The Yankees are not a team constructed around pitching. What’s new about that? What difference has it ever made over 27 World Championships…
The Yankees starting pitching remains suspect as the team moves closer to the postseason. What else is new?
Excepting Mariano Rivera and his minuscule .057 ERA in postseason competition, Yankees pitching has always deferred to “The Bombers” in the lineup.
Even Whitey Ford (right), generally credited with being the best Yankees pitcher in the postseason (10-8, 2.75 ERA) had the power of Mickey Mantle, Roger Maris, and Yogi Berra behind him in power accented Yankee lineups.
Nothing has changed. It’s the same way today. It’s the Yankees way of team building, and Brian Cashman has not been shy about carrying on the tradition.
Luke Voit, Gio Urshela, and Mike Tauchman are not aberrations. The Yankees targeted them, and the Yankees didn’t back down until they were brought into the fold.
The same cannot be said of the Yankees efforts to trade or sign Gerrit Cole, Justin Verlander, Nathan Eovaldi, and a host of others when they were available.
The Yankees Aren’t Called The Bombers For Nothing
The Yankees will go as far as their lineup will take them. Their starting pitching? Well, It depends on the day. Do you want to cite Masahiro Tanaka‘s eight innings of no-run three-hit ball in a 1-0 win over the Blue Jays today? Tanaka is capable of spinning off a game like this in any of his starts. But will he?
Similarly, J.A. Happ is up, down, and all over the place. But when he’s “on,” he’s as good as anyone in the league, as Happ was back in April when he tossed seven innings in two successive starts, both Yankees wins. Then, of course, there is the remainder of his starts, which have seen his ERA balloon to 5.48.
It is what it is, and we need to relax a bit. The playoffs are a crapshoot. A game can turn on a dime, despite all the great pitching moves Aaron Boone has made. Ask him, he knows. Better yet, ask the Red Sox who will recall that home run he hit…
With that, the edge is given to the Houston Astros and their phenomenal starting pitching. Remember though; it only took one run to beat the Blue Jays today. Okay, it was the Blue Jays. Still, every game is unique unto itself, even if it’s Verlander, Zack Greinke, Gerrit Cole, or Wade Miley on the mound.
Carefully managed, the Yankees starting staff is enough to get the team to its primary asset – the bullpen. Masahiro Tanaka will never pitch eight innings with a one-run lead in a postseason game. CC Sabathia will find a way to get fifteen outs – he always does. James Paxton, much like Tanaka, on any given day, can shut any lineup down. Luis Severino? If healthy, we know what he can do as well.
Put The Accent On What The Yankees Are…
My point is we can’t be harping on what we don’t have. We are not the Astros, and it could be that we are not even Cleveland when it comes to a starting rotation.
What we are though is a run-scoring machine. The Yankees continue to lead the majors in runs scored (695), well above the Astros 646, and a ton above the Indians (541). The Yankees slug home runs (210 this season, second only to Minnesota). The Bombers always have. By definition, home runs are the Yankees.
Moreover, the Yankees are patient at the plate. Brett Gardner, as an example, will duel Verlander, Chris Sale, and Shane Bieber pitch for pitch until he sees a mistake, pouncing on it for a single or double to spark a rally.
Similarly, Gleyber Torres is 22 going on 30 when it comes to hitting acumen. And don’t even mention what DJ LeMahieu is doing this year.
In the 1960s, they used to say you are what you eat. Well, in baseball, you are what you are. The Yankees are a team built (on purpose) on offense and a shut-down bullpen. That’s what they are.
As the game of baseball is played today, I’ll take those strengths anytime.