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Back-end of Yankee Rotation Silencing Critics

By Keith Cousin
7/21/09

We knew the Yankees were mighty. The free agent off-season signings of AJ Burnett and CC Sabathia seemed to fulfill their most prominent pitching needs. However, these two stars occupy only two spots in the rotation. A question still remained. With no Mike Mussina, and the fragile status of Chien-Ming Wang, who would complete the back-end of the rotation?


If the last two games are a microcosm for the rest of the season, the question has been answered (without a hired gun). Two days ago, Joba Chamberlain pitched 6 2/3 stellar innings against the Tigers for the victory (1 run, 3 hits, and 8 strikeouts), a stark contrast from his last 3 starts (10 earned runs allowed in 13 innings of work). Performances like this will certainly quiet the skeptics who believe Joba would be best suited pitching the late innings from the bullpen.


Last night, Andy Pettitte pitched like his former self. He too, had been punished recently (12 earned runs and 7 walks allowed in 10 1/3 innings over his last two starts). Lately, he seemed to never throw a first-pitch strike and had no rhythm to his game. However, last night, a completely different story developed in the Yankees’ 2-1 victory over Baltimore. Pettitte pitched a near flawless game (7 1/3 innings, 1 earned run, 6 hits, 2 walks, and 8 strike outs). Locked up in a pitcher’s duel with young David Hernandez, Andy was throwing strikes and looking confident until he tired in the eighth, approximately around his 100th pitch thrown. Of course, it’s debatable whether he should have answered the bell for that inning anyway, but that was Joe Girardi’s call and I’ll save that criticism for a different article. It’s very possible that Jose Molina, fresh off a stint on the disabled list and known for his excellent defense and handling of the veteran pitcher, is at least partially responsible for the turnaround. If Pettitte develops a consistent game for the rest of the season, we’ll know for sure.


Bottom line, the Yankees will certainly be in line for an AL East Divisional title if the back-end of the rotation holds up like it has these past two games.

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