David Phelps may have two losses, but you certainly can't hold that against him. (Image: Noah K. Murray/THE STAR-LEDGER via US PRESSWIRE)

What the postseason has said about Yankee pitching

For those of you who are Iron Maiden fans, I’m sure you’re familiar with the song ‘Aces High‘. That title describes exactly the New York Yankees‘ pitching performances thus far in the postseason. The starting pitching alongside solid efforts from the bullpen has shown us that despite the rocky regular season, they all remain calm under pressure. Take any loss that one of our pitchers has suffered in the postseason so far. Andy Pettitte‘s loss, David Phelps‘ two losses and Hiroki Kuroda‘s loss were by no means their faults, especially in Kuroda’s case. Sure, the box score says Kuroda gave up three earned runs. Yes he did, but those were runs that should not have scored. Phelps and Pettitte’s losses? The lack of offense, which has been going on much longer than any Yankee fan would like. So, what does this say about our pitching now? They’re throwing some of their best stuff in some of the most crucial games and at the end of the day they have nothing to show for it.

Andy Pettitte will get another shot at 20 postseason wins if the ALCS goes five games. (Image: Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports)

There’s not one appearance by anyone in the pitching staff, whether a starter or reliever, that I had a problem with. CC Sabathia recorded two huge wins, one being a series clincher in Game Five of the ALDS. His next start will be Wednesday on regular rest.

Here’s a breakdown of the four starters in the postseason thus far:

  • Sabathia: 2-0, 1.53 ERA, 0.85 WHIP, 17.2 IP, 16 K’s, 3 BB’s, 1 CG, .190 BAA
  • Pettitte: 0-1, 3.29 ERA, 1.32 WHIP, 13.2 IP, 10 K’s, 4 BB’s, .255 BAA
  • Kuroda: 0-1, 2.81 ERA, .069 WHIP, 16 IP, 14 K’s, 1 BB, .175 BAA
  • Phil Hughes: 0-0, 1.35 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, 6.2 IP, 8 K’s, 3 BB’s, .167 BAA

You really couldn’t ask for much better starts from any four guys. Kuroda actually had a perfect game through five innings in Sunday’s loss. In that game, it’s a perfect example of how even though Kuroda gave up three runs, that the loss was not his fault. In the 7th inning, Quintin Berry and Miguel Cabrera got on base. While yes, this was completely on Kuroda, what came next was not. Prince Fielder would strike out, giving the Yankees the opportunity to turn a double-play and keep the scoreless tie. Well, that nearly happened. Delmon Young hit a ball to Jayson Nix, who threw it to Robinson Cano to perform a routine 6-4-3 double play, but Cano bobbled the ball when he went to throw it. While Cabrera was out at second, Berry scored and no error was called. The two runs that scored later came in the 8th inning. One run scored on a controversial call that Joe Girardi was tossed for and later said the MLB needs instant replay.

That’s just one example of how the Yankees’ starters, and well pitchers in general, have been victims of their teammates and not the opposition. All ALDS long and even into the ALCS, the Yankees have not hit the ball. Outside of the injured Derek Jeter, the clutch Raul Ibanez and the contributions from Mark Teixeira and Ichiro Suzuki, this is not the team we knew a month and a half ago. Curtis Granderson struggled in parts of 2012, Cano seems to have forgotten how to hit as has Nick Swisher, and Alex Rodriguez continues to do nothing along with several other teammates.

All this frustration is felt by us as the fans, but you have to expect some of the pitchers to feel it too. They pitch in the clutch and hold the Yankees in games for seven, eight innings and for what? A loss? The bullpen, despite the inconsistency in the latter half of the regular season, has really held their own. Girardi has been able to use them when able and they’ve delivered. David Robertson has been a particular favorite in the postseason as he’s pitched 5.1 innings while only allowing two hits and has struck out six.

Phelps and Derek Lowe are the only two relievers that have given up any runs. Combined they’ve given up five runs in 3.1 innings pitched which is far from great, but on the grand scale of things, it’s hardly noticeable. The bullpen combined, has given up five runs in 18 innings, which translates into a 2.50 ERA. That’s incredible.

The postseason has shown us that the Yankees’ pitchers stepped it into gear and fast. They were a little suspect heading into September, but have fully recovered. It’s a shame that such quality starts have really gone to waste by the way these games have played out. Hughes will take on Justin Verlander in Game Three. While Hughes held his own in the ALDS against the Baltimore Orioles, he’ll have a tough task ahead of him in Detroit. Can he overcome it? Yes. Will the offense be there to support him? That’s to be determined.

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