Every time the Yankees lose to a pitcher they have neither seen before, people wonder why they are unable to get it done. Yesterday, Bryan Bullington became another of those unknowns to shut down the Yankees.
He held the Yankees to two hits in eight innings and joined a list that includes David Tomlin of Cleveland and Sean O'Sullivan then of Anaheim.
Amazingly if Bullington's career had progressed by now the Yankees might have seen him at some point. Eight years ago, the Pirates selected him with the top pick of the 2002 draft and through three seasons in the minor leagues, his career progressed somewhat.
Bullington was 34-17 at four different levels but only made six appearances as a Pirate and took a 0-7 lifetime record into yesterday. Yesterday, the Yankees never saw more than 10 pitches per inning and the at-bats clearly struck a nerve with manager Joe Girardi, who said the following:
“I get tired of talking about it, I know that. You look for the ball, and you hit it. That’s the bottom line. I know when you haven’t seen a guy you aren’t exactly sure what he’s going to do to you, but we have a lot of good hitters in the lineup.”
The loss was the eighth in 14 games for the Yankees but hardly the first time Girardi seemed that forceful on this topic. If you flashback to June 18, 2009, you might recall a 3-0 loss to the Washington Nationals, whose starter Craig Stammen allowed six hits in a 6 1/3 innings. The topic of unknown pitchers was broached yet again and though I don't recall the exact quote, I do recall Girardi getting agitated at losing to these pitchers.
What actually is more interesting is how long it took for Bullington to get his win since he was the first starting pitcher drafted that year and usually pitchers drafted that high get called up quickly. So here's a look at that and note this is not necessarily the first overall pick but the first starting pitcher taken over the last 25 years.
2009 draft Stephen Strassburg - first career start, 6/8 vs. Pirates
2008 draft Brian Matusz - first career start 8/4/09 at Detroit
2007 draft David Price - third career start 5/30/09 vs. Minnesota
2006 draft Luke Hochevar - third career start 4/26/08 vs. Toronto
2005 draft Ricky Romero - first career start 4/9/09 vs. Detroit
2004 draft Justin Verlander - third career start 4/8/06 vs. Texas
2003 dradt Kyle Sleeth - Tommy John surgery, retired in 2008 and never pitched above Double-A
2002 draft Bryan Bullington - seventh career start, 8/15/10 vs. Yankees
2001 draft Mark Prior - first career start 5/22/02 vs. Pirates now pitching with the Orange County Flyers of the Golden Baseball league following numerous injuries with the Cubs
2000 draft Adam Johnson - third career start 7/26/01 at Oakland, pitched in the Golden Baseball League in 2009
1999 draft Josh Beckett - first career start 9/4/01 vs. Cubs
1998 draft Mark Mulder - first career start 4/18/00 at Cleveland - 103-game winner, retired this year
1997 draft Jason Grilli - first career start 5/11/00 vs. Atlanta
1996 draft Kris Benson - first career start 4/9/99 vs. Cubs - currently pitching for Reno of the Pacific Coast League
1995 draft Kerry Wood - second career start 4/18/98 vs. Dodgers
1994 draft Paul Wilson - fourth career start 4/22/96 vs. Reds - injury-plagued career of 40-58 that ended in 2005
1993 draft Darren Dreifort - 39th appearance 8/30/96 at Phillies - injury-plagued career of 48-60 that ended in 2004
1992 draft B.J. Wallace - 44 starts in the minors, none above Class A and last pitched with Clearwater in 1996
1991 draft Brien Taylor 82 minor league starts, none above Class AA and none since 1998 with Greensboro
1990 draft Alex Fernandez - second career start 8/7/00 at Royals (made six minor league starts)
1989 draft Ben McDonald - sixth career appearance 10/1/89 at Blue Jays - 78-70 career record
1988 draft Andy Benes - third career start 8/23/89 at Phillies - 155 wins retired in 2002
1987 draft Willie Banks - second career start 8/6/91 at Angels - 33 wins in 181 games, currently pitching with the Newark Bears
1986 draft Greg Swindell - fourth career start 9/6/86 at Brewers - 123-122 in 17 seasons, retired in 2002
1985 draft Bobby Witt - third career start 4/22/86 at Blue Jays - 142-157 in 16 season, retired after 2001
As you can see, there is a mixed bag of how someone's career turns out and how in some instances it doesn't pan out. Looking at Taylor, Wallace, Sleeth, I'm sure Bullington knows how fortunate he is to be still around an organization eight years after he was the top pitcher selected.
"At times," Bullington said, "there were days in Triple-A where it felt like I was never going to get another shot.”