After spending a morning pouring over the numbers, a couple of nice nuggets were uncovered. First, every Yankee starter currently manning the rotation has an average game score of at least league average or higher. The league average game score is 50 and even Phil Hughes has brought his game score average to that level (50.3). All four of the others are over 50. Ivan Nova is at 51.2. C.C. Sabathia is at 56.2. Hiroki Kuroda is sitting at 53.9 and Andy Pettitte is at 59 even. This position of all five starters over league average seemed unattainable at the start of the season.
The Yankees’ pitching as a whole are second in the American League in strikeout to walk ratio. At 2.96 strikeouts per walks, only the Texas Rangers are ahead with a ratio of 3.06. The White Sox are close at 2.84 but no other team is in the in the ballpark. This is excellent news as walks and strikeouts are two of the few things a pitcher is said to be able to control. The Yankees are the sixth best team in the majors in limiting walks. At the same time, they are sixth in the majors at striking batters out. That is a terrific combination.
There are other nuggets that are nice to look at. For example, they are tied for fourth best in the majors at not hitting batters. And the team’s ERA+ sits at 115, fifth in the majors. And a small case can be made that they are either a bit unlucky or that their fielding could be better. The team’s BABIP sits at .303 when the league average is .291.
Are there areas of concern? Sure. There always are. The home run rate is still very high. But it is getting better. The staff gave up 27 homers in April and 38 in May. But with June almost over, the staff has only allowed 17 this month. The slugging percentage against from April to June respectively: .454, .450, .362. So the trend is going in the right direction.
There is some concern for the bullpen. Joe Girardi has gotten the most out of the splits with the likes of Cody Eppley, Clay Rapada and Cory Wade. But sooner or later, the ability level of those three pitchers will start to show up with exposure. Cory Wade is already starting to show the cracks. His bad outing last night is not a blip, but a trend. And Girardi seems loathe to push David Robertson since he has returned. Thus far, Robertston has been used exclusively as an eighth inning guy in close games and one mop up inning in a more lopsided win in the ninth. To limit exposure to some of the weaker members of the bullpen, Girardi is going to have to get more frisky with Robertson in close games and outside of that limited box.
Thus far in the roller coaster ride that really is any baseball season, the pitching staff is in the “arms up in the air and screaming in glee” stage. Things are going really well. A strong David Aardsma would help in the bullpen and the starters continuing to pile up quality starts can go a long way to keeping this ride on track.