As a New York Yankees fan, I am used to seeing big-name, big-money players on the field. I am used to seeing these highly-touted athletes come out and try to play to the back of their bubble gum card. I am used to this, so this year has been quite the sight to see. As far as starting pitching goes, this was supposed to be the year CC Sabathia and Hiroki Kuroda got their groove back, the year that the super-human Japanese pitcher Masahiro Tanaka was gonna come in and save the day, and the year the young guns were going to show everyone what they were made of.
Hehehe funny how things work out sometimes, right?
Of the five starters the Yankees rolled out this year, one man is still standing: Kuroda. Who could have predicted that? Now, Michael Pineda is close to return and it is possible Tanaka will pitch again this year, but the real story here is how the Yanks lost so many pitchers and are only ONE game out of a Wild Card spot. It’s amazing how a patchwork rotation has held their own, despite having low-ish salaries and expectations.
The past four games, the Yankees have been battling the Detroit Tigers. Not only have they been battling the Tigers, but they have been battling the last three Cy Young winners: Max Scherzer, David Price, and Justin Verlander, in order. So, who do the Yanks send out in response? They send out Brandon McCarthy, Kuroda, and Chris Capuano. Then, in the fourth game of the series, they have to face Rick Porcello, who is chasing his 14th win. Who gets to go against him? Shane Greene. Wait, who?
Now, not only have these four pitchers held their own, but they have pitched at the same caliber or better than the star-studded Tigers rotation. Wait, what? This scrap-pile of pitchers pitched as well or better than the Tigers? For real? Believe it, folks. And guess what? The Yankees took the series, winning three out of the four games.
So what gives? Is it really possible that this elusive “money ball” kind of mentality could work for the most notorious spenders in baseball? The answer, as it turns out, is yes. I did some numbers crunching here: The NYY currently have $55,665,614 worth of salary on the DL, all of whom are starting pitchers pitchers. The current starting rotation is costing the Yankees an estimated $30,500,000, with McCarthy earning a third of that number. Crazy, huh? Ok, the Tigers starting rotation is making $73,925,000. So, guys who are making less than half the salary of the Tigers just took three of four games. Wait, what?
I don’t see the Yankees changing their big money ways anytime soon, which is fine! Someone needs to over-pay athletes when there are guys who are also capable, available at the half the price. But isn’t it funny when the expensive aces go down and these second or third rung guys come in and save the day? I don’t mean “haha” funny, more like “Hehe, oh dear God” kind of funny. This year, the Yankees are showing that they can keep pace with big-time starters and hitters, and still squeak out some wins, despite everyone telling them it doesn’t work that way.
So, the next time someone says that the Yankees can’t contend without money, just laugh and remind them of the 2014 season. If, by some miracle, the Yanks do make it into the post-season, it’s hard to say if they will go very far. However, they seem to be doing just fine right now, which is more than anyone was expecting.