It hasn't exactly been smooth sailing for the Yankee rotation this year. There have already been issues with quantity of innings pitched and the quality of those innings, and as of yesterday the rotation has been shuffled again to include the returning Andy Pettite, who had an up-and-down debut against Seattle. It's still too early for anybody to say whether Pettitte is definitely going to be a better long-term option for the back end, but the performance of the 4 other guys in the rotation on the most recent turn through is a very encouraging sign and hopefully a sign that the Yankees won't have to spend as much time biting their nails over the 5th spot moving forward.
The combined line of Nova, CC, Kuroda, and Hughes from 5/8-5/12 looks like this:
- 29.2 IP, 25 H, 5 ER, 7 BB, 24 K, 5 HR, 34 GB, 4-0 Record
That works out to a 1.52 ERA and 3.43 K/BB ratio, and includes consecutive victories (excluding Phelps' outing in the middle) over James Shields, David Price, and Felix Hernandez in games where the Yankee starter outpitched his opponent. There is a 4.48 FIP in those innings, driven up by the 5 HR allowed, but all 5 of those homers were solo shots and in a sample size this small I can live with that. Eventually, the high HR rate will start to come down and guys' FIP lines will start to look better.
The important thing is that the Yankee rotation, at least on this most recent turn, started to look like the one we expected to see this season. Guys are keeping runners off base, keeping the ball down in the zone, working efficiently and pitching deeper into games, and limiting damage by getting more groundball outs and big strikeouts when they need them. Nova starts another turn tonight against Baltimore, a team he's already faced twice this season, once with good results and once without. Hopefully he can continue this stretch of solid starting pitching performances and help inch his team closer to the top of the division.