Midseason Grades: Pitchers

The old cliché that pitching wins championships tends to always be the case. The Yankees have one of the best bullpens in baseball and if they add a starting pitcher to bulk up the rotation, the Yankees could also have one of the better starting rotations in baseball. For now, let’s dive into our midseason report cards across the board for Yankee pitchers.

Dellin Betances
Chad’s Grade: A+, Steven’s Grade: A
Chad: Dellin Betances has been dealing all season long. It goes without saying that his dominance was exhibited from the beginning of the season as it roughly a month and a half for him to allow an earned run. Betances is deservingly making his second straight All-Star appearance with a record of 5-2 with a 1.53 ERA and 7 saves. With the duo of Andrew Miller and Dellin Betances, the game is shortened to 7 innings because if the Yankees have the lead after the 7th inning, the game is all but over.
Steven: With Betances there really isn’t much to complain about. He’s one of the most dominant relievers in baseball, and it’s a real luxury the Yankees are able to use him in the 8th inning. He also filled in admirably for closer Andrew Miller while he was on the DL. Betances passes all tests with flying colors.
Chris Capuano
Chad’s Grade: D, Steven’s Grade: F
Chad: Chris Capuano hasn’t done anything for the team that is blowing anyone away. As a starting pitcher, he was dreadful and that is a major part of why he holds onto a record of 0-4 with an ERA of 4.76. However, ever since moving him into the bullpen, Capuano has lowered his ERA by nearly 1.5 earned runs per 9 innings from 6.39 to what it currently sits at.
Steven: Capuano has been a liability and quite frankly completely useless. This may have been one of Brian Cashman’s worst moves of the offseason. He is basically being paid $5 million dollars to do nothing. He has not contributed in any meaningful way thus far, and whenever Girardi brings him into the game he is waving the white flag to the other team.

David Carpenter
Chad’s Grade: F, Steven’s Grade: F
Chad: Unfortunately, David Carpenter was an absolute bust in pinstripes. It’s funny how some people simply can’t handle the pressures of New York and how some people thrive in it. Carpenter simply wasn’t cut out for the Bronx as he could not get outs on the mound. Although I think the Yankees gave up on him far too early (they gave up on Carpenter before Esmil Rogers!), Carpenter lost all of Girardi’s trust pretty quickly and was spiraling downhill when he was on the hill.
Steven: Carpenter was supposed to be an integral part of our bullpen by pitching in high leverage situations in the 6th and 7th innings, but he was a disaster. Whenever Girardi brought him into a game, it seemed as if he gave up a homerun. Since he’s been flourishing in Washington, I think it’s safe to say he couldn’t handle the pressure of New York. Good Riddance!

Nathan Eovaldi
Chad’s Grade: C, Steven’s Grade: B-
Chad: When the Yankees acquired Nathan Eovaldi, we knew exactly what we were getting: a guy with potentially great stuff but no strikeout pitch and a guy who gets hit, a lot. This has continued as hitters are hitting .308 against him this year (a career high) and Eovaldi also carries a WHIP of 1.52 which is also a career high. Nathan Eovaldi is 9-2 with an ERA of 4.50 but his record can be attributed to the fact that he gets the fourth most run support in the MLB at 5.61 runs per start. Eovaldi has a ton of potential but is far too inconsistent. If he can transition from a thrower to a pitcher, the flamethrower with a fastball consistently reaching into the high 90’s could become a great pitcher down the road. Until then, he’s a below average starting pitcher and he’s very inconsistent.
Steven: First and foremost, I’m still upset that Cashman traded Martin Prado (who is everything this team is missing) for Eovaldi in the offseason. That being said, Eovaldi has been better of late and has become a solid number 4 starter. Ever since his disastrous beat down by his former teammates in Miami, in which Eovaldi lasted only 2/3 of an inning; he appears to have become a better pitcher. I still don’t trust him, but he’s here and has a high upside.
Jacob Lindgren
Chad’s Grade: I, Steven’s Grade: I
Chad: The promotion of Jacob Lindgren was hyped as a guy who was ready to be promoted and stick as a fixture in the bullpen for years to come. Sadly, Lindgren was harboring an injury for the sole purpose of getting a crack at facing major league hitters. The injury is certainly the cause for his struggles. When he gets healthy, he could be an electric pitcher in the Yankee pen.
Steven: While Lindgren flashed some promise, he was obviously nervous during his brief time in the Bronx prior to injuring his elbow. Considering he is only 22 years old, that is acceptable when you’re thrown onto the scene and being placed into high leverage situations. I wish him a successful recovery, and I hope he’ll be back up with the team next year and become a fixture for years to come.

Chris Martin
Chad’s Grade: C-, Steven’s Grade: D+
Chad: In grading Chris Martin, I can’t forget about the strong showing he had in the month of April. Martin was one of the better pitchers in the bullpen in April with an ERA of 2.45. After suffering from elbow tendonitis in early May, Martin just wasn’t the same pitcher when he returned. His ERA in May and June was 10.80 and 13.50, respectively skyrocketing his ERA to 5.62 on the season. He current finds himself struggling in triple-A with an ERA of 5.02. My hope is that he can figure himself out and get back to his April-self soon.
Steven: Bearing in mind that Chris Martin was working as a stock boy at Lowe’s two years ago, I can’t deem this a complete failure. During the first couple weeks of the season, Martin was actually a dependable reliever. Following his return from injury in June, however, he was horrendous. Maybe he can be an impact arm later on in the year, but I’m not holding my breath. It’s a shame too because I was rooting for him to have a Kurt Warner-like story.

Andrew Miller
Chad’s Grade: A, Steven’s Grade: A
Chad: Andrew Miller gets an A+ if it hadn’t been for his injury. The injury also cost him a sure-fire All-Star appearance. Miller has been dominant holding down the ninth inning all season long for the Yankees. He’s yet to blow a save in 18 opportunities with an ERA of 1.53 on the season. He too held an ERA of 0.00 for about a month and a half. Miller plays a huge role in the fact that games are 7 inning long when him and Betances are both available out of the bullpen.
Steven: Signing Andrew Miller was one of Brian Cashman’s best moves in a long time. I take pleasure in not having to watch David Robertson pull off a Houdini act every time a save opportunity arises. Miller has been absolute money this season, converting 18 of 18 save opportunities. Also, he is freakin’ nasty!

Bryan Mitchell
Chad’s Grade: B, Steven’s Grade: B
Chad: Bryan Mitchell is a guy who I think is similar to Nathan Eovaldi, but better. Mitchell also throws a fastball reaching into the high 90’s but the difference is that Mitchell has a knee-buckling curveball that he uses as a strikeout pitch. Mitchell is a starting pitcher by nature so he’s stretched out to throw multiple innings out of the bullpen if needed. If someone goes down with an injury in the rotation, look for Mitchell to step in and thrive in the rotation, all barring he isn’t dealt at the trade deadline.
Steven: Mitchell is slowly working his way into Joe Girardi’s circle of trust. Having been initially called up to serve as a long man, Mitchell is being trusted in high leverage situations, and succeeding. If Mitchell continues his success, he can help elevate this bullpen to the next level.
Ivan Nova
Chad’s Grade: B, Steven’s Grade: B+
Chad: The return of Ivan Nova was justifiably so highly anticipated. Nova has been a guy who has been inconsistent throughout his career but coming back from Tommy John Surgery, I couldn’t ask for any more out of him. He’s done very well although his record of 1-3 doesn’t go to show for the work he’s put in. Nova has an ERA of 3.42 through 23.2 innings and I look for the ERA to hover around the mid 3’s for the rest of the season. If that happens, Super Nova will be an integral part of the success the Yankees enjoy in the second half.
Steven: I wanted to give Nova an incomplete, but since he’s a starter I’m going to evaluate what he’s done thus far. Put very simply, Nova has been Nova with two good starts and two subpar starts, and that is exactly what I expected from him. While some believe Nova has the potential to be an elite pitcher, I am not on that boat. He is consistently inconsistent, and this has been the case his entire career. Nova is a solid number 4 starter, but unfortunately the Yankees are depending on him to be a number 3.
Brandon Pinder
Chad’s Grade: C, Steven’s Grade: I
Chad: I give Brandon Pinder a C because out of the revolving door pullpen pitchers, Pinder has logged the most innings at 10.2. Pinder is back in triple-A but an ERA of 2.53 goes to show that he gave the Yankees solid outings in low-pressure situations. Pinder doesn’t strike me as a long-term bullpen guy but as a guy who was relatively unheard of, Pinder stepped in an drastically outperformed any expectations fans had of him.
Steven: During Pinder’s time in the major’s he has been okay. He had some bad outings, but also some encouraging ones. I have not seen enough of him to give an accurate evaluation.

Michael Pineda
Chad’s Grade: B, Steven’s Grade: B+
Chad: Michael Pineda has shown flashes where he’s absolutely unhittable such as the 16 strikeout game against Baltimore or the one-hit allowed across 6.2 innings against Miami. On the flipside, Pineda has also had times where he simply can’t get an out such as in Kansas City or the start against the last-place Phillies. With that said, Pineda gives the Yankees the most length out of the rotation which is why I give him the nod over Tanaka as the ace of the staff. Pineda also carries a ridiculous strikeout to walk ratio of 8.5 K/BB which leads the American League.
Steven: Pineda has the potential to be downright filthy, and I really hope that during the second half he develops into the ace of this rotation because good lord do we need one! While Pineda has shown signs of outright dominance, he has also been rocked around in a few starts. At the halfway point of the season, Pineda has been our best starting pitcher and I pray he stays healthy. I also hope Joe Girardi doesn’t give him 11 days rest again. We saw how that worked out the last time.

Jose Ramirez
Chad’s Grade: I, Steven’s Grade: F
Chad: Jose Ramirez has great stuff. He’s a fire-baller with a hard fastball and good secondarty pitches. The problem is that he struggles to throw strikes at times and has not confidence at the major league level. Because he dominates in triple-A don’t write him off just yet.
Steven: Every time they call up this guy it seems as if he is getting bombed. The same was true this year. All I can remember is that disastrous outing against the Marlins in Miami. I’ve heard he has dominant stuff, but that has yet to be displayed in the majors.

Esmil Rogers
Chad’s Grade: F, Steven’s Grade: F+
Chad: Esmil Rogers has been a failure out of the Yankee bullpen. His struggles caused him to be cut by Toronto last season and he hasn’t enjoyed a resurgence in the Bronx. Rogers was decent in April and him being stretched out as a long reliever caused him to be used more often but Rogers has lost the ability to get major league hitters out.
Steven: Along with Stephen Drew, Esmil Rogers was one of Joe Girardi’s favorites. I cannot fathom why he was brought into so many high leverage situations. Every time he came into the game it seemed as if he was being bombed. My heart is still pounding from when he nearly blew an 8-1 lead in the ninth inning against the Angels. Thank God he is not on the team anymore. Unfortunately he is stashed away in Triple A, and we all know Girardi would love nothing more than to give him another chance with the big league club.

Nick Rumbelow
Chad’s Grade: I, Steven’s Grade: I
Chad: Nick Rumbelow too has great stuff that fits the mold of a solid relief pitcher for years to come. He has pitched pretty well but with a tiny sample size, he isn’t ready to be graded yet.
Steven: During his time in the majors this year, Rumbelow has only pitched in four games, though he did show signs of promise. Unfortunately, I do not feel as if I can give him a fair evaluation at this point.

CC Sabathia
Chad’s Grade: D, Steven’s Grade:D+
Chad: After putting weight back on in 2015, I expected CC Sabathia to become a solid pitcher again. It wouldn’t have been fair to expect the Sabathia of 2009, but I expected him to be better than 4-8 with an ERA of 5.47. Sabathia has mixed in some flashes of brilliance with consistent struggles this year. Sabathia is owed a lot more money through 2017 barring he doesn’t injure his shoulder so if he continues struggling, the Sabathia situation in New York could become very interesting.
Steven: When CC pitches it seems as if whenever I turn my head he is giving up a home run, and this is not an exaggeration considering he leads the league with 19 of them allowed! Quite frankly, I think CC is done and the Yankees should shift him to the bullpen because he has actually been decent the first time through the batting order, especially while facing lefties. While I hope and pray his recent halfway decent outing against the A’s can lead to a second-half resurgence from Sabathia, I’m not optimistic. He has been an extreme liability to his team thus far.
Sergio Santos
Chad’s Grade: I, Steven’s Grade: I
Chad: Sergio Santos striking out two batters with his filthy breaking ball and getting out of a messy bases loaded, no-out jam in a one-run game in Miami is one of my favorite highlights of this season so far. To the dismay of many, Santos suffered elbow inflammation following that clutch outing and went to the cutting board for Tommy John Surgery. He was the second Yankee pitcher to be victimized by the Tommy John epidemic this season.
Steven: While at first Santos looked like a pick from Cashman’s weekly dumpster dive approach to getting arms in the bullpen, I don’t know what to make of him. He had a few atrocious outings, but then before getting hurt worked his way out of a Jose Ramirez-created bases loaded no outs disaster in Miami. Hopefully the Tommy John recovery goes well!

Chasen Shreve
Chad’s Grade: A, Steven’s Grade: A
Chad: Chasen Shreve has been amazing this season. In my mind, he’s the best reliever in the bullpen not named Dellin Betances or Andrew Miller and the stats back it up. Shreve propelled himself into the All-Star game conversation with a record of 6-1 and an ERA of 2.02 with 37 strikeouts in 35.2 innings pitched in the first half of the season. I couldn’t have asked for a better first half out of Shreve.
Steven: Since Carpenter was absolutely horrendous, Shreve is all the Yankees have to show from trading former top prospect Manny Banuelos. While Shreve was looked at as a situational lefty in spring training, he has turned into one of Joe Girardi’s favorite weapons in the bullpen. He’s had a few hiccups recently, but that doesn’t take away from the huge roll he’s played this year. Shreve, along with Justin Wilson, serve as an impressive bridge to Betances and Miller.
Masahiro Tanaka
Chad’s Grade: B, Steven’s Grade: B
Chad: Masahiro Tanaka was advertised as a number 3 starter by Brian Cashman after he signed last season. Despite that, Tanaka was one of the best pitchers in the league last season which yields high expectations. Tanaka is more hittable this year than last but is putting up solid numbers as he competes with Pineda for the ace status of the rotation. He’s been fairly consistent from start to start so we can just hope that he stays healthy and avoids Tommy John.
Steven: Due to Tanaka’s stellar performance last season before his injury, I have held him to extremely high standards. Tanaka has shown signs of his past dominance this season, however he has also been very hittable at times and that troubles me. His last start against the A’s was superb, and I hope he has finally righted the ship after a few rocky outings. If the Yankees want to make a World Series run, they need Tanaka, along with Pineda, to be the deadly 1-2 combo that they are more than capable of becoming.
Adam Warren
Chad’s Grade: B+, Steven’s Grade: A-
Chad: Warren was the most consistent starting pitcher in the rotation before being booted his safe-haven of the bullpen with the return of Ivan Nova. Although expected, Warren going to the bullpen had many pros and cons. Warren was fantastic out of the bullpen last year and being that he has been put back into the seventh inning role with Justin Wilson, the back end of Wilson, Shreve, Warren, Betances and Miller may be the best bunch of relievers as a group in baseball.
Steven: It’s a complete disgrace that our most consistent starting pitcher was demoted to the bullpen, while CC and Eovaldi are allowed to consistently give up home runs and hits. While at first I questioned whether or not Warren was even a serviceable number 5, he really stepped up and proved he can be a dependable number 3 by always giving the Yankees a chance to win when he took the mound. At least he will be a key part of our bullpen in the second half.
Chase Whitley
Chad’s Grade: I, Steven’s Grade: I
Chad: Chase Whitley was a guy I was excited to see again. In my mind, he should’ve been on the team over Esmil Rogers from the beginning. Unfortunately, upon being called up from triple-A, he too, hid an injury from the coaching staff which only worsened. He went down with a torn UCL in April in Tampa which put him on the cutting board as he had Tommy John Surgery. The hope is that he can make an impact in the bullpen in the summer and fall of 2016.
Steven: This season Chase Whitley was Chase Whitley. While his first two starts were encouraging, he still resembled the pitcher we saw last year. Maybe he could have taken the next step this year, but who knows. Anyways, good luck on the TJ recovery!

Justin Wilson
Chad’s Grade: B+, Steven’s Grade: A-
Chad: Justin Wilson struggled in the early month and a half of the season but has since settled down and become incredibly reliable. Aside from Betances and Miller, Girardi probably trusts Wilson the most although he also relies heavily on Shreve and Warren. Wilson is looking like the Justin Wilson of 2013 with a hard fastball and good slider translating to an ERA of 2.73 and 32 strikeouts in 33 innings pitched.
Steven: While Wilson looked like an early bust, he has really settled down and became a reliable member of our middle relief corps. Effectively holding down the 8th inning while Miller was on the DL, I now expect Wilson to easily slide into the 7th inning. Overall he was a great addition by Brian Cashman this offseason. I mean we only gave up Francisco Cervelli so I’ll deem this trade a good one for the Yanks.

As stated in the introductory paragraph, the Yankees may be a trade away from becoming a real contender in the American League. They have a respectable lead on Tampa Bay in the AL East and if they bolster up the starting rotation, the Yankees have a real shot at winning the pennate. Part three of our Yankee report cards will be out this afternoon as we grade the coaching staff and front office. For now, follow Chad on twitter @Chad_Rain and Steven on twitter @SEareckson.


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