All Non-Hall of Fame Team – Pitchers
Here is the final part of Yankee’s Non-Hall of Fame Team. Today, we will discuss the Yankees’ starting rotation and three relievers for the backend of the bullpen.
ACE: Ron Guidry
First off, the difference between the ace and the fifth starter of this staff is minuscule. That being said, Guidry takes the top spot for his fantastic peak and consistently great career. Aside from a weak year in 1984 (and even then, he had a 3.77 FIP), “Louisiana Lightning” shocked and awed opposing batters throughout his career. His 1978 season – 25 wins, 1.74 ERA, 2.19 FIP, 208 ERA+, 3.44 SO/W – was a Hall of Fame-worthy season. He shined in the postseason, posting a 3.02 ERA in seven series. If he had a slightly longer career, the Gator may have entered the actual Hall of Fame.
NUMBER TWO: Mel Stottlemyre
The most unfortunate aspect of Mel Stottlemyre’s career is that he only had one chance to pitch in the postseason. Thankfully, he won several rings as a coach, but in his prime Stottlemyre was a high-quality workhorse. From 1965 to 1973, Stottlemyre averaged 37 starts, 16 complete games and 272 innings per year, numbers that dwarf current pitcher’s innings. Despite the bulk innings he pitched, Stottlemyre was effective, finishing his career with a 2.97 ERA and a 3.37 FIP, never finishing a season with an ERA over 4. In terms of modern statistics, Stottlemyre was not quite the strikeout artist of today’s game (career mark of 4.3 K/9), nor was his ERA+ (112). That being said, he also limited base on balls (2.7 BB/9) and kept batters in the park (0.6 HR/9), via Baseball-Reference. Of course, he pitched in an era of great pitching, but still, Stottlemyre’s consistent greatness deserves praise.
MIDDLE: CC Sabathia
Had he not had struggled from 2013-2015, the big fella may have been this staff’s ace. Despite those poor years, Sabathia was a staple of the Yankees’ rotation over the past decade. From 2009 to 2012, Sabathia was a five-win player, with a 3.22 ERA, a 3.28 FIP, and a 135 ERA+, via Baseball-Reference. Then, from 2016 to 2018, with his career on the brink, Sabathia rebranded himself from a flamethrower to a jack-of-all-trades pitcher and threw to a 3.76 ERA with a 115 ERA+, again via Baseball-Reference. In the 2009 postseason, Sabathia had a 1.98 ERA leading the Bombers to their 27th World Championship. Sabathia was an ace and a workforce at the start of his Yankees career, and he ended his time in the Bronx a leader and a fantastic contributor, who may possibly be inducted into Cooperstown when his name reaches the ballot.
BACKEND: Andy Pettitte + Allie Reynolds
Pettitte sliding into the fourth spot of this rotation feels odd, but the crafty southpaw fits perfectly into the back half of the Bomber’s non-hall rotation. His 3.85 ERA, 3.74 FIP, and 117 ERA+ were nothing flashy, but Pettitte also pitched during the heart of the steroid era. Pettitte was as consistent as a pitcher you could find, and he always found a way to throw around 200 innings. In the playoffs, Pettitte was at the heart of the Yankees past five World Series Rings, with a 3.81 ERA in the playoffs and 276 innings in 44 career starts (about 6.1 innings per start, via Baseball-Reference). And runners quivered at his legendary pickoff move. Pettitte was the leader the Bombers needed on the mound when they needed him over the past twenty years.
Rounding out the Bomber’s rotation is a player who spent time as both a starter and a reliever but had 309 starts in 434 appearances. Somehow, Reynolds did not play baseball until high school, according to SABR, yet he became a fantastic Major League Pitcher. Reynolds was another consistently great performer, posting a career ERA of 3.30 with a FIP of 3.74 during his time in Pinstripes. Like Stottlemyre, Reynolds was not as sharp in current statistical numbers, but that was a far different era. Also, in 1951, Reynolds threw two no-hitters, the first pitcher in the American League to do so, again according to SABR. He came in whenever he was asked and did his job well. In the playoffs, Reynolds shined, posting a career 2.79 ERA in his six World Series appearances – all wins. A forgotten stalwart of the Yankees’ best dynasty and a key promoter of indigenous Americans, Reynolds was yet another consistently great pitcher with a short (13 seasons) but impactful career in Pinstripes.
CLOSER: Dave Righetti
A career baseball man, Rags won Rookie of the Year in 1981 as a starter and threw a no-hitter against the Red Sox on the Fourth of July in 1983. However, the best years of Rag’s career in Pinstripes came when he became the Yankees’ closer in 1984. From that point until his last season in the Bronx in 1990, Righetti was outstanding. He posted a 2.96 ERA with a 137 ERA+ and a 3.21 FIP, via Baseball-Reference. In addition, Rags averaged 32 saves per season. A flexible pitcher, Righetti made his mark on this generation as the pitching coach of the Giant’s dynasty. Hist first years of greatness came in Pinstripes.
EIGHTH INNING: Sparky Lyle
“From Cy-Young to sayonara.” Despite his unfortunate demotion, Lyle spent six phenomenal seasons in the bullpen for New York. Despite posting low strikeout rates (only 5.5 K/9), Lyle was a workhorse of a closer, averaging 107 innings per year in the Bronx. Also, he pitched to contact, kept batters in the park (0.4 HR/9), and controlled the strike zone well enough (2.8 BB/9). This all adds up to a career 2.41 ERA, 2.91 FIP, and an outstanding 148 ERA+ in the Bronx, along with several important playoff appearances in the Yankees’ 1977 Championship Team. Oh, and that 1977 Cy Young season (in which he had a 2.17 ERA and threw for 137 innings) was something spectacular.
SEVENTH INNING: David Robertson
This was a close call between Dellin Betances, Lindy McDaniel and Robertson. Ultimately, Houdini snuck his way onto the team thanks to his long and underrated tenure in the Bronx. He was a strikeout artist when Ks were on the rise, posting a career rate of 12.0 K/9 with New York. He put his name on the map in 2011, when he had a minuscule 1.08 ERA with a 1.84 FIP, 13.5 K/9 and a remarkable home run rate of 0.1 HR/9, via Baseball-Reference. Also forgotten are Robertson’s contributions to the Yankees’ World Series title in 2009, to which Robertson allowed no runs in five appearances. A man skilled at escaping jams and nailing down victories, D-Rob was a fantastic reliever during a phenomenal era for relievers.