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Slow Starters

C.C. Sabathia will look to lead the struggling starting rotation back on the winning track

After acquiring Michael Pineda and Hiroki Kuroda in the offseason, the New York Yankees strong-point looked to be their starting rotation heading into 2012. But since losing Pineda for the season during spring training due to a shoulder injury on top of the struggles by the other starters on the mound, that rotation seems to be in an early rut and in desperate need of immediate improvement.

From game one, C.C. Sabathia displayed signs of this struggle, making it through just six innings, he gave up eight hits and five runs, with four of those coming off of a devastating grand-slam home run. His woes continued into the next start, where he gave up similar similar numbers and earned his second straight no-decision on the game. In his last two starts though, Sabathia seems to be turning it around. He went deeper into the game and gave up less hits and earned runs, which got him a win in both. Fortunate to have a record of 2-0, Sabathia will need to continue the trend of dropping his ERA and regaining command of his pitches as the Yankees will obviously rely heavily on him being the superstar of the rotation.

With a 1-3 record to start, Hiroki Kuroda has proved to be inconsistent on the mound to this point. At times, he’s looked untouchable. Against the Angels in his second start, he pitched an eight-inning shutout, giving up only five hits on his way to his first victory. Despite a loss in his last start, Kuroda still looked solid going 6.2 innings giving up just two runs but had no run-support to back him. However good he’s looked in those starts, he’s looked equally as bad or worse in his others. In his other  losses, Kuroda get shelled, giving up a total of 18 hits and 10 earned runs, 12 runs total, and only lasted ten innings between those two starts. There’s higher expectations of Kuroda for the Yankees, and he’ll need to be more consistent to prove he can handle New York.

The biggest disappointments in the starting five thus far though, has clearly been Phil Hughes and Freddy Garcia. Numbers don’t lie and theirs yell loud and clearly that they may not be capable of owning that staring role. In a combined seven starts between the pair, they’ve contributed just one win and three losses. Their ERA’s are astronomical, Hughes with a 7.88, and Garcia with an unbelievable 9.75. They’ve also only posted a minute 28 innings total combined in those seven starts.

The batting order has been on it’s own hot and cold streaks, with the exception of the sizzling start Captain Derek Jeter has been off to. But no lineup can be expected to keep up with these astounding ERA’s, inconsistent play, and often less than stellar starts from the pitching staff.  Although Andy Pettitte isn’t quite ready to join the Yankees, when that time comes he will be knocking one of these two shaky starters out of their spot.

There has been one bright spot on the staff however. Ivan Nova is off to a good start with a 3-0 record in three starts. Currently holding an ERA of 3.79, he is the only one among the starters with an ERA under four. The third year starter shows plenty of promise and will look to maintain his undefeated status with another victory tonight in the when takes the mound against the dangerous Detroit Tigers lineup coming to the Bronx.

At 10-8, back only 1.5 games in the division, the Yankees will need their starting rotation to get on more of roll as the season progresses. If certain individuals can’t step up to the task, changes may be soon to come.