It wasn’t a terrible week in the Bronx. The Yankees went 4-3 on the week and there was much which left fans optimistic that the Bombers are coming out of the early season funk. Mark Teixeira is coming alive and Yangervis Solarte may in fact be the real deal. But on the mound… what a ride this is going to be.
Three of the starting five are on the DL. The Yankees are playing plug and play with a Who’s Who from the Yankees’ bullpen. If the old adage good pitching always beats good hitting is indeed true, how much longer do the Yankees stand a chance? The Bronx is Boiling, folks, and I need to blow some steam.
HOW LONG DO THE YANKEES HAVE ATOP THE AL EAST
Masahiro Tanaka may be the best pitcher in baseball. He has a WHIP that you need a microscope to read and has struck out 59 more batters than he has walked. In fact, he has walked only one more batter (7) than he has wins (6)! The truth of the matter, folks, is that as long as Tanaka stays healthy, the Yankees will be just fine.
CC Sabathia’s return is still up in the air. That is what I love most about Yankee fans and the New York media. A few short weeks ago, people wanted CC as far away from the mound and Yankee Stadium as possible. He has lost his velocity, they would say. He has pitched too many innings and is done, they would chime in. Now, all of a sudden our Yankees’ season hinges on when he can return to the rotation? Oh how quickly the wind blows.
I have been one of the few believers in CC since the beginning of the season. I believe, whether it is forced or plain old naivety, that CC is entering the next stage of his career, where he adjusts from a thrower to a pitcher. I hope that he has the ability to transform from a fearless flame thrower to a crafty pitcher. Once this knee is healed, he has proven in the past that he has the talent and ability to do so. The fact of the matter is that the AL East is not very strong this year. With the Yankees currently in first place, why rush CC back. As it stands right now, the Rays, Blue Jays, and Red Sox are separated by two games. The Yankees have time to make a few mistakes now if it means getting their one time ace healthy for the final leg of the marathon.
Michael Pineda is playing long toss, but again, how quickly perceptions change in the Bronx. Coming into this season, many were fed up with him, labeling him a fragile bust of a trade. He was in a three man competition down to the wire to claim the fifth starter spot. He pitched extremely well over a few games and all of a sudden he became the Yankees savior. Then, he gets caught cheating and then re-injures himself while suspended (All I could think about was Friday and the line “How do you get fired on your day off?”). Now all of a sudden everybody is counting on his return and fretting that it may take longer. Again, the Yankees are doing alright for now. We have six games against the Cubs and White Sox this week alone. Why rush things?
Hiroki Kuroda is having trouble with his consistency and Yankee fans are getting angry. Really? We are surprised that a guy who is a month older than myself (I’m 39, which explains the bitter old man rants I bring you every Monday) is having trouble pitching in one of the most power happy divisions in all of baseball?
Don’t get me wrong, I love Kuroda. For a year and a half, he was the safety net the Yankees needed. But at the end of the season, he fell off a cliff. If you expected more than a third or fourth starter in the rotation out of Kuroda, you should be blaming yourself. Right now, he is 3-3 with a nearly 5-1 K/BB ratio. Kuroda is going to have some rocky starts, but he still has the goods to win double digit games and step up while we are short a few starters.
Ivan Nova was a big blow and there is unfortunately no way around that. But injuries are part of the game. What the Yankees should have learned last season is being prepared for multiple injuries. Right now they are. The bullpen has a set of arms that have experience as starters and relievers. The last thought in anyone’s mind right now should be panic.
There is no need to even consider Adam Warren’s or Dellin Betances‘ return to the rotation. We are looking at the future of the Yankees 8th and 9th innings for a long time. With David Robertson, Bentances, Warren, Preston Claiborne, Matt Thornton, and even Matt Daley, the Yankees can tinker with the rest of the guys and not worry about wearing the back end of the bullpen down.
Vidal Nuno, David Phelps, Chase Whitley, and Alfredo Aceves can play mix and match as starters until the Yankees rotation is healthy and then hopefully one steps up and becomes the permanent fifth Yankees starter. The beauty of the whole bullpen is that should a Claiborne or newly recalled Jose Ramirez wear down, two of the better relievers in the system are waiting in the wings at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre in Danny Burawa and Mark Montgomery.
Sure, people bash the Yankees for having a depleted farm system, especially in the pitching department, but now is the prime opportunity to put up or shut up. The Yankees may have some forgotten names in the prospect department but they are blessed in having a plethora of swingmen pitchers that can get them through this rocky few weeks ahead. Have faith Yankees fans, this is a pitching staff that is fighting for their lives. These are pitchers who want to prove they belong. Be patient. Let’s just sit back and watch these guys fight until the Yankees are at full health come June.