New York Yankees: A history of outstanding pitchers, find out the ten best

The New York Yankees in their storied 117-year history have had some of the best pitchers in all of baseball.  Some hurlers were one game wonders like Don Larsen, who pitched the only perfect game in World Series history in 1956.  Other perfect game winners were David Wells (1998) and David Cone (1999).  One of the more unusual pitchers was Jim Abbot, who had only one hand and pitched a no-hitter in 1993.

Many New York Yankees have been impactful in bringing the Yankees to one of their 27 World Championships. Some were career Yankees, while others joined the team from other baseball clubs.  The following is this writer’s top ten Yankee pitchers.  The list includes both starters and relievers.

 1. Whitey Ford

Whitey Ford is the hands-down number one pitcher for the New York Yankees.  The 10-time All-Star, Cy Young Award-winning pitcher, played all of his 16 years with the Yankees.  From 1950 to 1967, he had ten seasons with 16 or more wins, including a 24 and 25 game winning season.  He was so good that the Yankees named him “The Chairman of the Board.”  Ford was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1974.



2. Mariano Riveria

Mariano Riveria is probably the greatest closer of all time.  When Mariano Rivera entered a game to the sound of the Sandman, Yankee fans knew the game was over.  Of course, he didn’t save every game but has the most saves of any pitcher (652) not only for the Yankees, but that’s for all of baseball history.  Rivera is the only player ever to be elected to the Baseball Hall of fame in 2019 by a unanimous vote.

3. Red Ruffing

In the first fifty years of the New York Yankee’s, there was no pitcher better than Red Ruffing. Ruffing led the Yankees to six World Series win from 1931-1946. Ruffing is second all-time in wins at 231, third in starts, fifth in appearances and second in innings pitched.  Ruffing was installed in the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1967.  His number 15 one of three numbers he wore during his Yankee career was retired in 2001.

4.  Andy Pettitte

In the modern baseball era, there was no pitcher better than the New York Yankees Andy Pettitte in postseason play.  He became of the most beloved Yankee pitchers when he beat the Braves ace John Smoltz in a 1-0 win the got the Yankees their first World Series win in 17 years.  In his career, he won 18 postseason games.  In 2009 the last time the Yankees won a World Series, he won all four of his postseason games.  Pettitte is one of the most popular of Yankee hurlers have won 203 games.  That’s a feat no other pitcher has matched since.

5. Ron Guidry

Rod Guidry was that tall skinny guy from Louisiana.  “Louisiana Lightning” pitched for the New York Yankees all 14 years of his pitching career 1975-1988.  He had three 21 plus winning seasons.  He once to the delight of Yankee fans struck out 18 hitters in one game an all-time Yankee record. He is a Cy Young Award winner with a 170-90 career record. His career 3.29 ERA is one of the best in Yankee history.

6. Mel Stottlemyre

Mel Stottlemyre is one of the most overlooked Yankee greats.  Stottlemyre had the unfortunate luck to have a career during some of the Yankee worst years, which is probably overlooked.  He had a stellar pitching career with a 164-139 record and an ERA of 2.97 over eleven years from 1964 to 1974.  But where he does get much-deserved acclaim is as the Yankee pitching coach from 1996 to 2005 when he brought the Yankee pitching staff to four World Series wins.

7. Lefty Gomez

Lefty Gomez was a Yankee pitcher from 1930-1942.  Gomez has a fantastic record of 189-102.  He brought the Yankees to five World Series titles in the time Babe Ruth, Joe DiMaggio, Lou Gehrig, and others took the limelight.  He was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 1972.

8. Rich Gossage

Rich “Goose” Gossage is often credited as being one of the first pitching relievers in baseball.  Gossage was frightening figure on the mound with his fierce look and eclectic pitches.  He saved 151 games for the Yankees in his remarkable 22 years career, six of them with the Yankees 1978-1983.  That’s an average of 25 saves a year.  Gossage was elected to the Baseball Hall of Fame in 2008.

9. Vick Raschi

Vick Raschi, while being overshadowed by Micky Mantle, Yogi Berra, Whitey Ford, and others, turned out to be one of the best Yankee pitchers.  He went 120-50.  From 1946 to 1953, he never had a losing season.  He had five World Season Championships.  Raschi is one Yankee that is not in the Hall of Fame but should be.

10. Roger Clemens

Roger Clemens may be one of the greatest pitchers of all time, but will probably never reach the Hall of Fame because of his performance-enhancing drug involvement.  Clemens was with the New York Yankees for five years from 1999.  While with the Yankees, he won twice as many games as he lost going 83-42.  Clemens pitched an incredible 24 years.

Honorable Mentions:

Dave Righetti (1979-1990) 224 saves, Alli Reynolds (1949-1953) six World Series titles, Sparky Lyle (1972-1978) as a reliever 57-40, CC Sabathia (2009-2019) 134-88, Mike Mussina 123-72, and Aroldis Chapman 13-5 with 190 saves in four years (2016-2019).

Because of the number of outstanding Yankee pitchers over the years, it causes Yankee greats like David Cone, David Wells, Fritz Patterson, Jack Chesbro, Spud Chandler, Mike Stanton, Orlando Hernandez and dozens of others to be left off this list.  Ten years from now, will we see Gerrit Cole on the list?

EmpireSportsMedia.com’s Columnist William Parlee is a member of the Society for American Baseball Research.