I saw an interview with Jorge Posada recently where he was asked about the Yankees present great turnaround and the bullpen’s contribution towards it.
Right away, Posada said that the key to the bullpen’s contribution was getting Tanyon Sturtze back from the DL. So, I thought, what do the numbers say towards this?
Sturtze’s first game back was on May 5th. To date, since then, he’s appeared in 8 games, logging 10.1 IP, allowing 6 hits and 1 walk – and yielding just 1 earned run. In addition, he’s fanned 7 of the 39 batters that he has faced. Most importantly, he’s been credited with 5 holds and his only “bad” stat in this run was a blown save on May 18th. However, that was the game where Posada could not snag the Tanyon’s third strike on Miguel Olivo that would have ended an inning and changed that “BS” into another hold.
Clearly, the stats back up Posada’s statement.
When the Yankees acquired Sturtze on May 15, 2004 from the L.A. Dodgers off their AAA (Las Vegas) roster, on another website, I wrote: “For guys his age or older, over the last three years, he’s been one of the worst pitchers in the AL (his league). He’s Jeff Juden like.” The next day, on the same site, I wrote: “You know, I keep looking and looking for a reason why maybe Sturtze could provide something positive to the Yankees this year. I cannot find anything close to a positive sign. Nada.”
However, things changed and on October 6th of last year, on that same site, I referred back to my initial reaction to the trade and followed up with:
I was not alone [with this type of reaction]. Others were more harsh. One night, on the Wally and The Keeg show on 1050 AM in NYC (ESPN Radio), the drive time jocks were ripping his name – - – - “It’s bad enough that your last name is Sturtze; but, then, your parents have to go out and name you Tanyon?”
Various message boards on the ‘net in some parts referred to his “deer in the headlights” look while pitching – and, his stat lines were not much prettier.
But, then, something happened. Reportedly, Mariano Rivera taught him the cutter. Down the stretch of the last month of the season, Sturtze began to dominate batters. Yankees manager Joe Torre began to trust him in pressure spots.
And, less than a year after the Yankees traded for Sturtze, he’s now one of the main keys to the Yankees bullpen success. This is truly an amazing story.