It Could be a Good RotAAAAAtion

With the signing of Masahiro Tanaka today, the Yankees added a much-needed arm to their questionable staff.  If Michael Pineda and Ivan Nova join Hiroki Kuroda, CC Sabathia and Tanaka in the rotation, the Bombers could break Spring Training with every one of their starting pitchers having a last name ending in “A”.  How often has that happened?  How about never.

Sports researcher/blogger James Smyth may have been the first one to notice this:

Sabathia, Tanaka, Nova, Kuroda. Yankees just need a healthy Pineda for an All-Ends-in-A rotation!

. . . and then he did a bit more research:

James Smyth@JamesSmyth621 

Only team with top five starters that shared last name’s last letter: 1980 Twins had J. Koosman, G. Zahn, R. Erickson, D.Jackson, P. Redfern

James selected the “top five starters” based upon games started.  In looking at that 1980 Twins team, 141 of their 161 games were started by a pitcher with a last name ending in “N”:

Zahn-35
Koosman-34
Erickson-27
Jackson-25
Redfern-16
Arroyo-11
Williams-9
Felton-4

I decided to be a little more restrictive in terms of a rotation, and looked for only those squads that had pitchers with 20 or more starts in a season.  No team has ever had more than four pitchers with the same last letter in their last name each start at least 20 games in a season.  Here are the teams that had four (all with the last letter “N”):

BAL-1999    Erickson-34, Ponson-32, Guzman-21, Johnson-21
CHA-1957   Wilson-29, Donovan-28, Harshman-26, Keegan-20
DET-1904    Mullin-44, Killian-34, Donovan-34, Kitson-24
DET-1905    Mullin-41, Killian-37, Donovan-32, Kitson-27
LAN-1976    Sutton-34, Hooton-33, John-31, Rhoden-26
LAN-1977    Sutton-33, Hooton-31, Rhoden-31, John-31
LAN-1978    Sutton-34, Hooton-32, John-30, Rhoden-23
MIN-1980   Zahn-35, Koosman-34, Erickson-27, Jackson-25
PHI-1969    Jackson-35, Fryman-35, Johnson-21, Champion-20
SLN-1932    Dean-33, Hallahan-22, Johnson-22, Carleton-22
SLN-1934    Di. Dean-33, Carleton-31, P. Dean-26, Hallahan-26

In terms of rotations full of last names ending in “A”, it turns out the 2011-2013 Yankees had the most, with three apiece:

NYY-2011  Sabathia-33, Nova-27, Garcia-25
NYY-2012  Kuroda-33, Sabathia-28, Nova-28
NYY-2013 Kuroda-32, Sabathia-32, Nova-20

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