The bullpen has been a source of early-season strength for the Yankees. (Photo courtesy of flickr user Rodrigo Amorim.)
So we know that the Yanks’ starting pitching has left much to be desired. I covered that early today. I can only hope that warm weather and a few times through the rotation will clear up this messy picture.
But on the other hand, the Yanks’ bullpen deserves some credit. Let’s take a look.
So the Yanks’ bullpen has been the antithesis of the starting rotation. They’ve allowed less than a baserunner per inning and are recording just shy of a strike out per inning. Brian Bruney has been tremendous, and Mike Myers has been stellar in saving the arms as well. Even Andy Pettitte â€” not included on this list â€” got into the act today recording one more scoreless inning for the pen.
For Yankee fans, this early season bullpen success comes as a relief. For too long, we’ve watched Joe Torre trot out one subpar reliever after another. Remember Paul Quantrill? Steve Karsay? Felix Heredia?
Right now â€” and I know it’s early â€” those days seem behind us. The Yanks have a full slate of bullpen arms with whom I would feel confident seeing in any given situation. The blue door opens in left centerfield, and I feel relief instead of heartache.
Of course, the bullpen can’t keep pitching half of the team’s innings. But that’s a story for another day.
From today’s (Sunday) games…
Triple-A Scranton snowed out. Game will be made up as part of a May 15th doubleheader.
Double-A Trenton scheduled off day.
High-A Tampa scheduled off day. Apparently that’s the only thing that can stop Jose Tabata.
Low-A Charleston (8-1 win over Greenville)
Mitch Hilligoss: 2 for 4, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 1 SB
Austin Jackson: 1 for 5, 2 K – went 9 plate appearances between strikeouts, a baseball miracle
Chris Malec: 3 for 4, 2 R
Eduardo Nunez: 1 for 3, 2 R, 1 BB, 1 SB
Josue Calzado: 1 for 2, 1 R, 2 RBI, 1 HBP
Wilmer Pino: 1 for 2, 1 RBI, 1 BB
Michael Dunn: 6 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 8 K, 6-4 GB/FB – this time last year he was a no-hit first baseman…guess the conversion is going well
David Robertson: 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 2 K- here’s a guy who could really step up and grab the spotlight with Cox and Melancon out…
After their team’s first 5 games…
Nats’ rotation: 22.1 IP, 31 H, 22 ER, 12 BB, 14 K
Yanks’ rotation: 21.2 IP, 36 H, 24 ER, 10 BB, 12 K
Take solace in the fact that the Yanks play in the AL East…
With Darrell Rasner’s untimely removal today â€” perhaps due to a painful blister â€” the Yankees starting rotation completed its first run through the rotation. While the Yanks are missing Chien Ming-Wang, their young ace, the early returns are hardly promising. Let’s take a look.
So yikes. The Yanks’ starters are 0-2 with a 9.97 ERA in 21.2 innings. They are sporting a WHIP of 2.12 and are generally being a drain on the team. The bullpen has been asked to pick up at least four innings in every game this season, and the Yankees offense needs to generate 10 runs a game to stay in the win column.
The weather is a factor right now. It’s very hard to pitch in the cold. Fingers have no feeling, and breaking pitches are nearly impossible to spot. And it’s still just once through the rotation.
But I would be lying if I said I wasn’t concerned. Sure, I’m concerned. I’m concerned when Paul Bako hits his first home run since 2004, and I’m concerned when no Yankee has come close to the 6th inning, let alone a quality start.
These outings will start to put pressure on the Yankees to find some pitching. I’m sure Brian Cashman is working Roger Clemens’ phone non-stop these days. I’m sure Phil Hughes, who had a solid first outing for the AAA the other day, knows what’s happening up here.
Over the next few weeks, the state of the Yankees pitching will become clear. Clemens will make a decision by the end of this month; Chien-Ming Wang will return to the anchor the rotation in a few weeks; and Hughes will have a few more AAA starts under his belt. But for now, we just have to hope that Pettitte and Mussina can regain their form, that Carl Pavano can stay healthy and that Igawa, Rasner or whoever else may pitch in that five spot can keep the team in the game.
Revel for a moment, if you will, in the glory that was Alex’s 9th inning bomb. There’s simply no more dramatic way to win a game, and it couldn’t have been delivered by a better player. End hyperbole.
Let’s get to the real concern, though: starting pitching. Some people looked Igawa’s numbers and thought he had a crappy game. Others, thinking that their observation skills could shine a brighter light on the game, pointed out that three of the runs scored on Melvin Mora’s dinky pop that miraculously found the grass. So, in essence, he didn’t pitch as badly as his line suggests. I find much fault in that argument.
Over five innings, Igawa gave us eight hits, walked three, struck out just two, and gave up two taters. Mora hit or no Mora hit, that’s still a line that’s going to kill you most games. He threw just 53 of his 97 pitches for strikes, and was continuously up in the zone. Against a team more disciplined than the Orioles (say, like the Red Sox), that’s a line that will get you slaughtered.
Now, that said, his working out of a jam was quite impressive. Regardless of the outcome, it’s discouraging to see a guy load the bases with none outs. But when you can induce an infield fly, strikeout, and pop up behind first base to follow, it shows at least a bit of poise. And yeah, it was bad luck that the Mora dinker touched down.
So you have to luck factors playing into the game’s outcome. He was unlucky to have the bloop single, and he was lucky that his walks, hits, and homers didn’t lead to more runs otherwise.
The bullpen was spectacular again. I know we’re only four games into the season, but this bullpen looks like the best in the league. Whether that holds up over the next 157 games we don’t know, but it’s tough not to like what we’ve seen so far.
An unsung highlight from yesterday’s bullpen team was Mike Myers. A lot of us don’t agree with the decision to use (or waste) a roster spot on a true LOOGY; they could probably get more value from a more versatile reliever or a fifth outfielder. However, Myers pitched a full inning and didn’t allow Baltimore to expand the lead. If he can be a LOOGY and come into situations like that and not surrender runs, he may just prove worthy of his roster spot. Him going a full inning yesterday allows more bullpen flexibility over the next few days, as the Yanks weren’t forced to use anyone for two innings, and let Proctor and Farnsworth (not to mention Henn, who did his duty on Friday) take the day off.
Rasner, looking to be the first starter to surpass the five-inning mark, takes on Erik Bedard, who we hope pitches like he did Monday in Minnesota. If Rasner can give us seven — hell, even six — innings, I’ll be more than happy. Despite the starters’ woes last week, the bullpen still seems to be in decent shape, with Proctor, Farnsworth, and Mo ready to go, the former two with some rest. Is it too much to ask for 12 runs and a complete game by Rasner?
Man, Alex is simply scorchin’ the ball this year.Â After games like that, you wonder how pitchers ever get that guy out.
Triple-A Scranton (5-3 win over Norfolk)
Andy Phillips: 2 for 4, 2 R, 1 2B, 1 K
Bronson Sardinha: 0 for 3, 1 R, 1 BB, 1 K – threw runners out at second and third from RF
Eric Duncan: 1 for 2, 1 R, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 1 BB – 3 hits so far this year, all for extra bases (1 2B, 2 HR)…couldn’t be happier for the kid
Ross Ohlendorf: 5 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 4 BB, 0 K, 5-7 K/BB – eh, hopefully the 32 degree temperature was the culprit
TJ Beam: 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 3 K
Hideki Matsui joined the ranks of injured Yanks today. According to reports from the game, Matsui has a strained left hamstring. He will be evaluated over the weekend, but hamstrings are tricky injuries. Don’t expect Bernie Williams to come back anytime soon. He missed Spring Training and was hardly in great shape last year. If Matsui goes on the DL, we’ll see an AAA outfielder named Kevin. · (0) ·