Over the last few weeks, many pundits have chimed in to bemoan the state of the Yankees pitching. With the team mired in a long rough patch in which they have played mediocre baseball for over a month now, some have suggested that the team does not have the arms needed to succeed in October. I decided to take a closer look at the pitching numbers since July 29th, when this poor stretch began (28-26 since), simply because I had a sneaking suspicion that the pitching is not close to as poor as the media and some fans would have you believe.
I split the team into two categories. The first contains the 9 “core” playoff pitchers, those arms that are likely to eat all of the high leverage innings in the postseason. The second contains the fringe playoff roster arms and other assorted relievers. The idea was to see how the Yankee pitching over the last 7 weeks or so would look if we removed the pitchers who were seeing time primarily due to the Yankees cushion in the standings or due to injury. I used the simplest of stats, looking just at innings pitched and earned runs, as those are ultimately the numbers that tend to shape popular opinion about a pitching staff.
Core Playoff Pitchers
Hughes 58 IP, 26 ER = ERA 4.03
Logan 14.2 IP, 3 ER = ERA 1.84
D-Rob 21.2 IP, 6 ER = ERA 2.49
Rivera 19.2 IP, 8 ER = ERA 3.66
Sabathia 78 IP, 30 ER = ERA 3.46
K. Wood 24 IP, 1 ER = ERA .37
Burnett 57 IP, 39 ER = ERA 6.16
Joba 24.2 IP, 6 ER = ERA 2.19
Pettitte 9.1 IP, 7 ER = ERA 6.75
Total: 307 IP, 126 ER = ERA 3.69
Total without Burnett: 250 IP, 87 ER = ERA 3.13
Vazquez 41 IP, 27 ER = ERA 5.93
Gaudin 22.1 IP, 10 ER = ERA 4.03
Mitre 17.1 IP, 6 ER = ERA 3.12
Moseley 41.1 IP, 19 ER = ERA 4.14
Nova 36.2 IP, 20 ER = ERA 4.91
Albie 6.2 IP, 4 ER = ERA 5.40
Ring 1.2 IP, 1 ER = ERA 5.42
Sanchez .2 IP, 0 ER = ERA 0.00
Total: 167.2 IP, 87 ER = ERA 4.67
The results are far from shocking, and paint a far different picture than the one you might hear in the mainstream media. Unless one bad start from Andy Pettitte has you in a panic, every key pitcher other than Burnett has been solid at worst over this “bad” stretch. The bullpen leading up to Mariano Rivera has been fantastic, while Phil Hughes and CC Sabathia have given the Yankees good starting pitching. With Burnett’s awful numbers being skewed mostly to August, even AJ has given Yankees fans hope that he will perform decently in October.
Do not let poor performances from non-essential pitchers fool you. Unless you choose to get overly concerned about brief struggles from old hands like Rivera and Pettitte, the state of the Yankee pitching staff is actually quite good heading into October. The team has 3 trustworthy starters, one improving wild card, and 5 very good relievers. Coupled with a strong offense, that should be more than enough to carry the Yankees to another World Series title.