Heading into this season, the Yanks’ starting pitching was all the rage. Having spent gobs of money on CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett and with Chien-Ming Wang, Andy Petitte and Joba Chamberlain returning to the team, the Yanks’ pitching seemed set for take off. They even had Phil Hughes, Al Aceves and Ian Kennedy in the wings.
While Kennedy is injured, the picture remains the same. The colors however have dimmed significantly. A.J. Burnett has alternated between greatness and awfulness. Joba Chamberlain hasn’t found his efficiency or velocity. Chien-Ming Wang is trying to find himself. And steadfast Andy Pettitte has been terrible lately. How did this come to pass?
Over the next few days, we’re going to examine the state of the Yankees starting pitcher, but for now, I offer up one statistic. Below is a table of four Yankee starters and their pitches per plate appearance. CC Sabathia and, surprisingly, Chien-Ming Wang are the only Yankees better than league average in that category.
So what can this tell us? Well, on the surface, we can see that Yankee pitchers are not making the most of their pitches. While it’s true that some of these differences are rather small, an increase of 0.3 pitches per plate appearances adds up to 30 extra pitches per 100 plate appearances. The Yankees’ starters therefore do not go deep into games, and the bullpen, full of lesser arms, is overtaxed.
For now, I am loathe to draw conclusions based on just these numbers. But chew on them. They do not portend success for a pitching staff expected to excel.