Sunday, October 15, 2006

The Duke

I love El Duque. The whole aura of the guy intrigued me from day one. He always looks like he knows something you don't. (Probably his real age.) The very idea that this caliber pitcher could join the 1998 Yankees at mid-season now seems insane. That team was probably good enough to win well over 100 without him. At the time, no one had a clue at how good he'd be in pinstripes, or how much he'd mean in the subsequent post seasons to follow.

Here are Orlando Hernandez' ERA+ numbers for the Yankees:

1998 143 (in 21 games)
1999 109
2000 112
2001 _92 (in 17 games)
2002 120 (in 22 games)
2004 136 (in 15 games)

If you'll recall, we traded an oft-injured Hernandez to the Expos, via Chicago, in 2003 only to watch him sit out the entire season with arm problems. Granted free agency by the Montreal club, he returned to NY for a final go round with the Bombers and pitched extraordinarily well in 15 games, before succumbing to old age. The Mets now know what that's like. In the playoffs for the Yankees, Duque produced the following numbers:

10-3 in 17 post-season games
2.65 ERA
1.245 WHIP
8.91 K/9

Not all the numbers are so pretty, but there's no mistaking how much he contributed to our club while he was still physically able. Yesterday, I posted Cone. Today, El Duque. I'm starting to feel nostalgic for pitchers who performed in pinstripes, especially in the glare of the post-season. Look for more as I continue to pine away for the "good old days". Who's next? Come back tomorrow and find out.