Friday, May 15, 2009

Closer Look: The Yankee Rotation

This past offseason the Yankees made headlines signing two of the premier pitchers on the market, CC Sabathia and AJ Burnett to huge contracts. So far the Yankees rotation similar to the lineup has not performed anywhere near as it was expected to. Let’s take a closer look

FIP is an ERA equivalency calculation which takes into account just things the pitcher controls and defense is removed from the equation, just FYI if you didn't know.

FIP's of Yankees starters from last year (that have pitched this year):

CC Sabathia- 2.91
AJ Burnett- 3.45
Chien-Ming Wang- 3.74
Andy Pettite- 3.71
Joba Chamberlain-2.65 (skewed by his time as a reliever last year)
Phil Hughes- 4.34

FIP's of Yankee Starters this year:

CC Sabathia- 3.89
AJ Burnett- 5.09
Chien-Ming Wang- 24.12 (SIGH)
Andy Pettite- 4.54
Joba Chamberlain-4.74
Phil Hughes- 6.64

Alright, Phil Hughes and Joba I'll give passes to, there young, need more experience, growing pains, yaddi yaddi ya etc etc...

Chien-Ming Wang? Who’s that?

Andy Pettite- so far this year he has looked shaky at best. His FIP puts him at league average 4.54 way up from his FIP of 3.71 from last year. What’s different about him though? Mainly, he's striking out less hitters and walking more, but why? To find out lets examine the pitch f/x data courtesy of fangraphs. The velocities on his pitches are roughly the same, with his fastball velocity sitting at about 90 MPH. The vertical and horizontal movements are about the same on all of his pitches except one, arguably his most important, the cutter. The Vertical movement is a little different, but I am willing to chalk that up to sample size for now as its still moving a decent amount. The horizontal movement is the scary part, normally his cutter has a horizontal movement value of roughly -4 this year it has a value of -.4. What exactly does this mean? Basically his cutter isn't... well... uhh... cutting. I don't think I have to tell you why throwing a cutter which dosen't cut will not work in the big leagues. To make up for this he's throwing his slider 15% more of the time than last year, and his cutter 20% less of the time. If Pettite has any hope of success this year, he will either have to find his cutter again or learn to throw his slider for strikes more often.

CC Sabathia- Even after yesterdays performance his numbers are still less than stellar for his standards. He's striking out rougly one less batter per 9 innings and walking roughly 1 more batter per 9 innings. His line drive, ground ball, and fly ball rates have reamined steady, as well as his velocity and pitch selection. I'm sure he will improve from where he is right now, but by how much is the real question. Just how much of his numbers were a product of playing in the national league last year? Now I'm not hating on the NL, but lets face it the Pirates batting line up, from last year especially, was not the scariest thing in the world.

AJ Burnett- The biggest disappointment of the year so far (Chien-Ming who?) with his current FIP differing from his projected FIP by over 1.5. You don't have to look very far to find out what’s wrong with him. He's striking out 2 less batters per 9 innings than last year, as well as letting up over 10% more fly balls this year. This increase in fly balls has led to an increase to his homerun rate per 9 innings. Unfortunately the short porch in right field has not helped this issue at all. Stuff wise and pitch selection wise everything seems to be the same. Hopefully, his homerun rate regresses somewhat, and his strike out rate goes back to what it was last year, otherwise it looks as if we may have another Carl Pavano esque contract in the books for the next 5 years.


She-Fan said...

I know AJ hasn't been great, but I still love his stuff and he's kept us in ball games for the most part.

Ace said...

I agree his stuff is some of the best around, but the home run rate hes sporting is just scary. Esepcially, considering he's had a low home run rate his entire carrer. Comparing him to Carl Pavano was probably a bit harsh though.

Alex H said...

very harsh haha, let's not go there yet... atleast until he gets his first DL stint.