Breaking Down The Arms Breaking Down

While the title gives away the premise, the Yankees’ recent woes are both directly attributable to poor pitching and, despite the nausea they might induce, worth exploring. As the Yankees have gone 5-9 in their last 14 games just when they needed to make a run and establish themselves as contenders instead of pretenders, the pitching that had been so reliably over-achieving in their 8-0 streak out of the All-Star break gate has failed them miserably. In these 14 games, the staff compiled gaudy numbers that, if any children are up doing some early-morning reading about baseball on the computer, you might want to avert their eyes. During this stretch, Yankee hurlers have amassed 121 2/3 IP and allowed 152 hits, 97 runs 94 earned, allowing 28 homers, walking 50 and fanning 99. That is, in the last 14 games, the Yankees have a collective ERA of 6.95, have allowed on average 2 home runs a game, have allowed 3.7 walks per nine innings, and have a staff WHIP of 1.660.

Breaking it down by starters versus relievers further illustrates the self-inflicted struggles that have beset the Yankees at this crucial juncture. In the last 14 games, the starters have logged 75 1/3 IP (about 5 1/3 IP/start), allowed 93 hits, 54 runs, 52 earned, 17 homers, walked 27 and fanned 49–an ERA of 6.21 with a WHIP of 1.593. The relievers have been even worse in 46 1/3 IP, allowing 59 hits, 43 runs 42 earned, 11 homers, walking 23 and fanning 50. That’s an ERA of 8.16 and a WHIP of 1.77. The starters have been poor. The bullpen has been abysmal.

The starters aren’t going long enough into games, overworking the bullpen.  In six of those fourteen games, (one of which was Joba exiting from his shoulder injury), the starters failed to pitch six innings. The starters are also getting hit pretty hard and yielding too many base runners. However, the bullpen–a real strength of the team this year–has been incredibly bad the last couple weeks, allowing way too many base runners on, especially from walks, and have allowed too many to score.

The offense has been inconsistent this year and poor with RISP throughout, no question. However, in the last 14 games, the offense has not been the main problem. The Yankees have been outscored 100-92 in that stretch, but they have scored fewer than four runs in only four of those games, winning two and losing two. More importantly, the Yankees have lost five games in which they’ve scored five or six runs. Those losses rest primarily on the arms, especially when the team–for all its woes with RISP–has averaged 6.57 runs per game the last fourteen games. Five or six runs should be enough to win with decent pitching. The Yankees’ pitching hasn’t been decent the last couple weeks, not even close.

Why have the Yankees lost ground thus far in the second half despite the eight-game winning streak out of the gate? For the most part, look no further than poor pitching. Injuries account for only so much of that, especially when the bullpen has largely been healthy and its work well-apportioned.

Published in: on August 10, 2008 at 1:29 am  Comments (6)  

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6 CommentsLeave a comment

  1. It’s incredible how quickly they “undid” that scary post-All-Star winning streak. But losing Wang is Chamberlain is like the Sox losing Beckett and Lester. Devastating.

  2. I agree with Steve, losing Wang and Joba hurts but the bull pen would be the same and that’s not good. There are a lot of young arms in the bull pen so I’m hoping that this shellacking is a growing experience for them. There’s a lot of inexperience in the bull pen. Could we blame Hank for this? For not going after established veterans or will we thank him in the near future?

  3. You’re right about the impact of losing Wang and Joba, Steve. Your comparison to Beckett and Lester is apt. The bullpen, as Sean has rightly said, is another matter, as is the back of the rotation (itself a product of injuries and inconsistency). They’ve been healthy but terrible.

    On the bullpen youth Sean, they’ve been good for the most part this year, but have maybe been figured out a bit. They’ve also made just plain bad pitches. I’m not trying to simplify it by saying that, but that leaving pitches fat, out over the plate, has been costly. The team has yielded a staggering amount of homers the last 14 games–two a game.

  4. Just reported by the Yes Network …

    Ian Kennedy was sent down to AAA-SWB !!!

    Great News !!!

    — Jimmy [27NYY]

  5. The thing is, you can discuss the bullpen all you want. The thing also is, losing Wang and Joba also means you use IP from a starter (and remember, Joba is still in the “babying” stage as far as IP). Besides the wins, Wang ate innings. Having starters only going 5, 5 1/3, 5 2/3 will only place added pressure on the bullpen. Don’t like the bullpen? Worried about it? The way to fix that is to go deeper into games. Go 7. Go 8. Heck, Pettitte went 7 today, great. His previous two outings he couldn’t get into the 6th. Getting 5 1/3 from your starters, and let’s face it…Ponson, Giese, Rasner aren’t going to give you 7 or 8…is trouble.

  6. I don’t think we’re in disagreement about that, Mike. The starters’ average length of stints has been horrible. My effort was to illustrate that the starters and the pen have each been poor in their own right as well as the related effects the poor starts have had on the bullpen. I think this is important not only because of the bullpen implosion yesterday, but also because pitchers such as Bruney and Robertson haven’t been overworked. They’ve just struggled, especially Robertson–though he’s a kid and had been doing well.

    That trio doesn’t inspire long-term faith in me either, Mike. They’re good for the short term and filling in but, over the long haul? No way.

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