Is Defense Undermining The Yankee Pitching Staff?

Yankee starting pitchers have a 6.08 ERA, almost a full run worse from the terrible Boston Red Sox. Given the personel on the staff, this should be a surprise. Kiroda, Nova, and Sabathia were reasonable good bets entering the season, and are still reasonable good bets going forward, to be very strong contributors to the Yankee starting rotation. Phil Hughes and Freddy Garcia were more questionable, but I don’t know anyone who expected them to both be this spectacularly bad.

I don’t want to take away anything from how bad the starters have been, but I think something else could be at play here. The Yankee defense could be just as spectacularly bad. Very small samples, even at the team level caveats apply, but the Yankees have an UZR/150 of -13.1, fourth worst in the league. They have a DRS of -16, third worst in the major leagues. Despite an overall team ERA of 4.49, 5th worst in the majors, Yankee pitchers hold a much more respectable 3.97 FIP (16th best) and 3.46 xFIP (4th best).… Click here to read the rest

Does Hughes hold the keys to Garcia’s future?

At one point, it would have been easy to assume that, for the sake of depth, David Phelps would have to be optioned to the Empire State rotation, while the odd man out of the rotation would go to the bullpen in some capacity. That scenario has changed, however, as Phelps will now get at least one chance to show what he’s capable of doing as a starting pitcher before Pettite returns. He could still certainly be the odd man out when it comes time to make a decision, but if he does well Thursday night in Kansas City, you’d have to think he’ll make a compelling case to stay in the big leagues given the lack of production the Yankees have gotten out of their starting rotation so far.

Which brings us to the other man on the rotation bubble: Phil Hughes. Though arguably better than Garcia this month, Hughes has been pretty bad in his own right, and the last time we saw him Joe Girardi was calling on Clay Rapada to get the final out of the third inning in Texas rather than let Hughes continue to implode in the inning.… Click here to read the rest

Basking in the glow of C.C. Sabathia

Mike Mussina once said that a very good pitcher will win half of his starts. And sure enough, Mussina can count himself among those as he won 270 of his career 536 starts–just a tick above half. Roger Clemens won 354 of his 709 starts. Just a tick over half. Andy Pettitte has won 240 of his 479 starts. Just a tick over half. C.C. Sabathia has made 106 starts for the Yankees and has won 62 of them. So, by the Mussina-scale, Sabathia is doing pretty darned well as a Yankee.

In his Yankee career, C.C. Sabathia has now gone 62 – 23. That is an unbelievable winning percentage of .729. Whitey Ford’s winning percentage with the Yankees was .690. Ron Guidry’s was .651. Andy Pettitte’s is .644. Roger Clemens with the Yankees was .664. Lefty Gomez’s was .652. Mike Mussina’s was .631. Herb Pennock’s was .643. C.C. Sabathia has been as sure of a thing as a pitcher the Yankees have ever seen.… Click here to read the rest

See, you can never have too much pitching

It seems like only yesterday when baseball prognosticators everywhere were wondering what the Yankees would do with all their starters. The team didn’t have room for all those arms! The Yankees had too much pitching, literally, for four games. That’s about how many starts it took for everyone to realize that Freddy Garcia didn’t have it. I didn’t forecast this. I thought the Yankees would have a surplus of starters at least for a few games, but now everyone knows why you can never have too much pitching.

Now, the question is whether or not the Yankees have enough pitching? That remains to be seen. The good news is that the team has enough warm bodies to throw into the rotation to fill out the fourth and fifth starters’ roles. The bad news is that those bodies are untested. David Phelps has looked good in the long relief role, but there is a difference between long relieving and starting. Alfredo Aceves always did a good job holding down the fort when a starter imploded but he also struggled in his own starts.… Click here to read the rest

Series Preview: Yankees vs. Orioles Take Two

When we last saw the Orioles, they were walking back to their dugout, having just been swept by the Yankees in the second series of the year for both squads. The Fightin’ Showalters have been hot ever since the end of that series, going 10-5 since the Yankees left the Charm City. In that span, though, they’ve scored 60 runs while allowing 58, so they’ve been a little above where their pythag record says they should’ve been (8 wins). Regardless, they’re playing good ball right now. Coming into Sunday, they had three players with wOBAs over .400 and wRC+s over 150 (Matt Weiters: .402/155; Adam Jones: .426/171; and Nolan Reimold: .447/185). Chris Davis isn’t far behind with a .393/149 split of his own. We should note, though, that Reimold and Davis have walk/strikeout rates of 3.3%/21.3% and 5.6%/23.9% respectively. They’re crushing the ball (.339 and .269 IsoP respectively), but this type of success looks a little unsustainable for those two.

On the pitching side of things, Jason Hammel and Wei-Yin Chen are off to hot starts, posting E/F/x marks of 1.73/2.45/2.79 and 2.22/3.57/4.52 respectively.… Click here to read the rest

More roster moves coming this week

The team might be forced to make another decision before that, however, thanks to the low-grade hamstring strain Nick Swisher suffered in yesterday’s game. As of now, it appears the team does not intend to place him on the disabled list, though the injury will take a “few days” to heal. Since the Yankees are already working with a short bench, having Swisher unavailable will make things even tighter over the next few days, as the team will have only three true outfielders (and one of them is Raul Ibanez) available to manager Joe Girardi until Gardner comes back, with Eduardo Nunez forced into the fourth outfielder role. They’ll also have just two players available on the bench in whichever combination of Russell Martin/Chris Stewart and Eduardo Nunez/Eric Chavez isn’t in the starting lineup that night.

Personally, I don’t think much will come out of Swisher’s situation. The Yankees ought to be able to rough it for three home games before Gardner comes back, at which point they’d just be in the same situation they’ve been playing with since Gardner hit the DL.… Click here to read the rest

PITCHf/x Scouting Report: Jason Hammel

Tonight, the Orioles will send right handed pitcher Jason Hammel to the mound in the Bronx. Originally drafted by the Rays in 2002, Hammel saw his first major league game in 2006. Although he was a highly touted pitching prospect, he spent his 3 seasons with the Rays in limbo between the rotation and the bullpen, posting a 5.90 ERA. At the beginning of the 2009 season, the Rockies traded for the 26 year old at the time and stretched him out as a starter. He would go on to post a 4.33 ERA and 3.71 FIP in his first season in Colorado, and followed that up with a very similar 2010 season. Last year, Hammel saw a decrease in his strikeout numbers and an increase in his walks, and although he posted an ERA close to 2010, this time his FIP was 4.83. At the beginning of this year, the Rockies traded him along with Matt Lindstrom for Jeremy Guthrie, and it appears the Orioles have changed a few things about the starter.… Click here to read the rest