Let’s revisit some of the key ones:
|2 year||Red Sox||248||1533||656||166||1365||3.82||3.85|
That includes the additions of Lackey and Vazquez to the teams. It’s worth noting that the FIP figure is far more important than ERA, as it tends to be a much more accurate predicter of future ERA….than past ERA is. Odd, but true. This includes Buchholz as the Sox’ #5, and Joba as the Yankees’ #5.
Another look below–blue is better, red is worse. I’ll go further and note that the most important number in this is either the 2Yr FIP or the 4 Yr/3Yr FIP–I’d actually lean toward the 2 year (and not just because the Yankees handily win all five matchups by that category). Looks pretty clear to my eyes which rotation is stronger.
|Boston||2Yr FIP||2Yr ERA||4Yr (3Yr) FIP||4Yr (3Yr) ERA|
|NYY||2Yr FIP||2Yr ERA||4Yr (3Yr) FIP||4Yr (3Yr) ERA|
Even past the flat statistics, let’s ask this question: Why on Earth is the Sox rotation so steady when they’ve got Matsuzaka and Buchholz penciled in as the #4 and #5 starters? No one doubts that Buchholz has upside after his eye-popping call-up in 2007–but let’s keep this in perspective. Buchholz pitched only 168 over 2008 and 2009, bringing along a hefty 4.75 FIP. And Dice-K needs to show he’s ready to pitch again, after putting up an FIP of 5.09 in 2009, and fighting repeated injuries (including two thus far during 2010 Spring Training!)–never mind that he’s the most expensive player on their team–coming in at a colon-cleansing $17.6 million per season including his posting fee.
Wakefield is certainly a good backup–if he’s able to pitch, and I have to say that even as a Yankees’ fan I can’t help but root for Kid 66, trucking along at age 43, and I admit freely that I can’t figure out a good way to project his performance. The back surgery and declining K/9 rate don’t make me particularly optimistic, though.
As far as I can tell, both teams actually have four set starters–the Red Sox have Lester, Beckett, Lackey and Matsuzaka, the Yankees have Sabathia, Vazquez, Burnett, Pettitte. The fifth starter comes down to Wakefield and Buchholz for the Sox and Hughes, Joba, Aceves or Gaudin for the Yankees. The Yankees have more candidates, sure–but I think it’d be hard to argue that either have a serious edge in that 5th starter spot. At least objectively.
What we know going into 2010 is that the Yankees’ offense is superior to that of the Red Sox, and the Red Sox defense is superior to that of the Yankees. Which rotation is better is up in the air–and regardless of what Tito Francona says to Bill Madden, it’s going to be a month or two until we have a clearer picture of who really holds the lead in the arms’ race.