Monday, September 2, 2013

What the Yankees need now, is pitching!

Sunday was another day and another perfectly good Yankees lead blown by poor pitching. You could probably look to Andy Pettitte to take the blame for one or two of the runs (he left the game with 2 men on and no outs in the 7th) but the bullpen must take the blame for the rest! In the middle of a wild card berth chase, you cannot allow 7 runs in ONE inning!

The Yankees pitching has struggled all season long so far. Pettitte (10-9) and Sabathia (12-11) have been far from their best (as shown by their records). Hiroki Kuroda (11-10) started the season well and was rightly hailed as Hiroki the Hero, but even he has started to slip now (3 losses on the trot and 1-4 in August). Ivan Nova (8-4) has had a decent season and highlighted this on Saturday with a complete game shutout of the Orioles but he cannot carry the pitching staff.

The problem starts with the Yankees fifth starter – Phil Hughes (4-13). He has had a shocking season so far. When was the last time he won a game in 2013? The problem continues when you look to the bullpen. Shawn Kelley and Adam Warren have given up their fair share of runs so far and when coupled with Joba Chamberlain, you do sometimes wonder how the Yankees have maintained a winning record.

Unfortunately, even Mariano has been affected, blowing back to back to back saves for the first time in his career! He and David Robertson are often seen as rays of hope for the Yankees and us as fans when carrying a slim lead into the 8th and 9th innings but they have both shown themselves to be mere humans as well. People have focused on the offense so far this season and how it is lacking the power of last year but if we manage to grind out a few runs and hold a lead, it is not acceptable to have this thrown away by poor pitching. At the moment, I find myself questioning what Joe Girardi is thinking sometimes. He has kept Phil Hughes in the lineup, despite seemingly being concerned by his performance. He moved Hughes to start today (Monday) against Chicago rather than yesterday against the O’s – surely this is just delaying the inevitable poor showing (admittedly, had we won yesterday, we would have gained another game on the O’s). He continues to keep Joba around along with Kelley who have so far proved to be inadequate when it comes to pitching well.

Luckily, help may be at hand. Now the rosters have expanded, the Yankees have more options with Cesar Cabral, Dellin Betances and Brett Marshall in the bullpen. David Huff (who may replace Hughes in the starting roation – hopefully) is also available. If nothing else, having these guys around will provide Girardi with some more options of who to bring in.

I hate to be the prophet of doom here but it is entirely possible that the Yankees pitching will be even worse next season! Pettitte is likely to retire again at the end of 2013 and we already know that Mo is retiring. Despite this not being Pettitte’s best year, he has still produced generally good figures and the worry is, who will replace him? Do we have to keep Hughes in the rotation and bring somebody else up? Similarly, with Mo retiring, I would expect D-Rob to become the Yankees closer, which ultimately leaves space for a setup man and right now, can anybody be trusted to take this role and NOT completely suck? I know we have Michael Pineda on the DL at the moment and he will hopefully be back in 2014 but how good will he be having had a season off?

As John Sterling said earlier in the season when discussing Yankees pitching options – We have Phelps and Pineda but they’re on the DL!

This has been a bad year so far by Yankees standards and if we miss the playoffs, it will be even worse but it is NOT all down to the lack of offense as most people think. The pitchers MUST take their fair share of the blame and Girardi now has to make some tough decisions. The Yankees should not be mediocre, if we can’t score many runs, we should dazzle with the pitching and vice versa. We cannot go on like this and if pitchers such as Hughes are not doing what they should, they should be demoted (at least) whilst we bring up some (potential) talent from the farm. Otherwise, we have to look outside the organisation and try to shed the deadwood.

In the offseason, somebody needs to take a good long look at the Yankees pitching situation and either a) find a magic wand that will make everything better just by giving it a quick wave or b) making some sensible (potentially difficult) decisions about who makes the main roster. I reiterate my previous point – THIS CANNOT CONTINUE

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