I think we’re all pretty familiar with the strengths and weaknesses of the current Yankee roster at the moment. The biggest strength is clearly in the bullpen, where the Yankees may have 3 of the 4 best relief pitchers in the American League, plus some interesting depth underneath them. The biggest weakness is clearly the starting rotation. CC Sabathia led Yankee starting pitchers with 167 innings last season, and only Masahiro Tanaka and Luis Severino were above-average by ERA+.
Given this, the Yankees should borrow a strategy from the 2015 Tampa Bay Rays: pull their starting pitchers much more quickly in close games when they reach the third time through the order. The third time through the order penalty is well documented. The balance of power between hitters and pitchers shifts substantially when a batter has seen that pitcher more than twice. Pitchers on their third time through the order on average prevent .35 runs per 9 innings worse than they do overall. Pitchers having very good days can overcome the penalty, but all pitchers are affected by it in equal proportions, no matter how good they are. Continue reading Why Girardi Should Have a Much Quicker Hook for Starting Pitchers in 2016