Tuesday, July 7, 2009

First Half Projections - Pitching

[The day game yesterday pushed these projections back a bit, but we wanted to take a look at the numbers at the half season mark. Data does not include yesterday's game.

We've done three things here: first we've taken statistics from the first half of the season and done a simple extrapolation for a full season. Below that, we've taken ZIPS (Updated) projections from the awesome FanGraphs right now, and on the bottom, for comparison's sake, we've included what the ZIPS were at the one-third mark of the season. ZIPS, specifically the half season update, are going to be the most reliable, as they take into account what each player has already done this year as well as historical performance to project what the end of season numbers will look like.

Here are the four constant members of the starting rotation along with the four bullpen guys who have sufficient sample sizes for analysis

You can click on the tables for a larger view.]

CC Sabathia isn't having one of his best years, but it's still pretty damn good. In 2007 and 2008, he had K/BB ratios of 5.65 and 4.35, while this year he is only at 2.53. His strikeouts are down and his walks are up, but his WHIP is in line with his previous two seasons. Averaging just over 6 2/3 innings with a 3.85 ERA (ZIPS thinks it will be lower) on a potent offensive team should net you more than 14 wins in a full season, and he could easily go on a tear where he takes down 4 or 5 decisions in a row.

A.J. Burnett's last four starts have dragged his ERA down from 4.89 to 3.83. He's won 5 of his last seven starts and has proven to be the front end starter the Yankees had hoped they were signing this offseason. But he, like Sabathia has a low K/BB ratio. He hasn't gone as deep into games as CC, so his innings projections are lower.

This year Andy Pettitte is walking more batters than any other year of his career, which explains his tiny K/BB. He's publicly said that he is afraid to make a mistake at the New Stadium for fear that it might get taken deep. This is probably because 12 of the 14 home runs he's allowed have come at home. Yesterday was the first start of the second half and a 6 inning outing with 6 earned runs (including two homers) probably isn't the best way to head into the home stretch.

Oh, Joba. Much has been said about the young man lately, including the fact that in 28 career starts, he's factored into the decision only 10 times. Part of it certainly has to do with flukey run distributions in the games he's started, but he's also been unable to consistenly go deep into games. He's gone over 6 innings only 3 times in 16 starts this year and those accounted for 3 of his four wins.

The way Phil Hughes' numbers end up this year will have everything to do with the way he is used. Since transitioning to the bullpen, he's watched his ERA drop from 5.30 to 4.20, and he hasn't given up a run in his last 7 outings. It's great that he's adapted to the role successfully, but Girardi hasn't utilized the fact that Hughes is not your typical bullpen guy and rarely pitches him more than just an inning.

Mo's ERA is inflated by a rough couple of outings, but he has a microscopic WHIP and cartoonish K and BB numbers. He's got 21 saves so far, on pace for 42 which would be his highest total since 2005. Girardi has used him for more than one inning six times, which may not be the greatest thing for a 39 year old coming off of a shoulder procedure.

Phil Coke has emerged as valuable reliever who Joe Girardi is starting to trust in the last innings of close games. He's given up just one earned run in 17 outings dating back to June 4th and his ERA has dropped from 4.50 to 2.97. His ZIPS numbers may be a bit skewed as it still projects him to make seven starts. That ain't happening.

Our boy Alf has been one of the more pleasant surprises on the team this year. He's been used in close and late situations as well as longer appearances like the time CC had to leave the mound in in the second inning against the Marlins. He doesn't have blazing stuff, but his great control gives him the best K/BB ratio on the team, this side of Mo. His ZIPS has him making ten starts before the season's out, and with the recent injury to CMW, that may happen.


  1. but Girardi hasn't utilized the fact that Hughes is not your typical bullpen guy and rarely pitches him more than just an inning.

    The only reasoning I could see behind this is Hughes is probably on some sort of pitches and/or innings limit.

    Personally I would like to see Hughes used more like the closers of yester-year and start making some 2 or 3-inning appearances, especially if he can get through an inning in 15 pitches like he did the other day.

  2. I've given up on trying to reason why Girardi makes the pitching decisions he does.

    I was not opposed to moving Hughes to the pen, and I maintain that opinion. However, the most important thing for Phil Hughes in 2009 is to reach his innings limit - whether it happens in New York, Scranton, or Timbuktu. At this point, given his usage patterns, I'm growing concerned that he will fall short.

    I like your idea about deploying him like a fireman, like Aceves was used out of necessity Sunday. Because of innings limits I wanted Joba used that way last year.

    I want Hughes to return to the rotation now that CMW is out, but Girardi has said that's not happening - at least not yet. I can see the concern about properly transitioning him back to starting, particularly after Joba's hasty transition and subsequent injury last year. Deploying Hughes as you suggest will allow him to build up arm strength and hopefully be back in the rotation after a turn or two.