Things Can Change Quickly

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Imagine the following situation:

There is a team with the best record in the major leagues. Their ace is pitching incredibly well, with 2 consecutive months of ERA’s below 2.31. He shows no signs of tiring, and actually seems to be getting better as the season moves into the dog days of summer. Their aging veteran #2 is having a fantastic season, but recently hit the disabled list. However, he is confident that he will be back soon, and there is little doubt among the team’s fans that they will have him on the hill when he is needed most.

The team’s mercurial third starter is having another inconsistent season, but is in the midst of a good stretch of pitching, having pitched to a 2.00 ERA over the last month. While he is unpredictable on a start by start basis, he can usually be counted on to have solid numbers by the time the season wraps up, with a career 3.96 ERA to show for his efforts. The fourth starter had an atrocious first 6 weeks, but has turned his season around with two consecutive months of strong pitching (ERA’s below 3.35). He too has a good track record and is filling the fourth starter role more than adequately. Finally, the fifth starter is the club’s 24 year old star in the making. He began the season with an amazing stretch of starts and made the All-Star team, but has since slowed a bit and is facing some inning limits that may force him to the bullpen for the postseason.

In all, this is a team with 5 good starters, two of which have struggled at times but have gotten into a groove lately, and two which can be counted on to give the club a strong effort every time they take the hill. Sound familiar?

It should. Those are the Yankees as of July 31st, less than one month ago. CC was rolling, and Pettitte was predicting that he would be back from the DL sooner than expected. Burnett was in the midst of a hot streak, Javy had turned his season around, and Hughes still had some nice overall numbers and was giving the team a chance to win each time he took the hill. It was a deep rotation with plenty of experience, so much so that Brian Cashman felt no need to upgrade at the deadline (unless he could nab one of the three best pitchers in the sport).

4 weeks later, Pettitte is still on the DL, Hughes has continued to be good but not great, and Burnett and Vazquez have been atrocious for the entire month, so much so that Burnett could join Vazquez in the bullpen before long if he does not turn things around. Panic about the rotation has begun to spread among Yankees fans who are convinced that this is not a championship-caliber rotation. Yet all of those people are forgetting how quickly things can change, despite seeing a perfect example of such change over the last month. In 4 weeks, the Yankees went from having a deep rotation that was among the league leaders in runs allowed to having CC Sabathia and a multitude of question marks. Things can move in a positive direction just as quickly.

Is there any sort of guarantee that the Yankee rotation will sort itself out? Absolutely not. But considering the track records of those involved, I would not bet against it. Despite struggling over the last few weeks, the Yankee rotation is still 4th in the AL in runs allowed. A team, or in this case a rotation, always looks unsalvageable in the throes of a slump. The club has pitched fairly well all year, and we should not allow a few rough weeks to obscure that fact. The pitching outlook can change in an instant.

0 thoughts on “Things Can Change Quickly

  1. I don’t think we know who has a ‘championship-caliber rotation’ until the last out of the WS. A lot of years recently and in the dim past have seen a pitcher or two get hot and carry their team to a ring. People tend to compare these things upon their perception of the current team on whatever date it is to the team in the past after they’d won.
    I can’t imagine anyone was predicting what El Duque would do in postseason before he did it.

  2. People tend to compare these things upon their perception of the current team on whatever date it is to the team in the past after they’d won.

    Very well said. Going into last postseason, they had CC, inconsistent (but better) AJ, and Pettitte who had struggled down the stretch and looked a bit old. The next guy was Gaudin.

    • The only thing that concerns me is that this year isn’t going to be the same schedule as last year because they have removed a lot of off days because of how many complaints there were last year about how long it took to play out.

      We probably won’t need 4 pitchers in the opening round but we will need 4 starters in both the CS and WS and that is an obstacle we didn’t have to encounter last year, the schedule was really on our side.

      2 questions for me for this years post season rotation are 1. is Andy the number two or three starter and 2. does Hughes take over for Burnett in the rotation?