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Wednesday, September 12, 2012

THE IMPORTANCE OF ANDY PETTITTE AND IVAN NOVA

One of the reasons why the Yankees have been playing lackluster baseball for the past 50 days, give or take, is because the starting pitching has been sub par. The Yanks once held a 10 game lead and everything looked great. Now that their lead is trimmed to one game (it has been tied on a few occasions) thanks to going 22-27 from July 19- now, the team is searching for answers.

In this stretch of 49 games, the Yankees as a team have pitched to a 4.23 ERA. That’s not horrible by any means, but it’s certainly not as good compared to the 3.72 mark they posted in the first 91 games of the season.
Not everyone has pitched poorly during this period, to be fair. Hiroki Kuroda has pitched to a 2.31 ERA in that span, and Phil Hughes has pitched to a 3.98 ERA as well. Unfortunately, those are where the positives end.

Though Kuroda and Hughes have been awesome and decent, respectively, there are others who haven’t been as fortunate. Freddy Garcia is one of those guys, as he’s pitched to a 5.12 ERA in his last 10 starts. He’s actually been worse than that, really, as he’s failed to complete five innings in any of his last four starts. They got five pretty good starts out of him from July 24-August 15, but he’s really struggled since. As I said in my recap titled YANKEES WIN BIG OVER ORIOLES, Freddy’s just about out of gas. A transition to the bullpen makes the most sense once everyone gets healthy.
David Phelps has been a culprit as well. Since July 19 he has pitched to an even 4.00 ERA, though he’s only made six starts in that span. His last three outings have hurt the team, however, as he’s pitched to a 7.20 ERA while failing to get out of the fifth inning in his last two starts. What’s even uglier is that he’s given up five homers in that 15 inning stretch (3 HR/9 inning rate) of games. Again, like Garcia, a transition to the bullpen makes sense, though I’d like for Phelps to pitch in more important innings, while Garcia takes over as the mop-up man in place of Derek Lowe.

The Yankees have had three different starters spend time on the DL in this 49-game stretch. CC Sabathia is one of those pitchers, as he missed two weeks from August 9-August 24. He has come off the DL since and has not been the CC we know and love. Andy Pettitte was placed on the DL in late June after breaking his fibula on a line drive come backer off the bat of Casey Kotchman, and he’s inching closer to a return. Finally, Ivan Nova was placed on the DL on August 22, but he has recently been activated and could be inserted back into the rotation in near future. The Yankees could really use the latter two of the trio, considering the starting staff as a whole has been suspect.

I’m well aware that Ivan Nova struggled pretty mightily before he landed on the DL, but hopefully the time off refreshed him both mentally and physically. Pettitte’s rehab process has seemed to go well, too, but my fingers remain crossed. In the ideal world, both of these guys come back, prove they’re healthy and effective, and both are a part of the postseason rotation. I would like Nova to out-pitch Hughes when he comes back, simply because I like Hughes in the bullpen more than I do Nova. Of course these days it’s a case of “if” the Yankees make the playoffs than a “when,” but if both of these guys pitch like they’re capable of, we’re almost assured of October baseball.




--Jesse Schindler, BYB Lead Staff Writer
Follow me on Twitter @SchindlerJesse


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