Rotation playing a part in Yankees’ recent slide

King: Giants and Braves interested in Joba Chamberlain
Update: Yankees sign Dominican shortstop Yonauris Rodriguez
(Hannah Foslien/Getty)
(Hannah Foslien/Getty)

Despite last night’s uplifting win, the Yankees have still lost six of their last eight games and 21 of their last 34 games. That dates back to the game after the 11-inning win/ninth inning comeback against Fernando Rodney and the Rays in Tampa. One win against a mediocre Twins club who was very willing to beat themselves by throwing the ball away on more than one occasion doesn’t mean the Yankees are out of the woods yet.

The offense has been the primary culprit behind this month-long slide. The so-called Bronx Bombers have scored just 112 runs during that 34-game skid, an average of 3.29 runs per game. The AL average this year is 4.36 runs per game, so we’re talking a full run below-average for more than a month by a team that plays in a very hitter friendly home ballpark. The Yankees have hit .228/.289/.335 as a team during that stretch, on par with the washed up Victor Martinez (.233/.290/.339). It’s bad.

The offense is not alone, however. The starting rotation, considered the strength of the team by pretty much everyone coming into the season, has been a let-down over the last month as well. The starters as a whole have a 4.64 ERA and 3.82 FIP during the last 34 games, so better than average peripherals with below-average results. Here are how the individual starters have fared during the slide:

IP/Start ERA FIP K/9 BB/9 HR/9 Opp OPS BABIP
CC Sabathia 7.1 5.08 3.95 7.19 1.40 1.40 0.684 0.257
Hiroki Kuroda 6.2 3.33 3.92 7.04 1.37 1.37 0.664 0.261
Andy Pettitte 6.0 5.15 3.19 6.63 2.70 0.49 0.739 0.336
Phil Hughes 6.0 3.93 3.60 7.61 2.45 0.98 0.695 0.284
David Phelps 4.1 6.84 4.54 7.18 4.79 1.03 0.814 0.360

I’ve excluded Vidal Nuno (two runs in six innings) and Ivan Nova (three runs in 6.2 innings) because both made just spot one start during the 34-game stretch and haven’t contributed to the carnage every five days. Outside of Kuroda and maybe Hughes, it’s the regulars who have been let downs.

Sabathia has been crazy homer prone of late — he’s allowed 17 homers at the halfway point, just five fewer than the career-high he set last season — and he hasn’t just fallen victim to Yankee Stadium cheapies either. Hit Tracker classified five of the eight homers he’s allowed during the 34-game slide as “plenty,” meaning they cleared the fence by more than ten vertical feet or landed more than one fence height beyond the wall. Between his overall velocity loss and increased propensity for mistake pitches, the increased homer trend seems more likely to continue than improve going forward.

Since coming off the DL early last month, Pettitte hasn’t given up a ton of homers (just two) but he has given up a lot of hits overall (42 in 36.2 innings). Ten of those 40 non-homer hits have been doubles, so opponents are still hitting for power against him even though the ball isn’t going over the fence. Andy has never been shy about giving up hits, but he hasn’t had his usual stinginess with men on-base recently. Opponents are hitting .328/.377/.422 (.433 BABIP) against him with men on and .333/.367/.462 (.429) with runners in scoring position since coming off the DL. It’s easy to say that will improve as the season goes on, but you never really know with 41-year-old finesse pitchers. Andy Pettitte is guarantees to be awesome just because he’s Andy Pettitte.

Phelps’ poor numbers are the product of two exceptionally bad outings. He allowed five runs in one-third of an inning in late-May and nine runs in 2.1 innings over the weekend. In the four starts between the two duds, he’s allowed just seven runs in 23.2 innings (2.66 ERA and 3.27 FIP). That doesn’t excuse the two disaster starts obviously, but I prefer seeing two disasters and four strong starts than six consistently mediocre ones. At least the former suggests he might have just had two really bad games relatively close together and isn’t fighting through some kind of mechanical problem or injury. Either way, the Yankees do need him to be better than he has been of late.

Last night’s ten-run outburst is hardly an indication New York has gotten over their offensive woes. They have a lot of trouble scoring runs and they need their pitching staff to not just be good, they need them to be damn near great. The rotation has not been very good of late and that’s a big reason why they’ve been unable to string wins together. Nova is waiting in the wings if they need to make a change, but he hardly inspires any confidence. Nuno is out with a groin injury with no return in sight. Michael Pineda‘s rehab window expires Monday but I find it very hard to consider a guy coming off major shoulder surgery to be a potential rotation savior. Besides, it seems more likely that he’ll be optioned to Triple-A next week than added to the big league roster. Long story short, the guys in the rotation simply have to start pitching better to keep this team in any kind of race.

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King: Giants and Braves interested in Joba Chamberlain
Update: Yankees sign Dominican shortstop Yonauris Rodriguez
  • jsbrendog

    whoa….6 games back and two teams to jump…starting to get daunting…

    • Jim Is Bored

      Meh. It’s the beginning of July. Not daunting yet. If Jeter/Grandy/Arod come back and we don’t get any better, and we haven’t made any moves before the ASB, I’ll be more worried.

      Obviously I’m no 10 on the confidence scale, but I’m still not pressing any panic buttons.

      Of course, I’m a polyanna.

      • jsbrendog

        right, right. you cant say im in the DOOOOOOOOOMED!!! camp but as a realist, i dont see this team playing much better and reinforcements are 2-4 weeks away…..by then it could be double digits….which then goes from daunting to inconceivable!!!

        • Jim Is Bored

          4 games out of a WC spot. I can’t envision that dropping to 10 in 2-4 weeks.

          I mean I could be wrong, but that…that seems like too much even for this offense.

          • jsbrendog

            ok, for the second wildcard maybe. but in 4 weeks all it takes is one or two of the teams ahead of the yankees to go on win streaks and the yanks to play barely 500 baseball for them togo down 10 games in the division. im not saying it is going to happen, but the possibility is very real with this team. you can;t deny that.

            im just being rational. realistically i see them being 5-8 games back by the time the injured guys come back. but what if that means last place? the more teams in front of you the harder it is to jump them all.

            • Jim Is Bored

              “all it takes is one or two of the teams ahead of the yankees to go on win streaks and the yanks to play barely 500 baseball for them togo down 10 games in the division.”

              What? That’s not true at all. We’d drop 5-6 more games on 4 different teams just by one going on a winning streak?

              2-4 weeks is 11-22 games.

              If the Yankees go 11-11, then all the teams ahead of us would need to go 17-5 for us to fall that far behind, in the 4 week scenario. We’re not just racing with any one team.

              No, 10 games is not realistic or rational. 5-6 is much more rational, which I guess is the conclusion you eventually came to.

            • jsbrendog

              plus, no matter how you spin it, winning a wildcard spot is not the playoffs. it is getting the right to play 1 game for the chance to go to the playoffs. which, right, anything can happen, but calling it “the playoffs” is crap imo

              • Jim Is Bored

                So right now, you wouldn’t take being in a 1 game playoff, if you could have that guaranteed?

                • jsbrendog

                  oh i would take it but it isn’t the playoffs. it’s the same as tying for the old wild card. it is in no way “making the playoffs”

                • MannyGeee

                  YESSSSS, and I would give the ball to…. Ivan Nova, the best pitcher in the system (EddardWorld Small Sample Size Filter Activate!)

            • trr

              Not over yet guys, but it ain’t gonna be easy.
              But hell, we knew that before the season started.
              But we gotta do well against the Minnesotas + KC’s of the world…and a little revenge against BALT this weekend would be OK too

            • NwkLaw

              Not to say anything about this team, but for a little context here are the Yankees July 2 and season ending win totals from 2005-9 (going to be at 43 or 44 tonight)
              2005 40 – 95 – Division Champs
              2006 46 – 97 – Division Champs
              2007 39 – 94 – Wild Card
              2008 45 – 89 –
              2009 45 – 103 – Division Champs

              My point is not that this team is destined for the playoffs. It is that if you want to actually be rational, which you say you do, then you can’t just look at the negatives. The possibility of bad things is real, but by only presenting negative outcomes you don’t really come across as rational.

              Worth noting that 10 of their next 13 are against the Twins and Royals.

              • Jim Is Bored

                I apologize for misinterpreting your previous comments, and fully embrace you on the same side of this discussion.

                • Robinson Tilapia

                  I still want him to refer to you as “Miss Cleo,” and only “Miss Cleo” from now on.

                  I thoroughly enjoy reading the exchange between the both of you on the previous thread. That was vintage RAB right there.

                  Welcome aboard, NwkLaw. Is this a reference to Newark and Law?

              • jsbrendog

                you’re comparing teams that could actually either pitch or hit enough to cover for a lack of pitching.

                this team averages one of the lowest runs per game in the ML. a full run below average recently for an elongated period of time as well. they are on their 5th string 3b, 3rd string ss, 2nd string 2b, 2nd string catcher, OF who shouldn’t be starting really on the majority of teams. Then youve got a 40 yr old starter who has shown the past couple yrs he can’t handle a full yr of starting, an ace who is showing signs of faltering, kuroda, god love him, a well below league average HR machine, and a veritable unknown in phelps.

                this team has 15x the flaws that any of those had. im not saying it isnt possible, im saying that 6 games back in the division behind 2 teams getting healthy (toronto) and better (debatable, baltimore) it is fair to say that it is a daunting task for a team of scrubs and replacements to tread enough water for 4 weeks to maintain a close enough distance. plus who knows how the injured players will even play when they get back…

              • jsbrendog

                yankees runs per game:

                2005 – 5.47
                2006 – 5.74
                2007 – 5.98
                2008 – 4.87
                2009 – 5.65

                2013 – 3.9

              • Robinson Tilapia

                Obviously untrue because of DOOOOOM, DOOOOOOOOOOM, and Cashman failing.

                Otherwise, I agree completely.

        • NwkLaw

          Not sure if serious

          • Robinson Tilapia

            He’s making the counterpoint.

            You’re both right. The problem too often on here is that it’s hard for some folks to hold both those realities in their hand.

            It does resemble the point you were attempting to make in the last thread (that I mostly agreed with) as far as predicting versus stating-as-destiny-in-advance with recent production. You can suck in the first half, and you can suddenly get traded mid-season and become Sandy Koufax. Both that and “recent production matters” are true.

    • Dave in VA

      On 18 July 1978, the Yankees were 47-42 and in fourth place (out of 7), 14 games back. I think we all know how that turned out. Not saying it WILL happen again, but that the current situation is not hopeless. 2013 Yanks need offensive help, for the rotation to execute better, and for the walking wounded to get off the DL and bring some production to the big league club.

      • jsbrendog

        never said it was hopeless.

        • Robinson Tilapia

          Gawd, yer such a GREG.

          • jsbrendog

            yer a towel!

            watchoutnowwwwwwwww!!!

  • jim p

    During a season, any team is going to have one of the three parts: starting pitching, bullpen, offense hit a serious slump. Thing is, in the past, the Yankees had enough offense to offset a bad run by the starters. That’s what’s different for us this year, something we’ve not seen in a long long time.

  • Preston

    These numbers can’t be right, David Phelps is a big game pitcher and Phil Hughes should be scratched in favor of a random fan pulled out of the bleachers.

    • Gonzo

      Remember Cy Nova’s 2011 season?

    • JLC 776

      The numbers!!! They don’t fit the narrative!!! What do we do?!?!

      Seriously though, the one that jumped out at me is CC’s BABIP. On one hand, I was expecting it to be higher as it seemed like a lot of weak hits have been hit off of him (in addition to hits of the normal variety), but I guess he’s pitching more to contact these days, so a lower BABIP probably makes sense and is even encouraging.

      Frankly I haven’t seen too many of his games, so I’m only guessing.

    • Murderers’ Row Boat

      You have that all wrong. It’s Pettitte that’s pitching like he’s 29 and Phil Hughes should be traded to the Mexican League for a bag of balls and a three months supply of tacos.

      • JLC 776

        But we can all agree that Phil Hughes should be summarily executed for not being a top tier ace, right?

        • Jobu

          Hold up there champ. Put that prison shank down and step away from Hughesy. If he is really worth a three month supply of tacos he just might be the asset that turns this season around. Just imagine the headlines in New York:

          “Yankee Team Invigorated by Delicious Tacos”

          “Tacos Power Bronx Bombers to World Series”

          “Sabathia credits Tacos with Increase in Weight and Effectiveness”

          “Teixeira Stops Faking Wrist Injury and Returns to Team for Taco Party”

          “Phil Hughes Kidnapped by Mexican Cartel”

          Those imaginary headlines are 80% positive. 80%! We cannot endorse the shanking of a man who can be transformed into 80% positivity!

          • JLC 776

            Dammit – the narrative!!!

            • jjyank

              Tacos >>>>>> narrative.

          • MannyGeee

            Slow Clap for you good sir

          • Robinson Tilapia

            “Jayson Nix: I ate a taco and now I’m fucking awesome.”

      • Robinson Tilapia

        And I run a taco stand.

  • gageagainstthemachine

    Hughes is so painful to watch. I’m just never comfortable with him on the mound anymore. I’m not sure I can take 5 more years of him, but then again he’s probably going to be the best* pitcher on the FA market. Scary to think of the mental anguish of him taking the mound every 5 days for 5 more years. They couldn’t even last through AJ’s contract before they dumped it. Add on top of that what they’re likely to overcommit to with Cano this offseason. I’m not saying full blown rebuild mode is needed or desired, but seems like some trends need to be rethought with this organization. Then again, part of me hates seeing Cano in another uniform. But, the Core Four is almost done and I don’t think we’re going to see lifelong Yankees again. MLB has moved on in its culture and the fact that the Yankees had such a talented core of life-longers (Andy’s couple of exiled years in Houston not counted) was an anomaly of the times to say the least. It’s just not reasonable to expect to have lifelong franchise players anymore without overpaying and it costing big time in the long run at the expensive of an appropriately aged and appropriately competitive team. However, with all the injuries this year who the F&^% knows what to make of all this…
    (*best FA pitcher on the right side of 30 years old)

    • Gonzo

      Hughes is turning into a Jekyll/Hyde pitcher. He’s going to be a boss or he’s going to get tossed.

      • MannyGeee

        Define “turning into”… is this metamorphosis a decade long thing, because dude has kind of been this since 2010.

        • Gonzo

          Touché

  • Vern Sneaker

    Sabathia, Pettitte, Phelps have slipped lately for sure, but that’s always an up and down thing, rarely are five starters all going strong at the same time, and this is still a staff that can make the playoffs. It’s the offense that’s going to make that impossible. A-Rod and Granderson will have to come back strong, and Cervelli may help, too (I wouldn’t count on Jeter too much), or one or more very good trades will have to happen, for this team to get to October.

  • MannyGeee

    “I’ve excluded Vidal Nuno (two runs in six innings) and Ivan Nova (three runs in 6.2 innings)”

    By excluding these two, you have almost 1000% guaranteed the call from some here for Hughes to be traded for a sack of pine tar and Pettitte to be shot in a field somewhere in favor of those two.

    • Jobu

      You could not be more off base sir. I call for nothing. Instead I demand, nay I require that Hughesy and Petty be exchanged forth with for assets whose baseball skills are beyond even my considerable comprehension.

      For failing to deliver said assets, I hold Cashman personally responsible. Cashman is a failure of a man whose clownish behavior and utter lack of skills like competence and GM’ing have brought great shame upon this franchise, the city, and all of us as fans. If Cashman was the Dali Lama he would be eating meat and having impure thoughts, that is how poorly he is executing his sacred charge as general manager.

      • jjyank

        And instead he’s playing COD with Theo in a vain attempt to win a favorable Alfonso Soriano trade. I fully believe this is a mistake. If Cashman were to play Theo in Battlefield, he might have a chance. But Theo is just hiding in that god damned building with a sniper rifle. Fuck Cash, what are you DOING?!!?! STOP GOING DOWN THAT ALLEY!

        • Jobu

          Hal: God damn it Brian, stop going down that alley! 6 deaths in a row? I swear to Christ, if you go down that alley one more time I am going to let Hank out of his cage to negotiate the Cano extension.

          Brian: I can make it. Trust me, I just have to sprint and jump and stuff.

          • jjyank

            Hank: LET ME OUT OF THE CAGE! I CAN SNEAK INTO THEO’S APARTMENT AND SWITCH COD WITH BF3!

            Hal: Fine. Do it. Just make sure Brian spawns as an engineer with a full explosives load out. Brian, do you copy? NO ALLEYS! Just take the whole fucking building down.

            • MannyGeee

              I have created a monster.

  • Lukaszek

    OMG two hits for Adams!

    ???-?? ??????? ????…

    • Lukaszek

      Noooo the foreign letters didn’t go through!

    • Freddy’s Dead

      That and Gonzalez contributing really did my heart good. God bless the Twins!

  • Freddy’s Dead

    Thanks for the article, I think it’s a point well made. The offense gets most of the heat, probably rightfully, but it’s good to spread the blame fairly. I really think that, if CC gets back on track, Kuroda gets no worse, Phil can pitch the way he did last night in Minnesota, and Pineda even comes close to fulfilling his promise, plus the offense, of course, staying out of the doldrums, there’s no reason to despair. The team as it is, playing as it has lately, of course, would be lucky to finish 4th.