The Bullpen Blues

May 6, 2010 – 5:14 pm

NYY 7, Baltimore 5. The Yankees completed the sweep of the hapless Baltimore Orioles (currently sporting the worst record in MLB), and it’s a good thing as Tampa Bay just keeps on winning and winning. But this one was a lot closer than it should have been, and exposed a couple of the real weaknesses of this team. First is the obvious one — the bullpen. Andy Pettitte put together yet another fine start, giving up just one run over five innings, but then had to leave because of soreness in his elbow. And with Joba Chamberlain and Mariano Rivera both not available, it was bullpen by committee and that’s when things got ugly. Sergio Mitre gave up two runs in just 2.1 innings, it took David Robertson less than one inning to give up another two runs, and then in the ninth with the lead down to just two runs, Boone Logan somehow managed to walk two of the three batters he faced. Thus in the course of just 3.1 innings the bullpen had turned a comfortable five run lead in to having the tying run on base. And you can’t really fault Joe Girardi this time, as he was pretty much just running through the roster trying to find someone who could get some outs.

Nick AwakensThe other real weakness that got exposed is that age may finally be starting to catch up with some of the older veterans. Hopefully there’s nothing seriously wrong with Pettitte, but at his age minor problems are not to be unexpected. Also, the reason Mariano Rivera wasn’t available was that he’s been experiencing some stiffness. And then you have Jorge Posada who was also on the bench because of a mild strain. So far it’s all been just minor stuff that hasn’t sidelined any of these guys for an extended period of time, but the reality is that any one of them could end up on the DL for an extended period at any point in time. And there’s not much you can do to prevent it, other than making sure they get plenty of off days and when something does go wrong you don’t push them. But regardless, you have to hope that Brian Cashman has some contingency plans.

There was at least one bit of good news, though — Nick Johnson finally had a decent game at the plate, going 3-for-5 with a home run and a double. Between the bullpen sucking so bad and all these minor injuries keeping the old timers from contributing 100%, it’s really going to be important for the middle of the lineup to start contributing. Mark Teixeira has shown signs of getting things in gear, and hopefully A-Rod will also kick it up a notch or two here shortly. And if Johnson starts hitting closer to his career numbers, that’s going to make a big difference.

Photo: Yahoo! Sports

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