Among the many impressive aspects of the Yankees' performance in these early weeks of the 2010 season is the degree to which they are making starters work exceptionally hard and driving them out of games early.
This is not an entirely new development with the 2010 version of the Yankees. Notwithstanding the well-documented aggressiveness of two of their best hitters-for-average – Jeter and Cano – one of the hallmarks of this team for years has been patience at the plate.
Nor is it a specialty of the Yankees alone. That other team that is celebrated on this site has also made a living for years off of making pitchers come to them and then punishing them when they do. It's probably the biggest reason why Joe West can't stand umping the games that pit these two patient offenses against one another almost as much as their fans can't stand it when he's behind the plate.
But with a newly patient Cano (three walks last night!?!?), the always-patient Posada, two Job-like Nicks, and a disciplined bottom of the order in the lineup, this Yankee team is especially rough on starters.
After 13 games in which they have faced – among others – the likes of Beckett, Lester, Lackey, Price, Kazmir, Piniero, Harden, Feldman, and Shields, the average starter opposing the Yankees has lasted just 5.1 IP during which he has thrown 99 pitches (18.6 pitchers per inning); walked 3.2 batters; and given up 3.5 earned runs, yielding a collective ERA of 6.30. And that's before the soft underbelly of the bullpen trots in to finish almost the entire second half of the game.
Of course it's early in the season and many pitchers take a few starts to settle in. But the Yankees' approach at the plate this year – which seems to regularly force 25+ pitch innings for some of the game's best starters – has been fun to watch.
Here's to hoping they keep it up for the next 149 games and beyond.