Yankees Need More Length From Rotation

Tommy Bennett over at BP checks in with a look at bullpen usage through the first 13 games:

Given the workload they have been asked to bear and the skill with which they’ve borne it, it may not be surprising to learn that Padres relievers have thrown a higher percentage of their team’s innings than any other. At 42 percent through the first 11 games, the Padres featured one of just five bullpens to have thrown more than 40 percent of its team’s innings. The others—the Mets, the Yankees, the Royals, and the Orioles—all share the same characteristic asymmetry between the quality of the starters and the quality of the bullpen….

Let’s take the Yankees. Their search for a fourth and fifth starter has been very closely watched, and even their supposedly more dependable options have struggled of late. Beyond CC Sabathia, they have four guys who cannot be counted on to give them six innings every time out. By contrast, the Yankees spent much of the winter assembling a very expensive bullpen. They gave $8 million to Pedro Feliciano (now out indefinitely pending shoulder surgery), $30 million to Mariano Rivera, and $35 million to Rafael Soriano. If the contracts play, the Yankees will end up giving a lot of their innings, along with their dollars, to the bullpen, and that has not generally been a winning strategy.

Thus far this season, Yankees starters have only completed 6 innings in 6 of 13 starts, and only once have they completed 7. As Tommy notes in the excerpt, the Yankees have used their bullpen more than all but a handful of teams. The result of this inefficiency is that multiple relievers have been needed in every single game that the Yankees have played in.

Leaving aside the obvious statement this makes about the quality of the rotation, it could have a major impact on the effectiveness of the bullpen down the stretch. While Joe Girardi does an excellent job managing bullpen workloads, he might find it difficult to balance winning games with keeping his relievers fresh under these circumstances. If the Yankees rotation continues to falter, thus requiring 17+ innings from the bullpen on each turn through the rotation, the Yankees are likely to have a handful of relievers that are worn out by the time August rolls around.

This is a problem that can be solved if the Yankees can coax a bit more length out of 2 of the final 3 spots in the rotation. If 2 of Bartolo Colon, Ivan Nova, Phil Hughes and Freddy Garcia can give them a bit more length as the season progresses, the Yankees should be able to survive under Girardi’s deft bullpen workload management.

5 thoughts on “Yankees Need More Length From Rotation

  1. T.O. Chris

    Hopefully CC can pitch a little more efficient tonight, because although his ERA looks good right now he certainly hasn’t pitched to that ERA, at times bending almost to the breaking point before getting the last crucial out needed. He’s had decent stuff in all of his starts thus far but his command has been shaky and his change has been ineffective, we need a solid 7+ out of the big man tonight!

  2. Duh, Innings!

    This is what the Yankees should do:

    Acquire Derek Lowe from the Braves and re-sign Andy Pettitte.

    Sabathia/Lowe/Pettitte/Burnett/Hughes when he comes back the rest of 2011 where Burnett and Hughes battle for the Game 4 starter job in the postseason.

    The Yankees would keep all their top prospects as Lowe would cost only midlevel prospects since the Braves want to dump his $15M for 2012 and Pettitte would cost only money. The Braves are not getting Montero, Betances ,or Banuelos, so stop that nonsense. Nova would be sent back to AAA for further development and Garcia would be moved to the bullpen. The Yankees would have Nova, Garcia, and Colon as plenty of rotation insurance (mainly for Hughes.)

    The 2012 Yankees rotation would be Sabathia/Lowe/Burnett/Hughes/Nova, Betances, Banuelos, Brackman, Noesi, or whoever else battles for the fifth starter job in spring training. If in the off-chance Pettitte wanted to stick around, the rotation remains as is, no competition for the fifth starter slot. You sign a veteran swingman if not re-sign Colon to avoid calling up a kid to take a rotation slot. The Yankees would have plenty of trading chips to get whatever they need.

    To anyone out there who wouldn’t want Lowe for 2011-12, you let me know who’s out there on the free agent market as good as or better than him and tell me who’s a lock for the Yankees 2012 rotation besides Sabathia and Burnett, Pettitte if he wanted to stick around. No one and no one. He is not old like Garcia and Colon are. The guy is made for the New York stage. He despises the Red Sox and would relish being on the mound to eliminate them from making the postseason or face them in the A.L.C.S. They treated him like garbage literally right after the 2004 A.L.C.S. or World Series (I know they dissed him the night the Sox won one of them.)

    I know countless nerds including Cashman want the young and cheap Zito/Hudson/Mulder fantasy rotation where you lock all of them up cheap a la what Mark Shapiro did with his early-mid ’90s Cleveland Indians – you want Sabathia/Hughes/Burnett/Any two from Betances, Banuelos, Brackman, and Nova, but the reality is sometimes you need the old guard/school to win it all. 2011 is that “sometimes” for the Yankees. Lowe is a winner (2004 Red Sox), Pettitte has a whole hand of World Series rings (1996, 1998, 1999, 2000, 2009) plus three more trips to the Big Show (2001, 2003, 2005.) And while we’ll never know, I firmly believe the Yankees would have at least made it to the 2004 World Series had Pettitte not opted to sign with Houston after 2003. Perhaps Pettitte not Kevin Brown-Javier Vasquez vs. Pedro Martinez in Game 7 of the 2004 A.L.C.S.

    Keep dreaming if you think this team is winning it all with a rotation after Sabathia of Burnett and who? Hughes is no lock to come back like he was this time last year as he has been crap in his starts since then (5+ ERA.) Who knows what you’re getting out of him, Burnett, Garcia, Colon, and Nova?

    The Yankees need TWO starters and don’t need to give up the farm to get one. If any name prospect has to be given up for Lowe, trade Nova and just hope he doesn’t help the Braves win the 2011 and/or 2012 World Series. If they win it all with him after that, hey, them’s the breaks and they didn’t win it all when Lowe was a Yankee if he leaves the Yanks after 2012. It’s a bad or worthless trade if the Braves win it all with Nova and the Yankees don’t win it all while Lowe is a Yankee. It’s an awful trade only if the Braves avenge their 1996 and 1999 World Series losses, an embarrassing trade if Lowe sucked/lost his start/s. You just hope that doesn’t happen.

    • T.O. Chris

      Not being mean but proposing the same things over and over again isn’t really providing discussion, it’s simply stating the same bad idea over and over again.

      I’m not sure why you are so obsessed with Lowe and his 86 MPH sinker but trading for him and his tremendous salary is an awful idea. He simply isn’t AL East capable anymore, it also makes no since for the Braves to trade away a piece of their rotation for prospects when they are in contention to win this year.

      BTW Lowe is currently 37 years old, Garcia is only 34 and Colon is 37 but actually 2 months younger than Lowe is at 37, so they are both in fact younger than Derek Lowe is.

      I don’t sign or trade for players that “hate the Red Sox” it’s simply not enough of a reason to commit to a 16 million dollar contract on a pitcher who is no more than a number 3 or 4 for any team in the AL East. It’s also not a good enough reason to trade for someone simply because no one is a “lock” in free agency, the trade block or the minors. You have no idea who could come available or how pitchers in the minor league will develop. It simply sounds like a panic move when it isn’t time to panic.

      Also, if the Yankees team as is isn’t good enough to win the Series Lowe isn’t putting them over the top

      Pettitte is done he isn’t coming back, the Clemens trial starts in July I think, and he is going to testify. Besides that he hasn’t thrown a baseball since before spring training. The man would need at least a month to work out to be in baseball shape, and get his pitches down. He would spend that entire time in extended spring training or the minor leagues, by the time he was ready to be in the rotation we could trade for someone. Besides rushing a 38 year old Andy Pettite to try and be ready would probably result in an injury and a setback in his time table for pitching and he could end up being a 2 month project simply to his first start.

      I understand you are passionate about this team, and I love that, but it simply makes no since at this point for either us or Andy for him to return. If he wanted to pitch this year (and he clearly doesn’t) he should have and would have by now, and Lowe is simply a bad idea all the way around. Just because the guy won a World Series as a number 2 or 3 starter with the Red Sox 7 years ago doesn’t make him a “winner” who automatically gets us to the Series.

      I love the passion the ideas just don’t make sense for this team and at this time.

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