!!!!:

          “The way he has been throwing lately he is better than A.J. Burnett,” an NL talent evaluator said of the 35-year-old Kuroda,
          Yes, thank you. Genius observation.

          • King of the Troglodytes

            Hah! It is like I ripped it straight from the headlines!

          • Tom Zig

            Why do they always pick AJ Burnett?

            • King of the Troglodytes

              Because he is 9-11 on a team that is nearly 30 games over .500

              • CBean

                there’s at least 2 games in his 11 losses that he really didn’t lose for us and was pretty lights out. Of course, the other losses were really him– so I don’t know what my point is. I just don’t like to completely give up on him.

                • A.D.

                  Eh there’s probably a few wins he didn’t “deserve”

                  But its Burnett cause he makes a bunch of money, has great stuff and is inconsistent. It’s an easy target, and I doubt there’s a lot of die hard Burnett fans that follow the Yanks that will riled up when he’s picked on

                  • Pete

                    that’s actually the weird thing about it. Usually when the media hates on a guy, it’s a guy that some people really like so that they can get more hits because people will be like “hey fuck you!”

                  • CBean

                    Well the hard part about being an AJ fan is you spend a lot of your time hitting your head on a table

    • monkeyjaw

      You’ve been reading too much G.K.III. Dude is the “king” of hyperbole when it comes to dissing the Yanks. Now, slap yourself in the face, take a deep breath get it together!!! Pettitte or not…Yanks will be there in the end.

  • http://twitter.com/j_yankees j_Yankees

    Burnett, as always, is a wildcard.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MYtjpIwamos

    • FIPster Doofus

      hahaha, awesome IASIP reference.

      • http://mystiqueandaura.com Steve H

        That’s what I assumed it was but couldn’t click. Fantastic.

  • http://mystiqueandaura.com Steve H

    but frankly it’s in better shape than last year’s because they have a ton more options

    Great point. Come October the 4th starter was Chad Gaudin, who luckily wasn’t needed. Yes, the same Chad Gaudin. This year there are several better options than that.

  • Klemy

    All good points that put it in perspective.

    I do think Nova and Hughes make this better than last year’s situation down the stretch. What remains to be seen is how the performances are when the big games come.

  • Mister Delaware

    Nice idea, Mike, but how are we supposed to complain and overreact on a daily basis if we’re calmly enjoying the ride?

  • YankeesJunkie

    I think everybody will feel a lot better when Pettitte rejoins the rotation. Hopefully, Vazquez can get straighten out and Nova pitches well enough to continue starting for the rest of the year.

  • A.D.

    The flipside is despite that yes, everything worked out last year, it doesn’t mean that it will work out this year, just because things are similar to how they were.

    • Andrew

      Things are actually better than how they were last year, though, as far as the Yankees’ rotation goes. Not just “similar” as you put it, but there is more deepness and thickness. That increases the chances for more October goodness. Yes there are still some big ?s that need to be answered, but honestly that applies to every team in the heat of a pennant chase right now.

      • A.D.

        Well they aren’t better in that the team has a smaller lead and less wins.

        However yes there is more rotation depth, and Hughes right now is better than Joba a year ago, otherwise the rest is much the same.

        • Tackaberry

          Mike addressed the first statement in his post. The team has ONE less win and a smaller lead due to a better team. The Yankees can’t beat the Rays and open a lead if they aren’t playing them – blame the other schmucks that lose to them.

  • RabidYankee

    Simply put, our current rotation situation is unacceptable.

    Best case scenario, Pettitte doesn’t have anymore setbacks and returns mid-September. Even if he returns, how do we know he’ll be effective as he was before the injury? If he has any further setbacks and or doesn’t return at all, then we’re in some serious trouble.

    I simply do not trust Hughes or AJ. I get a bad feeling that Hughes would struggle to give us 6 innings in the playoffs. He simply has not learned to economical or how to put hitters away. I don’t think AJ needs an explanation.

    The bottom line is that Cashman should’ve pulled it off for Lee. I know that supposedly Seattle screwed the Yankees at the last minute, but Cash should’ve told them that he would’ve topped the Texas offer. I mean who doesn’t think it wouldn’t have been worth it to upgrade Nunez into that package to get Lee?

    If the Yankees had Lee, the rotation would be much better off and I’d feel much more confident for this year. As of now I still think we’re the favorites, but it’s much more wide open.

    • Mister Delaware

      Or, more likely, you’d be freaking out because we gave up Montero and more for a guy who has given up 4+ runs in 5 of his 9 post-trade starts and 14 runs over his last 13 innings.

      • monkeyjaw

        True dat!!!

      • Pete

        Or, more likely, you’d be freaking out because we gave up Montero and more for a guy who has given up 4+ runs in 5 of his 9 post-trade starts and 14 runs over his last 13 inningswill be pitching for us next year anyway.

      • RabidYankee

        Yeah, Lee just sucks, I’d write him off too.

        Actually, I wanted Cashman to trade Jesus for Halladay last year. Luckily the starts aligned for the Yankees to allow the use of only 3 starters and they got the good AJ in game 2 of the WS when they needed him most.

        They already adjusted the postseason schedule so the Yankees won’t be able to get away with using only 3 starters and who knows which AJ will show up?

        More importantly, will Pettitte come back healthy and be dominant?

        • Mister Delaware

          You understand why its funny you advocated the best team in baseball (both record and run differential) making a panic “take everything!” trade then joked about writing off Cliff Lee after 9 starts, right?

    • Zack

      “but Cash should’ve told them that he would’ve topped the Texas offer”

      “Whatever they offer, I’ll beat it” = Worst. Negotiating. Ever.

      • RabidYankee

        Yeah, it’s much better having CC and a bunch of questions marks. Great point!!!

        • Mister Delaware

          And get Halladay too. Tell Philadelphia “take whatever you want, just fax it in to the commish!”

          • Fred Lemond

            Montero Sanchez and Ramiro Pena.

    • Colombo

      Cashman had the Lee deal done. It was the Seattle GM who backed out at the last minute. Who’s to say the Yanks even got an opportunity to top Texas’ offer?

      • RabidYankee

        Supposedly Seattle was nervous about the AA second baseman who had just sprained his ankle – I forget his name.

        They wanted Cashman to include Nunez instead and he balked at it.

        If that’s what it would’ve taken to get it done, wouldn’t it be worth upgrading to include Nunez to get Lee?

        • Hughesus Christo

          That trade was dumb. Move on.

          • RabidYankee

            Just forget about it right???

            Now we have CC and a bunch of questions marks. No guarantee Pettitte comes back or is effective. Both Hughes and AJ have several questions as well.

            Why not call it the way it is? Bottom line was Cashman needed to get the Lee deal done to prevent the major concerns we are now facing.

            • Pete

              Yeah, if you think 2010 is more important than keeping Jesus Montero.

            • David (In Seattle)

              Short term gain, many year loss.
              I’m glad we still have Monstero

            • Tackaberry

              So you are ok with just giving in to every demand another team makes? The Yankees know what they have in their farm system and obviously believe that Nunez is more valuable than a 3rd piece in a trade centered around Montero. Why sell low on him?

              As many say “You can’t predict baseball.” I wouldn’t give up Nunez (in that trade) to get Lee when we have a GOOD situation. Hindsight is 20/20 and you can’t say that you knew all of this would happen/

              Don’t say anything about how Nunez has played after his call up either, it really isn’t relevant for a rookie with only a handful of at bats.

            • http://mystiqueandaura.com Steve H

              Now we have CC and a bunch of questions marks.

              Name me a team in baseball that doesn’t have question marks in their rotation.

              • RabidYankee

                You guys are unbelievable!

                So everyone is honestly ok with just CC as the only definite??

                To me it was more than worth trading Jesus to have a much better shot at winning the world series this year. If we had gotten Lee I think it’d be pretty close to a guaranteed three-peat.

                The Yankees used to give away the farm for nothing. Giving away Jesus for Lee, is a pretty damn good move! Then again, I’m not a prospect hugger like many on here.

                • http://mystiqueandaura.com Steve H

                  So you can’t answer my question?

                • Pete

                  FACT: it’s physically impossible to “hug” Jesus Montero. His bicep alone has a fourteen foot circumference

                • Tackaberry

                  Ok, I concede. It is better to have CC and Lee, question marks, and no Montero, than to have just CC and Jesus.

                  I forgot how easy it is to win the World Series with a two man rotation.

                  /sarcasm’d

            • http://theyankeeu.com Matt Imbrogno

              He did get the Lee deal done; the Mariners pulled out over David Adams and His Injured Ankle of Doom.

              • RabidYankee

                Thank you, David Adams… I forgot his name.

                The Mariners wanted Nunez instead. Why not do it? Including Nunez is not worth getting Lee?

                Plus its far from a given that Montero is going to pan out and become a star. Even if he does, the core of the team in Jeter, Arod, Posada, and Mo might be too old at that time.

                I would’ve traded Montero for Halladay last year and I wish Cashman would’ve gotten it done this year.

  • Not Tank the Frank

    I think the concern – at least for me – is that this team hasn’t gone on the kind of second-half run that it did last year. Of course, thanks to a better April, they didn’t have to.

    People are concerned because the Yankees are a straight .500 (12-12) so far in August. Other than a 7-game winning streak hitting the All-Star break, this team hasn’t won more than three in a row since.

    Last year in the 2nd half, right out of the gate, the Yankees won 8 in a row and 10 of 11. They followed that up in August with a 7-game winning streak Aug. 2nd – 9th (which included a sweep of the Sox). They went ahead and lost a game on the 10th before winning another five in a row and then ended August and brought in September with another 7-game winning streak.

    Simply put, we haven’t seen that from this team this year. So, while you can make certain comparisons between the two teams, this year’s club simply hasn’t put together the kind of second half that last year’s team did. That’s the reason, IMO, why people get so “worried” comparing this team to last year’s. That 2nd half run is fresh in our minds.

    That being said, there’s no reason this team can’t all of a sudden go on a tear in September with A-Rod, Andy and (yes even) Berkman coming back. AJ and Javy still have plenty of starts in which to go on a roll and alleviate some rotation concerns and have us all feeling good and streaking again during the playoff push.

  • Tom Zig

    That’s ok, next year we’ll have 3 solid options in CC, Cliff Lee and Phil Hughes. And we’ll still complain that we don’t have a 5th starter.

    (Note: I didn’t include Pettitte because I don’t know if he is retiring or not)

    • A.D.

      Realistically there isn’t reason to believe Hughes will magically develop other pitchers.

      • Mister Delaware

        Nor should he be asked to.

      • Tom Zig

        I wish he would develop other pitchers.

        • A.D.

          Player/Scout/Pitching coach

          • whozat

            Players that acquire and train their own replacements are the new market inefficiency.

            • http://mystiqueandaura.com Steve H

              /Moneyball’d

  • Jersey Johnny

    Does this mean I can get off the ledge and get right back on the bandwagon?

    • whozat

      The fact that you think these are the only two possibilities explains so much.

  • Chris

    Terrific article Mike it made me feel better. For that I thank you. That being said, man do theyneed a healthy Andy.

  • Hughesus Christo

    Big Game Allan James, baby. We got this. Nothing to worry about.

  • Trevor

    Thanks Mike; I’m coming in off the ledge now.

  • Yank the Frank

    September will tell the tale. For my own sanity I would like to see the Yanks reel off 8 out of ten and get some distance. If the rotation does not come together, CC won’t be able to do it alone in the playoffs.

    • Mister Delaware

      They have some distance into the playoffs. 5.5 games of it. On this date last year they were clear 6 games.

  • Tank Foster

    I think Rivera is as much of a post-season concern as starting pitching is. Well….maybe not, but I guess what I mean is that Rivera has been used increasingly gingerly this season, and you get the impression they are really, really saving him. I heard that the same side muscle/oblique issue which had him clutching the hot water bottle in the playoffs last year sort of still dogs him on and off. Yankee dominance in the postseason has always required pretty heavy use of Mo. So, along with our prayers for a healthy Pettitte, an epiphany for Javy, and a resurgence for Hughsie, let’s please invoke all spiritual exhortations for Mo’s continued health.

    Amen.

    • Fred Lemond

      What?

  • http://theyankeeu.com Matt Imbrogno

    I’m surprised there isn’t any outrage in this thread about comparing Joba/Phil.

    Anyway, I’m a bit concerned, but probably not as much as I should be. While his lack of mixing is frustrating, Hughes’ start last night was definitely the exception results wise and as long as CC keeps being CC and Nova and Moseley manage to not be complete disasters, they should be fine so long as A.J. tosses in a few good A.J. performances along the way.

  • http://riveraveblues sandy g

    i want 5 healthy starting pitchers for 2011.sabathia/greinke/lee/hughes/nova.the yankees can not go through this again next year with pettitte.i dont want a 40 year old starting pitcher who could break down at any time.this is also the second year they put up with marte and his sore arm.dump him and aceves with his back that can go out at any time.can arod play 3b next year? maybe 100 games at 3b 40 games at dh and 22 days off to try to keep him fresh.posada maybe catching 60 games,80 games at dh and 22 days off. same for jeter 60 games at ss ,80 games at dh and 22 days off.who ever is the yankee manager next year,he will have a hard job of trying to juggle the lineup.

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

      You have A-Rod, Jeter, and Posada playing a combined 200 games at DH.

      You show me a pitcher that you can guarantee will be healthy all year, and I’ll show you these two bridges I have for sale.

      • http://mystiqueandaura.com Steve H

        You can’t guarantee that any starting pitcher will be healthy all year. That being said, sandy g is on to something. I think if you have 10 starting pitchers, you can guarantee that you won’t lose more than 5. So without further adieu, I’m going to grab sandy g’s plan and improve it.

        Sabathia
        Greinke
        Lee
        Hughes
        Nova
        Hernandez
        Lester
        Halladay
        Jimenez
        Wainwright

        I almost grabbed Chris Carpenter, but we’re looking for only healthy pitchers, and Carpenter is a risk. Maybe we can bring him, but only as a bullpen arm.

    • Colombo

      I’m pretty sure that adds up to 200 games worth of DH’ing…

    • A.D.

      I would like 5 healthy starters every year, but realistically it doesn’t happen, in fact this year no team will do it, so realistically no reason to believe the Yanks will do it next year regardless of who the rotation is.

    • Pete

      you tell ‘em, bub!

    • FIPster Doofus

      Why settle for Hughes and Nova? Let’s trade Cervelli for King Felix and then ship some players to be named later for Lester and Liriano, and move Hughes back to the bullpen.

      CC-Lee-Felix-Lester-Greinke-Liriano. Boom, six-man rotation!

      • Jeremy Cooper

        Wow your sarcasm would make a Mets fan blush. If only we could have a fantasy rotation like that but the reality is we dont. Cervelli for King Felix? That one makes sense for a Seattle GM who played cat and mouse games with Cashman with Cliff Lee. For some reason I dont see that one happening. Lester in a Yankee uniform..Hmmm maybe if we traded back the powers of the Babe Ruth Curse to the Redsox then we might get Lester. The reality of the situation is the Yanks have a flawed pitching system and staff. Priority number one in the offseason is get Cliff Lee in the offseason-get rid of “Burnt Out Burnett” and “Gasbag Vasquez” and restock the minors with real pitching talent for once. If Mitre and Guadin have to keep playing key roles for the Yanks down the stretch we are all in some trouble

    • http://mystiqueandaura.com Steve H

      I have already booked that we are getting Greinke per your previous post. Did you ever explain how they are getting him?

    • Carlosologist
  • Commentor

    “Remember, it’s never, ever as bad as it seems, and we’ve been here before. Just last year, in fact.”

    but also the reason they won 0 rings from 2001 to 2008

  • Tom Merritt

    I’m not optimistic about the playoffs due to the pitching problems. I think Andy is done for the year, AJ is a disaster, Hughes I don’t know what his problem is, and Javy is a disaster again. Where is the pitching going to come from to be able to win a couple back to back short series? It is a very similar dynamic to the NBA. When the playoffs begin everything becomes more difficult.

    Also, the hitting is suspect and no one seems to be hot at the moment. Jeter and A-Rod are shadows of their former selves. The lineup seems to be to easy to shutdown at the moment.

    Things may align better before the playoffs start but I’m not feeling very positive at this point. Someone, provide some reason for optimism??

    • Carlosologist

      And yet two nights ago we scored 10 runs. Pettitte is likely coming back on September 9th. After we get Andy back, the playoff picture looks better.

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

      Someone, provide some reason for optimism??

      We’re the Yankees.

    • JobaWockeeZ

      Well Andy isn’t done for the year as Cashman already told us. AJ has always been like this. Hughes is struggling, but he’s 24 and in the AL East so he gets a pass. I like the Joba comparison because both haven’t lit it up during this time. Javy needs rest and maybe he won’t be a disaster.

      Believe it or not the pitching is a bit better from last year.

    • Pete

      Don’t worry, it’s fixed. We win. I got the British copy of the 2010 MLB season script, which came out 2 weeks ago, and it says the Yankees beat the Rangers, Rays, and Braves en route to a 5 game world series win on the strength of a big World Series (.424/.454/.438) from Francisco Cervelli (walk-off 21 hopper in game 2) and CC (2 G, 15.2 IP, 6 H, 19 K, 2 BB).

      What pisses me off is how long we’re going to have to deal with the media’s love affair with Cervelli next year.

      • http://youcantpredictbaseball.wordpress.com/ bexarama

        Psssst, Yankees can’t walk off in Game 2 this year

    • http://youcantpredictbaseball.wordpress.com/ bexarama

      We’re DOOOOOOMED!!!!!

  • Terry

    In 2009, the Yanks had a choice for the longer series so they could be able to use a 3 man rotation. They were able to stretch that out and got lucky somehow by AJ throwing a gem, but this year they won’t have that choice I do believe so things have to fall in place somehow for them to keep form using a 4 man rotation. I’d rather have Hughes than AJ start game 3 with Andy starting game 2.. We gotta still get to the playoffs so I can’t get to ahead of myself.

  • Kevin

    I disagree with the notion that there is little to worry about with this year’s rotation. One of the core factors that has been linked to playoff success is power pitching – that is, the ability to keep the ball out of play via the strikeout. In 2009, Sabathia and Burnett were genuine strikeout pitchers, even with the latter’s streakiness. This season, Sabathia has turned into more of a groundballer and Burnett’s strikeout rate is the lowest it’s been in years, if not in his career. This is why there hasn’t been any “Good AJ” this year, except for occasional games against the Royals, Orioles, and Indians. It’s either “Average AJ” or “Bad AJ”, and a lot of that has to do with his sudden inability to miss bats. There’s not much after CC, guys, even if Pettitte comes back healthy and Hughes is allowed to push his innings limit in the playoffs as a starter. I really hope I’m wrong, though.

  • Jeremy Cooper

    Yup rotation concerns are nothing new but I have to ask management what their Plan B was because it is exposing the biggest weakness on the team. Our bullpen sucked a few weeks ago and now even that has surpassed the starting pitching staff. I just dont get how AJ unravels in games no matter what the team is. You’d think the light hitting Royals or the Mariners would be just what the doctor ordered for Burnett instead he implodes as usual. The reason why Burnett is being bashed the way he has been is because he was billed as the number 2 in the rotation guy not the number 1 reason why the Yanks might lose in the playoffs. If Burnett actually had some awareness of the situation he would have himself skip a start and work on the basics. Its sad that a 31 year old pitcher still has to work on the basics but somethings wrong here. First Burnett was wildly inconsistent which at first didnt irk fans because for every clunker he threw out there he would show the Yanks why they went out and spent that money on him. Now he is just consistently bad with his every game putting the Yanks in automatic comeback mode from the start of the game. Vasquez came to us cheap but didnt Cashman see how that last movie played out in the end. NL to AL is a big difference and only “elite” NL pitchers can transfer smoothly back and forth (Ex: CC(CLE-MIL-NY)) I cant blame Pettite’s injury as the reason for the recent slide. As great as a season Pettite was having he was bound to hit a wall sometime. As much as I like Girardi I would love for him to light up a fire under some of these players. I dont see a real sense of responsibility from players on this Yankee team and for a veteran squad thats sad. Skipping their starts arent enough you have to let them know that if things dont get better your spots will not be given back in a week or two. Cmon Yanks we got a month to iron out these deep wrinkles and get ready for the playoffs(crossed fingers)