As the rotation turns…

Logan could adopt new role amid injuries
Game 37: North of the Border
(REUTERS/Gary Cameron)

Starting pitching was supposed to be a strength coming into the season, or at least starting pitching depth was supposed to be a stretch. The Yankees have already used seven different starters this season after using just nine starters last year, and one of those nine was Dellin Betances in the utterly meaningless Game 162. Andy Pettitte‘s return will hopefully solidify things, but Ivan Nova‘s right foot/ankle injury looms and could make things a little hairy in the coming days and weeks.

The starting staff currently ranks 25th in baseball in both ERA (4.93) and FIP (4.55) through 36 team games, reflecting the slow starts by CC Sabathia, Phil Hughes, and Freddy Garcia and inconsistent performances by Nova and Hiroki Kuroda. Sabathia has pitched much better of late (last night’s start notwithstanding) and Hughes has shown signings of improving, but Garcia has already been banished to the bullpen. As a result, the starters have performed much better as the season has progressed. Here’s a breakdown of each complete turn through the rotation, so not including last night’s start by Sabathia…

Turn IP Runs/9 K% BB% HR%
1 28.0 5.46 19.0% 9.5% 4.8%
2 29.0 5.90 25.6% 6.2% 3.9%
3 24.2 8.03 17.7% 2.7% 4.4%
4 24.1 8.13 20.0% 7.0% 3.5%
5 31.0 4.07 19.7% 6.3% 4.7%
6 30.2 2.93 20.3% 7.0% 3.9%
7 34.1 3.67 15.6% 7.8% 4.3%

Garcia made four starts before being replaced by David Phelps, but his removal from the rotation is just one reason for the improvement. Hughes got his act together to a certain extent and although Kuroda is still hit or miss, he has not allowed more than two earned runs in any of his last four starts. Getting CC back on track is has obviously been huge as well.

Interestingly enough, the strikeout, walk, and homerun rates really haven’t changed all that much. Sure they fluctuate each turn through the rotation, but they’ve generally sat right around 19%, 7%, and 4%, respectively. The runs (earned and unearned) per nine innings has been way down of late while the innings pitched is up, and that’s not a coincidence. Runs allowed and innings pitched are not mutually exclusive. With an injury-weakened bullpen, the Yankees are going to need as many innings out of their starting staff as possible.

The rotation still has a ways to go before becoming a strength, but at least they’re headed in the right direction. Hughes has to continue doing what he’s done in his last two starts against someone other than the Royals and Mariners, and Nova needs to stop allowing extra-base hits like they’re going out of style. As much as we all love Pettitte, he’s still a big unknown given his age and the long layoff. Progress is definitely being made though, we just need to see some more of it.

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Logan could adopt new role amid injuries
Game 37: North of the Border
  • Tyrone Sharpton

    with the way this team has shown amazing resilience thus far, even with the slew of injuries/struggles of multiple players, you have to be impressed.

    • http://fendersonandhampton.com Cuso

      I won’t go out so far as to equate anything I’ve seen thus far as “resilient.”

      They’ve had some guys pitch bad and some guys fall to injury. They’ve performed about as well (or as poorly depending on your perspective) as you would expect them to have given those injuries/struggles.

      I get an entirely “toeing the line of acceptability” feeling from what I’ve been watching. They haven’t been bad enough to get MSM outlets to bash and bury them (a la the Red Sox), nor have they been hot or won enough to heap praise on their way of doing things (Rays) or exceeding expectations (Orioles).

      They’re just “there.”

      • jsbrendog

        They’re just “there.”

        which is all you need to do. if you can be “there” while guys are struggling and things aren’t clicking then you’re poised to strike when things do gel and start going well

        • Robinson Tilapia

          This.

          Staying within striking distance while you get things in order is what’s most important. It’s what this franchise has done over and over again.

          “Resilient” and “there” are two sides of the same coin.

          Flapjack.

          • http://fendersonandhampton.com Cuso

            I disagree with resilient being the same as “there” theory, however.

            Resilient in the Early-May baseball context would be achieving a record that they have no business having in the face of overwhelming adversity.

            Like if the Twins were to be. 500 right now. Or if the Dodgers play .750 ball without Kemp for the next 3 weeks.

            THAT would be resilient. ” There” is not “resilient.”

            Perhaps that’s just my opinion “, but I feel I’ve made a reasonable case.

        • http://fendersonandhampton.com Cuso

          We’re stating the same thing then. They’re just “there.” Not doing anything worthy of praise or ridicule.

          **Teddy KGB voice**** “Hanging around, hanging around”

      • Ted Nelson

        2.5 games separate them from the Rays and Orioles, while 3 games separate them from the Red Sox… I wouldn’t say any of those team have differentiated themselves at this point in the season.

        • http://fendersonandhampton.com Cuso

          I feel this echoes my point. Maybe i’m not articulating well enough.

  • Mike HC

    I still have irrational hope that Hughes can really turn the corner to be our second best starter come playoff time.

    • Urban

      There are two scenarios in which he’s the second-best starter come playoff time. He’s either been pitching really well, or the other three starters are pitching worse. If he’s the #2, I’m hoping it’s the former!

      • Mike HC

        It will probably be a little of both.

  • Urban

    Pitching depth has been a plus this year. Unfortunately, they’re running through their pitching depth.

  • DJ4K&Monterowasdinero

    Happy we have Phelps, Mitchell and Banuelos to look forward to-especially Phelps and Banuelos. I wish we had a position player at AA or AAA to be excited about too. This kid Avery on Baltimore (22 yo) looked exciting and decent. I guess I will need to be content with Mustelier who I haven’t seen and Melky Mesa who is toolsy but with holes in his swing.

    • Ted Nelson

      Romine, Zoilo, David Adams, CoJo…

      • DJ4K&Monterowasdinero

        Thanks Ted. Romine totally does not excite me, and if he cannot catch due to worrisome and unstable back issues, his bat ain’t good enough for anywhere else on the field. The other 3 guys are “nice” players-nothing great… now or projected….in my humble opinion.

        • Manny’s BanWagon

          I agree with you.

          Zoilo’s ceiling is a number 4 outfielder, CoJo a utility infielder, Adams maybe a starting 2B on a 2nd division type team (which is probably overly generous) and Romine a league average catcher.

          I not excited about any of them.

          • Ted Nelson

            You’re confusing potential and projection. Ceiling and probability.

        • Ted Nelson

          My point was really just that there are position prospects in the high minors.

          They don’t have huge upsides, but prospects are very volatile. It’s not at all uncommon that Top 100 guys flop and guys like those 4 have good careers.

          I don’t see why Mustelier is particularly more exciting than those four.

          -All you can do is wait and see on Romine’s back. Whether he excites you or not he’s one of the better C prospects in baseball when healthy. Definitely an asset.
          -Zoilo has hit at every level and had a good spring training… he’s certainly got the potential to be a starter.
          -Adams definitely has the potential to start if he’s healthy. That’s a big if… but let’s not forget that this guy had a .382 wOBA in Tampa and a .402 wOBA in Trenton before going down. The skill is there.
          -CoJo has done nothing but hit as well. I can definitely see his line-drive swing carrying over to AAA and MLB. Being a LH IF also helps his projection.

    • Robinson Tilapia

      We all understand the reason for this, right? It is what it is. Those guys you love in A ball will, hopefully, be in AA or AAA soon enough.

  • http://twitter/TheRealJeromeS Jerome S.

    Well, depth is there for a reason, amiright?

  • Manny’s BanWagon

    If you’re a glass half full guy, you can say that they’re only 2.5 games out despite crappy starting pitching which you figure will likely better.

    If you’re a glass half empty type guy, you can say other than CC, the Yankees currently have a bunch of back of the rotation type starters (though I think Hughes, Nova and Kuroda have the potential to be better than that) so the starting pitching could very well remain mediocre throughout the rest of the season not to mention the major strength of the pitching staff which was the bullpen has been totally depleted.