Friday, July 12, 2019

Starting Pitchers!

Yes, we DO have them!

More or less.  Between them, the eight Yankees pitchers used to start or "open" have exactly 1 complete game.  None has averaged as many as six innings a start, though our one "completer," Masahiro Tanaka, has come close.

For all that, the staff has hung together remarkably well, compiling the sixth best ERA in the AL.

Throw in the expected new arm or two who Coops Cashman is diligently searching for, count on the experience gained by our young pitchers in the first half, and assess whether or not we'll see Luis Severino again this season, and I think we can safely conclude that...this can't last.

Good as this team has looked, a massive meltdown by the pitching—especially the starting pitching—could still prevent it from even reaching the Bud Selig Memorial One-Game Play-In Extravaganza and Barbecue Cook-Off.  And a massive meltdown is just as likely as anything else.


Masahiro Tanaka: B+

Tiger Tanaka has once again given us his all.  Now in his third year of pitching with his arm about to fall off, The Man Who Opted Out of Opting Out of New York has thrown our one shutout as well as our only complete game.  If we do make the playoffs, he's likely to pitch up to the 1.50 ERA he's recorded in 5 previous October starts, out of force of will if nothing else.

It's just a pity the stars have not aligned to match Tanaka's best years with some of our best teams.  He has done a terrific job of learn to pitch with limited stuff, as has a certain other starter we have.  But it's his arm we're worried about giving out, not his guts.  And even at his best, the sad fact is the Tiger just doesn't measure up to the aces of the other contenders at their best.

C.C. Sabathia: B—

What a marvelous farewell season for The Bear!  He's made the most of it, considering how much he has left.

Hey, the guy is a marvel.  We still love him and owe him for 2009...a debt which now, about $235 million later, I think we can consider paid.  The 8-4 playoffs record has also been beautiful.

But let's face reality:  the big guy has won all of 46 regular-season games in the last five-and-a-half years, and 1 playoff game since 2012.  I love him to death, but he has never really dealt with his weight and health problems (let's hope he has conquered his drinking problem), and he is one infield squib from retirement.

Domingo German: A—

Young Master Domingo is an overachiever, who has delighted us all with his progress. Though on a team that has more question marks than The Riddler's costume, he is just one more.

How to use him and not abuse him down the stretch is going to be a major test for Ma Boone.  But if he survives and we can plug him in for 5 in the postseason games—not expecting more out of him—he could surprise us.

Sap & Crapp—our new exacta!

Maple Sapling: B—

This is the part where, if I were a true beat writer, I would say,"Will the real James Paxton please stand up?"

But of course, we are seeing the real James Paxton, as HAL and Coops knew full well before they got him:  a supremely talented pitcher who cannot deliver that talent more than maybe two starts out of a scheduled five.  Injuries either keep him off the mount or dilute his performance.  They always have, they always will.

Right now, the guy who has never managed more than 160 innings in a season is at just over 5 a start, with the highest WHIP on the starting staff (that's NOT a good thing, Martha).  On the other hand, he is leading the team in strikeouts and in the Year of Super Happy Fun Ball has allowed a mere 10 dingers somehow.

If all the stars align, and Sap can stay on the mound and stay filthy come October, it could be big...but doesn't this sound like the description of every other Yankees starter?  Beyond that, he's symptomatic of how HAL's alligator arms keep sticking the fan base with his great-great-great-great-granchildren's  cool new robotic conversion.

Because HAL doesn't want to spend the money, we pass on the top starters:  Verlander, Sale, Scherzer, etc.  It's as simple as that.  And in a sport where the postseason is longer and tougher than ever, that will keep us out of the winner's circle, barring a great big break.  (Probably in the arm of another team's ace.).

Crapp: D+

Hey, I'll admit it:  looking at his track record and how he pitched for us last year, I thought this was a smart move, better than getting Corbin.  After all, he's past his arm miseries, he's a canny veteran, and surely he will just get better and better because the laws of human biological decline have been repealed, right?


I think the brilliant decision by MLB to go with Super Happy Fun Ball ("Do not tease Super Happy Fun Ball!") has really hurt him—20 homers so far, in just under 90 innings.  He's looking like a good bet to surpass last year's career high of 27 (damn, why didn't I notice that?).  Right now, his ERA is also at a career high, at 5.02.

This, we could have got from Sonny Gray.

Chad Green: D

Is he a starter?  An opener?  A reliever?  A bird, a plane?

One thing for sure is, he ain't faster than a speeding bullet anymore.

Hey, I like Green, and he's done everything he's been asked without complaint.  But he took a step back last year, and now he's taken a giant leap back from his exquisite, 2017 self.

Yes, obviously his 2.53 ERA in his 7 openings in seven shows, in Philly, Boston or Baltimo'e, is better than his awful, 7.29 ERA as a reliever.  But it's a very small sample size—less than 11 innings—and he's already surrendered 2 home runs in THAT role.

We need Chad to stop being hung out there (waiting for that one, weren't you?) and get back to giving us crucial, 6th or 7th inning interventions.  But who will fix him?

Assorted Pocket Lint: D

I guess Chance is never going to get a chance, Lasagne has disappeared down the well we laughingly call the IL, and Tarpley did his one opener and got a quick hook.  Eh.

So what's next?  Deivi?  And speaking of the well, what DID happen to Mike King, who might have saved this whole season?

Who knows?  All we can safely say is that, right now, even as we ponder the future, vexed to nightmare by a dealing Cashman some rough beast, its hour come round at last, slouches toward the Bronx to disappoint us all.

Next up: Relief pitchers!


JM said...

Last night, Lance Lynn became baseball's first 12-game winner this season.

Life isn't fair.

Anonymous said...


I think this goes to what we all know. The problem isn't so much who Cashman brings here as what happens to pitchers after they arrive. So he identifies a Lance Lynn, pulls off a trade, and has "mixed" results. Lance goes somewhere else and like magic becomes the pitcher Cashman thought he was getting.

I hope this is Rothschild's last year as pitching coach.

Doug K.

HoraceClarke66 said...

Spot on, Doug K. I keep saying it: Nobody gets better. Guys come up from the minors and shine for awhile, or guys come over from other teams and maybe they're good, maybe not.

But nobody—especially the pitchers—ever gets "fixed," the way they do on other teams. Rothschild is useless.

HoraceClarke66 said...

Spot on, Doug K. I keep saying it: Nobody gets better. Guys come up from the minors and shine for awhile, or guys come over from other teams and maybe they're good, maybe not.

But nobody—especially the pitchers—ever gets "fixed," the way they do on other teams. Rothschild is useless.

HoraceClarke66 said...

BUT, I did hear this direct from the mouth of Frederic Morton, a fine writer who died a couple years ago, and who was the author of "The Rothschilds."

Morton said he was once introduced to Groucho Marx by a woman who said, "This is Frederic Morton. He wrote the Rothschilds."

He said Groucho said at once: "Did they write back?"

He swore it was a true story.

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