Yankees Final Report Cards, Part 3

Everyone knows that the key to the Yankees' success over the last eight years has been a strong starting rotation and stronger bullpen. This season, the bullpen was weak and the rotation questionable at times. But through some crafty transactions, the Yankees' pitching staff was different at the end from the beginning. Find out which pitchers ended up making the grade in Part Three.

Roger Clemens: B+ In his final season in the major leagues, the Rocket put together one of the best seasons for a man of his age ever. Winning 17 games at any age is excellent; doing it at 41 is another matter entirely. Clemens decided to go out on top, choosing to leave while still resembling his former dominant self. He had an excellent strikeout rate (8.08 K/9) and WHIP ratio (1.21) and 21 of his 33 starts were Quality Starts (minimum 6 IP, 3 ER or less). Not bad for a 41-year old.

Jose Contreras: B
Contreras was filthy as a starter in 2003, putting up a 2.34 ERA in nine starts. But his lack of production out of the bullpen (7.43 ERA in nine appearances) and his ineffectiveness in the postseason (5.73 ERA in 11 innings) brings down his mark here. Considering Contreras is used to being a starter, his relief numbers can be ignored to some degree, and his strikeout rate is fantastic. Seven of his nine starts were Quality, an excellent percentage.

Chris Hammond: B
Hammond was remarkably consistent this season, posting a solid ERA in every month except for July when he had a 7.71 mark in just 4.2 innings. Hammond turned out to be a fair enough replacement for Mike Stanton in his first season in pinstripes, acting as Joe Torre's primary setup man and earning 17 holds. However, Hammond pulled a no-show in the playoffs, allowing two runs (unearned) in his only appearance.

Felix Heredia: B+
After coming over from Cincinnatti at the trade deadline, Heredia was nails out of the bullpen. He put up a sterling 1.20 ERA in 15 innings down the stretch and a 1.93 ERA in the postseason. The Yankees declined Heredia's option for next season, but he could still return in 2004.

Mike Mussina: A
Mussina was one of the best pitchers in the league for the majority of the season and placed among the top ten in the AL in wins, strikeouts, WHIP, batting average allowed, innings, ERA and winning percentage. 20 of Mussina's 31 starts were of the Quality variety, and he allowed two runs or less 17 times. After going 5-0 with a 1.70 ERA in April, he cooled off, but I shudder to think where the Yankees would be without the Moose.

Jeff Nelson: C
Nelson wasn't effective in his second run with the Yankees. He earned eight holds, but he made them ugly for the most part. His 4.59 ERA wasn't scaring anyone and, despite the fact that his strikeout rate stayed the same as when he was a Mariner, his WHIP jumped to an ugly 1.52. His part in the bullpen brawl during the ALCS put yet another blemish on his already unpleasant season.

Antonio Osuna: C-
And tack on an F for effort. Osuna decided it would be a good idea to not pitch for the Yankees in the postseason, despite being one of their more effective relievers for the majority of the season. Osuna fell apart down the stretch, posting ERA of 5.79, 5.91 and 5.40 in July, August and September respectively. Opponents hit .313 off of him after the All-Star break, and his disappearing act in the playoffs didn't win him any favor with the fans or Yankee management.

Andy Pettitte: A
From June 14 through the rest of the season, only one word could describe Pettitte: "dominant". Pettitte rattled off eight straight wins on his way to 21 and finished the season by going 4-0 with a 1.50 ERA in his last four starts. Barring a horrendous 2.1 inning, eight run blasting against Boston in early September, Pettitte had a 2.80 ERA down the stretch, earning him third place in the Cy Young voting.

Mariano Rivera: A+
Rivera reestablished himself as the most dominant closer of the last seven years by posting a 40-save season and the best ERA of his career. Despite looking shaky in some outings, Rivera dominated American League batters to the tune of an 8.02 K/9 rate and a .235 BAA. Did I mention the 0.56 ERA and five postseason saves while pitching two or even three innings at a time? He's pretty good.

Jeff Weaver: C-
Weaver continues to confound and anger Yankee fans and management alike. The righty has enormous potential, but has looked terrible on the mound almost all the time he's out there. He was better as a starter than as a reliever, but a 5.73 ERA leads to a very relative meaning for "better". He's striking out fewer batters, walking more and serving up more hits. The end result of that kind of performance change is not a good thing. There was also that walkoff homerun to Alex Gonzalez in the World Series, but that didn't really happen.

David Wells: B
Wells was a good pitcher for the majority of the season, but his chronic back problems led to a major swoon in the latter part of the year. He bounced back in time for the playoffs and pitched admirably there until the injury forced him out of a World Series game after just one inning. 16 of Wells' 30 starts were quality, a good percentage, and his 0.85 BB/9 rate was the best in the majors by 23 points.

Gabe White: B
White's 4.38 ERA as a Yankee wasn't wonderful, but it was more a result of bad luck than anything else. He had a 0.81 WHIP ratio and held batters to just a .182 batting average while earning six holds in only 12 appearances in pinstripes. Unfortunately, most Yankee fans will probably remember White for the homerun he allowed to Trot Nixon in the ALCS than anything else.

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