Good and bad: Assessing the Yankees start
I admit, I’ve been waiting to chime in. After the Yankees pathetic 0-3 start in Tampa where they played as if they thought they were still in spring training, I decided not to panic. Then they went to Baltimore and well, it was the Orioles, so the Yanks got themselves back to .500 very quickly. While it’s still very early (we all know it’s a marathon and not a sprint), here is a look at the good and bad of the 2012 Yankees.
Derek Jeter is hitting .366 and is the only Yankee batter who looks dominant at the plate. More importantly, he looks healthy as witnessed by his improved play in the field.
While there is still room for improvement, Nick Swisher has been coming through with runners in scoring position. He accounted for five RBIs in two of the Yankees’ wins. He still needs more consistency at the plate, but at least he doesn’t appear overmatched like some other Yankees hitters.
Ivan Nova did not have best spring, but is the only starter with two wins under his belt. Against the Orioles, he allowed 10 hits over seven innings, but only gave up two runs and struck out seven. Facing the Angels more potent offense while fighting a cold and fever, Nova struck out eight over six innings and allowed four runs.
David Phelps is emerging as a solid option out of the bullpen. The 25-year-old righty has pitched a little over eight innings and allowed only one run, keeping the Yankees in the game. He even held his idol Albert Pujols to 0-for-3 when he pitched on Saturday.
David Robertson is the most-trusted man in the bullpen not named Rivera. He has yet to allow an earned run and can still perform his Houdini act by getting the Yankees out of a bases-loaded jam when needed.
The heart of the offense, especially with runners in scoring position, has been anemic. On Saturday, they went 1-for-11 with men on base. Robinson Cano, looks lost at the plate hitting weak grounders and pop ups. Mark Teixeira is off to his usual ice-cold start and Alex Rodriguez, who went 3-4 on Friday with a home run, hasn’t done much beyond that one game. The heart of the Yankees order did come to life on Sunday, although it was Jeter who had the big blow. It’s time for this trio of sluggers to get their act together on a steady basis.
Phil Hughes is just not putting hitters away. While his velocity is no longer an issue, he is throwing too many pitches and not finishing off batters even when he gets ahead in the count. He is 0-2 right now with a 9.00 ERA and with Andy Pettitte looming in the wings, Hughes’ days as a starter could be numbered if he doesn’t step up soon.
CC Sabathia has not been pitching like an ace. In his first start, he gave up a grand slam in the first inning putting the Yankees in an immediate four-run deficit. He performed a bit better in his second start, giving up four runs and eight hits while striking out eight in six innings. Not bad, but the Yankees need more dominance from their rotation front man.
The Yankees have plenty of time to right the ship. They just need to stay competitive throughout the first half and do their usual pounce to the top of the AL East after the All-Star break. For the moment though, they’re giving their fans something to whine about.