To find out, I looked at the ten Yankees games so far this year against the top starting pitchers in the A.L., measured by xFIP. xFIP stands for “Expected Fielding Independent Pitching”, and this is an advanced statistic that measures a pitcher’s ability to control those factors for which a pitcher is supposed to be responsible: walks, hit by pitches and strikeouts. Based on xFIP, the top pitchers faced by the Yankees so far are James Shields, David Price, Felix Hernandez, Justin Verlander (twice), Trevor Cahill, Ricky Romero (twice), Michael Pineda and Jered Weaver (note that Beckett does not make this particular list). The Yankees have won 5 of these games, and lost 5. Interestingly, the opposing starter won two of these games, lost two of these games, and there were six no-decisions, indicating that a lot of these games were close encounters. Four of the five Yankees losses in these games were by one run, and the fifth was by two runs.
Another fun factoid: the Yankees went nearly a month (between Opening Day against Verlander and April 29 against Romero) without facing one of these top pitchers. But the Yankees faced these pitchers 7 times in May. So if you’re wondering why May seemed like a tougher month for the Yankees than April, here is one reason.
But let’s get back to the main question: how well do the Yankees hit against these top pitchers? The answer is, pretty well. The Yankees have scored 30 runs in the 62.2 innings thrown by these top pitchers in these 10 games, meaning that these pitchers have averaged a 4.31 E.R.A. against the Yankees. That’s approximately one run a game less than the Yankees have produced in their other 47 games (not counting last night – this morning’s game). But this 4.31 E.R.A. is nearly half a run higher than the A.L. average of 3.92, and more than a run better than the average E.R.A. for these pitchers overall.
The news here is really no news. The Yankees are a good hitting team so far this year, even against top pitchers (other than Beckett), but top pitchers hold down Yankees production (so far) by about a run a game. Just about what you’d expect. Predictably rational reporting from your friends (sober and depressed as they may be) here at IIATMS.