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Yankees Relief Pitching: I'm Sending Out an SOS
Wednesday, June 21, 2006
The Yanks have had a rough June. They’re 8-10 this month, and their recent downswing has allowed the BoSox to surge ahead into 1st place in the AL East by 2 games, and the Blue Jays are just a game and a half behind the Yanks. I fear that despite all the blame being placed on the offense (or the lack thereof due to various injuries and/or stomach viruses [hangovers]), the true culprits that need to be held accountable for these losses are the pitchers—namely, the ones coming out of the bullpen.

Forget, for a moment, about Matsui. Forget about Sheffield. Forget even about Johnson and Chacon. Sit down and make sure you remove the young children from the room, as the numbers I am about to discuss may cause explosive language to come from your mouth.

The Yankees’ bullpen actually started out fairly strong, but in the past month they have gone sharply downhill. For comparison, the relievers have a combined ERA of 3.86 on the year (8th in the majors), but in the past 30 days they have an ERA of 4.86 (20th in the majors) and their opponents are hitting .333 off their pitching. Without Mariano, who continues to be strong despite a couple rough innings, these numbers would be even worse.

Relievers' Stats, Last 30 Days (5.0 or more IP):

Scott Proctor: 16.1 IP, 7.71 ERA, 1.59 WHIP

Kyle Farnsworth (right, vomiting into his jersey after giving up yet another run): 13.0 IP, 6.23 ERA, 1.92 WHIP

Scott Erickson: 6.2 IP, 9.45 ERA, 1.95 WHIP

Aaron Small: 13.0 IP, 3.31 ERA, 1.85 WHIP

Ron Villone: 12.1 IP, 1.46 ERA, 1.14 WHIP

Bullpen Disasters, Last 30 Days

5/22: Bean allows 2 ER in bottom of 8th, giving Red Sox 8-run lead. Yankees lose to Red Sox 9-5

5/26: Proctor blows save, 1 ER. Farsworth allows 3 more ER. Yankees lose to Royals 6-7

6/1: Farnsworth blows save, 2 ER. Yankees lose to Tigers 6-7

6/4: Erickson (right, covering up his low self-esteem with a sassy pose) allows 4 ER, putting game out of reach. Yankees lose to Orioles 4-11

6/8: Proctor blows save, 3 ER. Yankees lose to Red Sox 3-9

6/11: Farnsworth gives up 1 ER, allowing the A’s to take the lead. Yankees lose to A’s 5-6/15: Small (left, tipping his hat to his career) gives up 2 ER in 9th inning, putting creating a 4-run deficit for the Yanks. Yankees lose to Indians 4-8

6/17: Beam allows 2 ER in 5th, Proctor allows 1 (though he faced just 5 batters). Mariano blows save and allows 2 ER. Yankees lose to Nats 9-11

6/19: Farnsworth allows 1 ER, turning a 1-run shortfall into a 2-run deficit. Yankees lose to Phillies 2-4.

Lest you continue to think that the Yankees problems stem solely from their offensive troubles, rest assured that their bats still quite dominating. As a team, the Yankees are 2nd in the majors in runs scored (399), 3rd in batting average (.286), 6th in hits (688), 6th in slugging percentage (.453), and 1st in OBP (.369). They are clearly doing their very best with their persistently changing lineup, and they are hitting well enough to win most of their games.

What, then, should be done? More accurately, what can be done? The Yankees are dangerously low on resources and good bullpen help is hard to come by. They could try to deal for a starting pitcher and rotate one of the starters into the bullpen, or they may try to add another big bat. Octavio Dotel is allegedly going to be ready to pitch in a couple weeks, so waiting to see what his contribution can do is another option. What do you think the Yanks should do? Submit your requests in the comments, and I’ll see what I can do to make it happen*.

*nothing can be done.

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posted by Yankees Chick @ Wednesday, June 21, 2006  
  • At 5:06 AM, Anonymous bringBackBillyBall said…

    07/05/2006 10:30 AM ET
    The Yankees Are America
    By Steven Goldman / Special to YESNetwork.com

    To do better, the Yankees needn't bring in a player from the outside. The goal is to improve. It's only a slight exaggeration to say that if pitcher John Doe can put up an ERA of 6.50 the Yankees will have made a change for the better; after all, Chacon's ERA is 6.71. The point is that the Yankees don't have to aim for a Cy Young; they can settle for Cy Adequate. That could mean promoting Steven White, who has an ERA of 2.47 between Columbus and Trenton; it could mean taking another chance on Jorge De Paula or Ramiro Mendoza; most boldly, it could mean calling up Phillip Hughes. If any one of them can be even 15 percent worse than league average, his ERA will still be a run and a half lower than Chacon's.

    Hughes, though young and inexperienced, could be a lot better than that. Hughes is just 20, but aggressive promotions of deserving pitchers are not unheard of. Just over a year ago, the Angels promoted 22-year old Ervin Santana, who had just made just three career starts at Triple-A, and put him in the rotation. Five months later he bounced the Yankees from the playoffs. Last August the Mariners promoted 19-year-old Felix Hernández from Triple-A Tacoma and got great results (this year has been more mixed, though June was his best month). In 2001, C.C. Sabathia, then a 20-year-old with just 17 games at Double-A, became the ace of Indians' staff.

    It should be noted that the promotion of young pitchers doesn't work every time. There are risks. In 2003, 20-year-old Jeremy Bonderman lost 19 games for the Tigers, with an appropriate ERA. Rick Ankiel pitched very well for the Cardinals during the regular season as a 20-year-old rookie in 2000, but came apart mentally in the playoffs and never recovered. Jon Garland was shellacked as a 20-year-old White Sox rookie in 2000.
    Essentially, when contemplating this sort of move, the upside is Dwight Gooden, 1984, and the downside is Ankiel, October, 2000 — or Zack Greinke, who pitched quite well as a 20-year-old rookie in 2004, equally poorly in 2005, and left his team for an apparent mental health break in 2006.

    Hughes shouldn't be judged solely on his youth, or on his lack of experience, but on his stuff, command, poise, and maturity. If the stuff and command are felt to be equal to retiring major league hitters, then Hughes' personality will need to be assessed. There is no way of knowing for sure how a person will react to adversity, but if it seems Hughes can handle the pressure then there's no reason to hold back.

    Whatever option the Yankees choose, if it's an internal one they needn't be committed to it for more than a start at a time. Nothing is permanent — except the need to do something or slowly fade from the race, killed by replacement level injury substitutes and replacement level pitching.

    We need to Wake up our Pitching !!
    RED SUX Have Papabon ?
    Why Not Hughes ?

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