The Yankees Need Their Starting Pitching to Improve

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The Yankee starting pitching has had a horrible week. If you want to read a level headed take, read Randy’s post from Friday. But this isn’t going to be that – I’m going to highlight just the things Yankee starting pitching needs to do better.

To start: Yankee starters have a team ERA of 4.64. League average team starting ERA is 4.49. Sure, the last week has probably raised that ERA a lot, but if one week can push you that far past league average ERA, it’s not good enough. World Series contenders should be far better than league average. Their FIP doesn’t suggest it’s a run of bad luck, either. They have a 4.90 FIP, good for 9th worst in the league.

Perhaps their biggest problem is their HR rate. Yankee starters have the second worst HR/9 in the league, allowing 1.84 home runs per nine innings. Only the Orioles have a worse rate. I don’t care if that number is inflated by some poor starts recently or by the London series, it’s just not good enough. They allow a home run on 18.5% of the fly balls they give up, second worst in the league. This needs to get better.

Yankee starters also allow too many base runners. They have 1.31 WHIP, exactly league average. League average isn’t good enough for a team looking to win the World Series.

We all know the Yankees have the best bullpen in the league. But their starters rely on them way too much. Only five teams have less innings logged from their starting rotation. The Dodgers rotation has 100 more innings attributed to them than the Yanks. Of course, LA might be complaining that their starters are going to be too gassed come October, and that might be true, but Yanks starting pitching needs to go deeper into games and rely less on the work of those behind them.

While those raw numbers are not good, perhaps these are even scarier: Yankee starting ERA versus the Twins, Red Sox, Rays, and Houston.

  • German: 6.12
  • Happ: 6.49
  • CC: 4.28 (man, gotta love him)
  • Paxton: 2.81 (this does not include his abysmal performance Friday, but I still felt the need to include it)
  • Tanaka: 5.28
  • Team: 5.12

Again, these numbers can change pretty quickly, and of course I still trust Tanaka in a big game. But man, that is just not what you want. The four best teams in the AL seem to just dominate our starting pitching.

To validate this, I looked at Yankee starters in high leverage situations across any opponent. It is not good. Their team ERA in high leverage situations is 11.96. 26.1 innings defined as high leverage, and 35 runs allowed. Five big flies and ten walks. Not good.

They need to improve. Period.

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7 Comments

  1. OG_02

    These guys look absolutely lost out there. Thank God for the offense because this is a brutal stretch to watch as a fan.

  2. CountryClub

    This 6 game stretch of awfulness is as meaningful to me as if they had just thrown 6 straight shutouts. SSS noise.

  3. dasit

    assume i’m in the minority but i would give up deivi and lesser parts for stroman in a heartbeat
    career hr/9 of 0.8 while pitching in rogers center, doesn’t fall apart in high leverage situations, career success against the red sox and astros (FWIW), craves the spotlight (FWIW)

  4. SM

    This is Cashman’s Yankees, year after year.

  5. Yanks317

    I’m as frustrated as anyone but I think I need a little more context. That FIP is gross. The HR/9 and HR/FB rates, are they high because of yankee stadium? Wouldn’t eliminate my concern over being 2nd worst, we just saw how the ball flies out of target field.

    Also a 12 ERA in high leverage situations sounds terrible. But those are situations when men are on base, so the league average is probably way higher than 4-5 range that we think of for “average” ERA, right? A 9 ERA in those situations would mean you give up one run per jam (that’s a simplification of course), which doesn’t sound too bad. Too many jams tho! As evidenced by that ugly WHIP!

    • Yanks317

      League avg high leverage era is 10, so they’re performing quite a bit worse than that.

  6. ungerwoo

    Yeah, “gotta love” a guy can barely get out of the fourth inning of any start and burns out your bullpen for two days.

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