Whilst the Yankee bats were quiet in September, the pitching held its own but the makeshift starting rotation started to creak at the seams and the bullpen which had been such a nightmare in May / June continued to bail out starters who just couldn’t go as deep as they had earlier in the season…….
|New York Yankees – Pitching – Month – September|
David Robertson. In 2011’s version of David Robertson, the Yankees seem to have a real find that has negated the fact that their signings of Pedro Feliciano and Rafael Soriano haven’t worked out as anticipated. We leave aside that we were saying the same kind of things about the 2009 model of Robertson because this new version has been much more effective than he was in even that previous career high. He’ll need to do this two seasons in a row to really silence any final doubts but there is little question that he has been astounding in his role this time out.
Mariano Rivera. Rivera produced another fine month in September as he passed all previous records for saves and struck out into new uncharted territory. 9 saves this month and a slightly higher than usual OBA. He has overcome the mid-season wobble and added another fine year to his record book.
Cory Wade. When Wade arrived in June, he looked like just another desperate Cashman acquisition, emphasised by the way that he took over the number 53 shirt from Kevin Whelan who had inherited it just a couple of weeks previously. In any light, Wade has done a very credible job for the Yankees but when cast against that background, it becomes outstandingly impressive. September wasn’t his best as he let more runners on to base than he had prior to this month but he still played a very worthy role in making this version of the Yankees bullpen one of the finest of the last 30 years.
Ivan Nova. Nova, along with possibly Garcia, was the last vestiges of a starting rotation which had been asked to carry more than it was capable of in 2011. As Colon finally came up empty and Hughes and Burnett sought to show Girardi just who was the weakest starter, Nova continued to have a better season than anyone could have expected. In April, there were questions about whether he could go further than five innings and whether he could really be anything more than a long reliever in the long term. By September all those doubts and his brief mid-season (undeserved) reassignment to Scranton were forgotten. In September, he was still producing nearly seven innings a start and didn’t take any losses. If he isn’t the Yankees no. 2 starter in April, he can start to feel disrespected.
Hector Noesi. Noesi finally ran into trouble in September. Of all the Yankees’ pitchers, he goes exceptionally deep into the count on a regular basis. He is persistent and dogged and you’ll watch more pitches fouled off when he is pitching than on any other average afternoon at the ballpark. In September, he lost a degree of sharpness and some of those pitches which went for fouls in July were beginning to fall in fair territory. Only time will tell whether Noesi has it within him to become more overpowering but the odds are against it.
Scott Proctor. Proctor was a particular favourite of Joe Torre’s during his previous period in Pinstripes. Even so, it was a surprise when the Yankees picked him up late in the season as his ERA has ballooned since those days…. and it never really looked like working out. Whilst his ERA was lower than Noesi in September, the more telling fact was that he allowed more players on to base than Hector.
Boone Logan. Logan looked tired in September and the broadening out of the squad roster allowed Girardi to use him much more as a left-handed specialist than he had done in August when he was frequently being left into face right-handers too. The fact of the matter is that it didn’t work and another recent pickup, Raul Valdes was the more effective left-handed reliever through the final month.
Bartolo Colon. Colon hadn’t collected a win since late July and whatever procedure had been used to repair his damaged arm in the close season was clearly only working for a limited time. There was a noticeable tail-off in his velocity and his effectiveness followed suit. By the end of the year, he was only delivering 5 innings an outing and left off the playoff roster, it will be a big surprise to see him back in the Bronx in 2012.
Andrew Brackman. It is not unusual for a young pitcher like Brackman to be called up in September. It is less common that he should adapt so immediately and without a hitch at the new, higher level. Brackman made three brief appearances for New York as a reliever and whilst he probably allowed more walks than he would have hoped for, none of those runners were allowed to significantly advance and none scored. But he did enough to suggest that he is not far from a permanent step-up to the majors.
Phil Hughes. Girardi and Cashman and their advisors finally made the switch from a 6-man rotation to the more usual 5. Hughes on the face of it was the guy who lost out but it provided a very useful insight for the team in the longterm. Hughes velocity improved in his new role and in his two relief appearances he produced performances of a quality that he had only managed very occasionally as a starter. Whether the Yankees will judge that Hughes is now able and sufficiently improved and confident to step back up into his previous role or whether they decide that he is more naturally inclined to work out of the bullpen remains to be seen.
Freddy Garcia. Garcia was either very good (Boston on the 24th) or very bad (Baltimore on the 5th) in September but he did enough to cause Girardi to set him as having an important role in the October playoffs. Garcia’s willingness to work hard and imaginatively to achieve outs that other pitchers do not achieve has made him a favourite of mine during the season. Hopefully, he has done enough to challenge for a role on the Bronx Bombers in 2012.
C.C. Sabathia. Sabathia continued his decline in the later months of the season. Now this is nothing to be overly concerned about. He still held his own and was one of our best starters, he just wasn’t as likely to hand the game over to the bullpen in a Win situation. But it might cause the Yankees to worry about his conditioning (he had gained a substantial amount of weight by the second half of the season) and what their response will be if Sabathia’s rumoured opt-out of his contract becomes a real threat.