posted 2011-04-27 12:00:02

Yankees Early Season Review

Yankees Early Season Review

Bullpen Anchors Team

Stephanie Boriskin

Staff Writer

After hitting 18 homeruns in the first nine games of the season, the Yankees should be off to a roaring start. The team is batting .236 and has scored 50 runs, yet many aspects of this team are more than perplexing.

The notoriously slow-starting Mark Teixeira has puzzling numbers. Despite his sub-.200 batting average, he's already hit four homers (he didn't hit three until May 10 last season) and has batted in 10 runs, the most on the team. Robinson Cano, once again is the proud owner of the best average on the team, at .324, with two homers. Alex Rodriguez is also back to his old form, pre-hip surgery, scoring nine runs, three of them homeruns, and hitting .321.

But the real surprise has been newly acquired catcher, Russell Martin. Previously with the Los Angeles Dodgers, Martin won the Silver Slugger and Gold Glove in 2007. But after slumping offensively in 2009 and sitting out three months of the 2010 season after tearing his labrum in August, the Dodgers released him. The Yankees picked him up during the offseason. It was a decision many considered unwise, but it’s paid off tremendously so far. He is hitting .300 with three homeruns, including one multi-homer game, and has eight runs batted in.

The pitching rotation is shaping up differently than originally anticipated. Last season, A.J. Burnett had the worst season of his career and the worst performance of any Yankee pitcher in history with over 30 starts, posting a 10-15 record with a 5.26 ERA. This year though, he's won his first two starts and posted a 4.09 ERA with 11 strikeouts.

CC Sabathia, the ace and workhorse of the staff for the last two seasons, has fulfilled his role with a miniscule 1.45 ERA and 17 strikeouts, despite being unable to pick up his first year.

After unlikely winning a starting spot during Spring Training, rookie Ivan Nova is struggling. He’s having trouble getting batters out after inning three. Pitching coach Larry Rothschild believes tricking batters the second or third time through the lineup comes with age and experience. Nova can only gain that with time. But despite his struggles, he has always kept the Yankees in the games he’s pitched, and allowed their bats to take over. He is currently1-0, but owns a 6.1 ERA.

In terms of pitching, Phil Hughes, has been the biggest shock of the season. After pitching a career best 18 wins to eight losses last season, he has yet to win a game in 2011. And he's losing badly, allowing three homeruns, 12 hits and only one strikeout in just six innings of work, yielding a 16.5 ERA. His velocity and command are lacking, as he barely throws a heater at 90 MPH.

But their bullpen has held up their end of the bargain. The late inning combination of Joba Chamberlain, Rafael Soriano and Mariano Rivera as proven to be a good one.

Despite raised ERAs from Soriano and Chamberlain, the trio is lights out. Commentators around baseball have named this combo "JoSoMo."

Due to the success of those three, reliever David Robertson is flying under the radar. He has tossed four shutout innings in four appearances with three strikeouts and one walk, amounting to one win.

All of this has contributed to the Yankees owning perhaps the best bullpen in baseball.