One turn through the rotation

The State of the Bullpen
RISP woes be gone
(REUTERS/Patrick Smith)

Starting pitching was supposed to be a strength after this offseason’s moves, or at least starting pitching depth was supposed to be a strength. The season is just five games old — 3.1% of the 162-game schedule — but the first turn through the rotation hasn’t exactly gone according to plan. Ivan Nova was the only starter to turn in a respectable outing, holding the Orioles to two runs over seven innings despite allowing ten hits. Here’s what the rotation has done overall…

28 IP, 35 H, 19 R, 16 ER, 12 BB, 24 K, 6 HR, 37.5 GB%

That all adds up to a 5.14 ERA (and a 5.14 FIP!), and I suppose the good news is that the performance can only improve from here. The Yankees starters simply have to be better, and not just for the sake of the team. CC Sabathia and Hiroki Kuroda are safe, but Michael Pineda and Andy Pettitte are on the way. Jobs are on the line and if the guys currently in the rotation don’t step up their game, they’re going to wind up in the bullpen or Triple-A. I guess that’s where all the pitching depth comes in handy.

The Yankees need Sabathia to pitch well tonight just to save the bullpen, but I’m sure they would also like their ace to turn in a gem and set an  example for the rest of the staff. Five games is in no way indicative of what’s to come in the next 157 games, but right now the only part of the roster that seems to be clicking is the bullpen. The offense will surely get going in due time, but the starting rotation needs to get its act together pretty soon.

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The State of the Bullpen
RISP woes be gone
  • Paul VuvuZuvella

    Looking for the Big Man to win with whatever he has tonight. Wouldn’t be surprised if he doesn’t find his groove until May.

  • Preston

    Why is Kuroda’s job safe? If he’s pitching poorly I think he’s just as likely to be moved to the pen as Phil, Freddy or Nova. I think in the end it will be Hughes and Garcia who are displaced by Pineda and Pettitte. But I see no reason to guarantee Kuroda a spot if he’s not pitching well.

    • JohnC

      Becuase they’re not paying him 10 mill a year to pitch out of the pen.

    • Jesse

      It’s because they gave him a guaranteed $10M contract. They’re going to let this play out for awhile before even thinking about putting him in the ‘pen.

      • fin

        Its more than that. By the time Pineda and Petite are ready Kuroda will only have had 4 or 5 starts. That will be too small of a sample size to give up on someone with past performance. The odds are no matter what he does over the next handful of starts, by the end of the year he is the Yankees second or third best starter. They arent giving up on him after a handful of starts.

        • Jesse

          When I said “awhile” I didn’t mean 4 or 5 starts.

    • Dan 2

      The $10 million is committed and spent wherever Kuroda pitches. If he is going bad, hopefully they will be smart enough, and brave enough to send him to the pen. In a perfect world, Pettitte replaces kuroda and Pineda replaces Garcia. That means the yuounger pitchers are pithing well and are starting to set the stage for years to come.

      • Havok9120

        Not going to happen, for many reasons. Chances are good Kuroda won’t be the 2nd worst pitcher by then for one. For another, AJ proved that your pay counts.

        • David

          Right, and now the Yankees are paying him almost what they’re paying Kuroda to pitch for another team.

          • gc

            After he spent THREE full years in the rotation for the Yanks. Can we please allow Kuroda to pitch more than one start before we start making reservations for him to be in the bullpen?

            • gageagainstthemachine

              More than one start before finding him guilty and sentencing him to death row and promptly executing him without appeal…are you crazy?!?!

          • Havok9120

            Alright, and?

            But okay, lets throw that one out. Can we give him more than 1 start? Heck, more than 5 or 8? We’re acting like he’s some scrap heap guy trying to rebuild his career and has no positive track record. Its nuts.

    • GardnergoesYardner

      If the Yankees were paying you 10 million dollars, I think your job would be safe as well.

      No one likes to admit they were wrong about a signing until absolutely necesary, especially the Steinbrenners/Brian Cashman. Even if Kuroda keeps struggles, he’ll get plenty of rope.

      • Steve (different one)

        They put Vazquez in the bullpen and he was making $11.5M and cost a top prospect.

        So there’s that.

        • LiterallyFigurative

          In April?

          • Steve (different one)

            Of course not, but the implication was that Kuroda’s salary makes him immune from demotion, and we saw 2 years ago (and last year in the playoffs) that this isn’t always true.

    • OldYanksFan

      Hard to believe that Kuroda won’t be one of our ‘best’ FIVE starters.

  • Baby Joe Mesi

    I honestly thought Hughes looked the best I’ve seen him in a while. Just got beat up by long counts. His velocity was up and he was hitting his spots. Until Freddie, I thought the rotation got better the further down it went.

    • Havok9120

      Best we’ve seen him in awhile? Definitely. But those long counts aren’t just happening, they’re what he does when he’s not clicking. Ergo, he’s wasn’t clicking.

      Definitely reason to be optimistic though.

  • yoo-boo

    Burnett and Vasquez did it. I think Kuroda stays in the rotation until July or August. Trading him to either contender of the west may be an opinion.

    Pineda and Pettitte have no business to join the rotation until June. That is why I want the current rotation to pitch well enough not to rush Pineda and Pettitte back sooner.

    • Havok9120

      You’re making a lot of sweeping statements there without any real cause to do so.

      • yoo-boo

        ok ok ok.. I am sorry. Surely, you knew what happen to Burnett and Vazquez when they struggled right. That would be the same thing to Kuroda. Yanks put them on waiver wire for July and August or left them out of playoff spot.

        Yanks have prepared Pineda like they did to Hughes. Hughes had bad year in both pre and post DL. For playoff contender sake, Yanks should not rush Pineda back until he is proven 100 percent healthy (I.E. 95 mph regularly or something like that).

        Pettitte wont be the same so why should Yanks bother to break up the rotation for Pettitte’s sake. Warren and Banuelos should be the first one to crack on the 40 man roster before Pettitte.

        While it is not a fact, it is totally plausible.

        • gc

          Kuroda has only had one freaking start. Against a pretty damn good team. Can we relax a bit before we start making plans (or even contemplate making plans) to send him to bullpen???

        • Bo Knows

          Kuroda isn’t going anywhere until his contract is up. He has a full no trade clause and he isn’t going to waive it.

  • JohnC

    Kuroda will face a major test this Friday vs. the Angels lineup. Hughes too on Saturday

  • MattG

    I’m getting fitted for my Yankees’ #41 jersey.

    Too soon you think?

    • CJ

      Go ahead and have one customized at shop.MLB.com. You will be the first on your block to have one and you can proclaim yourself the biggest fringe prospect hugger in all of Yankeeland.
      He did look nasty last night.

    • Robinson Tilapia

      It’ll be a conversation piece, at least.

      I still see Bubba Crosby shirts.

  • granderslam

    I hope Phil can really turn it around and fast; he’s probably the first option for the BP if not.

  • TomH

    We still have to see whether Pettitte and Pineda show up pitching well. It’s been a long time since Andy has faced serious hitters, and Pineda wasn’t all that impressive in either Spring or during the latter part of last season.

    Still, I agree that there are guys who should be worrying about those two returns. I didn’t see Hughes’ performance, but my (11 and 12.5) grandsons (who debate whether Wagner was better “all round” than Cobb) assure me he threw a lot of 2-strike pitches before he got outs. If so, sounds like the same ol Phil, still no knock-out punch.

    • gc

      I thought Pineda looked fine in spring training up until that last game. It’s not like he was getting knocked around in virtually every start like Nova was.

    • Bo Knows

      You have some insanely high standards, Pineda pitched very well overall

  • Monterowasdinero

    Hellickson got hit in the head by a ball during bp today. Taken to hospital. At least we haven’t had that happen to one of our starters.

    YCPB

    • Jesse

      Or Jesus Montero.

      • STONE COLD Austin Romine

        Not cool.

        I wouldn’t wish a injury for any player Yankee or Non-Yankee… But in other sports? All bets are off.

        • Jesse

          I wasn’t wishing anyone harm. I just added Montero simply because Monterowasdinero adores him. I don’t wish anyone to get hurt in any sport.

  • STONE COLD Austin Romine

    I like David Phelps , hopefully he stays healthy.

  • LiterallyFigurative

    Personally, I’d prefer the Yanks to make sure the younger pitchers get the rotation spots along with Sabathia and Kuroda/Pettitte. Use Freddy as the long man.

    Obviously things don’t go according to plan, but I want the younger, power pitchers to get the innings. Pettitte, Kuroda and Garcia are older guys who are going to try and trick hitters. I don’t think that’ll work too well against Boston, Texas and Detroit.

    • gc

      Why not? As we’ve seen many times before, with their lineups and with ours, if pitchers like that are dealing, those tricks tend to work.

    • Steve (different one)

      Didn’t Garcia dominate Texas a few times last year? If Pettitte is back to 2010 form (big if), he can beat anyone.

    • JobaWockeeZ

      Older trick guys fool the Yankees all the time. It’s bound to work on someone else.

  • Tex, the real Big Poppi

    Axisa, the small sample preacher. One turn through the rotation and you go with “the starting rotation needs to get its act together pretty soon”.
    Dont they have at least until June to get it together, otherwise its just too small a sample. no?

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

      What’s going to happen first: June, or Pettitte/Pineda returning? Could be the former, but I’m guessing not. They might only have another 3-4 starts before the replacement is ready.

    • Havok9120

      They don’t have until June before the team needs to start making decisions. Barring setbacks, both Pettitte and Pineda will be ready in May.

  • a devoute Yankee fan

    The pitching will come around. All this noise after one cycle of pitching just makes me laugh. Maybe all commentators after one bad prediction should be relegated to the has been bin for recycling before they can comment again on these boards?? The two DH’ers are hitting with authority. Making nice contact. Lets remember everyone has to find their comfort zone as one does not just go out and pitch perfect every time out, that is the fun of this sport you never know who is going to shine each day. I root for each and everyone of the players who sport the Yankee uniform as they are special players that get the privilege to be a Yankee and they know it.

  • Dummies Playing With Balls (formerly Rainbow Connection)

    I’m very excited about Phelps.
    Is his future likely as a SP or RP?
    Should I not be so excited?