Monday, November 18, 2013


It is a well-established maxim that in baseball, pitching wins. We all saw it clearly last season, as our starters and our bullpen failed us at key moments. As the Yankees front office is putting together the 2014 team, pitching has to be at the forefront of their work. Here are some key people that we should be keeping an eye on.

It goes without saying that the Yankees need to re-sign Hiroki Kuroda. Every year at this time, we debate about which players we should acquire, and whether or not they can handle the Bronx, whether or not they can continue to perform based on their current record, whether or not they can handle the AL East. Kuroda has done all of these, to the point where our ace, CC Sabathia, actually admitted that Kuroda was performing at one point in the 2013 season as the ace of the staff. Kuroda’s ERA in pinstripes over the last two seasons has been 3.32 and 3.31. With proper run support, that is enough to get you 20 wins. He has given up less than one home run per nine innings, and only two walks per nine innings during that time, which speaks to his consistency. Speaking of Sabathia, after him, the only guaranteed starter with more than one season of major league experience is Ivan Nova. That is not what you want at the top of the rotation. Kuroda’s signing has to be a top priority.

Even after signing Kuroda, the rotation is not strong enough. Most of us seriously doubt that they can run with the likes of the Red Sox, Tigers, and other American League juggernauts with that top 3. We like the possibility of Ervin Santana. In four of the last six seasons, he has put up an ERA below four and thrown 200 or more innings. Over the course of his career, he has 1.2 home runs, 2.8 walks, and 7.1 strikeouts per 9 innings. Most intriguing, he pitches extremely well against the Red Sox and Tigers, against whom we need big wins. Over the last 3 years, he is 2-0 with a 2.08 ERA and .175 BAA at Fenway Park and he is 1-1 with a 2.75 ERA and .237 BAA at Comerica Park. Big wins in those ballparks are worth gold. At age 30, he can round out the rotation very nicely for a long time.

The sad day arrived when we said goodbye to Mariano Rivera, but now it is time to find another closer. We all love David Robertson, but I agree with the sentiment that he may not be closer material. The Yankees need to look at Joe Nathan. After missing 2010 with Tommy John surgery, and a dreadful 2011 season, he has recovered nicely with two successful seasons for the Rangers. His statistics have improved over the last two years, recording 37 and 43 saves respectively, and posting ERA’s of 2.80 and 1.39 respectively. Closers have to be clutch, and against the most competitive teams in 2013 (Boston, Tampa, Detroit, Cleveland, and Oakland), he gave up only four earned runs over 16 innings (2.25 ERA) and converted eight saves in nine opportunities. Even at age 39, he will be in a position to hold down the big competitors while perhaps mentoring some rising talent like Mark Montgomery.

If you ask anyone paying attention to the Yankees’ situation, they will all tell you that there are many holes to fill in many positions and roles. Nevertheless, pitching is critical to winning on any ball club, and these are the guys that the Yankees need to chase.

--Ike Dimitriadis, BYB Writer
Twitter: @KingAgamemnon
My blog is: Shots from Murderer's Row

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