Despite the fact that the Yankees' pen turned in 5.2 scoreless innings and the offense churned out 5 runs, the Yankees lost. Why? Re-read the title of this post.
The Yankees are now 5-16 in the last 21 games that AJ has started dating all the way back to June 4. Given that wins and losses can be misleading when judging a pitcher's performance, I dug a little below the surface. In his last 21 starts – including tonight - AJ has compiled a 6.67 ERA; a 1.659 WHIP; and averaged just under 5.1 IP/game. Opponents are hitting .301 off him, slugging .505, and getting on base at a disastrous .390 rate. A .390 OBP across the board over 21 games!
Going into tonight's game even the most pessimistic Yanks fan would not have predicted that AJ would throw his worst game of the season if only because he has had such horrible games that it would be near inconceivable for him to do even worse than, say, 8 earned runs in 3.1 innings (August 27 vs. CWS). This is a guy who had given up 7 or more earned runs in less than 5 innings on 4 separate occassions this year coming into tonight. Well, congratulations AJ, you've now done it 5 times and tonight's clunker – 7 earned runs in 2.1 IP – is the worst yet. I do have faith however: AJ has one more regular season start, in Fenway no less. Do I hear double digit runs in less than 2 innings? Anyone? Anyone?
Of the 67 starting pitchers in the majors who have started at least 30 games this year, AJ has the worst ERA (5.33) and the worst opponents' OBP (.362) and is in the bottom 5 of virtually every other important pitching category. As Michael Kay said during tonight's broadcast, it is hard to believe that the Yankees maintained the best record in baseball for virtually all of the three and a half months that their supposed #2 starter was arguably the worst starter in baseball.
If momentum is only as good as your next starting pitcher then following last night's nail-biting win vs. the Sox, the Yankees have really put the pedal to the metal. In reverse. Thanks AJ.