February 13, 2013; Tampa, FL, USA; New York Yankees starting pitcher Andy Pettitte (46) throws a pitch during spring training at George M. Steinbrenner Field. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

Are the New York Yankees Starting Pitchers Underrated?


When you think of the New York Yankees and pitching, typically there haven’t been a positives in the past few years. However, if we just look at not only last season, but the postseason, we’ll see that the Yankees do have one of the most solid top three pitchers in a rotation. Not many teams have a lot of dual threats as a one and two, but the Yankees have landed on three. Even with CC Sabathia and Andy Pettitte sharing time on the disabled list last season, Hiroki Kuroda stepped up in a big way for the team.

Who says they can’t do it again in 2013?

These four guys will look to do some serious damage to batters in 2013. Mandatory Credit: John Munson/THE STAR-LEDGER via USA TODAY Sports

One of the Yankees’ biggest surprises in 2012 was more or less the decision from Pettitte to come out of retirement. Now that he’s back, he did fairly well in the 12 games pitched in 2012. Another surprise, while not as big as Pettitte coming out of retirement was how well Kuroda pitched in transition from the NL. At one point last season amid his struggles, Kuroda was by far the best pitcher in the rotation next to Sabathia and that’s something the Yankees have needed for a long time, a solid one-two duo that isn’t just a one season fluke.

Despite having elbow issues and being placed on the disabled list twice, Sabathia still a characteristically good year last season. The workhorse and undisputed ace of the staff was able to post a 15-6 record with a 3.38 ERA and struck out 197 batters in exactly 200 innings of work. Behind him, Kuroda had a 16-11 record with a 3.32 ERA and struck out 167 batters in 219.2 innings pitched, the most innings pitched in his career. Pettitte only made 12 starts due to a Casey Kotchman line-drive breaking his ankle, but still went 5-4 with a 2.87 ERA and struck out 69 batters in 75.1 innings pitched.

We know what types of pitchers these three guys are. They’re solid, can last long into games, and on other teams, would easily be the first or second man in a rotation. While they certainly aren’t the flashiest bunch looking at teams like the San Francisco Giants, Los Angeles Angels and the newly formed Toronto Blue Jays and Los Angeles Dodgers, the Yankees have finally found a niche that I think goes unnoticed with their top three pitchers.

Even looking beyond those three, Phil Hughes still plays a big part for this rotation. His success in 2012 reflects on the fact that despite his early career struggles, that he’s finding his way as a starting pitcher. Even in the fifth man spot, the fight between Ivan Nova, David Phelps and an eventual Michael Pineda is one that most teams I think would envy. Pineda had a great 2011, Nova did struggle but I expect him to rebound and Phelps has just gotten a taste of what is to come for him. There’s a lot of young potential in the latter half of this rotation.

So yes, I will go on to say that the Yankees’ top three pitchers fly under the radar as a whole. They’re older veterans yes, but looking just last season, they’re pitching just as good as some of the younger guys. The playoffs were a huge example of how well this pitching unit gelled together. I don’t see why they’d fall apart in 2013 and I expect the Yankees to be a team focused more on this pitching development as they have a good thing going.

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  • Bill B

    Wow. You surprise me Mr. Orr. You wrote what I had in my heart. I agree with your whole piece. Maybe I will grow to respect your other pieces even when I disagree. Fine job. Factual. Go Bombers.

    • Benjamin Orr

      Thanks Bill, glad you enjoyed it.