The thought was, if the Yankees rotation stayed healthy, they would be able to perform. So far, in this young season, that hasn’t quite been the case. The Yankees starters have an ERA above 5, good for the bottom third in the American League. In fact, on an individual basis, only Masahiro Tanaka’s 3.06 ERA is saving the rest of the rotation from utter embarrassment.
They starters give up over a hit per inning while striking out less than one batter per inning. Even though they are stingy with their free passes, that’s still a terrible combination.
On the plus side, the rotation has mostly improved in their second and, in some cases, third starts of the season. That, however, doesn’t change the fact that Nathan Eovaldi and Luis Severino have taken steps back from their impressive second half 2015 performances and that Michael Pineda, finally healthy, is simply ineffective. In Tuesday’s game, Pineda’s third start of the season, he threw 97 pitches across 6.0 IP, giving up 7 hits but also notching 7 SO’s.
That the Yankees offense continues to struggle (1-for-7 with RISP, 2 runners caught stealing) wasn't Pineda’s fault, but the starters need to do their part. It isn't unreasonable to expect 7.0 IP per start from a 27 year old pitcher. That length will save the bullpen, dominant again in Tuesday’s game except for a slip up by the otherwise impressive Johnny Barbato, from the wear and tear that struck the likes of Chasen Shreve and Dellin Betances down the stretch in 2015.
The above stats don’t even include back-up starter Ivan Nova who, after losing out on the 5th starter spot in Spring Training, was sent to the bullpen where he has pitched in two games for a total of 5.0 IP and a 7.20 ERA. He last pitched on April 13 and may have found himself on Girardi’s no trust list.
The goal leaving Spring Training was health. That mission was mostly accomplished. Next up, it’s time for some stability and effectiveness on the pitching staff.