Sunday, May 10, 2009

Big Innings

Last night, as the runs started to pile up in the second inning, I'm pretty sure all Yankee fans were thinking essentially the same thing, "Here we go again". There was a mix of bad luck, bad pitching, bad defense, and lack of focus. I said bad luck first because Luke Scott's single to lead off the inning only got through because Cano was shifted towards first. Teixeira narrowly missed two balls hit at him. Aubrey Huff's homer was a good breaking ball at his shoelaces that he somehow awkwardly jerked over the right field scoreboard.

Regardless of how these big innings are coming to be, this is becoming a trend for this team. The Yankees have been outscored 167-190 this year and a major part of that is the fact that they have gotten tagged for a ton of train wreck innings, but have largely been unable to return the favor.

The Yanks have been outscored 81-37 in these sitauations, more than making up for their negative run differential.

What is causing this? I've identified some contributing factors:
  • Chien Ming Wang - Wang is responsible for four of these innings, which account for 22 runs. In relief of Wang against the Indians, Anthony Claggett allowed 6 more earned runs, bringing that total to 28.

  • Situational Hitting - With runners in scoring position, opponents are hitting .321, which is better than any team in the MLB. By contrast, the Yanks are hitting .245, 20th in the league. With two outs and RISP, the Yankees are at .238 with a .795 OPS, while allowing .289 & .904 to the opposition.

  • Walks - Yankee relievers are walking 4.5 men per nine innings pitched (starters 3.7), even though Mariano Rivera has pitched 11 innings and has given up none. Take Mo out of the equation and the average jumps to 5.1. The biggest culprits are Jose Veras and Edwar Ramirez, who have pitched a combined 30 innings and walked 22. The bullpen is striking out almost one guy an inning, but it's not enough to neutralize all the walks.

  • + Hits - As a team they are also allowing more than a hit per inning, amounting to a WHIP of 1.526, fourth worst in the MLB. More baserunners prolong innings, and set the table for...

  • Home Runs - Pinstriped pitchers have allowed 43 long balls this year, second only to the Orioles with 49. Their Home Run/Fly Ball ratio is 10.6%, tied with the O's for the worst in the AL by a full two percent. Camden Yards is a notorious bandbox and it's certainly starting to look like the New Stadium is as well. I've been reluctant to jump on this bandwagon, but they have allowed four more dingers at home in four fewer games (1.84 per game to 1.17). Our buddy Simon recently took a closer look at some of the cheap homers from Thursday's game. Where there is smoke, there is fire.
Some of those factors project to improve over time. Chien Ming Wang has already taken a little "injury" hiatus. He will be back at some point and there's pretty much no chance he will be as bad as he was to begin the season. And if he is, he won't be around for long. Situational hitting, especially disparities that drastic, should regress to the mean as well.

However, the bullpen is starting to become a serious problem. I've been critical of Girardi's handling of it so far, saying he has been mixing and matching too much. The stats bear this out. The Yankees are second in the AL only to the Rays is number of appearances by pitchers totalling less than three outs, with 33. The difference is that the Rays have match-up specialists like Brian Shouse, and J.P. Howell who can, you know, actually get guys out. Their bullpen ERA is also over a run and a half lower, so whatever Joe Maddon is doing seems to be working. It's not all Girardi's fault, obviously, the pitchers should be doing a better job.

Right now, the Yankees have the worst ERA in baseball and getting A-Rod back isn't going to help that either.

1 comment:

  1. Hahhah, nice work on the "Long Ball Larry" Curb Your Enthusiasm link. That episode was awesome... "No Fly Zone"...