The bloom is off the Cory Wade rose

Wade still has a pretty great pitching line for the season. His 2.84 ERA is backed by a 2.95 FIP and a 2.18 SIERA. He also has struck out 9.95 batters per nine innings to go along with a clean 1.42 walks per nine rate. That is a pretty special 7.0 strikeout to walk ratio. But frankly, his stuff hasn’t been there lately. He has given up runs in three of his last five outings and has not struck out a batter in his last three appearances. What is the most bothersome is his velocity. Consider the following chart via Fangraphs (click on the chart to see it better):

PitchF/X has his four-seam fastball down a full MPH from last year and he is averaging just 87.6 MPH. His two-seam fastball is down a full 2.4 MPH from last season and is only averaging 88.3 MPH. And here is why his strikeout rate does not seem sustainable: His swinging strike rate this season is only 5.0 percent. That is half the rate he displayed last season when batters swung and missed 10.1 percent of the time. Combine that with the fact that batters are not swinging at his pitches out of the strike zone as much this year (O-rate of 26.7 this year compared to 31.2 percent), and there is reason to believe that by the end of the season, his strikeout rate should plummet as the season goes along.

Cory Wade was a great surprise last season as the fourth or fifth option out of the bullpen. He was much the same earlier this season. But when he becomes the second guy in the bullpen’s pecking order, then there is a problem and that problem is starting to manifest itself more and more with each passing game.

David Robertson needs to get back in a hurry. As long as the starters are getting the ball directly to Soriano, the Yankees have thrived. But if there needs to be a bridge, then that bridge is burning and made of ropes.

William Tasker grew up in Bergenfield, New Jersey but has lived in New England since 1975 and in the far reaches of northern Maine since 1990. Tasker is the author of nine (non-baseball related) books and, besides writing here for three years, has written for his own site at www.passion4baseball.blogspot.com since 2003.

12 thoughts on “The bloom is off the Cory Wade rose

  1. jay_robertson

    So you were watching last night's game, too? You're right – he looked like Freddy on a bad day – I was surprised when Brien didn't make a comment about no smoke or broken mirrors.

    Just as even DR looked a bit overwhelmed as a closer, Mr. Wade doesn't look that good as an 8th inning, high leverage setup guy. Then again, last night, most of the team seemed to be on holiday – from Alex to Granderson to even Swisher. I'm hoping getting a few more rest days will help him out – he was doing fine in limited usage. (Cashman could follow a blogger's advice from yesterday, and bring up Banuelos – let Manny flush a few games and Wade will once again start looking good)

  2. 98nyy

    Bring up Montgomery

  3. Shane

    I frankly have never seen what Giradi saw in this guy – everytime I have seen him in a position to let the other team walk off, he's done exactly that – couple times last year that I remember and a couple times already this year – with such low velocity stuff, pitchers like this just have to be perfect all the time and he's just not.

  4. roadrider

    Is this really a shock? Frankly I never saw much difference between Wade and Luis Ayala (another limited stuff guy who had a good run with stats that were too gaudy for his ability level) and it's no surprise to me that the numbers are starting to catch up to Wade's real ability. I mean before this season the guy had a lower BABIP than Mariano Rivera. How long did any one really expect that to last?

    I'm no statistician but I really have to question the application of "per 9 inning" stats to guys who pitch one inning at a time. In a lot of cases, including this one, I think they tend to make these guys look better than they really are. Does any one think that Wade would have put up the same numbers as a starting pitcher? I don't.

    • chad

      The "per 9 inning" is simply an arbitrary number. It could just as easily be "per 47 innings" or "per 15.2 innings".

      It absolutely makes sense to apply it to any pitcher, reliever or not. It has nothing to do with whether they could duplicate those numbers as a starter, and everything to do with how statistically effective pitchers are in their duties.

      • roadrider

        With the caveat that I'm not a statistician I really can't agree with that reasoning. Whether the number is 9 or 47 or anything else I can't see how it's relevant to a guy who typically pitches an inning, or less, per appearance. How is there not a distortion there?

        • chad

          It sounds like maybe you're getting hung up on the K/9 because you're thinking of it as a stat that applies mainly to starters? It is a barometer of how effectively he(anyone) pitches, be it in a single inning as a reliever or in 7 as a starter.

          It has nothing to do with distortion. If you want to break it down to a single inning, Wade's 9.95 K/9 equals like 1.10 K per single inning. Whereas Freddy Garcia's K/9 of 5.8 equals like .64 K per single inning. Which means that, generally speaking, Wade is almost twice as likely to get a strikeout of a batter than Garcia is. This is true whether you judge based on a "K per 9" or "K per single inning" (or per 47 or 15.2). As long as you are judging every pitcher by the same "K per _____" criteria, the disparities in the ratios are the same and there is no distortion.

          The distortion would normally come if you start talking purely in aggregate numbers. For example, "Wade is better than Robertson because he has more strikeouts on the season". Wade obviously has more K's because he has face quite a few more batters than Robertson. But when you look at their stats at a K/9 level, you see that Robertson is something like 15 K/9, which comparatively dwarfs Wade's fairly impressive 9.95 K/9.

          Using K/9 is about leveling the playing field, not distorting it.

          • roadrider

            Nice try but I can do long division too and I do understand the difference between rate and counting stats. Yes, it's trivially true for all but the most innumerate that a guy with a higher K/9 is more likely to get a strikeout. Pointing that out is like pointing out that Wednesday comes after Tuesday.

            The only relationship to starting pitchers I see is that they typically pitch more innings in an appearance and thus the context of the statistic seems more relevant in their case. Since relievers rarely pitch more than an inning at a time and are relievers precisely because they have been judged not to have the repertoire to get through a lineup more than once (if that much) rates per nine innings seems like an inappropriate extrapolation
            to me.

            You've wasted a lot of typing and bandwidth on providing a non-explanation that doesn't get beyond a couple of blatantly obvious arithmetic arguments that are, putting it generously, tangential to the question at hand.

            Sorry, not buying.

          • Chad

            I am not sure why you are being hostile. I honestly was just trying to explain something that you seem confused about.

            If you are as familiar with math as you say you are, then you should realize that the " unnecessary extrapolation" does not in any way affect the proportionality of the statistic. You could make it K per million innings and the stat would still be an equally effective barometer.

  5. djpostl

    Take a look at IP total for Yankees pen. Wade is on pace for about 80 innings this year, having five plus more innings logged than Soriano, six more than Logan and almost ten more than anybody other than those two guys.

    This is Joe Girardi doing his best Torre imitation and trying to work a guy he liked/trusted to death before the All-Star break.

    • bballguru

      If you knew anything about pitching you'd know WHIP is the stat that counts and Wade's is under 1, 0.94 actually. He paints the corners, keeps the ball down, and is generally consistent.

  6. Dave

    I guess the bloom for Cory Wade is back. Once again, never listen to bloggers.

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