New York Yankees: Derek Lowe Shines in Team Debut

Kyle CaseyCorrespondent IIIAugust 13, 2012

NEW YORK, NY - AUGUST 13:  Derek Lowe #34 of the New York Yankees pitches against the Texas Rangers at Yankee Stadium on August 13, 2012  in the Bronx borough of New York City.  (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

When the New York Yankees signed veteran pitcher Derek Lowe on Monday, several questions arose.

Will he be a starter or reliever? How much of a contribution will he make to the team? Why would the team sign a pitcher with a 5.52 ERA?

Well, all three of those questions may have been answered in Lowe's debut on Monday night against the Texas Rangers. Lowe entered the game in the sixth inning, relieving starting pitcher David Phelps. The 39-year-old went on to close out the game for the Yankees, recording a four-inning save.

In those four innings, Lowe allowed just two hits while allowing zero walks and striking out four batters. If Lowe can pitch four shutout innings against a potent Rangers lineup, who knows what he could do against lesser lineups?

Signing Lowe was a huge risk for the Yankees, as a 39-year-old pitcher with a 5.52 ERA pitching in a hitter's ballpark wouldn't be expected to excel. However, the key to making this signing a good one for New York is keeping Lowe in the bullpen. If Lowe only needs to pitch no more than four innings per outing, he will begin to pitch at a much higher level.

In 278 career relief appearances, Lowe has an ERA of just 2.95 and an opponent batting average of .248, much more impressive than his 4.19 career ERA and opponent batting average of .270 as a starter.

That big of a difference in stats between when Lowe starts and when he comes in as a relief pitcher is a promising sign for the Yankees, as he will likely pitch solely out of the bullpen for the rest of the season. 

The team has lacked a dominant long reliever so far this season. But if Lowe's performance on Monday night is any sign of things to come, that long reliever problem may have been fixed.