Better or Worse: Pitching Edition

Open Thread: Football in the Bronx
Yankees willing to offer Cliff Lee five years, $120M

Yesterday I made some predictions on whether Yankee batters would do better or worse in 2011 than in 2010, today I’ll go through the pitchers.

CC Sabathia

2010:  21-7, 3.18 ERA, 3.54 FIP

2011: At this point Sabathia is who he is, I would expect a very similar season in 2011.  He’s going to throw a ton of good to great innings and win a ton of games.  Expect more of the same next year, which of course is a great thing.  CC is an ace in every sense of the word.

Andy Pettitte

2010:  11-3, 3.28 ERA, 3.85 FIP

2011: Assuming he comes back, I don’t expect Pettitte to pitch as well in 2011 as he did in 2010, though if healthy he could certainly bring more to the team.  The 129 innings he pitched were the lowest of his Yankee career.  I don’t think he’ll pitch to a 3.28 ERA again, but if he can make 30 starts and put up a season similar to his 2009 he’ll be better for the Yankees in the long run.

Phil Hughes

2010: 18-8, 4.19 ERA, 4.25 FIP

2011:  Unlike CC and Andy, there is reason to believe he could improve greatly in 2010.  As positive as his 2010 was, there is plenty of room for improvement.  He may not win 18 games again, but he’ll likely be better.  He went through some growing pains that all young pitchers go through and hopefully he learns from them.  I also think that Hughes’ mindset may be a little different in 2011 knowing that there is no innings limit on the season, nor will he be on as strict pitch counts (20 of 29 starts were less than 105) within games.  Removing these chains could certainly help him grow.  And please Phil, hit a batter next year.

A.J. Burnett

2010: 10-15, 5.26 ERA, 4.83 FIP

2011:  Burnett has to get better in 2011, right?  I expect he will.  While the hiring of Larry Rothschild as pitching coach is a positive, Burnett’s success will depend primarily on himself.  There was no major injury to explain his poor season, and as inconsistent as he has been throughout his career, at the end of every season his line looked ok. Clearly this wasn’t the case in 2010.  One area of slight concern is that his fastball velocity did drop 1 MPH to 93.2 from 2009 to 2010, his 3rd straight year of decline and well off his career norms.  Since he’s essentially a two pitch pitcher, any further drop in velocity could be deadly.

David Robertson

2010: 3.82 ERA, 3.58 FIP

2011: Robertson finished the year strong (playoffs aside) and we were all confident when he came in, but it’s easy to forget he got off to a horrible start.  I think 2011 he puts it together and has a strong year start to finish as the primary setup man (assuming Joba is traded).  If Joba is still here I think Robertson sticks to the fireman role which he has been so great at the past few years (OPS is 107 points lower with runners on, which is good because he walks so many guys).

Mariano Rivera

2010: 1.80 ERA, 2.81 FIP

2011:  Every year there are a ton of prognosticators who predict this is the year Rivera will age.  Every year they are all wrong.  Of course they all keep saying it, so one time they might be right.  I certainly won’t be making that prediction.  In his last 8 years Rivera has had an ERA over 2 just once.  Why would I predict otherwise?  In 2011 it’ll be another year of dominance for the ageless Mo.

Cliff Lee*

2010: 12-9, 3.18 ERA, 2.58 FIP

2011:  Of course this is dependant on Lee signing with the Yankees, but I would expect a little worse season out of Lee in 2011.  Many players struggle their first year in pinstripes, though it was promising that the last big free agent class certainly bucked the trend.  Lee seems to have the composure and attitude required for pitching in the Bronx without being affected, but we won’t really know until he gets here.  I’m sure his record will be better, but pitching a full year in Yankee Stadium and the AL East could hurt his other (important) stats.  He’ll be great, but maybe not quite as great as he was this year.

As this will be my last post at RAB, I want to thank Ben, Mike, and Joe for the opportunity to write here for the past 6 months as I truly have had a blast doing it.  I also want to thank the readers for reading and commenting on my posts, both those who agreed and disagreed with me as I took a lot from both sides.  The community of Yankee fans on this site is second to none and I am glad to be a part of it.

Open Thread: Football in the Bronx
Yankees willing to offer Cliff Lee five years, $120M
  • Nostra-Artist

    And please Phil, hit a batter next year.

    “Pitch inside” would be a better way to phrase this. We don’t wish anyone to intentionally get hurt.

    • Steve H

      I don’t want him to hurt anyone but I literally want him to hit at least 1 batter next year.

      • Nostra-Artist

        Yeah, I know but that just had to be clarified.

        BTW-Great stuff this past year, sorry to see you go. Good luck in whatever is pulling you away from blogging over here.

        • Steve H

          Thanks Steve. Have a lot going on at work and home, which are good things but don’t leave me enough time to commit to writing consistently.

          • Jake LaMotta’s Left Hook

            Well, as long as we see you here in the comments offering your great view on things, we won’t need to miss you actually writing up posts!

            and I would also like to see Hughes hit a batter =)

            • Steve H

              I’ll still be here in the comments for sure.

              • Nostra-Artist

                It’s much more fun here in the peanut gallery. Writing a quality piece is hard work, picking apart every misplaced word is nice and easy.

              • The Big City of Dreams

                Take care Steve all the best

  • Nostra-Artist

    I think Rothschild could positively impact Burnett, Hughes and Robertson. All of them could benefit from being more aggressive in the strike zone.

    • MikeD

      Let’s add Joba to that list, too.

      • nostra-artist

        Huh? How can Rothschild help him when he’s pitching for the Diamondbacks? :wink:

        • The Big City of Dreams

          lol exactly can’t help a pitcher that won’t be on the team

  • Reggie C.

    Hopefully Rothschild doesn’t leave the team for a long stretch and damage the repoire he’d have built with AJ Burnett. The number one priority is clearly getting AJ back on track and I expect Rothschild to take the initiative and establish a rapport with AJ. AJ’s a high maintenance guy , but I expect AJ to WANT TO rebound and take to Rothschild’s instruction.

    ON a side note, I agree that if AJ can’t hold a constant 92-3 velo, he might not be pitching beyond the 5th inning in too many starts. Its puzzling. AJ’s shown strong health. he’s just got to adopt a harder regimen to keep the arm strength. Throw more in bw starts.

    I like your writing Steve. I hope to read some more of your baseball musings at some point later.

    • Steve H

      Thanks Reggie. I’m hoping I’ll have time to pop up with a guest post now and then in the future.

  • Teh Compensation Pick

    Left teh Joba out, except for mentioning him as trade bait. I don’t know why people are so inclined to believe he’ll be traded. Seems like wishful thinking to me. Personally, I don’t think he will be, and do believe he’ll get it all to click this year (except for the occasional deer in the headlights moment).

    • Steve H

      I think he’ll be great this year. I’m a huge Joba fan, and part of my wishful thinking is that he gets traded somewhere he can start. If he’s not traded I do expect big things from him this year.

      • Teh Compensation Pick

        What would you see him getting traded for? If NYY lands Lee, I don’t see any big deals in the making

        • nostra-artist

          Joe P broke the news on yesterdays RAB radio show. Chris Carpenter will be sent to the Yanks for Joba Chamberlain, Ivan Nova, Ian Kennedy and Melky Cabrera.

  • Nostra-Artist

    Since you mentioned Lee

    “Word is” that the Yankees are currently willing to offer Cliff Lee about $115MM over five years. Cafardo says the Rangers are aiming to match whatever the bidding gets up to, while the Nationals are also still in the hunt. Earlier in the week, Nolan Ryan said he didn’t expect Texas to be able to outbid the Yanks for Lee.

    I doubt the Yanks will want to give Lee more annually than CC, so I’ll bet they just add years at this point. Final deal of around 6 years/138 mil.

    • Teh Compensation Pick

      I could see that being spot on, maybe a vesting option based on innings in the last like 2 years of the first 5.

      • Nostra-Artist

        Yeah, I can’t see them or the Rangers going for 7 years at big money to a 32 year old pitcher. That’s reminiscent of Kevin Brown.

    • Teh Compensation Pick

      Just read the whole Carfado piece that MLBTR generated that from. I think Nolan Ryan’s comment from ealier in the week should be taken more seriously than Carfado. He works in Boston, not Texas, and in the past I’ve learned not to take him all too seriously. Many do think hes a great baseball writer though, I’m not one of those. Read the piece, its got some pretty ridiculous talking points in it.

  • nsalem

    Though W-L may have little importance in determining the level of an individual pitchers performance, from a team perspective there is no more important stat than W-L.

    • Zack

      No one ever denied that a team’s W/L is important; you just don’t judge a pitcher’s season/skill on his W/L.
      That’s all that needs to be said, lets not flood another thread with the same old discussion.

      • nsalem

        Though W-L may have little importance in determining the level of an individual pitchers performance

        • Zack

          And what was the point of bringing in the team perspective?

          • nsalem

            Because I’m a fan of the Yankees and I want them to win as many games as possible. This makes how many games their pitchers win (irrespective of their performance)quite relevant to me. Maybe you watch baseball for different reason.

  • Monteroisdinero

    This is a bit long term/far-fetched but one way to feel better about more years for Lee would be the possibility of becoming a lefty out of the pen in the 6th year (or later) in a long term contract. Just a thought . Don’t know how he would feel about it.

    We still need more than Boone Logan for next year btw.

  • MikeD

    AJ is 33 and the last three years has easily seen him start the most games, toss the most innings, and throw the most pitches in his career. A decrease in velocity is hardly shocking considering that’s the type of workload he’s never experienced prior.

    That said, I think he was dealing more with a mechanics issue in 2010, which would cause a decrease in velo. It appears that his biggest dip in velocity corresponded to his worst pitching stretch this season. We also saw that in 2009, suggesting when his mechanics are off his velocity will dip. On the positive side, his last few starts saw his velo trending up, including his World Series start where we saw him hitting 95. Couple that with his league-leading wild pitches and, more telling, his league-leading hit batters this year, and he was a pitcher in search of command. In 2008, he hit nine batters in 221 innings. In 2010, he hit 19 batters in 186 innings, indicating he was struggling with his mechanics and release-point.

    Obviously, consistency has been an issue with AJ, and it plagued him more in 2010 than in other seasons. I ran across a quote from Rothschild the other day that was about a year old. He was asked why his pitchers strike-out rates increased while their walks decreased. His answer was he makes sure his pitchers all have a consistent release point and a repeatable delivery. Makes sense, although easier said than done. Yet he does seem to have success in doing just that. Hopefully he can help AJ in that very area.

  • Zack

    DRob was so brutal to start the season:
    26.1 IP, 6.15 ERA, and .318/.411/.449 off of him, with a BABIP over .400

    35.0 IP, 2.06 ERA, and .205/.310/.295 against him, with a reasonable .288 BABIP

  • Andrew Brotherton

    I think the final total will be 5 yr, 125 million. I agree completely on getting our pitchers to be more aggressive in putting away batters. I think it depends on what becomes available and at what price before we talk about trading Joba.

  • Andrew

    What about Boone Logan? His role is certainly higher-profile heading into 2011, since he’s basically guaranteed a job out of Spring Training and might get chances to be the bridge to Mo occasionally beyond the usual LOOGY duties. I want to think he will pitch better than his final 2010 numbers, but I am a little pessimistic based on his struggles with control in the past and the general volatility of relievers. Him repeating the good portion of his 2010 would be huge for the ‘pen, so here’s hoping for that.

  • MikeD

    It’s going to end at 6/153, with a new annual-average salary record for a pitcher of $25.5. CC, with his opt out clause, will pressure the Yankees to match that after the 2011 season.

    • MikeD

      This should have been in the Cliff Lee thread. Not sure how I put it here.