Pitching a challenge for Yankees

Daniel Barone

With the Major League Baseball season getting ready to begin, is it even worth watching any teams besides the Yankees? The answer is a relieved yes. The reason – pitching. Aside from the Yankees star-studded lineup, there should be attention granted to others as well. This season features some of the most promising pitching staffs in years. They lie in the National League Central and the American League East.

In Chicago, Greg Maddux adds experience to a young, explosive pitching staff. He joins the likes of Kerry Wood, Mark Prior and Matt Clement on a staff that promises to keep hitters at bay all season. With earned run averages all under 4.11, and Prior’s at 2.43, the staff will be a force to be reckoned with this season. Carlos Zambrano rounds out the rotation as the fifth starter, and Kyle Farnsworth and LeTroy Hawkins will be coming out of the bullpen with ERA’s of 3.30 and 1.86, respectively. Expectations are that Cubbies could make another deep run into the postseason and possibly even break the curse.

Within the same division, you find what is arguably an even better rotation, in Houston. With a team ERA under four last season, the additions of premier pitchers Andy Pettite and Roger Clemens give Roy Oswalt some serious help in the starting rotation. The loss of closer Billy Wagner, however, may put them in the wildcard race and a step behind Chicago.

The two staffs are certainly a pair that could run through the postseason and challenge the All-Stars … I mean, Yankees. Jose Contreras, as a fourth starter, might hurt New York in the long run, especially if someone gets injured. The signing of closer Mariano Rivera is certainly a plus for them, however. The Yanks’ rotation is impressive, yet they will need those strong bats to pull through against other premier staffs.

Within the division, of course the Yankees have to be worried about Boston. The Red Sox pose an immediate threat to the Bronx Bombers. Not since Curt Schilling was paired with Randy Johnson has there been a dominating duo like the one Schilling promises to be a part of with Pedro Martinez. The result of the Schilling-Johnson pairing was a World Series, and they didn’t have Derek Lowe and Tim Wakefield to back them up as the Sox do now. We often forget that pitching has been winning championships.

If the Yankees had Alex Rodriguez playing every position, it wouldn’t even matter if the opposing pitcher had his great stuff that day.

The Yankees’ World Series teams were led by pitching, as were the Diamondbacks and the Braves.

Sometimes you have to look past the glamour of homeruns, and pay attention to those K’s being posted up on the outfield wall.