The Tuesday Discussion: My Favorite Yankees Pitcher of All-Time
With this week’s discussion, we embark on what should be a fun few months as we share our favorite players at each position on the diamond.
Today we ask our writers to share who their favorite Yankees pitcher of All-Time is:
Lincoln Mitchell – My favorite Yankees pitcher was Ron Guidry. Guidry was the first Yankee star, along with Willie Randolph, who I remember as a prospect and then was able to watch his whole career. He is mostly remembered for that amazing 1978 season, but was more than just that one great season. From 1977-1985, he was one of the best pitchers in the league. He was also the kind of pitcher I love to watch. A hard throwing lefty, but not physically intimidating. And, I still think he deserved the MVP in 1978 over Jim Rice.
Ed Botti – For me, it’s pretty easy. The greatest ever at his position. Mariano Rivera.
Stats stand for themselves, but he is also an incredible person.
1 inning, 2 innings, 3 innings, it never mattered.
Never made a single excuse in the very rare times he failed to close a game.
Number 2 is Gator, Louisiana Lighting, Ron Guidry.
If you saw him in his prime, you’ll know why!!
Chris O’Connor – Kind of an obvious choice, but my favorite Yankees pitcher of all time is Mariano Rivera. I would normally go for a starting pitcher here, but this guy was just money. I can recite all of the stats: a record 652 saves, a 0.70 ERA in 141 postseason innings, even 44 saves with a 2.11 ERA in his final season at the age of 43. But I think the biggest thing for Mo was that when it got to the ninth inning, everyone from fans to players just knew the game was pretty much over. A Yankees becomes a legend in the playoffs and Mo, despite some very famous blown leads (2001 WS game 7, 2004 ALCS game 4), was incredibly there and combined class with continuous excellence over a 19 year career. Back to back years of Aroldis Chapman letting up season-ending home runs only makes me appreciate the greatness of Mo even more.
Paul Semendinger – I think you’ll see two names a lot here: Ron Guidry and Mariano Rivera. The old guys will probably lean toward Guidry…
He is my choice. Ron Guidry was great as only a great player can be in the eyes on a ten-year-old.
The 18-strikeout game was fantastic. A great memory.
I modeled my wind-up after Guidry’s for most of my life.
Without a doubt, my favorite pitcher ever is, and will always be, Ron Guidry.
(Honorable Mention: Jim Bouton, Sparky Lyle, Dave Righetti, The Goose, Jimmy Key, Andy Pettitte, El Duque, David Cone, Mariano Rivera, and…. I can’t explain this, but I always rooted for Bob Shirley.)
Derek McAdam – One of my most fondest memories growing up was watching Yankee games in hope that Mariano Rivera would come into games to close it out. He did not have the speed that many modern closers have, but he found ways to get nearly any batter out. Although I was only able to remember watching him in his last five seasons, it was still a treat to watch the greatest closer of all time and the only unanimous Hall of Famer pitch.
Mike Whiteman – My favorite Yankee pitcher of all-time is Allie Reynolds. Here’s a couple paragraphs from an articled I had posted previously about him:
After being acquired from Cleveland in a trade for future Hall of Famer Joe Gordon after the 1946 season, he was a significant contributor to six Yankee World Championship teams. He won 131 games over his eight seasons with the club with a 3.30 ERA while being selected to five All-Star games. When the games got more important, Reynolds got better. His record was 7-2, 2.79 ERA and four saves in World Series play. He is also is one of a handful of pitchers who have thrown two no-hitters in a season, hurling two masterpieces during the 1951 season.
He was a superb performer not only as a starting pitcher, but in a relief role as well. He had a 2.92 ERA in his Yankee career coming out of the bullpen with 40 saves (credited retroactively). Manager Casey Stengel heaped praise on his pitcher in 1951, saying “That big guy comes close to being the most valuable pitcher in the league right now” and was quite appreciative of his pitcher’s competitiveness, noting “He doesn’t run to the bullpen for the weak ones. But when it’s the Red Sox, Indians, Tigers, or White Sox, even when he started the day before you look beside you and the guy ain’t there anymore. He’s in the bullpen.”
A truly unique pitcher who has gotten some HOF support recently. The Yanks could use Allie Reynolds now!
Patrick Gunn – It’s hard to choose one, but I’m going to highlight David Robertson and Dellin Betances here as two high-level relievers who always teetered on the edge of disaster but found a way to get the major strikeouts when they needed to in late-inning situations. Always entertaining and consistently great for several years.
*** Ethan Semendinger – There was no more fun pitcher to watch in baseball than Orlando “El Duque” Hernandez. Not only was the high leg kick instantly iconic when he became a New York Yankee- even leading Adidas to make a great commercial about it with David Cone in 1999- but I also have a personal connection to him as well. I think I’ve shared this story on the blog before, but the day before I was born the New York Yankees were playing the Cleveland Indians in the 1998 ALCS. The rookie, El Duque, was on the mound in Game 4 as the Yankees after they went down 2-1 in the series. Hernandez pitched 7 scoreless innings to help the Yankees tie the series, and eventually helped them win the first of 3 straight World Series. The next day, October 11th, Orlando Hernandez celebrated his 32nd birthday as I celebrated my 0th birthday. My dad has always joked he wanted to name me El Duque after that performance. (Alas…what could’ve been.)
But besides El Duque, I do have a bunch of other favorite pitchers in Yankees history, albeit mostly relievers, but my true honorable mentions list would be pretty short, including Mariano Rivera, David Robertson, and Mike Mussina.