They say that pitching wins championships, and the Staten Island Yankees have that in spades. As a team, the Yankees have a combined 2.54 ERA over 503 1/3 innings and have struck out 539 batters. They have allowed just 382 hits so far and has been the primary deciding factor in their victories throughout the season.
“They attack the hitters,” said Staten Island manager Julio Mosquera on the team’s success, “they keep the ball around the strike zone. They mix their pitches and use every area of the plate. They throw a fastball in, fastball out, down and away. They throw their breaking balls and go right after hitters. That is nice to see, that is what we preach in the organization, attack, attack, attack and it ‘s nice to see it from them.”
While they don’t lead the league for combined strikeouts, they currently sit in second place in that category; they do have the top strike thrower in the league in the person of Jorge Guzman. Guzman, 21, owns a 4-2 record with a 2.03 ERA over 57 2/3 innings and struck out 78 batters while walking just 16.
“He is growing up as a pitcher,” said Mosquera. “He is just focused more on the mound. He is pitching, not just throwing. In the beginning, he was learning how to pitch, now he is executing that on the mound, and that’s fun to watch.”
He is not alone in dominating the league. Right-hander Juan De Paula was part of one no-hitter already this year, and then threw six no-hit innings in another start, and his last start allowed just one hit over seven innings with a no-hitter through 6 2/3 innings.
“My mindset is to just keep looking forward to the next guy and just try to get ahead and keep attacking,” De Paula told us after his last start.
His success has led De Paul to earn back-to-back NY-Penn League Pitcher of the Week honors.
The only two 2017 draftees on the team, Trevor Stephan, and Glenn Otto are working as a tandem. Otto, who was a reliever in college is being stretched out into a starter.
“Well I was a reliever in college, and you know becoming a starter, or working on becoming a starter has been fun,” Otto said. “I been working on getting into a routine and the preparation you have to have to have your best stuff every time you’re out there. “
Otto has allowed just two earned runs so far, in his last start he combined with Stephan to throw seven no-hit innings. Overall, he has a 2-0 record with a 1.46 ERA and 20 strikeouts in 12 1/3 innings.
Stephan has been equally as impressive. In his last two starts, he has thrown eight no-hit innings, pitching to a 1-1 record with a 1.75 ERA and 33 strikeouts in 25 2/3 innings.
“It’s just like Derek Jeter used to say, someone else got to pick up the slack,” said Mosquera. “So, we lost some guys who moved up to Charleston and the upper levels. The guys that came here and the guys that stayed here got to pick it up. They haven’t changed anything, they came back and had a chance to pitch a little bit more, and they have been doing their job.”
Staten Island Yankees Pitching Coach Travis Phelps has been pleased with the pitching staff this year and their ability to execute the game plan they have developed.
“Their pitch sequencing [has been great],” Phelps said, “we have talked about it throughout the year. The right pitch sequences, getting ahead and putting batters away. They have been working on it all year, and now they have been able to understand it, and it is all coming together.”
“It’s just about executing your pitches,” Phelps explained. “Not making mistakes over the middle of the plate. One of the things I stress with our guys when you get ahead of a hitter. That’s your job, to put them away. And our guys are starting to figure that out, and they are starting to understand it. So, when they get ahead in the count, these hitters they just don’t have a chance.”
The Yankees pitching staff is not without its injuries though. Earlier this season they lost Jhony Brito to the disabled list with an arm injury, and just this week right-handed pitcher Drew Finley was shut down due to a minor shoulder injury. Finley was 0-3 this season with a 6.48 ERA and 35 strikeouts in 33 1/3 innings pitched. He left the team after the game on Sunday afternoon.