Sep
02

Burnett and Vazquez looking to quell rotation worries

By

Throughout the 2010 season the Yankees have struggled in various areas. Early in the season the starting pitching, minus Javy Vazquez, was lights out while the offense plodded along. The bullpen had a poor first half. But then everything turned around. The offense went on a tear and the bullpen hunkered down while a few of the starters hit bumps in the road. With both Vazquez and A.J. Burnett struggling, there was concern with the rotation. Would it be strong enough to carry the team through October?

Baseball fans become concerned all the time. We wouldn’t be fans if we didn’t. But the concerns with the Yankees are nothing new. They crop up every season in some form or another, except maybe outliers like 1998. The rotation issue was just one of many the Yanks faced in 2010. And while it’s too soon to declare the issue behind them, things are certainly looking a bit brighter.

A.J. Burnett pitched well last night, putting behind him a second straight shaky August. He gave up three runs in six innings, though they weren’t particularly concerning. Kevin Kouzmanoff hit a Yankee Stadium Special and the other run came on a ground out. On the positive side Burnett struck out eight on the power of his curveball, which generated eight swings and misses. He threw it as often as his four-seamer, a good sign that the curve was working for him. If he can harness it from here on out he’ll be back in the conversation as the No. 2 starter.

The next real test comes on Saturday when Javy Vazquez makes his return to the rotation. It’s tough to expect anything from Vazquez now given what we’ve seen. He did put his rough start behind him and was a key part of the rotation from mid-May through mid-July. Then he hit another stumbling block, this one a bit more noticeable than before. After a rest and two successful long relief appearances he’s back in the rotation. A good start against Toronto would go a long way.

Burnett will never stop being a concern. Nor will Vazquez. We’ve seen their low points, so our minds will keep going back there when they take the mound. But it looks like both might be turning it around. Burnett found his curveball. Javy found (some of) his velocity. If they can put it together for a strong September I think that will dim a lot of the currently prevailing issues with the pitching staff. Combined with Andy Pettitte‘s eventual return, the Yankees’ staff isn’t looking so horrible right now.

Categories : Pitching
  • AndrewYF

    Hell, even in 98 I can imagine people being concerned about the Yankees not winning it all, and how ‘embarrassing’ that would be for a team that won more regular season games than any other team.

    • Sheepmeister

      The 2001 mariners say hi

      • http://kierstenschmidt.com Kiersten

        NO GAME SIX! NO GAME SIX!

    • http://www.yankeenumbers.com Mr. Sparkle

      Well, you can’t argue that it wouldn’t have been embarrassing (just ask the 2001 Mariners.) Remember, they WERE down 2-1 to Cleveland in the ALCS. Was it time to panic? No. But, anytime you’re down 2-1 in a seven game series, you should be concerned…not worried maybe, but concerned because at that point, anything can happen.

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

    On the positive side Burnett struck out eight on the power of his curveball, which generated eight swings and misses. He threw it as often as his four-seamer, a good sign that the curve was working for him. If he can harness it from here on out he’ll be back in the conversation as the No. 2 starter.

    No. 3 starter, I’d say. If Pettitte is healthy by October 5th, he should be the No. 2 and Javy and AJ can duke it out for the right to start Game 3.

    • vin

      How would you set up the staff for a 7 game series? CC in 1-4-7?

      CC
      Pettitte
      AJ/Javy
      CC
      Hughes
      Pettitte
      CC

      I can definitely live with that. I’m less optimistic with CC only going twice.

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

        Replace Hughes with AJ/Javy and that sounds right.

        • vin

          So a 3 man rotation again? With Hughes going to the pen?

          I doubt they go down that road again. AJ/Javy and Hughes making one start each is much more palatable than Gaudin making a start (like he would have last year).

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

            That would be a 4 man rotation.

            CC
            Pettitte
            AJ OR Javy
            CC
            Javy OR AJ
            Pettitte
            CC

            • vin

              OK, gotcha. I can get behind that.

      • http://kierstenschmidt.com Kiersten

        I would go for something like this:

        CC
        CC
        Pettitte
        CC
        CC
        Pettitte
        CC

        that should work, right?

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

          /Brewers’d

    • http://twitter.com/AnthonyMartins Anthony

      I would put Hughes as the number three starter in the postseason.

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

        Let’s hope Hughes has enough gas left in the tank a month from now to still be in contention for a start at all.

  • Reggie C.

    Lets see AJ deliver against a better hitting, in contention club before saying that the rotation issues are over.

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

      Burnett will never stop being a concern.

      -Joe Pawlikowski,
      the above article

  • A.D.

    At this point, gotta hope for the best, especially since the format of the playoffs (particularly the 1st round) can be such a crap shoot & a matter of who’s hot. There’s always going to be question marks or some link that’s the weakest, for the Yanks if it’s Burnett and Vazquez, 2 guys with pretty good MLB track records, I’ll take it.

  • Yank the Frank

    I would be concerned putting 2 lefties back to back. Especially a power lefty like CC followed by a more finesse Andy. AJ would scare me as a 2nd starter but maybe a rested Hughes.

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

      FWIW, both the Twins (Mauer, Kubel, Thome, Span) and the Rangers (Hamilton) depend on lefty bats in the heart of their order who have fairly sizable platoon splits.

      Starting an ALDS with back to back lefties probably isn’t a bad idea.

      • Ross in Jersey

        Not to mention that two of the three major weapons in the Rays lineup are left-handed (Crawford and Pena).

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

          That too.

          • Yank the Frank

            I get that but don’t you think that having Andy following a dominating CC will be a let down? Gien Andy’s age and coming off an injury?

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

              I get that but don’t you think that having Andy following a dominating CC will be a let down?

              Why? They’re both good pitchers because they’re good at not letting the other team score runs. That’s not going to change simply because they happen to pitch on consecutive days.

              Given Andy’s age and coming off an injury?

              Andy’s age is irrelevant. And if he’s still not pitching well because of the injury, obviously he wouldn’t be a good candidate for #2, regardless of whether the #1 was lefty or not.

              I think the whole concept of “splitting up the lefties” in a rotation is way overblown. Splitting up lefty batters in a batting order makes more sense, because there’s a lot of LOOGY relievers who can’t get righties out so splitting up lefty batters neutralizes the effectiveness of LOOGYs.

              But back to back lefty starters v. an entire 1-9 lineup isn’t that big of a deal.

              Why do we never attempt to split up righty starters?

              • CBean

                Also, Andy is never a let down. (/feels like I’m stealing Bex’s line)

              • Ross in Jersey

                I don’t understand this “split up the lefties” thing either. Assuming CC and Andy both make 2 starts, presumably one at home and one away, why does it matter if they’re on consecutive days or not?

    • vin

      The Yanks had back to back lefties in last year’s playoffs. But it was Andy-CC in games 3-4 (and would’ve been 6-7). I think matching up with the other team is more useful than avoiding back to back handedness.

  • larryf

    Let’s hope Nova pitches great the rest of the way and can be added to the mix. We will be in first place again tonight. Win or lose :-)

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

      He’s coming close to his innings cap as well. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him shut down altogether; if he’s not, he’s probably only throwing in the bullpen in the playoffs. He’s a longshot to make an October start.

  • Ross in Jersey

    I saved my ticket stub from last night for actually seeing “Battled-through-the-game-AJ”.

    In person, he looked okay. Not great. He fell behind a lot of hitters, and I could see Eiland talking to him for awhile after almost every inning. Obviously he got a bunch more swing and misses this time around, which is always good to see. Kuzmanoff’s HR wasn’t well struck at all, I thought it was a routine pop fly off the bat.

    And hey, we all get that the As pretty much suck on offense. But they’re still major league hitters and they can hit bad pitching just like any other team. You have to give AJ some credit for grinding out that game.

  • Mike HC

    Javy and AJ are both just mediocre pitchers. The team badly needs Pettitte to get back healthy, because he and CC will need to carry the team like last postseason.

  • http://www.yankeenumbers.com Mr. Sparkle

    Both Javy and A.J. can START quelling any rumors by pitching well against a GOOD hitting team. Pitching decent against the A’s is not going to prove a darn thing. They’re going to face a lot stronger lineups in the post-season than the A’s are putting up there.