Dave Eiland’s Job Might Have Been Safe Had Yankees Acquired Cliff Lee


What do you do when your pitchers can't get anyone out? Fire the pitching coach, of course.

Yankees pitching coach Dave Eiland got the axe on Monday, after his team's staff posted a 5.01 ERA in nine postseason games, in addition to giving up 38 runs in just six games in its ALCS loss to the Texas Rangers.

Eiland's firing is not shocking. The Yankees ranked just 15th in the major leagues with a 4.06 ERA in 2010, a sure disappointment for a starting rotation that costs more than most teams' entire payroll.

But it's hard to say that New York's pitching inefficiencies stem directly from Eiland. When it comes down to it, general manager Brian Cashman simply did not put together a championship caliber rotation — and he had the chance three months ago.

When the Rangers acquired Cliff Lee on July 9, many analysts asserted that he would take his new team, one that otherwise didn't boast a particularly adept core of starting pitching, to the top. Lee would be the key to the Rangers getting to the World Series.

The analysts were right. Texas has won seven postseason games so far en route to its first ever trip to the Fall Classic, and three of those wins have been with a dominant Lee on the mound. Overall, Lee is 3-0 with a 0.75 ERA.

Now imagine if the Yankees, who were thought to be the favorites to acquire Lee from the Seattle Mariners this summer, had successfully pulled off a deal for the ace. They would not only have CC Sabathia, a perennial Cy Young candidate with a successful postseason resume of his own, but they'd have Lee, too.

It's hard to envision that team losing to the Rangers or any other team, which consequentially would not have had Lee.

But instead, Cashman was unable to get Lee, and the Yankees' pitching numbers, and inevitably Eiland, suffered from it.

New York's playoff rotation, besides Sabathia, boasted a 24-year-old kid who had never made a postseason start before this year, a 38-year-old nursing a groin injury that caused him to miss two months during the season and an $82.5 million-dollar right-hander who led the AL with 15 losses.

Phil Hughes, Andy Pettitte and A.J. Burnett were never going to be able to take the Yankees to the World Series. Not this year, at least.

Eiland was dealt a bad hand, and played it to the best of his ability. It's hard to gauge whether or not he did a good job this year, because he simply didn't have enough arms capable of getting outs.

Ironically, the Yankees will likely acquire Lee this offseason, but Eiland won't have the chance to show what he can do with a top-notch rotation.

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