A closer look at the Yankees getting owned by pitchers making their Major League debuts

After spending a lot of time discussing Josh Tomlin‘s annihilation of the Yankees last night while continuing to bemoan the team’s performance against pitchers making their Major League debuts, I was encouraged to take a look back at previous instances to see whether the stigma that the Yankees always get owned by rookies in their first career starts held true.

I used Baseball-Reference’s Play Index tool and came up with eight such instances during the past 10 seasons in which the Yankees have faced a starter making his Major League debut. Admittedly I’m not quite an expert with the PI, and so it’s possible I’m leaving someone out here, but hopefully this is close to a complete list (the highlighted starters are pitchers who got the win):

The Yankees are 2-6 in games started by pitchers making their Major League debuts since 2001. While that’s obviously a small sample, it still lends credence to the idea that the Yankees have an inordinate amount of difficulty beating rookie pitchers. In fact, they haven’t beaten a rookie making their MLB debut since 2004, when they pounded Eduardo Villacis. Since then they’re on a six-game losing streak, and have been held to eight runs by the opposing starter over those six games.

Here are some random factoids from these eight games:

– The May 1, 2004 game was won by Jon Lieber.

– The June 22, 2002 1-0 Yankee victory over rookie Jake Peavy was an absolute gem by Ted Lilly, who tossed a complete game, three-hit shutout with 11 strikeouts!

Gustavo Chacin‘s opponent in the September 20, 2004 game was Javier Vazquez.

Anibal Sanchez‘s manager in the June 25, 2006 game? Joe Girardi, natch.

Dan Giese of all people started the June 21, 2008 loss to the Reds.

And if we go by WPA, Josh Tomlin‘s superb performance last night was the most dominating start by a pitcher making his Major League debut against the Yankees of the last 10 years. Wow.

Photo courtesy of the AP