MLB: Analysis of Yankees Pitching Staff
As we conclude the first few weeks of the 2014 season, the Yankees are leading the AL East at 11-8. The bullpen entered this season with high hopes, especially after gaining Masahiro Tanaka as a pitcher. The pitching staff lost its closer, David Robertson, to the DL at the start of the season, but there are many encouraging factors that can be pulled from what we have seen so far.
Sabathia is currently even with two wins and two losses. Entering the season, his weight loss had raised some questions as to whether or not it is helping his pitching. One negative result has been a slower fastball. His ERA is currently at 5.19. The pitcher is eleventh place on the club’s all-time strike out list at 1023 K’s, trailing Alphonso Downing by five.
Kuroda’s ERA is slightly below Sabathia’s, at 4.07 with two wins and one loss. The right-handed pitcher entered the MLB in 2008, joining the Dodgers. The transition from pitching in Japan resulted in a rough season, landing Kuroda on the DL with an injured foot. Eventually, he improved to a 3.07 ERA in the 2011 season before being added to the Yankees roster in 2012.
Nova was pulled from the game against the Rays due to elbow soreness. It was a weak game for the pitcher, as Tampa would go on to dominate the Yankees 16-1. The performance would allow eight runs and a career-high four homeruns, escalating his ERA to 8.27. Nova has been placed on the 15-day disabled list due to a partial tear in his right elbow’s UCL.
Tanaka has seen a lot of scrutiny and analysis this season. As a former Japanese player there were many adjustments that had to be made, and so far he has been performing exceptionally well. Currently at two wins, no losses, and an ERA of 2.05, the starter has some of the best stats among his fellow starters. While playing the Cubs, he was able to strike our ten in eight innings. He is the first starter since Randy Johnson to throw at least eight scoreless innings while striking out ten. He also broke a club record after earning 28 strikeouts in his first three starts. Tanaka is a promising starter in this rotation, who has sparked a lot of discussion over his splitter.
As new addition to the Yankees pitching staff, the hard-throwing right-hander earned his first win in the Bronx April 10. Pineda got himself into a bit of controversy after pitching against the Red Sox. Shiny substance had been spotted on his hand three innings into the game, but when asked about it he stated that it was just dirt. No actions were taken by the MLB to place a suspension. Many of his years have been spent in the minors, with one year in the majors under his belt, after playing for Seattle in 2011. Pineda currently has an ERA of one, two wins and one loss.
Thornton is a new addition, after being obtained in the off-season. The lefty spent his first to years with the Mariners, moving on to eight with the White Sox and roughly half a season with Boston. Currently at a 2.70 ERA, his career total is a 3.53.
Going into the season, Phelps was among the top candidates for a starter role, but beat out by Pineda. He currently holds a 4.66 ERA with a save this season against the Red Sox. Phelps was removed from the game against Tampa on Friday after being nailed by a line drive, but is still available serving as a great candidate at the reliever spot.
Warren is another contender for that fifth spot in the rotation. He holds a 2.79 ERA on the season and a 1.14 WHIP. Making his major league debut in 2012 with the Yankees, he only saw 2.1 innings pitched before rejoining Scranton Wilkes-Barre. The following season he returned to the Yankees to put up a 3.39 ERA.
Left-hander Nuno returned to the Yankees roster this season. He currently holds a 6.75 ERA and 1.82 WHIP. Nuno made his first start of the season against the Rays, after three relief appearances prior.
The right-hander has made multiple relief appearances this season. In 2011, Betances saw 2.2 inning pitched for the Yankees, racking up a 6.75 ERA. He then returned to the minors that season, joining Scranton Wilkes-Barre in 2013, and once again the Yankees further into the season.
The loss of Mariano Rivera created a large gap in the bullpen, but Robertson is the best candidate for the closing position. Robertson is currently on the 15-day DL, expected to return on Tuesday. In his place Kelley has assumed the role of closer. Robertson is recovering from a grade 1 groin strain. His first appearance with the Yankees was in 2008, putting up a 5.34 ERA over 30.1 innings pitched. In 2012 the pitcher took a visit to the DL with a strained left oblique, adding up to only two career trips to the disabled list. Robertson’s career ERA is currently at 2.74.
Kelley has seen time at the closer position in Robertson’s absence. As a part of the Seattle organization until 2012, he finished the season with a 3.25 ERA. This season, he holds a 1.86 ERA and 0.83 WHIP.
Infielder Dean Anna made a pitching appearance Saturday night against the Rays. He gave up two runs and three hits in the eighth inning, but managed to throw well, considering his pitching career has been rather non-existent.
First baseman Mark Teixeira returned from the 15-day DL, and David Robertson is set to return on Tuesday. Ivan Nova’s return status is to be determined.