Yankees Starters: There Aint No Cure For Those Big Inning Blues

Domingo German, Yankees Starting Pitcher (Photo: NJ.com)

The Yankees are being hit with an epidemic of big inning outbursts from their starting pitching. Even with the teams’ robust lineup, there is cause for concern…

Yankees starting pitchers continue to test the resilience of a robust offense. While the ability of a team’s lineup to come from behind is a trademark of any winning team, Yankees pitchers are testing their offense too many times. Especially, of late.

The epidemic is rampant throughout the staff. James Paxton has surrendered 27 runs in the first inning over 22 innings pitched. He’s given up eleven home runs and is pitching to a hair-raising 11.05 ERA in his opening inning. Masahiro Tanaka is pitching to an ERA of almost 6.00 and the league is hitting .308 against him in the first inning.

J.A. Happ, New York Yankees Credit: NESN
J.A. Happ, New York Yankees Credit: NESN

Typically reliable Domingo German surrendered back-to-back home runs to Matt Olson and Mark Canha in the first inning last night in Oakland, erasing a lead given to him by a home run off the bat of Gary Sanchez. This time, Yankee bats were not able to overcome the deficit, losing to the A’s 8-3 in the opening game of their West Coast road trip.

Veteran left-hander J.A. Happ also falters in the first inning, pitching to an ERA over 6.00 while getting hit for seven home runs in 22 innings pitched. Move on to CC Sabathia, and you’ll recall his start Sunday when he surrendered two two-run blasts in the second inning, creating a deficit the Yankees couldn’t overcome in a loss to Cleveland. (All stats sourced thru Baseball Reference)

Yankees Bats Shall Overcome?

A month ago (the most recent data I can find), the Yankees were tied for the lead in comeback wins (28) with the Astros and Dodgers. How many times can a team go to the same well expecting to draw water?

Perennially optimistic as he must be, Aaron Boone put a spin to it when questioned by a reporter:

“It’s a resilient group, I’ve raved all year about the makeup of the team and their singular focus about winning a game “When you have a good offense like we do, a collection of really good hitters, you put yourself in a position to have some of these comeback wins,” Boone said. “Couple that with a good bullpen and pitching staff.”Sal Cacciatore, Newsday

If anyone can unlock the mystery behind the Yankees starting pitchers giving up runs early and in bunches, please step forward. These are major league pitchers who, together with pitching coach Larry Rothschild, should be able to tell what’s working and not working that day in the warmup before the game. Just like a pinch-hitter thrust into a game, a pitcher needs to ready when the bell rings.

Perhaps, we can give Domingo German a mulligan as he’s never pitched in Oakland and maybe he needed some adjusting to the pitching mound. Maybe.

The Postseason Is Looming…

Aaron Boone, Manager, NY Yankees
Aaron Boone, Yankees Manager, Photo Credit: Yankees Locked In

There’s cause for concern – not panic – regarding this development. No big deal at the moment, it becomes a massive deal in the postseason. When, for instance, German gives up those four runs, and the Yankees are facing Justin Verlander or Clayton Kershaw in a showdown game.

The A-Team in the bullpen together with the bats can’t do everything. Starting pitching has been the flashpoint of the Yankees since the beginning of the season. Most believe the team has enough starting pitching to make their way through. Indeed, Brian Cashman feels that way. Otherwise, he would have given up the farm at the trade deadline to get another starter.

It’s a good thing the Yankees lead the league in runs scored (for now). But when the postseason arrives, those starters need to buckle-in sooner rather than later, as has been their bane of late…

Written by Steve Contursi, Editor, Reflections On Baseball
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Author: stevecontursi

I am an amateur writer with a passion for baseball and all things Yankees and Mets.

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