Monday, July 15, 2013

Yankees All-Star Break Report Card: Starting Rotation

Hiroki Kuroda has plenty to smile about this season.

It's that dreaded time of year- no, not the mosquitos, humidity, or next to last place...okay, some of that is it. No, it's time for All-Star break Yankees report card. And oh has it been an ugly marking period. Let's start right off with the pitching since that is what has been keeping the Yankees afloat all year.


CC Sabathia - It appears that all those innings and all those pitches thrown have finally caught up to the big guy. Lost velocity, lost pinpoint control, lost games. Everyone hoped that Sabathia's off-season elbow surgery would strengthen the ace's game even more in 2013, but the opposite has occurred. (No, I'm not blaming the surgery.)

Sabathia is no longer the ace of the staff and has been throwing like a middle of the rotation guy. He's given up four or more runs in 10 of his 20 starts this season. Sabathia has allowed 21 home runs already, one less than the career high he gave up last year. Here's hoping he finds a magic (legal) elixir during the break.

Grade: C

Hiroki Kuroda - The Yankees have to be thanking their lucky stars every day that the 38-year old native of Japan decided to stay in New York instead of returning to the LA Dodgers or his home country. Kuroda's 2.65 ERA is second best among American League starters and he has a 1.74 ERA at home. A remarkable stat for a right-handed pitcher in left-handed hitter friendly Yankees Stadium.  Kuroda's 8-6 record would be a lot better if he didn't have some of the worst run support in the Major Leagues. He definitely should have been selected for the AL All-Star team.

The Yankees have scored two runs or less in four of Kuroda's six losses. He's 7-2 when the team scores three or more runs. I'm not a believer in quality starts, but for those of you who are, 12 of Kuroda's 19 starts fall into that category. He also won his last start in which he tossed five shutout innings in a start shortened by
a 73 minute rain delay in between.

Grade: A

Andy Pettitte - The Texan will one day have his number 46 retired and has or will break many of the Yankees pitching records. In what is likely his last season, he'sbeen anything but the Andy Pettitte we are all used to seeing. Every start seems to be a scuffle. He won his last two outings despite giving up runs early.

Pettitte's season didn't start out this way. In April he looked as dominant as he did in his outstanding 2012 season that was interrupted by a broken ankle. The last two months have been the worst for the 41-year old; he's allowed 27 earned runs in 49 innings pitched.

Grade: C

Phil Hughes - Jekyll & Hyde have been more consistent than Phil Hughes the last few years. FOX Sports' Ken Rosenthal tweeted last week that the Yankees are "aggressively pushing" to move Hughes to another team. Hughes is a free agent next year and the Yankees would be better off with getting some talent in return rather than draft picks.

Grade: C-

David Phelps - The Notre Dame product showed a lot of potential last year and made a nice transition from the pen to the rotation when injuries opened up a spot this season. He had a four game stretch in May where he allowed eight runs in 27.1 innings over four starts. He bounced back nicely after the Mets knocked him out in the first inning to pitch six inning games in which he allowed one earned run and four hits, and struck out 13.

His last two starts were poor and fair respectively and then he was placed on the disabled list with a strained right forearm. It's possible he won't have a spot to return to when he is ready due to the recent starts by Ivan Nova.

Grade: B-

Ivan Nova - The Yankees have been waiting for Nova to return to his 2011 form when he won 16 games and was a model of consistency. Perhaps that time has finally come. After a shoddy April, Nova went on the DL with inflammation in his bicep. He made a pair of solid relief appearances in May, but was demoted to Triple-A.

Nova came back with a vengeance in June with a good start and a long relief appearance that saved the bullpen. So far in July, he's thrown one complete game win and threw eight innings in another victory. In 17 innings he allowed eight hits, walked three, and struck out 17. It would only make sense that his spot in the rotation is now his to lose.

Grade: C+/B- tough one to call

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