The Yankees pitching in June finally settled to a level much closer to what might have been expected when the season began. Add into the mix a few significant injuries and it was not a sweet recipe that was cooking as the month went along.
|New York Yankees 2017 – Pitching – Month – June|
For the first two months plus of the season, the Yankees had one of the steadiest and best rotations in the major leagues. It wasn’t for them to stop and wonder and consider that this didn’t make sense, they were just happy to go along for the ride for as long as it lasted. It was June when the wheels began to come off.
CC Sabathia was first to go with a strained left hamstring putting him on the disabled list on the 14th of the month. A couple of days later, Adam Warren, long reliever and obvious candidate for a spot in the rotation, joined him on the DL. Luis Cessa was the one who was added to the rotation, in a decision that was largely unsuccessful.
Cessa made three starts in the month and lost each one. Across the three, he managed only 13.2 innings and gave up roughly an average of one hit per inning. Michael Pineda had a difficult month: 2 wins, 2 losses and a WHIP of 1.54. Masahiro Tanaka began to improve as the month came towards its conclusion. He had an unlucky no-decision in a head-to-head with countryman, Yu Darvish on the 23rd and then took the win, his only one of the month, in the game against Chicago White Sox five days later. He also took two losses.
Luis Severino could also achieve only one win but this still made him second amongst the fit starters. Leading the rotation, of the 5 which ended the month in those positions, was rookie, Jordan Montgomery. With each month that passes, he is growing into this role. In June, he was 4-0, with an ERA of 2.59 and a WHIP just marginally over one. Very encouraging.
Until his injury, the surprising leader of the pitchers had been veteran CC Sabathia. His ERA had been 0.49 in June and he had won his first two starts before his hamstring problem in his third start. Age and weight issues may be factors in determining how quickly and effectively he recovers that form.
The bullpen couldn’t have been a happy place in the latter half of June. Early in the month, the Yankees gave up on left-hander Tommy Layne who had struggled throughout May and had a 9.00 ERA in the current month up to that point. After that there was a revolving door policy with few of those who took a day out in the Pinstripes making much of an impact. Ben Heller, who did well last season, didn’t give up any runs but struggled to get anybody out as his WHIP in the above chart shows. Giovanny Gallegos and Ronald Herrera were ineffectual. The Yankees were going to have to dig a little deeper in the farm system.
Jonathan Holder, who had a good second half of 2016 and started well in 2017, saw his season begin to fall apart and found himself back on the shuttle to Scranton.
Fortunately, there were a few who showed promise. Tyler Webb was one of these. The tall left-hander couldn’t have expected to be with the Yankees at this stage. He had been claimed by the Pittsburgh Pirates as part of the Rule 5 draft arrangement in January but then returned to the Yankees when the Pirates couldn’t maintain a spot for him on their 40-man roster. He joined the Yankees big league club on the 22nd of the month and delivered well in his first 4 games to the tune of a 2.08 ERA and a .69 WHIP.
Domingo German was another young reliever who had 4 games in which he did well. Bryan Mitchell who has been back and forth, when fit, had a good game of long relief delivering 3 innings for 1 run against Houston.
Chad Green was perhaps the best of the bunch. Forced into long relief when injuries meant bullpen roles had to be reshuffled, he became one of the Yankees most used relievers in June, appearing in 9 games and keeping his WHIP below the 1 threshold. Pitching nearly 17 innings in the month, he became a vital component of the bullpen.
Sadly, the Yankees found that some of those who they felt would be the most dependable relievers this season were coming unstuck. Returning from injury, Aroldis Chapman was just as uneven when he came back as he had been in the games before his stint out. The same could be said of Dellin Betances but both Chapman and Betances looked significantly better than some of the other regulars.
Particularly poor were Tyler Clippard and Chasen Shreve. Now this is not so surprising with Shreve who is known to be uneven and streaky but much more was expected of Clippard and his 11.17 ERA on the month is particularly poor.
Adam Warren had been excellent prior to his injury and is expected to return very early in July but the Yankees bullpen has sprung many leaks and it will take more than one returning face to correct this ship.