2:38 pm Apr. 17, 2012
Following Monday night's 7-3 loss to the Minnesota Twins, the Yankees' starters have an E.R.A. of 5.53, good for 28th out of 30 in Major League Baseball.
Is there for concern? That would be no.
For one thing, the Yankee starters, while sporting that bloated E.R.A., haven't pitched all that poorly. Their peripheral stats are quite good, with 20 walks and 57 strikeouts over 57 innings. For reference, the second-best starting pitching in baseball so far has come from the New York Mets, with virtually identical peripherals: 20 walks, 56 strikeouts in 59 2/3 innings. That's been good enough for them to pitch to a 2.26 E.R.A..
But even if the results don't begin to improve and match the peripherals, the Yankees are blessed with a ton of options. The main culprits haven't been Hiroki Kuroda (2.63 E.R.A.) or Ivan Nova (4.15 E.R.A.).
One of the offenders has been CC Sabathia, whose 6.75 E.R.A. is meaningless, given both his peripherals and the fact that he's CC Sabathia. He's obviously not going anywhere.
The others are Freddy Garcia, with a 6.97 E.R.A. through two starts, and Phil Hughes, with an E.R.A. of 9.00 through two starts. Let's quickly point out that two starts is way too small a sample size to be evaluating anyone. But what if their struggles continue?
It just so happens that the Yankees have a minor league phenom working his way through the system named Andy Pettitte, who threw four innings in his last start, and is roughly two weeks from returning. The Yankees also acquired Michael Pineda this winter, and he's begun throwing again after shoulder inflammation sidelined him at the start of the season.
The Yankees plan to be ultra-cautious with both pitchers—with so many other alternatives, that only makes sense—but the options don't end there. Current long man David Phelps, who has had a ton of success at Triple-A as a starter, is off to a 1.08 E.R.A. start with the Yankees, walking just two and striking uot nine in 8 1/3 innings. He'd be a rotation mainstay in most other organizations. Here, he's probably starting pitching option number eight.
So to put the Yankee starting pitching problem in perspective: The current group is a lot better than their E.R.A. at the moment. And if the Yankees get impatient, they'll have plenty of places to turn.