Making Sense Of The Recent Starting Pitching Slide

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So last night’s game against the Red Sox didn’t go so well. If you like to torture yourself, you are more than welcome to check out Bobby’s recap of the debacle. Masahiro Tanaka’s woeful performance is the most alarming takeaway from the game. It was a historic outing, and not in the good way. Here is a note from the Yes Network’s booth statistician James Smyth:

Unfortunately, Tanaka’s outing doesn’t stand alone. It is part of an uneasy trend we’re seeing as the month of July comes to an end. Putting this downslide in some context, here are a couple stats summing up the past week from Katie Sharp:

None of this is good and it is extremely frustrating to watch. It is totally understandable for Yankees fans to voice their displeasure and demand improvements to the clear weakness of the team. Despite their clear intentions of trying to improve the rotation in the offseason, the Yankees are in the same position as they were in the winter: searching for rotation help.

With all of that said, it is only a week of poor performance. Prior to this five game stretch, the Yankees rotation was pitching well during the month of July with a 2.88 ERA, .244 BAA, 25.3 K% and a 5.4 BB%. We’ve seen this rotation play to their capabilities for long stretches of time. One of the main reasons the team was able to survive that horrible stretch of injuries earlier in the year was the work of the starters.

It is important to note that over a season of 162 games pitching will go into slumps just like offenses will go into slumps. While it is extremely difficult to quantify this concept, there is something to members of a unit feeding off one another and sharing a rhythm. In addition, the Yankees are currently facing explosive offenses. They’re not facing the Royals and Orioles. They’re going up against two of the Top 5 offenses in the league. It would be a major feat to keep these two lineups in check over the course of a series especially considering the rate at which balls are flying out of the ballpark this year.

It is also important to briefly discuss the idea of trading for a starting pitcher. Yes, they need to acquire a starter. While this is the case, whoever the team brings in won’t magically alter the performance of the rest of the rotation. It may certainly provide a boost, but the remaining starters will need to pitch well for this team to accomplish their ultimate goal. The guys currently in the locker room are the ones that are going to get this done. That may scare some of you reading this, but there is enough evidence over the course of the season to suggest they are capable of doing that.

The recent frustration of the fan base and the team regarding the starting rotation is justified. It sucks to go through. At the moment, though, it is just a week of poor outings. This stretch didn’t just wake the Yankees up to the idea that they need help. It has been clear for a while that the rotation needs at least one starter and possibly two (and a reliever). The front office will address their pitching.

Despite the recent issues, the Yankees still hold the best record in baseball. They have a large enough cushion to fix whatever is ailing them as they head towards the playoffs. The current starters have time to get their act in order for the season that matters the most. The sky isn’t falling. The Yankees pitching will get better than what we’ve seen in recent times.

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2 Comments

  1. daryl bennett

    Let’s not downplay the fact that the teams we play in the post season will all presumably have power lineups, exlcuding tampa Bay.
    And second, they didn’t contain the opposing offenses in a single game, nevermind the entire series.

    Do you seriously have any confidence in one of these players shutting down an offense in October?

    • Randy

      Yes. And they don’t really need to shut them down if we’re being honest. They can keep them in the game and let the offense and bullpen do the rest. They’re more than capable of doing that.

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