With last night’s dismantling of the Rangers, the Yankees have won seven
straight games. Five of those wins have been over the Texas Rangers, who
really have to be considering the merits of the National League, or the
Mexican League, or the League of Nations–hell, any league that doesn’t
include the Yankees–at this point. The Yankees are 10-3, which is the best
record in baseball in the young season.
It’s no secret that I think the Yankees are due for a fall, that I think
the team is old and thin. I picked the Blue Jays to win the AL East this
year, although that was before their pitching staff was replaced by the
cast of NBC’s "Just Shoot Me." (Yes, that was David Spade serving
up all those runs to the Angels last night. Laura San Giacomo is tonight’s
What the Yankees have in abundance, however, is starting pitching. It hangs
from the rafters and piles up in the corners of the locker room. They have
more starting pitching than the entire American League West. This winning
streak is a product of that strength. Their starters have posted five
quality starts in the streak, and have a combined ERA of 3.28 in the seven
What’s truly amazing is the depth the Yankees have in the rotation,
especially in contrast to their lack of same on offense. The nominal #4 and
#5 starters of a month ago, Andy Pettitte and Ed Yarnall,
pitched zero innings in the streak. Ramiro Mendoza and Jason
Grimsley came out of the bullpen to give the Yankees good starts.
Grimsley isn’t anything special, but Mendoza is at least a #3 starter on 28
other teams. On the Yankees, he’s insurance.
Their rotation means they’ll be in almost every game they play, and
minimizes the number of innings the back of the bullpen pitches. As we’ve
noted in the past, good teams win by getting into the soft underbelly of
their opponent’s bullpen. As long as the Yankees get good starting
pitching, Allen Watson and Darrell Einertson will remain
tucked away for low-leverage situations. Like simulated games and
Even with a deep, effective rotation, I remain skeptical that this team can
hold off both the sitcom stars and the Red Sox. If the Blue Jays can pick
up a starter or two–and "ER" has some arms available–they have
the offense to be very dangerous. The Yankees are extremely vulnerable to
injuries to their position players, and the age of their lineup makes it
unlikely that Scott Brosius will be the last one they have to address.
But for now, I have to tip my hat to a team that has one remarkable
strength and is riding it for all it’s worth.
Joe Sheehan can be reached at email@example.com.