When the Yankees restructured their pitching staff this winter, it was the rotation that got a makeover. The key pieces of the bullpen were left unchanged. Six games into the regular season, though, the rotation has struggled while the Yankees relievers have been the real strength of the team. Through a three-game sweep in Baltimore, the Yankees bullpen pitched 13.1 scoreless innings.
“I think it was a great job,” Mariano Rivera said. “Definitely it was a great job. We’re capable to do that, though. We’ve got a great group of guys there, a good combination of veterans and young boys there. Hopefully we can continue to do the same thing.”
Rivera blew a save on Opening Day, but he’s since closed out three straight wins. Clay Rapada was knocked around in his Yankees debut, but he got the win on Tuesday. Cory Wade struggled in spring training but has pitched five scoreless innings in the regular season. Dave Robertson has six strikeouts in three innings, Boone Logan retired five straight last night and Rafael Soriano came back from a torn fingernail to get a game-saving strikeout last night.
Then there’s David Phelps, who’s three innings into his big league career and has yet to allow a base runner.
“They’ve been great, they’ve been absolutely great,” Girardi said. “Everyone has done their job.”
With Michael Pineda on the disabled list, the Yankees rotation doesn’t have one of its big additions. The team is basically using last year’s rotation, with Hiroki Kuroda replacing A.J. Burnett. Reinforcements are coming in Pineda and Andy Pettitte, but for now the Yankees bullpen is picking up the slack.
“They’ve been unbelievable,” CC Sabathia said. “We knew all along that that was the strength of our team, so hats off to them. They did another good job. We’re trying to pitch deep into games and give them an opportunity to pitch well.”
Other things gone right: Ivan Nova’s season debut; Derek Jeter’s hot start; Nick Swisher and Raul Ibanez’s game-winners
Associated Press photo