28 Apr 2011
Yes, the Yankees have lost two-of-three, but you have to be encouraged with the way their starters looked in all three games. On Monday, AJ Burnett went eight innings and gave up one run. On Tuesday, Ivan Nova pitched 6.3 and looked great doing it. Last night, Bartolo Colon went eight innings and looked great as well.
There are of course two things you have to keep in mind when evaluating the above performances. The first is that Chicago is not a strong offensive team. They came into New York in a huge slump and apart from Konerko and Quentin, their lineup is terrible right now. (Alex Rios has put up a line of .163/.252/.207!) So, you could almost make the case that the Yankees’ pitchers had to look good otherwise you would really have had something to worry about.
The second thing to remember is that we are talking about AJ, Ivan and Bartolo. AJ can go out and pitch ten-straight shutouts and you still can’t trust him to do it again. Nova is a rookie and that means he is going to struggle at times. He has done that before and he will do it again. He is going to have growing pains and the Yankees have to be willing to let him have those. And finally you have Colon. He has been fantastic, but keep in mind that he was out of baseball in 2010 and hasn’t thrown more than 100 innings since 2007 when he was terrible. His last full season was 2005 and he isn’t the best “athlete” out there. Chances are very, very good that he will breakdown in the next few months, so enjoy this while you can.
And, while we are at it, let’s take a look at Freddy Garcia. He has junkballed his way to two very nice starts. But, he has only allowed one earned run because his BABIP is .147. That isn’t going to last, so expect that ERA to rise dramatically in the near future.
Now add in the news about Phil Hughes, which isn’t good. I have heard it compared to what David Cone went through in 1996 when he missed three months and Kenny Rogers in 2001 when he went on the DL in mid-July and didn’t return until 2002. We won’t know the real answer for at least a couple of days, but it seems likely that we won’t see Phil Hughes taking the mound anytime soon.
Boston has shaken off their 0-6 start and Tampa’s resurgence may be even more impressive as they have gotten back above .500 without Evan Longoria. The AL East will be a fight to the end and while the Yankees are in front now, how long can their pitching keep them there?