We probably would have talked about this already had the All Star-break not happened right in the middle of it, but have people noticed how well the Yankee rotation has been pitching? I came across a tweet earlier this morning pointing it out to me and I actually did a double take at my desk. If you were as blind to it as I was, here's how the last 8 Yankee starts have gone:
- 7/9, McCarthy- 6.2 IP, 9 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 3 K
- 7/10, Phelps- 6 IP, 7 H, 2 ER, 3 BB, 5 K
- 7/11, Kuroda- 7 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 3 K
- 7/12, Greene- 7.1 IP, 4 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 9 K
- 7/13, Whitley- 3.2 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, 2 BB, 4 K
- 7/18, Phelps- 6.1 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 7 K
- 7/19, McCarthy- 6 IP, 6 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 9 K
- 7/20, Kuroda- 6.2 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 6 K
That breaks down to a 1.99 ERA, 3.06 FIP, less than 1 hit per inning, 8.34 K/9, and 1.99 BB/9 in 49.2 innings pitched. That's... really good. Like way better than any of us would have expected this group to pitch. The Yankees are 5-3 in that 8-game and could easily be 8-0. The bullpen blew up behind Phelps on the 10th against the Indians, gave up the winning run in extra innings against the Orioles the next night, and the loss to the O's before the ASB was in a rain-shortened 5-inning affair. The Yanks weren't exactly in a favorable position at the time the game was called, but a lot can happen in 4 more innings.
Of course these results come with the requisite SSS warning, and it is worth noting that not everything is sparkly clean with this 8-game stretch. Some of these outings represent the high point of what guys like Brandon McCarthy and Shane Greene are capable of and should not be the standard for what to expect from them moving forward. I'd say 4 HR allowed by this group over 8 games is probably also not sustainable. And there is the matter of Chase Whitley's short outing adding to the "8 games in a row of 3 ER or fewer" narrative without being a truly good outing. Whitley was pretty terrible in that start, as he has been for the better part of the last month.
The more valid talking point is that the non-Whitley starters have thrown 7 straight starts of 2 ER or fewer. However sustainable or unsustainable that may be, it's something worth talking about now in my opinion. The thought was that the Yankee rotation was going to be dead in the water without Masahiro Tanaka. That hasn't been the case since he went down. McCarthy has looked like a steal in his first 2 starts, David Phelps continues to churn out quality outings, and Hiroki Kuroda looks better and better every time he takes the mound. These guys had a big burden heaped on them when Tanaka hit the DL and so far they've been able to answer the call.