Much of the attention being paid to the recent struggles of the New York Yankees has centered around their inability to hit with runners in scoring position. However, it isn’t just the offense that is having problems.
The current rotation has combined for 35 starts this season. In 27 of those games, the starters have yielded at least one home run – 39 in total. All five starting pitchers have given up home runs in at least 50 percent of their games, and the front four each have allowed home runs in five or more of their starts. By contrast, the first place Baltimore Orioles starting rotation has given up five less home run games in six more starts (22 games with HR in 41 total starts). In fact, only the O’s fifth starter – Tommy Hunter – has surrendered home runs in more than five starts.
What does this mean for the New York Yankees?
It means that opponents are either able to jump out to leads quickly, or erase deficits with just a few swings of the bat. Today’s game against the Cincinnati Reds was a perfect example of the problem.
Following a 2-run home run in the bottom of the sixth inning by suddenly clutch-hitter Raul Ibanez, the New York Yankees entered the seventh with a 2 – 0 lead and ace CC Sabathia on the mound. The team’s number one starter seemingly had complete control of the game until his first pitch of the inning. Ryan Ludwick deposited that pitch into the seats, cutting the score to 2 – 1. Just two batters later the lead was gone as Sabathia fed another mistake to catcher Ryan Hanigan who hit his first HR of 2012, tying the game at two.
What is the reason for the New York Yankees starters inability to keep balls in the park?
One school of thought is that there is pressure being put on the pitchers to be perfect. Because of the batting order’s inability to drive runs home, the starters are attempting to do too much. That results in a less aggressive approach on the mound, and mistakes find their way into the hands of lucky fans sitting beyond the outfield walls.
Whatever the actual reason behind the problem is, the New York Yankees starting pitching needs to improve the situation quickly. If they don’t, the team won’t have to worry about playing in October, and fans won’t have to be concerned about going home without a souvenir.