April 11, 2009

Yankees banking on Ks in '09

The Yankees' pitching staff has racked up 22 strikeouts in their last two games - their only two wins on the season. CC Sabathia and Chien-Ming Wang failed to strikeout a single batter in their first starts of the season - the Yankees' only two losses on the season. I have a hunch those facts will mean something for the Yankees in 2009.

What is the importance of the strikeout? Not to dis the Yanks' defense, but a strikeout relieves the fielders of making a play. It also is the one of the best weapons for escaping jams, pumping up the crowd and demoralizing the opponent.

I have always been a fan of the strikeout. In fact, 18 out of the last 23 starters to win the Cy Young Award have struck out over 200 batters in their award-winning season, and 11 of them tallied over 250 strikeouts. The only pitcher I see breaking 200 Ks for the Yankees in '09 is Sabathia (and maybe A.J. Burnett), but the bullpen is filled with strikeout kings (and let's not forget about Joba Chamberlain).

Jose Veras, Brian Bruney and Mariano Rivera throw the fastest pitches out of the Yanks' pen, and have already compiled nine strikeouts in seven appearances combined. Their heavy workload this early early is the only thing that worries me.

Because of the off day the Yankees had this past Tuesday, they can resort back to their presupposed ace tomorrow night against the Royals. Sabathia will take on Horacio Ramirez at 7:05 p.m. ET, while Chamberlain will have to wait an extra day to make his 2009 debut.

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