With all these injuries, this season was never going to be straightforward, but the Yankees except for an initial stumble or two have handled the opening weeks with style. Let’s see who had the arms which led the way:
With CC Sabathia first suspended and then recovering from surgery, the Yankees starting rotation wasn’t always obvious and by the 3rd of April, they were calling up Jonathan Loaisiga who they had sent to Scranton just a few days before the end of Spring Training. Luis Severino who was expected to be the staff ace was unavailable and his prognosis became worse rather than better as time went along.
|New York Yankees 2019 – Pitching – Month – March and April|
By the end of April even without Severino, the Yankees were to have used 6 starters. The best of the bunch was a real surprise. There were times last year that I would have given up on Domingo German, but this year he looks like proving all his gainsayers wrong. He started five games and relieved in one, producing five wins and one loss and an earned run average of 2.56 (ERA). A team leading .85 WHIP emphasised just how well he was doing. When Sabathia bounced back and entered the rotation, he was on form too, but his efforts were hampered by too little run support. This left him with a 1-1 record in the Win-Loss column as the Yankees proceeded cautiously with him, allowing him just a fraction over five inning per start.
Another starter performing exceptionally in these weeks was James Paxton who struck out 51 in 34.2 innings across 6 starts. Masahiro Tanaka also added in six starts but was okay rather than overwhelming.
The starter who struggled most was the one who ended last season most consistently. J.A. Happ had 3 no-decisions, 2 losses and only 1 win. And his 4.68 ERA was not pretty.
These five “regulars” were supplemented by the aforementioned Loaisiga who in one relief performance and two starts represented his abilities well. His 2.70 ERA was perhaps a little fortunate (keep an eye on that WHIP column) but he produced 1 win and didn’t allow any losses.
As 2017 came to a close, Tommy Kahnle heated up and looked like a vital part of the Yankees’ relief machine. Throughout 2018, Kahnle looked a wreck and wound up spending most of the year at Triple-A Scranton. In Spring Training of 2019, the old Tommy was back, and he made his way onto the opening day roster. Since then he hasn’t looked back and in 12 appearances, he has given up only 4 hits and produced a 1.69 ERA and a .94 WHIP.
Aroldis Chapman no longer has the fastest fastball in the Majors, but he is doing more than respectably for the Yankees. His 2.38 ERA during this period meant that he gathered in his first 5 saves. Another crucial part of the line-up is the Yankees’ first ever player to wear “0” on his shirt – Adam Ottavino. He’s had a few wobbles through these first weeks but when he has been good, he has been very good.
Zack Britton (note the changed spelling) has been solid and his 3.00 ERA shows that. Luis Cessa is the player, so far, who is most likely to be called up in long relief and to mop up innings and he is doing okay in a difficult role.
Players that have been below par or less effective than we might have expected? Well, let’s begin with Jonathan Holder who has not been the same player he was in 2018. And bottom of the pile? Joe Harvey, Stephen Tarpley and Chad Green. Harvey and Tarpley are still making the adjustment from Triple-A standards to the Majors and time will tell but Green was great for the last year and more and is now simply awful. By the 24th of April, the Yankees had sent him down to Scranton for the coaches to look at his mechanics and since then things have begun to improve and there’s no question that the Yankees will bring him back in May. But giving up 14 runs in less than 8 innings leaves a huge question mark hanging over his future – the resolution of which is going to be by no means straightforward.
The Yankees rolled into May with starter Severino on the 60-day injured list, with Dellin Betances still injured, with Green watching video of his performances from last season, in Scranton, whilst he looked closely at his release point, and having claimed reliever Jake Barrett off waivers from Pittsburgh and with decisions to make whether he or Tarpley or Harvey were their best options for the lower end of the bullpen. With a team who were producing such good form and so many wins, they sure have a lot of questions still to answer.