Closing in on a month and a half into the major league baseball season, the New York Yankees starting rotation has yet to find out what they are or what they will be.
A rotation originally comprised of Masahiro Tanaka, Michael Pineda, Nathan Eovaldi, Luis Severino, and CC Sabathia entered the season with a mix of question marks and promise. That same mix has carried through the season’s first month and now well into the month of May.
Tanaka has performed despite a subpar outing his last time, but it is the rest of the staff that continues to induce headaches and general confusion.
For the most part, particularly in the first inning, Pineda has been dreadful, and Nathan Eovaldi will look like a horse one outing and implode the next. With the known inconsistency of these two pieces, Severino was heavily relied upon to begin the year in only his sophomore season.
Leaning on Severino has only hurt the Yanks as the right-hander struggled mightily in his first handful of outings and still can’t find true command of the strike zone. Luckily, CC Sabathia was finding a groove in the No. 5 spot with his new transformation, but he fell victim to the injury bug when he hurt his groin after his best performance in two years.
Putting things into perspective, behind two through five the Yankees either have underperformance or injury nagging their starting rotation. Ivan Nova slid into the mix with a nice performance in place of CC, but can you really rely on him? He fits the bill, possessing major upside while lacking the charisma of a formidable starting pitcher.
The rotation remains in the bottom half of baseball, according to Baseball-Reference, allowing 4.39 runs per game. 48% is the weak rate at which the Yankees have received a quality start from one of those said pitchers. This has particularly hurt a Yankee team which currently ranks 22nd in the average backing of their starters (3.8 runs per game). With the exception of the current homestand, the offense has not been able to spare the lackluster pitching.
Considering that a quality start only demands a 4.50 ERA (6 IP, 3 ER), coming through with one less than half of the time is unacceptable. The main problem is that there has been no in between. Either extremely good or extremely is the most accurate description of the rotation.
Perhaps with the recent step up from Eovaldi, a new glimpse of hope for Nova, and some marginally better starts from Severino, a turning point can feasibly be reached. With that said, the question will still linger as to whether this inconsistency is all they are as a staff.
Time will tell, but the subpar pitching helped bury the Yanks early on and it can just as easily put the team right back in the sand. If an ERA hovering around five proves to be what they are, the front office will have to deal with the issue properly. The positive is that they will know what is ahead and plan accordingly.
As of now, deception and trickery happen to be the strengths of this bunch. The level of starting pitching competency will go hand-in-hand with team competency until proven otherwise.