The Overworked Relievers

"Hold on kids, they want me to pitch again." (AP Photo/Nick Wass)

If there’s anything good to come out of last night’s loss, it’s that the Yankees were able to sit and rest their core relievers for a day. I mean completely rest them, they didn’t even have to get up and walk to the bullpen mound thinking about the possibility of warming up. Joe Girardi said before the game that Joba Chamberlain was not going to pitch given his recent workload, which included six appearances in the last eleven games. David Robertson has also worked quite a bit lately (five appearances in the last ten games), and even Mariano Rivera has been used heavily at times this year.

Rafael Soriano‘s injury has made those three, especially Joba and Robertson, that much more important this month. The problem is that these guys can’t go on like this forever, they’ll be burnt out by season’s end. Mike Jaggers-Radolf at The Yankee Analysts looked at these three yesterday and showed that they were on target for some serious innings totals, but I want to dig a little deeper. Innings are nice and convenient, but they are most certainly not all created equal. What’s really important is the number of pitches thrown by each, because as the old saying goes, there’s only so many bullets in those arms.

Let’s look at each pitcher individually, and compare their cumulative pitch totals this season to last season. Might as well follow The Formula™, so first up is the seventh inning…

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Rare Colon meltdown costs Yanks series opener

Meh. Coming off two straight wins over the Mets (the last of which included that great comeback and eight-run inning) and five wins in six games, I have a hard time getting worked up over a loss like this. The Yankees didn’t hit well and they didn’t pitch well, a combination that will often lead to bad things.


Bartolo Colon has pitched so well this year that he gets a pass for having a meltdown inning like he did in this game. It all started with a Corey Patterson leadoff double in the sixth, which was predictably followed by a intentional walk to Jose Bautista. What followed was a little … odd. Yunel Escobar bunted the two runners into scoring position, and for whatever reason Juan Rivera was deemed too dangerous to pitch to, so he was put on intentionally as well. This is the same Juan Rivera that came into the game with a .225/.315/.331 batting line. Furthermore, it set up the bases loaded situation for Aaron Hill, who is one of the most extreme fly ball hitters in the game. He’s not exactly a double play candidate.

(AP Photo/Paul J. Bereswill)

Ironically enough, Hill did hit a ground ball, but it scooted through the 5.5 hole for a run. Okay fine, it happens, but four-pitch walks with the bases loaded to Eric Thames (the next batter) should not. The game was essentially over when J.P. Arencibia jumped all over a first pitch fastball for a bases clearing double.

I mean, when there’s men on second and third with one out, you’re going to give up a run. It’s basically inevitable. But why would you walk one of the worst hitters in baseball to give the other team a free baserunner? That just doesn’t add up. Bottom line though, Colon can not be walking some kid with the bases loaded on four pitches in his sixth big league game. The double was just salt on the wound.


Two hits in 15 at-bats with runners in scoring position this time around, and those hits came back-to-back in the eighth. Alex Rodriguez‘s infield single didn’t even score a run. The offense was basically Curtis Granderson (who drew three walks) and Robinson Cano (who drove Grandy in each time), who teamed up for all three Yankees’ run. Blah blah blah, can’t manufacture runs, whatever. At least they didn’t waste a strong starting pitching performance this time.

It's only fun when he does it to someone else. (AP Photo/Paul J. Bereswill)


Heh, you think Michael Kay needed a new pair of pants after Jeter’s long fly ball to end the fifth? Yeah, I thought it was gone too, but at least I can blame the YES camera work. They made it look like it was going to land 14 rows deep.

Remember when I wrote about Colon and whether or not he’d stick to the fastball-heavy plan of attack against the Jays? Well PitchFX was not working early in the game for whatever reason, but it had Colon throwing 20 sliders and one changeup out of the 79 pitches it did record. He threw nine sliders and five changeups in his first start against the Jays, so yeah, they definitely incorporated a few more offspeed pitches this time around.

Bautista’s first inning homer sucked was sheesh, it was a first inning solo homer. Who cares? I saw people saying that they should have intentionally walked him in that spot, and I’m sure a few of them were serious. Even the Walk Bonds Chart says to pitch to him there. One run in the first, what’s the big deal? Just complaining for the sake of complaining.

Brett Gardner had two hits and two stolen bases, but the second steal was a joke. It was basically a defensive indifference in the ninth inning. Total gift from the official scorer. He’s up to .274/.344/.422 on the year, and it’s about time they move him back up to the leadoff spot. You know, 1. Gardner, 2. Granderson … etc.

Hector Noesi tossed three garbage time innings and gave up his first big league run. For shame, I thought that 0.00 ERA was sustainable. Oh well, for some reason this loss doesn’t bother me that much. I guess it’s easier to take when the Red Sox and Rays lose as well. Colon’s allowed a stinker every now and then, it happens. Just forget about it and go get ’em tomorrow.

WPA Graph & Box Score has the box score and video highlights, FanGraphs has everything else.

Up Next

Same two teams in a battle of ace left-handers tomorrow. CC Sabathia gets the ball against Ricky Romero, so that should be fun.

Phelps strong in SWB win

Penn League Report previewed the short season Staten Island Yankees today, so check it out. In case you missed it, here’s a little something on the defensively development of Gary Sanchez and J.R. Murphy.

Triple-A Scranton (2-1 win over Indianapolis)
Austin Krum, LF, Justin Maxwell, CF & Brandon Laird, 3B: all 1 for 3 – Krum walked and whiffed … Maxwell swiped a bag and scored a run … Laird struck out
Ramiro Pena, SS: 1 for 4, 1 K
Jesus Montero, C: 1 for 4, 1 K – he also hit a foul ball into a garbage bag that was being carried by an usher with his back to the play … they should call him up just for that, that’s amazing
Jorge Vazquez, 1B: 0 for 4, 3 K – back after missing two games with the hand injury
Kevin Russo, 2B & Gus Molina, DH: both 0 for 3 – Russo drove in and scored a run
Dan Brewer, RF: 0 for 2, 1 BB, 1 K
David Phelps, RHP: 7.1 IP, 8 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 4 K, 9-1 GB/FB – 58 of 94 pitches were strikes (61.7%) … picked a runner off first … nice rebound after an ugly start last time around
Randy Flores, LHP: 0.2 IP, zeroes, 1-1 GB/FB – needed just two pitches to get out his two lefties
Kevin Whelan, RHP: 1 IP, zeroes, 1 K, 1-0 GB/FB – six of his nine pitches were strikes

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Feliciano will begin throwing program June 1st

Via Brian Costello, forgotten lefty specialist Pedro Feliciano will begin a throwing program on June 1st as he attempts to rehab his torn shoulder capsule. “It’s been tough,” said Feliciano. “I like to be out there every day. I like when the phone rings to hear my name. Now, I have to just wait. It’s hard.” No word on how long said program will last, but I assure you this is not a two week thing. Whatever the Yankees’ get out of Pedro this year is gravy, you have to expect nothing with an injury like this.

Rafael Soriano, meanwhile, will throw off a mound at some point before the end of this homestand. He’s been playing catch regularly, but he’s going to need some bullpen sessions and a minor league rehab appearance or two before rejoining the team.

Murphy improving behind the plate, Sanchez not so much

J.J Cooper had a little something about Gary Sanchez and J.R. Murphy today, writing about their defense behind the plate. You need a Baseball America subscription to read the whole article, but the important thing is that Sanchez’s struggles (league leading 13 passed balls in just 19 games at catcher) seem to have more to do with focus than physical tools. “He often will block a difficult breaking ball in the dirt, then clank a well-placed fastball on the corner off his mitt that rolls to the backstop,” says Cooper, who also spoke to a scout that said Sanchez has “bad form” and stabs at the ball. Focus can be fixed, lacking the tools to catch can’t. Remember, the kid is still seven months away from his 19th birthday.

Murphy, on the other hand, has shown “significant improvement as a backstop” and “enough diligence and desire to catch [that] the organization gave him another shot.” The Yankees had him work out at third base and in the outfield during Instructional League last year, and he still plays there on occasion now. “Murphy has shown significant improvement in his receiving and his throwing, to the point where he is clearly more advanced on defense than Sanchez is right now,” says Cooper.

Game 46: The Jays, Again

And he flies! (AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Darren Calabrese)

We’ve already seen enough of the Blue Jays this year to know they’re a pesky little bunch. They have a knack for late-inning rallies, and I’m not just talking about that Mariano Rivera blown save a few weeks ago either. Toronto’s been doing that everyone this year, so they force you to play all nine innings. And, of course, they have Joey Bats. Here’s the lineup…

Derek Jeter, SS
Curtis Granderson, CF
Mark Teixeira, 1B
Alex Rodriguez, 3B
Robinson Cano, 2B
Russell Martin, C
Jorge Posada, DH
Brett Gardner, LF
Chris Dickerson, RF

Bartolo Colon, SP

The game is scheduled to begin a little after 7:00pm ET, and it can be seen on YES. Enjoy.

New design added to the RAB Shop

Just a heads up, we’ve added a new design to the RAB Shop, this one about robot umpires. You might have missed our anti-bunting design since we didn’t promote it on the site, but check that one out as well. Remember, shirts are fully customizable (color, size, style, etc.), and there’s a whole range of accessories as well.