• 2011 Starting Pitching

    Posted by on May 23rd, 2011 · Comments (6)

    When Cliff Lee failed to sign with the Yankees, and when Andy Pettitte retired, the Yankee rotation became a major concern. Sure, there was CC Sabathia, but after that things got shaky, especially with Burnett coming off a terrible season, Hughes’s inconsistency in the second half, Nova’s inexperience, and Freddy Garcia…well, being Freddy Garcia. I go to school in Boston, so all I heard was how the Red Sox rotation, coupled with their improved offense, would dominate the A.L. East. Who did the Yankees have? Ivan Nova? Bartolo Colon? Ha!

    Early on, things looked bleak. Phil Hughes couldn’t throw a fastball. Ivan Nova had some rough starts. But ever since Hughes went on the D.L., and Bartolo Colon took his place in the rotation, the Yankee starters have dominated. Sabathia, Burnett, Colon, Nova, and Garcia have combined for a 3.47 ERA in 42 starts. Ivan Nova’s 4.29 ERA is actually the highest in the rotation. The only time in the last 30 years that the five primary starters all had ERA’s under 4.30 was 1998 (of course).

    What was once the Yankees’ biggest concern is now their biggest strength. The Yankees caught lightning in a bottle with Colon, who has somehow found the fountain of youth and is throwing high 90′s fastballs with movement on the black. Sabathia has been his typical self, Burnett has rebounded, Nova has been effective, and Garcia has been fantastic. In fact, all five had a quality start in their last outing.

    The bullpen has also been dominant, led by Rivera and Robertson, who both have ERA’s under 2. As a team, the Yankees have a 3.59 ERA. That’s their lowest mark since 1981, when the team posted a 2.90 ERA in a strike-shortened 107-game season.

    Maybe I’m misreading the success of the starters for a wider trend throughout baseball. After all, pitchers are dominating this year. A.J. Burnett’s 4.02 ERA actually gives him an ERA+ under 100. Run scoring is lower than it’s been in 20 years. The league average is .249.

    But considering the Yankees are hitting just .254 as a team (seventh in the A.L., though their OPS and OBP are first and third, respectively), they have needed their starters to step up. All five have done so.

    It is unlikely that Colon and Garcia will continue to post ERA’s in the low 3′s for the rest of the season. Burnett and Nova might become more inconsistent as the year goes on. But for the time being, I am enjoying the success of the starters, and hopefully it continues throughout the summer.

    Comments on 2011 Starting Pitching

    1. clintfsu813
      May 23rd, 2011 | 3:46 pm

      The hitting should heat up with the weather and I’m sure The Yanks will make some good moves at the deadline. Should be a fun second half.

    2. May 23rd, 2011 | 4:01 pm

      Quality Starts in the AL to date:

      Rk    Tm Year #Matching
      1    OAK 2011        32
      2    LAA 2011        31
      3    TEX 2011        30
      4    SEA 2011        30
      5    DET 2011        30
      6    CLE 2011        29
      7    CHW 2011        28
      8    TBR 2011        25
      9    NYY 2011        25
      10   BAL 2011        25
      11   KCR 2011        23
      12   TOR 2011        21
      13   MIN 2011        21
      14   BOS 2011        21
      

      I guess it depends on your point of view. Yanks are just as close to last as they are to being 6th in the league.

    3. MJ Recanati
      May 23rd, 2011 | 4:07 pm

      Steve Lombardi wrote:

      I guess it depends on your point of view. Yanks are just as close to last as they are to being 6th in the league.

      The median is 26.5 QS with a standard deviation of just around 4 (if my calculations were correct).

      Seems like the Yanks are right where they should be in this regard.

    4. clintfsu813
      May 23rd, 2011 | 4:19 pm

      If our offense does its job that should be good enough for playoffs

    5. Evan3457
      May 23rd, 2011 | 5:17 pm

      Steve Lombardi wrote:

      Quality Starts in the AL to date:
      Rk Tm Year #Matching
      1 OAK 2011 32
      2 LAA 2011 31
      3 TEX 2011 30
      4 SEA 2011 30
      5 DET 2011 30
      6 CLE 2011 29
      7 CHW 2011 28
      8 TBR 2011 25
      9 NYY 2011 25
      10 BAL 2011 25
      11 KCR 2011 23
      12 TOR 2011 21
      13 MIN 2011 21
      14 BOS 2011 21
      I guess it depends on your point of view. Yanks are just as close to last as they are to being 6th in the league.

      So are the Rays.

      And who is last, anyway? This list says its the galaxy-dominating Red Sox, but that can’t be right, can it?

    6. Evan3457
      May 23rd, 2011 | 5:28 pm

      Baseball Prospectus has its “Adjusted Standings”, which adjust the current standings based on

      1. Luck, in the form of run differential vs. actual W-L
      2. Luck, in the form of components of batting and pitching vs. actual runs scored and allowed, and
      3. Luck, in terms of the strength of the schedule played so far.

      Yanks are 6th in the AL in runs allowed (ra). They’re 5th in the AL in ra2, which is runs allowed adjusted for how what they’ve given up compares to the actual runs allowed (i.e. walks, singles, doubles, etc. with an adjustment for how many runs they should’ve allowed given what they allowed opposing hitters to do).

      They’re 4th in the AL in ra3, which is ra2 adjusted for the strength of schedule they’ve played so far. To be fair, they’d be 5th if adjusted for ra3/game, as Oakland’s ra3 is 2 runs higher, but they’ve played 2 more games.

      They’re 4th in the majors in adjusted W-L Pct. behind the Indians, Braves, and Cards, none of which, I’m convinced, are provably better than the Yanks.

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