New York Yankees: Where Pitching Careers Go to Die

Kirk SnyderCorrespondent IApril 7, 2009

After CC Sabathia's opening day disaster yesterday, it got me thinking that this looks like familiar territory for big profile Yankee starting pitchers. 

Some of the great pitchers, who have pitched for the Yankees in recent years, including Mike Mussina, Andy Pettitte, Kevin Brown and Roger Clemens have all struggled once they threw on a Yankees uniform. 

My point is that I can't recall too many recent Yankees starting pitchers, who have thrived as a Yankee and put up better numbers in New York than at other stops in their careers.

Let's take a closer look at what I am actually trying to get at here:


Mike Mussina

Mussina played his first 10 seasons with the Baltimore Orioles. He put up stellar numbers while in Baltimore, posting a 3.53 ERA in his career as an Oriole. Mussina's ERA was only over four in two of his 10 seasons with Baltimore. Mussina also had two seasons of an ERA under three.

However, if you look at his stats once he joined the Yankees rotation, his numbers took a bit of a hit.

In eight seasons with the Yankees, he has posted a 3.88 ERA, which is 0.35 more runs allowed per game than when he was playing in Baltimore. In four of his eight seasons with New York, he has had an ERA of over four (including one season with an ERA of over five). He also never posted an ERA of under three in New York.


Andy Pettitte

After playing his first nine seasons of his career as a Yankee, Pettitte played for three seasons, from 2004 to 2006, with the Houston Astros

Pettitte posted a solid 3.38 ERA in his three seasons with the Astros, including his best season of his career from an ERA standpoint in 2005 where he owned a minuscule 2.39 ERA.

Although in his 11 seasons with the Yankees, Pettitte saw his ERA rise to 4.01, which is 0.63 runs higher from his years in Houston. Many people would expect a bit lower ERA from Pettitte when he switched to the National League, but I don't think too many expected that big of a difference. 

In seven of his 11 seasons in New York, Pettitte ran up an ERA of over four and it was nearly eight seasons as he barely sneaked his ERA under four with an ERA of 3.99 in 2001.


Kevin Brown

Brown put up remarkable numbers in his 17 seasons before he landed in New York.  He had an outstanding 3.16 ERA in his years leading up to being a Yankee.

I understand Brown became a Yankee at the very end of his career, but it has to be noted that in the year before Brown came to New York, he was 38 years old and he still posted a 2.39 ERA in 211 innings with the Los Angeles Dodgers, so that shows he still had some gas left in the tank.

It also should be addressed that Brown posted an ERA of under three in seven of his eight seasons (including one season with an ERA of under two) leading up to his tenure as a Yankee.

Brown's career came to a screaming halt once he arrived in New York.  He posted a 4.95 ERA in his two seasons in pin stripes, including one season with a 6.50 ERA.


Roger Clemens

Roger's career yields significant results in declining numbers after joining the Yankees.

Known as one of the greatest pitchers of all time, Clemens dominated hitters like very few could. In his 18 seasons outside of New York, he owned an amazing 2.87 ERA.  In 12 of those 18 seasons, his ERA sat under three. Also, his ERA only went over four in three of those seasons. 

Clemens never saw his ERA below 3.50 as a member of the Yankees and also saw his ERA rise over four in three of his six seasons in New York.

He was hardly the same pitcher in his New York days. In his six seasons with the Yankees, Clemens saw his ERA climb to 4.01, which was 1.14 more runs allowed from his days outside of New York.

Clemens joining the Yankees towards the end of his career isn't an exuse for his poor numbers, because while with Houston from the ages of 41 to 43, Clemens looked as good as he ever has before, compiling a 2.40 ERA in his three seasons as an Astro.

In my opinion, it seems as if some of the best players just can't live up to the pressure of performing in Yankee pin stripes. New York newspaper headlines are already calling Sabathia and Teixeira a waste of money after one day! How crazy is that? 

How is one expected to live up to the hype with that kind of scrutiny from so called fans?  

Will Sabathia and Burnett follow similar paths of other great pitcher's careers declining once they put on their pin stripes? I think that may be the case, but only time will tell.


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