May in the pitching ranks of the New York Yankees went pretty much the way of April. Most of the starters struggled – Michael Pineda was the obvious exception. The bullpen began to look tired: the inevitable result of overuse, caused by sub-standard starting.
|New York Yankees – Pitching – Month – May|
Michael Pineda had one of those months that when he was good he was sensational and when he was ordinary, he was, well, ordinary. And when he was neither, he was nearly bad. The high point of the month came in the Mothers Day game against Baltimore. He struck out 16 in 7 innings and was so into his rhythm, it was like watching a work of art being developed. In the next two games, he gave up 12 runs (9 earned) in 11 innings. All this taken into account, he is the one pitcher in the Yankees’ rotation who you expect to win every fifth day – and that counts for a lot.
With Masahiro Tanaka out for the whole month, the Yankees needed C.C. Sabathia to be who he was a few seasons ago but the truth is it is not going to happen. He did achieve two wins in the month but the 5.45 ERA tells us more about his actual performance. He took 3 losses and had a WHIP of 1.47.
Chris Capuano returned from injury and it was hoped he would bolster the rotation but the reverse happened. Capuano gave the team three losses in his three starts and a 6.39 ERA / 1.74 WHIP combination. The Yankees announced as the month turned into June that Tanaka was due to return and Capuano was headed to the ‘pen and the whole of the Bronx breathed a collective sigh of relief.
Nathan Eovaldi is another who like Pineda has been inconsistent and like Big Mike has proved he can deliver well on his day. He gave the team just a slither under 6 innings per start in May and produced three wins in the process. He is what the Yankees need from a number 4 starter; the problem is that numbers 2 & 3 are not living up to their billing.
Adam Warren has proven that he can hold his own as the no.5 starter which is a bonus because most were not convinced that it would be that way. On the month, his ERA is second only to Pineda amongst the starters and his WHIP is ahead of them all. His 2-3 record, on the month, is less than he deserves.
All this said, the reality is that with these 5 starters you would expect the Yankees to win only 2 games out of every 5. Their 6th option, whilst Tanaka has been out, is now done for the season, with Chase Whitley signing on the consent line for Tommy John surgery. It was obvious in his most recent starts that something wasn’t quite right but nobody guessed at the extent of the injury.
In many ways, the Yankees season hangs in the balance of how the rotation shapes up when Tanaka returns. You can have the best bullpen in the world but it will not help if the starters can’t deliver up to them a lead.
At the heart of those who the Yankees look to for long relief is Esmil Rogers – and frankly, in May, he has been awful. An ERA of 7.47 coupled with a WHIP which is just a fraction under 2 simply will not do. Amazingly, he has a 1-0 record in that period which says more about the Yankees’ batters ability to recover from going behind early than it does about anything else. Soon the Yankees will clear space for Tanaka by moving Capuano to long relief and the Yankees will have to think about who to lose to make room for him. Personally, I might be tempted to ship out both Rogers and Capuano and given someone from Triple-A a chance.
But then what would you do with David Carpenter. In May he delivered up a 6.39 ERA and a WHIP that was nearly bad enough to match Rogers’. Justin Wilson is another whose performance is faltering but in my view, he has been more inconsistent than simply bad. That still leaves a monthly record which shows him giving up 6 runs in 8+ innings which is hard to defend.
Most likely to head back to Triple-A when Capuano is given his new role is Jacob Lindgren who is young and talented and whose time will come but may have not shown enough to make his call up to the Bigs a permanent one.
Right-hander, Branden Pinder has been pretty unlucky not to earn a regular spot on the rotation but he seems to be the go-to guy on those days when the Yankees need a bullpen member to go longer than they would normally choose. Twice this season now this has resulted in Pinder being sent to Scranton because the Yankees need a fresh arm – most recently in the move which gave Lindgren his debut. The stats show that, even when given extended periods on the mound, Pinder is outshining most of the guys in this bullpen.
Aside from the closer and the setup man who we will come to in a moment, left-hander Chasen Shreve has been a highlight. This month he picked up a win and kept his WHIP well blow 1. That’ll do.
The combination of Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller remains just as strong. There have been comparisons with the purple period of Mariano Rivera and John Wetteland and that might be so – albeit too early to tell. However, there is no Jeff Nelson and Graeme Lloyd, Steve Howe or even Bob Wickman here. But the Yankees will be grateful for what they have got – Betances still has not given up an earned run and Miller added seven saves to his growing total across the month of May.
The other bits ‘n’ pieces? Chris Martin stumbling on to the disabled list after some really below par performances… Jose Ramirez producing an enormous ERA in a very brief return to the Majors…and Garrett Jones giving the fans the light relief of seeing an unaccustomed face on the mound in the manner of Wade Boggs and Nick Swisher in recent years.
This bullpen is not where it looked like it was going to be when April turned into May.