For 6.2 innings, Jordan Montgomery shut down the Kansas City Royals lineup on Tuesday night. The lone blemish was a solo homer by Lorenzo Cain in the top of the seventh inning. Montgomery was efficient and he threw strikes, 71 of them in his 98 pitches on the night. It was easily his best outing of the season, and he was in line for the win as he departed.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi called on Adam Warren to get the last out of the 7th inning, and it took all of seven pitches for the Royals to take the lead and wipe out what would have been a much deserved third win of the season for Montgomery. Warren threw two quick strikes on Salvador Perez, but couldn’t put him away. Perez stroked a single on the 6th pitch of the at-bat, and Jorge Bonifacio smoked the first pitch he saw from Warren over the wall in right-field to give the Royals a 3-2 lead.
In the top of the 8th inning, Girardi called on Jonathan Holder to hold the Royals offense in check. It took all of two pitches for Yankees fans to murmur to themselves, “It’s not what you want”, when Royals second baseman Whit Merrifield lifted Holder’s offering over the right field fence. Two batters later, Holder hit Alcides Escobar with the 7th pitch of the at-bat, and Girardi summoned lefty Chasen Shreve to face the left-handed power threat Mike Moustakas. Things went from bad to worse when “Moose” absolutely destroyed an offering from Shreve that landed in the second deck, closing the scoring on the night, giving Kansas City a 6-2 lead in a game the Yankees had at hand for much of the evening.
The bullpen’s performance in this game highlighted a growing issue with the Yankees, especially with starters having some struggles going deep into games. We are 43 games into the 2017 campaign, and one has to question if relievers are becoming overworked. Tyler Clippard and Holder have appeared in 21 games and 20 games, respectively, putting them on pace for roughly 80 games for the season. Warren has appeared in 16 games.
It’s still early in the season and while 20 games may seem tame in terms of general numbers, that’s a lot of warming up and coming in to close to 50% of the games. There are some games where these guys may have warmed up, but weren’t called upon. It just leaves this writer wondering if guys are already beginning to feel some fatigue.
Above are the season stats as of this morning for Yankees starting pitchers. None of the five starters are averaging six innings per start. Michael Pineda‘s average innings/start is the highest on the team at 5.96, while Masahiro Tanaka is lowest at 5.3333 innings/start, everyone else falls in between. In most cases, the starters are approaching 100 pitches in the majority of these starts, so efficiency is the main issue.
Simply put, the Yankees need more length from their starters. It’s too much to ask for the bullpen to get 10 or more outs per game, every game, because guys are going to get burned out and fatigued. After last night’s performance, it makes one wonder if that is already happening.
See you next time!