And the pitchers?

On Monday I discussed how the Yankee hitters have fared in spring training. Today I turn my focus to the pitchers.

Before I dive into the breakdown, allow me a moment to say that spring training stats for pitchers are even more meaningless than the stats for hitters. These stats don’t adjust for a pitcher trying to learn a new pitch (A.J. Burnett, Phil Hughes) and they are accumulated over limited innings. But, as with the other day, it’s fun, and if our loyal readership can suggest something more pertinent to post about just before the start to the season I’m all ears.

What follows below is each Yankee pitcher expected to make the team, and his spring training innings, hits, walks and ERA through Monday’s action. Complete stats can be found here.

CC Sabathia – 14 IP, 16 H, 7 BB, 6.43 ERA: So, um, did I mention CC is a notorious slow starter? If he doesn’t like the weather in Florida then he’s going to love it up here. Does anyone else feel sick? Let’s move along.

A.J. Burnett – 14.2 IP, 17 H, 11 BB, 5.52 ERA: Unlike CC, A.J. was reportedly learning a changeup this spring. If he can work the pitch into his repertoire he’d be that much more nasty, what with a plus fastball and the game’s best curve already. He only gave up one run in his last start, and is reported to be coming along.

Andy Pettitte – 4 IP, 5 H, 0 BB, 4.50 ERA: For some reason Andy saw little action in spring training games. I caught some of his work on television and he looked good. Here’s to another strong season from one of everyone’s favorite Yankees.

Javier Vazquez – 14 IP, 11 H, 3 BB, 3.21 ERA: Everyone’s favorite reclamation project has been lights out in the spring. Hopefully that translates to the strong start he’ll need in pinstripes to win over the fans who’ve yet to forgive him for past transgressions. Vazquez was Brian Cashman’s finest offseason addition, and represents perhaps THE key component to the Yankees repeating in 2010.

Phil Hughes – 16 IP, 14 H, 6 BB, 3.94 ERA: The walks and hits translate to a WHIP of 1.25. If Hughes can give us only 90% of this production during the season I’ll be elated. The Yankees haven’t developed a starter since Andy Pettitte.

Joba Chamberlain – 7.2 IP, 12 H, 7 BB, 14.09 ERA: So, uh, which young gun would you go with? Joba’s poor spring aside, I still feel the decision to move him to the pen is a mistake. The Yankees need to develop starters and Hughes is on an innings limit. Wasn’t the smart move to give Joba a few starts at least to prove himself, while secretly limiting Hughes’ innings in the pen at the start of the season, or did that just make way, way too much sense?

Alfredo Aceves – 16.1 IP, 14 H, 3 BB, 6.06 ERA: Every couple of seasons the Yankees have gotten a plus performance from a complete unknown who has been unable to maintain the production. My money’s on Ace this year, even though I like the guy. The slow start may be due to his back issues. Hopefully the team won’t have to shut Alfredo down and he’ll be ready for the start of the season.

Sergio Mitre – 16 IP, 11 H, 4 BB, 3.38 ERA: I take it as a given that Mitre has compromising pictures of Joe Girardi. Great spring though.

David Robertson – 5 IP, 5 H, 4 BB, 3.60 ERA: If the Yankees can keep Robertson healthy I believe he has what it takes, especially if he can keep his walks down. I look forward to watching him work this season.

Chan Ho Park – 4 IP, 3 H, 0 BB, 0.00 ERA: Wouldn’t it be awesome if the newest Yankee was this good during the season? He won’t be, but the numbers are impressive considering he got a late start this March. Park posted an ERA+ of 96 last season over 83.1 innings of work. I’m concerned he won’t cut it in the AL East.

Damaso Marte – 2 IP, 5 H, 0 BB, 13.50 ERA: There is a part of me that worries Marte will always tantalize the Yankees with excellence just enough that we keep him on the team even though he seems prone to getting lit up, big time.

Boone Logan – 8 IP, 3 H, 1 BB, 2.25 ERA: Logan’s numbers need to be considered with respect to when he would pitch in a spring training game. Pitchers who aren’t expected to make the team show up in the later innings, when all the hitters are from AA or worse. This could have inflated Logan’s stats. If it didn’t, then I’d like to see him make the team some time this year.

Mariano Rivera – 4 IP, 2 H, 1 BB, 0.00 ERA: I saved the best for last. The difference between Chan Ho Park and Mariano Rivera is that I do expect this kind of performance from Rivera at the start of the season. There’s nothing I like more than the first few weeks when Mo has yet to give up a run or walk even a single batter. I like his style. Put the fear of god into the league early, and keep it there.

There are more holes here than there are with the hitters, which would mirror last season. While everyone has made a big deal about A-Rod’s return sparking the team in 2009, it looks like a case of correlation being confused for causation. Stats at the time showed that the team’s offense was about the same in April and May. The real difference was that just around A-Rod’s return the bullpen got itself together. I doubt Alex had much to do with that.

This year the difference-makers in the bullpen, I believe, will be Joba and Robertson. If those two come out firing then the team will have innings 7-9 covered.

Which brings me to the starters. CC is among baseball’s most famous slow starters. I firmly expect solid starts from A.J., Javier and Andy. If CC can join them then Yankee fans may finally be treated to the solid run out of the gate we’ve craved for years. Otherwise, I’ll mark my calendar for my annual “I need a break from this team” four-day Yankee hiatus. It usually comes around May.

3 thoughts on “And the pitchers?

  1. CC the hibernating ace tends to get out of bed around May 1, right? That's right around when I need MY Yankee hiatus!My understanding is that every time they try to put Pettitte on the mound, it rains.I am really looking forward to having Javy back in the fold. I still maintain that 04 game 7 was over before Javy came in. Hell, the game was over the moment Torre named Brown the starter. If AJ really does have a change this season… just wow.I dont think Ace will suffer the fate of Aaron Small; he has too many toolsI'm really excited about Robertson; I think he has great potential. If Joba is in the pen all year, I dont see how he can go back to starting next year. maybe they decided to listen to the voices within the team, including Posada, who came up with a very nice way of saying Joba was too fat to be a starter at the end of the 08 season. But a three headed monster of Mo, Robertson and Joba with a lefty like Marte (who I still like, despite poor showings – and why only 2 IP this spring?) and a versatile guy like Ace backing them up – just wow. compare this bullpen to the bullpen the Yanks broke camp with last spring – its hilarious (Veras, Bruney, Edwar Ramirez…)~jamie

  2. We'll see. I'm always leary of our pitching. Its possible the past few seasons have made me gun shy. That said, over the course of the full season I think we have one of the best staffs in baseball.