Luis Severino set the tone on Opening Day in Toronto. The third-place finisher in the 2017 Cy Young voting dominated the Blue Jays, hurling 5.2 innings of one-hit shutout ball to pace the club to victory. The other rotation members played follow the leader, with each limiting opponents to one earned run during their first starts of the year.
The group didn’t fare as well the second time through the rotation, but they were still good. Sevy allowed two runs in his second start, with Masahiro Tanaka, CC Sabathia, and Sonny Gray each giving up three. Jordan Montgomery became the first Yankees starter to cough up four runs in a game this year, doing so on Sunday against Baltimore.
Those numbers might not pop off the page. It’s easy to focus on the negatives when you follow every pitch of every game played by your favorite team. Most clubs, though, have experienced significant issues with their starting pitching. In fact, after two times through, the Yankees’ rotation ranks among the league leaders.
AL starting pitching stats through April 8
New York’s rotation took a bit of a hit when Sabathia left Friday’s start with a hip injury. The club placed the left-hander on the 10-day disabled list as a precaution and because of the roster crunch created by a spate of recent injuries. CC, though, did not want to miss a turn and expects to toe the slab once again as soon as his DL stint is over.
Luis Cessa and Domingo German were recalled from Triple-A, with either able to take Sabathia’s place. Considering off-days, manager Aaron Boone could opt to just skip CC’s spot until it’s necessary to utilize a fifth starter. In that case, we might see a replacement for only a single turn.
The Yankees began the year a disappointing 5-5, but none of those losses can be blamed on the starting pitching. The bullpen produced a number of atrocious outings, including a pair of games where relievers allowed grand slams.
To add to their late-game problems, the Yankees have hit a woeful .133 from the eighth inning on. In 83 at-bats, they’ve managed a measly eleven hits resulting in five runs batted in. The Bombers hit only .071 (2-for-28) in extra innings.
This club could easily stand undefeated right now, if not for the bullpen woes and lack of late hitting. But that’s a story for another day.
With the Yankees’ late-game struggles on both sides of the ball, it’s vital that the starting rotation continues to perform well. Otherwise, the World Series hopefuls could quickly find themselves falling out of contention.