Yankees Preseason Pitching Concerns Realized as the Tigers Advance
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On Dec. 15, 2010 Cliff Lee shocked the baseball world when the free-agent signed a five year, $120 million contract with the Philadelphia Phillies. Nearly everyone thought Lee would either return to the Texas Rangers team he had led to the 2010 World Series or take the well-traveled free agent path to the New York Yankees.
That's not what happened though.
Lee took less money to go to Philadelphia, while the Yankees were left to try and figure out exactly how they would piece together their pitching staff for the 2011 season. To the Yankees credit they took some risks, that for the most part, panned out.
The Yanks brought in Freddy Garcia and former Cy Young award winner Bartolo Colon. They also had faith in rookie Ivan Nova, who had made a brief appearance with the club in the 2010 season.
Colon, Garcia and Nova paired with C.C. Sabathia and inconsistent veteran A.J. Burnett made for a rotation that exceeded expectations, and would ultimately result in the Yankees claiming the American League East title as well as the American League's best overall record.
Yet in the postseason, where pitching is of paramount importance, the Yankees shortage of arms was exposed.
While fans will jump all over Joe Girardi and the offense, specifically Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira—who both had truly forgettable postseason performances—the fact is that the Yankees had to resort to starting rookie Ivan Nova in the crucial do or die game five.
Nova would be the only Yankee starter afforded the luxury of getting two starts in the five game series.
He looks like he has a bright future in front of him, but did the one thing you can't afford to do as a starter in that type of situation. He came out shaky, giving up first inning back-to-back home runs to Don Kelly and Delmon Young. He was gone after two innings.
It was revealed that Nova had forearm tightness in the post game. It only took 31 pitches for that to set in. Maybe had be been left in the game he would have found his rhythm but in those types of circumstances, managers are rarely patient.
This is a Yankee team that couldn't win close games in the postseason. Some of that is due to the offense, but it also does seem that as the season reached it's most critical point the starting pitching became less and less reliable.
In game 2 Garcia was unimpressive allowing three earned runs in just five and one-third innings.
Even the ace Sabathia seemed worn down from the regular season. He was matched up against Tigers Ace Justin Verlander in game 3 and responded with a below average outing. Brought in as a reliever for the first time in his career in the critical game five, he allowed the go-ahead and winning run in the fifth.
The Yankees need starting pitchers.
The season began with the starting rotation as the primary concern and ended with a rookie starting the most important game of the season.
The season ending in that game, with critical runs coming in the very first inning.
It reveals, that in this case, the preseason predictors were right.
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