Earlier, we detailed how the decline in the Yankees offense has contributed to the team’s current 5-10 stretch. It should be noted, however, that although the 4.73 runs/game scored over that span represents a significant drop off for the Yankees, it still ranks above the league average of 4.52 runs/game. So, all of the blame can’t be placed on the lineup.
Since May 9, the Yankees have posted an ERA of 4.95, which has caused their season rate to increase a full half run from 3.42 to 3.93. More than aggregate poor performance, however, the inconsistency of the staff (and particularly its more reliable members) is what has contributed to the recent downturn.
Yankees’ Starters (May 9 to May 23)
|Phil Hughes||17 2/3||3||1||1||1||18||5||19||3.06||1.358|
|AJ Burnett||17 2/3||3||1||0||2||12||11||25||1.02||2.038|
|Andy Pettitte||11 1/3||2||1||1||1||5||5||11||7.15||1.412|
|Sergio Mitre||9 1/3||2||0||0||1||7||3||9||11.57||1.286|
Of the 15 starts since May 9, only six have met the loose criteria of a quality start (at least six innings and no more than three earned runs). Ironically, Javier Vazquez has been the only Yankee starter to record two quality starts (as well as two wins, although one was in relief), with the remaining four permanent members of the rotation each recording only one. From those six quality starts, the Yankees earned four victories: in one, the bullpen blew a lead (vs. Boston on May 18), while in the other, the Yankees were shutout(vs. Detroit on May 12). Of course, that means the Yankees were only able to win one of the other nine “non quality” outings.
A.J. Burnett’s May 9 outing against the Red Sox (8ER 4 1/3 IP), which was the start of the current downturn, was the worst outing that the Yankees had to endure. Unfortunately, it wasn’t much worse than his May 19 start against the Rays (6ER, 6 1/3 IP), which also placed the Yankees in an early hole against a division rival.
Burnett hasn’t been the only culprit. More surprising have been the two meltdowns of the usually reliable C.C. Sabathia. In key battles against fellow aces Justin Verlander and Johan Santana, Sabathia yielded six runs in each game, effectively giving the Yankees little chance in either game.
Andy Pettitte also chipped in with a stinker when he yielded six earned runs to the Rays in only five innings. In Burnett’s and Pettitte’s games against the Rays and Sabathia’s game against the Mets, the offense rallied late, but could not overcome the holes created by each respective starter.
Even Phil Hughes, who had been near perfect until his last two starts, has had two hiccups. In 10 2/3 combined innings against the Red Sox and Mets, Hughes surrendered 9 ER runs, which more than doubled his season total up until that point.
Yankees’ Bullpen (May 9 to May 23)
|David Robertson||6 1/3||0||0||0||0||8||4||4||2.84||1.263|
|Joba Chamberlain||6 1/3||1||1||0||0||11||1||7||1.42||1.263|
|Boone Logan||6 1/3||0||0||0||0||2||3||9||0||1.895|
|Chan Ho Park||4 1/3||0||0||0||1||1||0||9||0||2.077|
|Mariano Rivera||4 1/3||0||1||1||1||2||1||5||10.4||1.385|
|Romulo Sanchez||3 2/3||0||0||0||0||3||1||1||7.36||0.545|
|Damaso Marte||2 1/3||0||0||0||1||1||2||3||0||2.143|
While the starting staff has put the Yankees behind the eight ball in most of their losses during the current 15 game slump, the bullpen has also added some fuel to the fire. Incredibly, two of the main arsonists have been Mariano Rivera and Joba Chamberlain. Both pitchers teamed up for a pair of blown saves just two games a part (May 16 vs. Minnesota and May 18 vs. Boston), which perhaps staggered the team and set the stage for the following disappointing series against the Rays and Mets.
Joba and Mo weren’t the only ones who have failed to provide relief during the Yankees’ downturn. After not surrendering a home run in relief all of the last season, Chan Ho Park has been reverting to the mean in a big way by yielding five homeruns this season, including three since returning from the DL on May 17. Fellow offseason acquisition Boone Logan has also had a recent run of futility. In his six appearances since May 9, Logan has surrendered at least one run in four.
While Mariano’s rocky week is sure to be just a blip, and Joba’s meltdown against Boston likely to be more an exception than the rule, the Yankees’ weak middle relief is more of a long-term concern. Having said that, the pending return of Alfredo Aceves, along with the re-emergence of David Robertson (a bullpen bright spot over the past two weeks with 6 2/3 scoreless innings), should be enough to fortify the bullpen.
Similarly, the improved performance of Javier Vazquez should bode well for the long-term success of the rotation, which is unlikely to sustain its recent struggles. Unlike on offense, the only real changes the Yankees need to consider are the more cosmetic replacements of Park and Logan, whose checkered pasts give little reason to expect a marked improvement. Otherwise, the team’s efforts would be better spent trying to sure up the offense with an addition or two.