Last season, the Yankees had one of the most consistent bullpens in baseball. This year, essentially the same bullpen staff has reported but with a stronger (on paper) starting rotation than last year. Having added CC Sabathia and AJ Burnett, and with a fit-again Chien-Ming Wang and with Andy Pettitte without last year’s off-field distractions, what could possibly go wrong:
|New York Yankees – Pitching – Month – April
Mariano Rivera. No surprise to see Mo at the top of my list but it hasn’t been without a wobble or two. But for most of the month there looked to be no chance of him giving up a run. And then came a tight game against Boston. One of Mariano’s strong suits has always been his mental toughness. After last season’s tendency to come up short in a tied game and having blown this particular save, there will be those who claim to have spotted a chink in his armour. Don’t know but at the moment he still looks the best closer in MLB.
Andy Pettitte. I expected Pettitte to be stronger this year and so far that is the story. Two wins and a 2.96 ERA in amongst a staff that hasn’t yet found its direction. It’s good to have this veteran around.
Brian Bruney. So I know that Bruney is on the DL (again) at the moment but this is based on his form prior to that. He had a dreadful first appearance but after that he looked basically unhittable. That .111 OBA speaks volumes. Time will tell whether his "rest" is a temporary glitch or something more substantial but fit, he looked one of our best options.
Joba Chamberlain. Just. Of the remaining starters Joba just comes out on top. In his last start, he finally looked dominating. Prior to that he had looked just enough – at least to keep us in the game. At the moment, the great experiment seems to be working. I’d rather see him in the bullpen and, boy, does the bullpen need him. But for now it seems to be working out. Just.
Damaso Marte. What do you do with a left-handed specialist who can’t get left-handers out? Marte didn’t look the real deal last season. This year he hasn’t shown up at all. 15.19 ERA and more than a third of the batters he pitches to are getting on base. Horrible.
Edwar Ramirez. Last year, Ramirez looked dependable. This year, his ERA is 6 and a half. ‘Nuff said.
Jose Veras. Last year, Veras looked dependable. It is hard to track the cause of all these sudden down turns. More peculiar, that most of these guys looked good in Spring Training. Girardi needs to lift some heads that have fallen. His ability / inability to instill confidence in the roster members may be the defining issue of his tenure as manager.
Jonathan Albaladejo. There’s not much to say that you couldn’t also say about Veras and Ramirez. There are simply too many members of the bullpen who are ragged and under-performing. These guys need to find some consistency.
Chien-Ming Wang. Nobody knew quite what to expect from Wang in April. He was coming off a serious injury and his innings in the Spring had been few and their quality indecisive. Nobody expected him to be as bad as he has been. 34.50 ERA and an OBA over .6. Now he is on the disabled list again. This is quite a nosedive. Hope he can pull out of it.
Mark Melancon. Melancon didn’t even make it in to the 2009 Yankees media guide but here he is in the Majors and so far he is holding his own. Whether this can continue is debatable but as out of bullpen options as they have been (can you say "Swisher?"), it has been a pleasure to see him.
AJ Burnett. Burnett looked strong in his first two starts and it was encouraging to see a big money signing so strong straight out of the blocks. He hasn’t maintained that and he has a reputation for injuries. I don’t want any more nasty surprises.
Anthony Claggett. Claggett was a bright hope for the future. Claggett was called up when the pitching staff was particularly horrible in mid-April. Claggett was brought into a game that was already lost. Claggett only had to make some outs and get us through a few innings without further humiliation. Claggett looked worse than Chien-Ming Wang that had preceded him. That’s a lot of baggage for a bright hope to carry as he headed back to the Minors.
The pitching has not been good in April – in the Bronx and on the road!