• Salfino: Yanks Pitchers, “By The Numbers”

    Posted by on April 23rd, 2008 · Comments (4)

    Michael Salfino of SNY.tv takes a look at the numbers for some Yankees pitchers and offers who should be sent packing to make room for Joba Chamberlain in the starting rotation. Click here to see his feature. Some highlights:

    Mussina has generated swinging strikes 11 times this year on 319 pitches. That’s five percent of strikes. At his peak, his rate was over three times that and it was 13 percent as recently as 2006. Last year, it was nine percent.

    But Mussina’s control is still good enough to allow him to maintain a strikeout-to-walk ratio of 2-1, which is above league average.

    Looking at Kennedy and Hughes the same way is depressing for those like me who were bullish on one or both. (I’ve maintained that Kennedy is overrated given his lack of stuff.)

    Kennedy this year has generated swinging strikes on just 11 percent of strikes. In 301 pitches, guys have swung and missed 17 times. Hughes, though, is even worse: nine percent of strikes are swinging: 18 swings and misses on 336 pitches.

    There is no sign of dominance from either pitcher. I am surprised that Hughes hasn’t showed more stuff. I attributed his less-than-advertised velocity last year to his hamstring and ankle problems. But it looks like reports of a fastball that could touch the mid-90s were exaggerated.

    Chamberlain gets batters to swing and miss on 20 percent of strikes. That’s 14 times in 98 pitches.

    Even more importantly, he’s throwing strikes 70 percent of the time compared to 60 percent for Hughes and 55 percent for Kennedy. Kennedy’s number is atrocious. If he doesn’t get that number up to at least 65 percent he has no chance to achieve even moderate success.

    My verdict: If someone goes for Chamberlain, it has to be Kennedy.

    Personally, I think you have to factor in the “type” of pitcher here too. Chamberlain and Hughes have always been billed as “power” pitchers. But, in reality, Hughes, in the minors, was more of a ground-ball pitcher and Kennedy has always been a “contact” pitcher. So, maybe, here, looking at swings-and-misses is not the best idea.

    In any event, the “strikes thrown” thing is important. To me, anything less than 65% is not good. That’s why Joe Girardi has been preaching “throw strikes” to Hughes and Kennedy. And, if they don’t start doing it soon, well, I hear that Scranton is beautiful in the summer-time…

    Comments on Salfino: Yanks Pitchers, “By The Numbers”

    1. April 23rd, 2008 | 2:32 pm

      I really don’t think you can judge by swings and misses, especially when Hughes and Kennedy’s main problem has been the fact they can’t throw strikes right now.

      I think that’s pretty obvious to everyone. I mean when you have two pitches who are basically effective because they have good control, what do people expect to happen when they lose that control? They are obviously going to struggle.

      Besides, Joba is staying in the pen this year, so it’s a moot point.

    2. potusmike6453
      April 23rd, 2008 | 2:48 pm

      From a Peter Gammons article: “It’s been clear that Hughes is trying too hard,” says one scout. “When he pitched in the playoffs last year [against Cleveland], he just let it fly. But right now he’s muscling up and overthrowing, and he isn’t what he can and will be.”


    3. baileywalk
      April 23rd, 2008 | 3:40 pm

      You know, Hughes was drafted out of high school and never really pitched in AAA (less than 30 innings, and they were almost all rehab innings). So you’re talking about a kid who basically went from AA to the majors. To bust out the cliche: he’s learning on the job. He literally is. It’s not his fault he’s pitching in the bigs right now. I know how important he is, but people seriously have to back off and give the kid (and he is a kid) some room to breathe. Judging him start to start is just a dumb idea. We haven’t seen many curves and changeups in Hughes’ last three starts, which probably accounts for the lack of swing and misses.

      Kennedy was supposed to be more of a finished product, since he had a long college career in a big-time program. Everyone always said how Kennedy was the most polished, etc., etc. I don’t have any concerns about him, either, though. They’re both young and inexperienced. Even the best pitchers struggle.

      Hughes K’d 311 batters in 275 IP in the minors. Sounds like a strikeout pitcher to me.

    4. April 23rd, 2008 | 3:57 pm

      But, Hughes GO to AO ratio was more like a GO pitcher than a K/AO pitcher.

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