October 2, 2010 23 Comments
In the immortal words of American idol host Ryan Seacrest “America, this is your bottom three.” For the New York Yankees the bottom three of their starting rotation this season has been about as stable as Lindsay Lohan in a rehab centre. This is no doubt going to leave the Yanks with some serious problems this coming post-season.
The Yankees have one of the most potent offense in the league, and possibly their most dangerous, top to bottom, in the last decade. The averages may not be the sexiest you have ever seen, but don’t let that fool you. Go down the line-up and there are no weak spots, well unless you’ve got Granderson facing a lefty. You know that when you have Lance Berkman batting 8th in your order you have something good going for you.
For teams with weaker starting pitching, during the regular season it is fine to rely on your offense to consistently outscore the opposing team. I understand that the name of the game is to outscore your opponent, but you know what I mean, right?
However, when playoff time rolls around, trying to outscore teams 8-6 and 9-7 on a consistent basis isn’t going to fly. Most likely, night in and night out you are going to be facing higher level pitching than in the regular season. No more seeing the abysmal rotations of the Baltimore Orioles or the and as the old adage goes, good pitching beats good hitting. Generally, for a team to go deep into October the pitching has to be strong. Imagine trying to outscore the Phillies in a series when you have to face Roy Halladay, Roy Oswalt, or Cole Hamels on any given night.
When you flip it around, despite the Yankees massive payroll, the best they can roll out is legit ace C.C. Sabathia, 38-year-old Andy Pettite, who has been solid this year but has just come back from injury, and the wild cards in Phil Hughes, A.J. Burnett and Javier Vazquez.
Phil Hughes was very good in April and May but since then he has had his fair share of problems. Since the all-star break he has posted a 4.96 earned run average, while going just 6 and 6. It will be a tough decision for manager Joe Giradi to decide on how much, he is going to use the inexperienced, 24-year-old Hughes, if at all
A.J. Burnett is supposed to be Robin to Sabathia’s Batman but that obviously hasn’t worked out the way the Yankees front office envisioned it would since he signed that lucrative 5 year $82.5 million contract a couple of years ago. Burnett has been atrocious this year and if not for the Yankees weak starting rotation there is no way that he would even be considered to start in October. Burnett is 10-15, with a 5.33 ERA (6.19 post all-star), a .286 opponent batting average, and his lowest strikeout total in the past 4 seasons (140 to date).
I guess when you consider Burnett and Hughes the 3rd slot in the Yankees rotation must go by default to Vazquez. Vazquez is now 34 and it looks like last season’s “rejuvenation” was no fluke. Vazquez has been great, especially post all-star break amassing, a 6.64 ERA, while holding opponents to a marvellous .301 batting average. Okay, I hope you can tell that I’m being sarcastic, but seriously, sometimes desperate times call for desperate measures and there is a possibility that Vazquez could be called on to start for the Yankees. I’m just not sure how bad that actually is compared to their other options because Vazquez has shown that he can still pitch at times this season.
There is also an issue that has not been an issue in the past decade for the Yankees, which is Mariano Rivera’s abnormal inability to lockdown games recently. Mariano Rivera is now 4 decades old and talks of him slowing down have been swirling around for the last few years. The difference is that those talks are finally coming to fruition, which is just another pin potentially bursting the Yankees World Series bubble in 2010.
Derek Jeter, Nick Swisher, Mark Teixeira, Alex Rodriguez, Robinson Cano, Curtis Granderson, Jorge Posada, Lance Berkman, Brett Gardner, and Marcus Thames. Are these guys going to be able to overcome the expected Yankee pitching troubles and sustain a deep post-season run?
Despite declining numbers from A-Rod and Jeter, it could very well be enough to overcome a Twins or Rangers matchup in the first round, who are teams also strapped for quality depth in their rotation. However, when it comes time to face a team with real pitching, I don’t think you will see the Yankees reeling off enough victories to take a 7 game series.
Even though it may be an early October exit for the Bronx Bombers, have no fear Yankee fans. The off-season will fly by like an elementary school kid’s summer after you overpay…err… acquire Cliff Lee.
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