Is this the best Yankees pitching staff in recent memory?

As we get closer to the All-Star game, it’s becoming clear that the Yankees’ pitching team is putting up the kind of numbers that are historic. It’s no exaggeration to say that the Yankees have pitched the best pitching numbers in all of baseball. Anyone who has watched a Yankees game, even the lackluster performances, has seen a pitching team that consistently manages to keep games close. That begs the question — how much better is the Yankees’ pitching team than the rest of baseball, and how does this team’s pitching compare to historically great Yankees teams like the 2009 and 1998 world champions?

2022 Yankees versus other 2022 teams

2022 team pitching stats sorted by ERA
Credit: Baseball Reference

Are we still sure that MLB hasn’t changed baseball in some way to make pitchers more effective? The pitching numbers for the league, capitalized, are ridiculous. The Yankees have a stunning 2.92 ERA in the first part of the season. Just think about it for a moment, Hall of Famers Pedro Martinez and John Smolt had 2.89 and 2.90 ERAs back in the 1998 season. Functionally, the Yankees’ pitching staff have the kind of numbers that Hall of Famers pitch. This does not apply in detail, but as a whole. This goes beyond simple ridiculousness. It’s stunning.

Aside from how odd the pitching performances have been across the league this year, the Yankees have the best pitching staff on almost every single metric. Only three teams in all of baseball even come close to the Yankees. The Houston Astros and Los Angeles Dodgers have put together some really great numbers, but their results can’t match the Yankees’. Both sports ERAs are higher than the Yankees, although the standardized ERA+ for the Dodgers is slightly higher, at 142 versus 130 for the Yankees. Regardless of that metric, the Yankees have lower FIP, better WHIP, and lower home runs per nine innings. All of this suggests that the Yankees really do have world-class pitchers.

Now that it’s clear that the Yankees are one of the best, if not the best, pitchers in the league, how does their pitching performance compare to notable previous Yankees teams that won the World Series?

2009 Yankees

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2009 feels like forever, but that was the last time the Yankees won the World Series. This team should give a good insight into the performance of the employees of 2022. To be honest, the 2009 pitching staff doesn’t hold up to the current iteration. In most cases, the 2009 staff was pretty average, with a mediocre ERA of 4.26. Among the starting pitchers only CC Sabathia had a good year with 3.37 ERA and 137 ERA+. However, this team relied more on a very good bullpen managed by Mariano Rivera, Phil Hughes and David Robertson. But even comparing that bullpen to today, most of their relief pitchers had earned running averages over three, save for Mariano Rivera, who had a 1.76 ERA. Overall, the 2022 Yankees seem much better prepared to go deep into the postseason than the 2009 version.

2009 team pitching statistics sorted by ERA
Credit: Baseball Reference

1998 Yankees

The 1998 Yankees are one of the highest points for the modern Yankees, with exceptional play in pretty much every single category. There is a strong argument that the 1998 team was the best baseball team to have played in the current era. How do the employees of 2022 compare to the employees of 1998 who won it all?

MLB: Toronto Blue Jays at New York Yankees

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The answer is somewhat surprising that the 2022 team ousted the 1998 team. From a pure ERA perspective, today’s 2.92 ERA easily surpasses the 3.82 of yesteryear, even considering the average league ERA in 1998 was almost a half run higher. The 1998 team was never considered the best pitching rotation in baseball. That honor goes to the Atlanta Braves with Greg Maddux (Hall of Fame), Tom Glavine (Hall of Fame) and John Smoltz (Hall of Fame). Instead, the ’98 Yankees had a good pitching team to match an otherwise excellent team. Your pitching staff has done well throughout the season. The lowest ERA among their regulars was Orlando Hernandez with a very good 3.13 ERA over 141.0 innings, the second lowest was David Wells with a 3.49 ERA over 214.1 innings. David Cone rounded out the top three with a still very good 3.55 ERA over 207.2 innings.

1998 Team Pitching Statistics by ERA
Credit: Baseball Reference

Despite the fact that none of the Yankees’ current pitchers will get anywhere near 200 innings, the current starting pitchers match or exceed the team’s best ERA in 1998. Nestor Cortes has a 2.51 ERA over 79.0 innings, during Gerrit Cole has a 2.99 ERA over 87.1 innings. At the high end, Severino, Taillon, and Montgomery have ERAs ranging from 3.27 to 3.35. Even more amazing is the 0.49 ERA that Clay Holmes is currently sporting. Baseball Reference lists him with a 775 ERA+, which just doesn’t seem accurate, but nonetheless indicates his absolute dominance off the pen. In the first half of the season, the current Yankees absolutely dominated on the mound. They’ve beaten the pitching of the 1998 Yankees in pretty much every aspect except length of starts per game.

If the Yankees’ pitching staff can even come close to maintaining the level of performance they’ve shown up to this point, then they have a very good chance of being a better pitching team than the 2009 and 1998 world champions. Both their starting and as well as their relief throw have a pretty good chance of outperforming these excellent teams. In fact, the pitching is so good that it could be one of the best pitching seasons for any team. you were so good

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