To wrap up what I started last week, today we build a pitching staff of one-and-done Yankees pitchers. I’ll put together my five man rotation, seven arm bullpen, and a bunch of honorable mentions. Oh, and as I forgot to mention last week: I’m only considering players from my lifetime (I was born in 1990). With that, away we go:
Starting Rotation (5): Bartolo Colón, Jon Lieber, Brandon McCarthy, Lance Lynn, Jake Westbrook
Bartolo Colón’s career sputtered after he won the 2005 AL Cy Young Award. A myriad of health issues resulted in Big Sexy making just 47 starts from 2006 through 2009. After that, he didn’t make a single start in 2010. Fortunately, that wasn’t the end of the righty’s career. He made a triumphant return with the 2011 Yankees, winning a bullpen job out of camp before joining the rotation in late April. Overall, Colón threw 164 1/3 innings and recorded an impressive 4.00 ERA (95 ERA-) and 3.83 FIP (91 FIP-). That season with the Bombers was the jumpoff for his late career resurgence.
Jon Lieber underwent Tommy John surgery in late-2002, and although he was set to miss all of 2003, the Yankees signed him to a two-year contract. The bet paid off, as Lieber’s one season in pinstripes — 2004 — was solid. Though he got off to a rough start, he settled in during the second half. After a 4.77 ERA in the first half, Lieber closed out the year with a 3.94 ERA the rest of the way. The righty also pitched well in the playoffs: in three starts (21 innings), he had a 3.43 ERA, though he took the loss in Game 6 against the Red Sox in the ALCS.
The Yankees acquired Brandon McCarthy in early-July 2014. The tall and lanky right-hander was great down the stretch: he posted a 2.89 ERA and 3.22 FIP in 14 starts (90 1/3 innings), though unfortunately it wasn’t enough to get the Yankees back into the playoffs that year. It did land McCarthy a nice contract with the Dodgers after the season, at least.
I’m still mad that the Yankees didn’t bring back Lance Lynn (only half-kidding). Lynn was terrific for the Rangers last year after pitching decently for the Bombers in late-2018. The Yankees picked up Lynn from the Twins for Tyler Austin at the deadline that year and the burly right-hander pitched 11 games (9 starts) and had a 4.14 ERA (2.17 FIP!). He did get wrecked in relief of Luis Severino in Game 4 of the ALDS vs. Boston, although now we (still) wait to find out the extent of Boston’s cheating that season.
Lastly, what could have been for Jake Westbrook had he not been traded? He was part of the David Justice trade, so I’m sure the Yankees don’t have too many regrets. After all, Justice was a big part of that 2000 World Champion team. Still, Westbrook went on to have a nice career with Cleveland and St. Louis after pitching just three games for the Yankees. Honestly, I have no recollection of Westbrook actually debuting with the Yankees. I had assumed they dealt him while he was still a prospect in the minors.
Honorable Mentions: Esteban Loaiza, Denny Neagle, Jaime Garcia, Cory Lidle
Bullpen (7): Kerry Wood, Chris Hammond, Jesse Orosco, LaTroy Hawkins, Luis Ayala, Octavio Dotel, Armando Benitez
One-time Cubs wunderkind Kerry Wood pitched in the Yankees’ bullpen in 2010. He began that season in Cleveland’s bullpen, but struggled to the tune of a 6.30 ERA. However, following a deadline day trade to the Bronx, Wood was dominant. He allowed only two runs in 26 innings with the Yankees and struck out 31 opponents.
Before I knew anything about regression to the mean, I was absolutely ecstatic when the Yankees signed Chris Hammond following his 0.95 ERA season in Atlanta. The lefty pitched well in his one season with the Yankees (2.86 ERA and 3.25 FIP), but was traded after the 2003 season to Oakland.
I’m throwing Jesse Orosco into the mix because I find it hilarious that he was 46 (!!!) when he made a cameo in pinstripes. He came aboard as a lefty specialist in a midseason trade, appeared in 15 games, and was traded away before the season ended. Orosco was best known for his time with the Mets in the mid-80s, but by virtue of being left-handed, he stuck around for 24 seasons including part of his final one with the Yankees.
LaTroy Hawkins got an absolute raw deal in New York. Yes, he pitched poorly (5.71 ERA in 41 innings), but certain segments of the fanbase were unnecessarily harsh on him. All he did “wrong” was wear number 21 for part of the year (For some reason the Yankees still won’t circulate it. It’s been almost 20 years since Paul O’Neill retired. Come on.). Hawkins was very good after they traded him to Houston mid-season and went on to continue his strong career in the bullpen through 2015.
Luis Ayala surprisingly emerged as a key fixture in the Yankees’ 2011 bullpen. The righty recorded a 2.09 ERA in 52 games. That, after signing a minor league deal, was an unexpected boon to the club’s ‘pen.
I remember wanting Octavio Dotel on the Yankees for years. That wish eventually came true, but unfortunately well past Dotel’s prime. The Yankees signed him for the 2006 season knowing he still had a few months left of Tommy John rehab. He pitched 14 games (10 innings) upon return, but allowed 13 runs and 11 walks while striking out just 7.
The Yankees had Armando Benítez for a hot minute in 2003. Formely a strongly disliked rival with Baltimore and later Mets’ closer, the Yankees traded for Benítez mid-2003. The Mets got Jason Anderson in return. The Yankees only kept Benítez for a few weeks as they dealt him to Seattle for old friend Jeff Nelson.
Honorable Mentions: Chan Ho Park, Chad Qualls, Matt Thornton, Mark Wohlers, Buddy Groom, Alan Embree, Kirby Yates, Felix Rodriguez, Andrew Bailey, Luis Ayala, Brett Tomko, Jay Witasick, Anthony Swarzak, Sergio Santos, Chaz Roe, David Carpenter, Rich Hill, Derek Lowe, Luis Vizcaíno