By Nick Villano @nick_villano on April 19, 2014
The New York Yankees came into this season with huge expectations after an offseason spending spree. The team is looking to bounce back after missing the playoffs in 2013. They survived last season on their pitching staff. Early on this year they have had to do the same thing. Some pitchers have lived up to the task, while others have not done so well. How will their grades be after the first three weeks?
A visibly skinnier Sabathia has not been very good to start the season. After getting crushed by the soft-hitting Astros on opening day, he has allowed four runs in two of his last three starts. He needs to turn this season around fast if he wants to keep his ace status. There are some really good pitchers throwing behind him now.
Early Season Grade: D
Hiroki Kuroda was the Yankees' best pitcher in 2013. He has had a slower start than expected in 2014. He has a 4.07 ERA in his first four starts. While that isn't atrocious, you expect more after what he gave the team last year. His WHIP is still only 1.23, which gives fans hope that he will get better at keeping runs off the board in the future.
Early Season Grade: C
Masahiro Tanaka has been everything the Yankees could have hoped and more. He tied Stephen Strasburg for most strikeouts in their first three starts with 28. He is 2-0 with a 2.05 ERA and a 0.77 WHIP. He has been by far the Yankees' best pitcher. He makes the Yanks the team to beat in the AL East if he can continue on this pace.
Early Season Grade: A+
If you take out the one game where Nova got slammed (seven earned runs against Baltimore) he hasn't been as bad as everyone thinks. His other two starts he only allowed two runs in each. His control was really good in his last start as well. It looks like he will have a few bumps in the road, but will have an overall good season.
Early Season Grade: C+
Remember when I said that Tanaka was the best pitcher on this staff so far? Michael Pineda is challenging for that throne. With a 1.00 ERA over his first three starts, Pineda has been one of the best starters in the American League. It would be nice if Joe Girardi would allow him to get further into games, but that is nitpicking. It isn't often that you feel this confident when your fifth starter is on the hill.
Early Season Grade: A+
It is hard to judge the Yankee bullpen since their main cog, David Robertson, has missed most of the early season with an injury. Shawn Kelley has done well in his absence, but some of those behind him have struggled. David Phelps, Cesar Cabral and Vidal Nuno have all been awful to say the least. Dellin Betances, Matt Thornton and Adam Warren have helped anchor the Yankee bullpen.
Early Season Grade: B
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