Pie a la Swish!

September 9, 2010 – 9:25 am

Pie!NYY 3, Baltimore 2. Nick Swisher’s walk-off homer in the ninth saved the Yankees from what would have been a pretty humiliating sweep at home by the worst team in the league, and once again Ivan Nova pitched extremely well. That’s three good starts out of four for Nova,  as a starter his ERA is 3.32, and the Yankees are 3-1 in those four starts. Right now he is pitching as good as anyone in the starting rotation, but unfortunately Joe Girardi has indicated that he won’t use Nova much if at all in the post-season due to the fact that he’s a rookie and there’s too much pressure in playoff games. I kinda understand that, and Girardi is probably right — but unless some of the other starters get their act together pretty quickly, that’s going to leave a huge hole in the rotation.

In spite of this win, the fact remains that this team is once again underachieving big time. The eight-game win streak was nice and certainly much needed, but the reality is that it was the offense and bullpen that were carrying the team, and that combination won’t work for long, as the game ultimately is all about starting pitching. Inevitably the offense will go through slumps, and that’s exactly what is happening right now. Over the last four games, they’ve scored all of eleven runs, a 2.75 R/G clip. And over that same period, the starting pitching was giving up runs at the rate of 6.40 R/G. Easy to see how they came so close to being swept. But it wasn’t just recently that the starting pitching went to hell — as I noted, it was bad even during the winning streak. The last three times through the rotation the starters have averaged 6.13 R/G.  That ain’t going to cut it come playoff time.

The next week will tell a lot about where this team really is, as they’ve got road series against two playoff-bound teams, first Texas and then Tampa Bay. Hopefully the offense will come back around, but the real test will be with the starters, particularly Javier Vazquez and A.J. Burnett. Assuming Andy Pettitte is back and in mid-season form by the playoffs (something I’m not at all confident of), one of those two guys needs to be back to pitching the way they were earlier in the season.

Photo: ESPN

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