Whilst the batters showed few highlights in April, you could almost divide the pitchers into two groups…those who were starters (bad) and those who were relievers (good). As we shall see, there were some exceptions but not many!
|New York Yankees – Pitching – Month – April|
Amongst the starters, 4 of the 5 produced ERAs that were over 4 but under 7. It doesn’t take very advanced math to know that with the team only scoring 74 runs in 22 games (less than 3 and a 1/2 per game) that the Yankees weren’t going to win many.
Most worrying was the great hope of the second half of last season, Luis Severino, who has been struggling with his control and had 3 losses and 1 no-decision in April whilst delivering up the worst ERA amongst the starters – 6.86.
Also inconsistent was Michael Pineda. If you take into account that two of his April starts saw Big Mike give up only 2 runs each outing, it emphasises just how bad he was in the other games – particularly in the early innings.
Ironically, CC Sabathia of whom little was expected this season and who only won the fifth starter’s job immediately prior to opening day, has been better than predicted. Each outing saw him give up three runs which was enough to keep the New York team in the game which was more than they could hope for most days. Nathan Eovaldi produced an uneven month. In reality, his performances were not that different from last year but in 2015, he was blessed with good run support. That isn’t the way this year. His best game of the month came on the 25th against Texas. Being near to his birthplace must appeal to him because every pitch was right on the money, giving him 7 innings for 2 hits and no runs. Sadly, his other outings were less consistent.
By far the best starter was the one the Yankees must have been most concerned about going down injured. Masahiro Tanaka has given them no such worries yet. His 5 starts only gave the Yankees 1 win but the 4 no-decisions were probably just as appealing to a team with as strong a bullpen like the Yankees and so little starting coming from elsewhere. His 2.86 ERA and a WHIP of less than 1 in April are very encouraging indeed.
The Yankees have a great bullpen but it is a mixed blessing when the starters can’t deliver up a lead for Andrew Miller and Dellin Betances to turn into a game in the WIN column. Miller gave up only 3 hits in 9 games, leading to 5 saves and 1 win and no earned runs and this from a closer that the Yankees thought they could improve upon. Betances’ only weakness has been to deliver a very occasional weak pitch at just the right height for the opposing batter to turn into a hit which would clear the fences. This happened twice in April and accounted for all three earned runs he conceded on the month.
Ivan Nova was given the long relievers job when he lost the 5th starter role to Sabathia. He has been very inconsistent. On at least two occasions, he has done enough to keep the Yankees in the game and eat up innings in the process but on the 13th against Toronto, he was eaten alive and gave up the runs which meant there was no way back for the Yankees.
Kirby Yates has been a bright spot whilst Chasen Shreve has been good on his day. These two are the ones that the Yankees have had a tendency to go to when they are behind and the starter has been knocked out in the 5th or 6th. Shreve has been a far better pitcher than he was in September last if not quite the pitcher he was before the 2015 All-Star Break. Yates has been a good addition to the roster.
Johnny Barbato, who was a surprise call up to the roster, maintained his strong Spring form into April but a terrible outing on the last day of the month against Boston raised serious question marks and when Aroldis Chapman returns in early May that question mark will loom particularly large.
Joe Girardi and Brian Cashman talked all the way through the Spring about how the 25th spot on the roster would be a revolving door and so it has proved.
Of those who have been on the shuttle, Nick Goody has looked most capable of becoming a regular, Luis Cessa was most unfortunate not to get more chances whilst his home was in the Bronx and Tyler Olson and Branden Pinder looked like weak choices. Cessa spent half the month on the roster (longer than all the others put together) but was only given one outing which he handled respectably. He can count himself unlucky. Pinder’s weak outing led to an MRI and then to surgery. Those words “Tommy John” cause a chill in a pitcher’s heart and in the mind of the fans and he will be gone for a long time.
May will be a better month than April but will the difference be so much that it will allow the Yankees to make up the ground they have already lost? I don’t think so. It’s going to be a long season.