Through 26 percent of the season, the Yankees starting pitchers’ earned run average (ERA) sits at a whopping 4.88. That’s good for the 26th worst earned run average in the league. There are four teams with ERA’s worse than that of the Yankees. The list, accompanied by their records, is: Kansas City (4.92, 17-25), Boston (5.10, 22-22), Colorado (5.54, 15-27), and Minnesota (6.48, 15-27). Forget advanced metrics, this is atrocious. Think about what an ERA of 4.88 means: our starters are allowing three plus runs every six innings pitched. And yes, you guessed it, all of these aforementioned teams, including the Yankees, are in last place or second to last place in their respective divisions. So should we start to panic?
There are two ways that I can go with this. I can either look at the glass half-full or the more reasonable, glass half-empty approach. I am usually pretty positive when it comes to the Yankees, and I’ve tried to write about how excited I am and how there’s a lot of time to turn things around but it’s time to face the music. I love Andy Pettitte, but a 39-year-old is not going to fix all the issues that we have. We can only hope that he’s the best option as a number two starter. At best, Ivan Nova and Phil Hughes can turn the tide, but neither is a bona fide number two starter. We’ve looked at advanced pitching metrics, from PitchF/X, to selection, to command, to everything but the problem is this: our pitching staff isn’t that great.
But, for the sake of argument, let’s say that C.C. Sabathia, the yearly Cy Young candidate, pitches as well as he has in pinstripes. What if Hiroki Kuroda pitches a little better and is serviceable as a 3rd starter? It’s also not farfetched to think that Nova and Hughes will post sub-4.25 ERA’s on the year. And on top of all of that, Andy Pettitte brings experience and a bit of veteran savvy to the rotation. One would be hard pressed to imagine our staff getting any worse. Combine that idea with the knowledge that we are currently 22-21 with a +2 run differential, means we are still going to be competitive moving forward. The Yankees have also hit .223 with runners in scoring position and have been even worse over their last 76 at-bats with RISP yet we are still four games back in the loss column. With all this information that says the Yankees have been struggling there isn’t need to panic because things can get better.
Despite all this negativity, seems to be what I’ve focused on lately, we have a lot to look forward to if the Yankees are playing this “bad”. For instance, we have the 6th best bullpen ERA in the league. Other teams are due to struggle somewhat while the Yankees will assuredly hit better with RISP. We have integral parts of our team, David Robertson and Brett Gardner, on the disabled list. Now, I know that Robertson and Gardner can’t make up for everything, and it’s understandable to be worried at this point in time…I am. I’m worried we might not improve or get that trade we desperately need. But, we all need to calm down. Maybe this is a rebuilding period for us. Maybe it’s something else. Whatever it is, just don’t panic…yet.