There were 34 pitchers invited to Yankees camp. Right now, exactly seven of them have an ERA higher than 4.50 this spring. Granted, it’s absurdly early, but for a Yankees team that’s trying to figure out its fifth starter and trying to piece together a fairly wide-open bullpen, the early pitching has been about as good as could be expected.
“There’s been some kids who have kind of stepped up a little bit and done a good job,” manager Joe Girardi said. “It’s still early and you consider that pitchers should be a little bit ahead of the hitters now, but I’ve liked what I’ve seen. We have not walked a ton of people. They’ve challenged guys. They’ve gotten big outs when they’ve had to. We’ve pitched in a lot of close games; the 3-2s, the 5-4s. I’ve liked what I’ve seen, actually.”
Robert Coello has been knocked around, one bad inning has spoiled Brian Gordon’s numbers, and Chase Whitley was roughed up with four runs in his first outing and two runs a week later. Matt Thornton has pitched just an inning and a third, Manny Banuelos has pitched just once, and Bruce Billings saw his ERA balloon just yesterday. Ivan Nova has been both terrific and a little rocky, leaving him with a 5.40 ERA through three starts.
Otherwise, most of the pitching numbers are pretty good. There are 15 pitchers in camp with a 1.00 WHIP or better, and through 107 innings, the staff has walked just 20 batters. Dellin Betances has been terrific, Chris Leroux and Yoshinori Tateyama are pitching like they belong on the radar, and neither Mark Montgomery nor Dave Robertson has allowed either a hit or a walk. The Yankees have a the third-lowest team WHIP and fourth-most team strikeouts in baseball so far this spring.
“You’re taking a look at what guys are doing, absolutely,” Girardi said. “And they’re getting stronger as you see them.”
There’s a reason so many Triple-A veterans like Tateyama, Matt Daley, David Herndon and Jim Miller elected to come back to the Yankees this spring. They see opportunity to break camp, and everyone seems to be pitching with something to gain if they pitch well.
“When you looked at how their offseason played out, how they allocated the money, you knew there were going to be some openings in the pen that were available,” Miller said. “It kind of made sense in our mind to come back with the opportunity that was available. … If I can just come in there and have a similar type of camp and show them what I did during the season (last year), I feel like I’d be in a good position.”
Associated Press photos