As a New York Yankees fan, do you ever get nervous when the sixth inning comes around? Do you start counting the outs until the ball gets handed to Mariano Rivera? I know I do.
So I did some research into the matter, just to see how the Yankees’
starters actually do in the sixth. What I found diminished my fears in some regards, and elevated them in others.
Hiroki Kuroda has a 2.84 earned run average in the sixth inning. That was not surprising, as he is currently the Yankees steadiest starting pitcher. He has not walked a batter in the sixth this year either, indicating that he is still in command of his pitches.
Moving to CC Sabathia, the news is still good. His earned run average is an even three in the sixth. But opponents’ batting average is at .304. So why is this? Is it a sign of fatigue creeping in? Not likely, since Sabathia can throw 150 pitches if the Yankees need them. No, it’s more likely a function of teams getting into the third time around in their batting order and zoning in on how the pitches are moving.
The concern begins when you get to Andy Pettitte and Phil Hughes. Hughes, for example, has an ERA of 5.79 in the sixth inning. He has also given up two home runs in that inning which indicates his pitches might be getting up. The key for Hughes is always staying away from the home run ball.
The biggest concern thus far in the sixth is with Andy Pettitte. His earned run average is currently 7.20 and opponents are batting .318 against him in that inning. The solution is possibly an extra day off between starts. Or, maybe an extra day every third start if he needs it. Certainly, manager Joe Girardi is monitoring the situation closely.