The Yankees' current four-game losing streak has been tougher to endure than any other stretch thus far this year -- the dual fear of the Red Sox hanging around past their expiration date coupled with a desire to see the team head into the postseason on a high note has certainly made me feel uncomfortable, and I doubt I'm the only one.
That being said, one doesn't have to look too far to see why the Yankees have lost the last four games. While the offense hasn't exactly shown up outside of Friday night's 10-8 loss -- and even then, despite a valiant effort it still came too late -- these losses can almost exclusively be pinned on the Yankees' pitching, both of the starting and relieving variety.
No Yankee starter has lasted longer than CC Sabathia's 5 1/3 innings these last four games. Andy Pettitte was of course lit up over 3 1/3 on Friday, while Ivan Nova once again had his regularly scheduled fifth-inning implosion yesterday. Now, A.J. Burnett's outing on Wednesday was rain-shortened, so we don't know how long he may have gone, but either way the lack of distance has resulted in Joe Girardi going to the weakest pieces of his bullpen to save his superior relievers for the later innings. Unfortunately the seedy underbelly of the bullpen not only hasn't been doing its job, it's been getting destroyed, and the Yankees have barely even had a fighter's chance of coming back given that their relievers have been dousing gasoline on their assorted fires, much less opportunities to pitch their top relievers.
Neither David Robertson or Mariano Rivera has pitched since Monday. Joba Chamberlain has thrown 3 1/3 innings since September 20 and given up two runs. Kerry Wood has thrown 1 1/3 innings and given up no runs. And the seven-headed combination of Javier Vazquez, Royce Ring, Dustin Moseley, Chad Gaudin, Jonathan Albaladejo, Sergio Mitre and Romulo Sanchez -- also known as a group of pitchers who shouldn't be anywhere near a postseason roster -- have thrown 17 innings over the last five games, to the tune of a 6.88 ERA.
So I guess the bright side is that the Yankee pitching staff can't really pitch much worse than it has been. If Moseley follows the recent trend of digging the Yankees an early hole tonight, we'll likely see still more of the Gaudins and Mitres of the world being asked to do things they are seemingly incapable of doing, but that's still preferable to wasting the team's top relief arms in a losing effort.
This Yankee team is far too talented to completely collapse. Hopefully once the rotation turns over tomorrow the Yankees can begin to turn this thing around, get quality outings out of their starters and have their best relief pitchers close the games out, which is the same formula that's worked all year until this recent unfortunate stretch.