Yet despite his 0-4 record and 7.20 ERA against Boston in 2011, Sabathia has been his usual dominant self against the rest of the league, going 16-2 with a 2.11 ERA against teams not named the Red Sox. The 6-foot-7 lefty leads baseball in wins and is third in strikeouts with 168. With CC leading the way, the Yankees are tied for first in the AL East and are a virtual lock to reach the postseason for the third season in a row.
But Sabathia hasn't done it alone, as other quality starters — many of them surprises — reside in the Yankees' pitching staff. Seasoned veteran Freddy Garcia has enjoyed a resurgance with New York after signing with the Yanks this offseason. The 35-year-old is 10-7 this season with a 3.22 ERA and has won five of his last seven starts. He will go for career win number 144 Sunday night in the rubber match of a three-game set against the Sox.
At age 24, Ivan Nova has already proven to be a dependable option for manager Joe Girardi to start on the mound. The 6-foot-4 Dominican righty is 10-4 this season with a 3.81 ERA. He seems to be improving with each start he makes as he sports a 3-0 record, having given up only four runs in his last 19 innings while striking out 19 batters and surrendering just three walks.
The biggest surprise for the Yanks this season has been the success of Bartolo Colon. A Cy Young Award winner with the Angels in 2005, Colon had only 14 wins since and did not pitch at all last year before signing a minor league deal with the Yankees in January. The low-risk, high-reward signing has thus far been a major steal for New York as Colon is 8-6 with a 3.30 ERA and 100 strikeouts on the season.
Unlike the value signing of Colon, A.J. Burnett has been costly for the Yanks, both in the wallet and in the production department. A coveted free agent in the winter of 2008 after winning 87 games with Florida and Toronto, Burnett signed a hefty $82.5 million contract with the Yankees but forgot to bring his pitching with him. In 89 starts in pinstripes, Burnett is 31-33 with a 4.60 ERA. Despite his struggles the Yankees have refused to give up on the 34-year-old. While he is only 8-9 this season, Burnett has piled up 123 strikeouts.
The pitcher considered to have the most upside is 25-year-old Phil Hughes, a 6-foot-5 righty out of California. A first round pick for New York in 2004, Hughes was one of the best pitchers for the Yankees in 2010, going 18-8 and striking out 146 hitters en route to his first All-Star game nod. Shoulder inflammation has limited his effectiveness this season as he is only 2-3 with a 6.93 ERA after missing all of May and June while on the disabled list. He is expected to be available for the Yankees in the bullpen on Sunday night against Boston.