As the Yankees — without Jorge Posada and Alex Rodriguez‘s anchoring the middle of their lineup — struggle to score runs, the team has come to rely upon their starting pitching to keep them in games. While the back end of the rotation has been in flux, Chien-Ming Wang and Mike Mussina have so far done their jobs and both lead the team with six wins. Where the Yanks’ pitching has faltered, however, has been with Andy Pettitte.
Over his last five starts — a period of time that seems to correspond with the Yanks’ less-than-stellar hitting — Pettitte has not been his reliable self. He’s put together a truly forgettable stretch of pitching. Over 27.1 innings, he’s given up 35 hits, five of them home runs, and nine walks while striking out 24. He’s 0-4 over that span with a 6.26 ERA. Yesterday’s Pettitte effort counts as a Quality Start, but he’s probably just as unhappy as the rest of us were with his forcing in a run by walking the Mets’ number eight hitter with two outs.
During this stretch of time, opponents are hitting .315 off Pettitte with a .372 OBP and a .477 slugging. Basically, with Pettitte on the hill, opposing hitters are putting up Magglio Ordoñez-like numbers. That’s not going to lead to many Yankee wins.
For Pettitte right now, the key stat seems to be the batting average on balls in play or BABIP. Over the course of the season, Pettitte’s BABIP is .333 while a pitcher will, on average, see a BABIP of .290. For the Yankees, this is good news. Luck dictates that Pettitte will stop giving up so many hits at some point soon. He’s bound to regress to his career mean and become a more effective pitcher.
But at the same time, Pettitte’s defensive-dependent pitching numbers raise something of a red flag. His line drive numbers are down this year and his fly ball numbers are down this year but he’s giving up many more groundballs — 53.3 percent of all balls put in play this year compared to 47.7 percent last year — than he has in the past. The Yankee defense, then, isn’t doing a very good job of turning the ground balls Pettitte is surrendering into outs.
Something has to give here, and it will. Petttitte’s BABIP will decline, and the Yanks will hopefully grab a few more batted balls. The team certainly needs Pettitte to be more effective than he’s been over the last month. The success of their starting pitching depends on it.
I find myself with two extra tickets to this Thursday’s game between the Yankees and the Orioles. The seats are excellent — Tier Reserve Section 4, Row N — and all I want is to cover what I paid for them. So this pair can be yours for $32 total. E-mail me at the address at right, and it’s first come, first serve. · (5) ·
PeteAbe brings the good news. A-Rod mashed in a simulate game today (?), but more importantly he took 54 grounders of varying degrees of difficulty at the hot corner, and ran in the outfield without incident. “It’s the best I’ve felt since the injury,” Rodriguez said. Yes, A-Rod wasn’t exactly tearing the cover off the ball before the injury, but the Yanks have scored 2 or fewer runs in 6 of 14 games this month. Getting the cleanup hitter back and healthy is better than any trade acquisition could ever be. · (16) ·
Triple-A Scranton was rained out, they’ll play two tomorrow.
Double-A Trenton (4-3 win over New Hampshire)
Ramiro Pena: 1 for 5, 2 K
Austin Jackson: 2 for 5, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 K – threw a runner out at second from CF … 3 XBH (2 doubles & a jack) in the past 2 days
Colin Curtis & Kevin Russo: both 2 for 4, 1 2B – Russo also tripled & drove in 2
Edwar Gonzalez, Jose Tabata & Reegie Corona: all 1 for 4 – Tabata scored a run & K’ed … Corona K’ed twice
PJ Pilittere: 1 for 3, 1 R, 1 RBI, 1 BB
George Kontos: 5 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 7 K, 4-3 GB/FB
Zach Kroenke: 2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 2 K, 3-1 GB/FB – southpaw is holding righties to a .148 avg, lefties to .250
Mike Gardner: 2 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 1 K, 4-0 GB/FB – he’s been a 2 inning closer all season
Quickly: We can blame Kyle Farnsworth and Joba Chamberlain for shoddy relief work today. We can criticize Andy Pettitte for walking the number eight hitter in the Mets’ lineup with two outs and the bases loaded. We can point fingers at the umpires and absolve the team of blame in a game where Johan Santana didn’t look that great. Or we can note that the bottom of the lineup — Melky Cabrera, Alberto Gonzalz, Chad Moeller and pinch hitters Shelley Duncan and Morgan Ensberg — went 0 for 11 with one walk. No matter what, this team is looking pretty pathetic, and they will remain in last place, five games behind the Rays. · (63) ·
I honestly don’t have a ton to say. Same as las night: Hit ball, win game. Pettitte vs. Santana. Yeah. Wooo!
Oh, and via PeteAbe, there’s a chance Joba stays in the bullpen. Yeah. Because the starting pitching has been soooo good.
While Hank Steinbrenner can shoot off his mouth all he wants these days, every now and then, a piece comes along that reminds us of the checks and balances in the Yankee organization. This time, we’ve got Kat O’Brien talking with a measured and calm Hal Steinbrenner. Hal, who noted that the season is a 162-game “marathon,” also said, “There’s nothing that makes me regret [not getting Santana].” Good thing, as BBTF notes, these two share equal power in the Yankee organization. · (14) ·
Game 1 (4-0 win over Louisville in 7 innings)
Brett Gardner & Juan Miranda: both 1 for 2, 1 R – Gardner drew 2 walks, stole a base & was caught trying to steal another … Miranda launced a 2-run bombed & drew a walk
Justin Christian: 1 for 4, 1 RBI, 2 K, 1 SB - one of the most under-rated players in the system
rest of lineup: combined 1 for 15, 1 2 R, 1 2B, 3 BB, 5 K, 1 HBP - Jason Lane scored a run & drew two walks … Eric Duncan committed a fielding error … Chris Stewart doubled & scored a run
Dan Giese: 7 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 4 K, 1 WP, 11-7 GB/FB – 63 of 90 pitches were strikes (70%)
Jim Callis of Baseball America posted his first mock draft today, and has the Yanks taking Arizona prep southpaw Kyle Lobstein. Callis writes:
The obvious move would be for New York to use its financial muscle to pay what it takes to get whatever top talent falls because of signability. Hosmer would be a coup for the Yankees, but Cole could be too raw for their tastes. They’ve been scouting a lot of lefthanded pitchers, making high schoolers Kyle Lobstein (Arizona), Brett DeVall (Florida), Mike Montgomery (California) and Robbie Ross (Kentucky) candidates.
Lobstein would be a bit of an over-draft at #28, and frankly I think there’s a chance he’d still be around when the Yanks picks again at #44. Plus Robbie Ross is better than Lobstein. The Yanks are going to take whichever signability guys falls to them, it’s almost guaranteed.