• Seems Like 2004-2007 All Over Again?

    Posted by on September 27th, 2010 · Comments (6)

    Via Tyler Kepner

    The biggest reason the Yankees faltered in the playoffs in the middle of the last decade was poor starting pitching. The same problem now threatens to keep them from repeating as World Series champions.

    This was not an issue late last season. The Yankees knew who they wanted on the mound, and in which order, with reasonable hope that those starters would deliver.

    The Yankees did try to make things easier. They added Javier Vazquez to their postseason threesome of C. C. Sabathia, A. J. Burnett and Andy Pettitte, and chose Phil Hughes to replace Joba Chamberlain as the young starter on an innings limit. Then, in July, they nearly traded their best hitting prospect, Jesus Montero, for Cliff Lee.

    Privately, the Yankees believed Vazquez could pitch well enough to be a No. 2, not a No. 4. Instead, he is an afterthought, doubtful to even have a place on the postseason roster. Hughes, despite a solid effort on short notice Sunday night, has a 5.61 earned run average in his last six starts and has not reached seven innings since before the All-Star break.

    Sabathia, Burnett and Pettitte went 8-2 with a 3.42 E.R.A. last postseason, essentially with 13 strong starts and 2 Burnett clunkers. But Burnett also won the pivotal postseason game, beating Philadelphia in Game 2 of the World Series after the Yankees had lost the opener to [Cliff] Lee. It was the only time the Yankees had trailed in any series, and they did not trail again.

    Can Burnett dazzle next month? He has been quite good against the Twins and the Rangers this season, with a 2.12 E.R.A. in five starts. But he is inconsistent — he allowed seven hits and seven runs in the Yankees’ 7-5 loss to Toronto on Monday. He is the kind of high risk/high reward pitcher the Yankees did not need to depend on during their run of four championships from 1996 through 2000.

    Pettitte was there then, of course, and he was as steely as ever last postseason. But he entered the 2009 playoffs at full strength. This summer, he missed two months with a strained groin muscle and has not thrown 80 pitches in a major league game since July 8.

    So much for the magic of giving Brian Cashman total autonomy on Yankees decisions back in October 2005…’cause it’s the same poop, different year, in Yankeeland this season when it comes to starting pitching. And, 2009 is starting to just look like a fluke.

    Comments on Seems Like 2004-2007 All Over Again?

    1. Evan3457
      September 27th, 2010 | 11:33 pm

      Oh, what a load.

      Pair it off.

      CC this season has outpitched CC last season.
      Ditto Pettitte.
      AJ is worse.
      Hughes has outpitched Joba, and even with his struggles (and nicely cherry picked ERA over 6 starts. Go back another 4 starts and it’s 4.50, good enough to win in the postseason…if they hit, and the bullpen works), he’s doing better than Joba was down the stretch.
      As bad as Vazquez is (and he’s been replaced by Nova, anyway) it’s still better than what they got from #5 last year).

      The starter’s ERA are down 0.22 from last season (the league is only down 0.04 as a whole), before AJ’s bombout
      And just over the horizon are a host of reinforcements, led by Lee on the free agent side, and by a wide variety of young arms on the prospect side, of which Nova is only the first.

    2. Raf
      September 27th, 2010 | 11:47 pm

      04: 4.99
      05: 4.87
      06: 4.73
      07: 4.80
      08: 4.49
      09: 4.65
      10: 4.21

      This year, the Yanks are 4th in the league in pitching, in 09 they were 6th, in 08 they were 7th…

      At any rate, Kepner could’ve done a little more research, unless he anticipated guys like Wang, Mussina, Johnson, etc, etc, etc not being as effective as they could or should’ve been…

    3. MJ Recanati
      September 28th, 2010 | 8:42 am

      @ Steve Lombardi:
      I don’t understand how the 2009 World Series could be viewed as a fluke. That just doesn’t make any sense at all.

    4. September 28th, 2010 | 9:27 am

      MJ Recanati wrote:

      @ Steve Lombardi:
      I don’t understand how the 2009 World Series could be viewed as a fluke. That just doesn’t make any sense at all.

      Never said Series. Said season. And, getting what they got out of Burnett in 2009, and having a solid rotation of three, is the possible fluke that I was referring to here.

    5. Corey Italiano
      September 28th, 2010 | 9:36 am

      @ Steve Lombardi:
      Looking at his baseball card, wouldn’t it seem like 2010 is the fluke for Burnett?

    6. MJ Recanati
      September 28th, 2010 | 10:00 am

      @ Steve Lombardi:
      You’re right, I misread what you wrote.

      I still don’t see how 2009 was the fluke, Burnett notwithstanding.

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