- Last Updated: 5:45 PM, June 19, 2012
- Posted: 1:37 AM, June 19, 2012
Maybe in this age of the pitcher, when even perfect games are becoming kind of commonplace, the quality start is hardly noticeable. After all, what are three earned runs or fewer in six or more innings compared to no runs, no hits, no errors in nine innings?
But for the Yankees, reaching “quality” cannot be overstated. Neither can the return of Andy Pettitte, who almost single-handedly has transformed the “quality” of the Yankees rotation.
The Yankees are 31-4 when they author a quality start. The .886 winning percentage is second best in the majors. The leader is Baltimore (28-3, .903), which helps explain, in part, why the Orioles are hanging tough in the AL East. The major league average, heading into yesterday’s games, was .676.
But the Yankees had just 13 quality starts in their first 35 games (before Pettitte’s arrival). Only the Twins (9) and Royals (10) had fewer in the AL, and they continue to have the fewest overall.
However, since Pettitte’s first start, on May 13, the Yankees have an AL-best 22 quality starts in 31 games. The distribution has been fantastic: Pettitte and CC Sabathia have five each, Hiroki Kuroda, Phil Hughes and Ivan Nova have four each.
Maybe it is just coincidence the whole rotation is doing better since Pettitte came back to town. But I think there is more to it than just happenstance.
An NL personnel head said Pettitte has a “calming veteran presence.” He projects confidence and serenity. Suddenly, Hughes, Kuroda and Nova aren’t feeling nearly as much weight trying to line up properly behind Sabathia.
For the converse, look at what has occurred with the Phillies since Roy Halladay went on the disabled list. Before his injury — even with Halladay struggling somewhat — the rotation was 19-16 with a 3.32 ERA. The starters are 5-9 with a 5.40 ERA since Halladay went on the DL, despite the continuing presence of Cole Hamels and Cliff Lee.
Since Pettitte’s arrival, the Yankees rotation has gone from problem to asset. Obviously, the rotation is supported by both a strong lineup and bullpen. But that works both ways. By holding opponents down, the starters have minimized the offense’s redundant problems in the clutch.
One major reason the pen continued to thrive even with Mariano Rivera and David Robertson on the DL was tied to how deep the starters were getting into games. Manager Joe Girardi, always an excellent manipulator of the pen, has been able to define relief roles and limit workloads, especially in individual games because he has needed to cover, in general, no more than 6-9 outs.Follow @NYPostsports