Thursday, June 12, 2008

The difference between first and last

Due to either injury or ineffectiveness the Yankees have started nine different pitchers. Primarily, in regards to the Red Sox, Boston has started eight different pitchers due to injury.

The quality of the two teams' pitching tells the story of the difference in the standings.

Through 66 games, Yankees starters have pitched 355 innings. Only three pitchers - Andy Pettitte, Mike Mussina, and Chien-Ming Wang - have thrown more than 60 innings. Only three - Pettitte, Wang, and Darrell Rasner - have averaged at least six innings per start. As a team, the Yankees have averaged five and a third innings per start. Take away Mussina, Pettitte, and Wang, and the remaining staff has averaged a paltry three and two thirds innings per start. In other words - based on the average of the 25 starts made by the other starters, the bullpen (in those 25 games) has logged 158 1/3 innings of work - the equivalent of 17.5 games worth of pitching.

The Sox starters, on the other hand, through 68 games, have racked up 406 1/3 innings - a six inning per start average. Only David Pauley, a minor leaguer who has had one spot start that lasted four and a third, has an average innings pitched below five and a third. The disparity between the two teams has resulted in the Yankees utilizing their bullpen for 44 1/3 innings more than the Sox, despite playing two fewer games. That means the Yankees have had their bullpen pitch the equivalent of roughly five more games than the Sox pen.

Consider some of the head to head comparisons -

Matsuzaka - 11 starts, 64 innings, 5.2 IP/G
Masterson - 4 starts, 24.1 innings, 6 IP/G
Colon - 5 starts, 29 innings, 5.2 IP/G
Lester - 14 starts, 82.1 innings, 6 IP/G
Beckett - 12 starts, 79 innings, 6.2 IP/G
Wakefield - 13 starts, 81 innings, 6.1 IP/G
Buchholz - 8 starts, 42.1 innings, 5.1 IP/G
Pauley - 1 start, 4.1 innings, 4.1 IP/G

Bruney - 1 start, 2 innings, 2 IP/G
Chamberlain - 2 starts, 6.2 innings, 3.1 IP/G
Rasner - 7 starts, 42 innings, 6 IP/G
Mussina - 14 starts, 75.1 innings, 5.1 IP/G
Wang - 14 starts, 90 innings, 6.1 IP/G
Pettitte - 13 starts, 79.1 innings, 6 IP/G
Hughes - 6 starts, 22 innings, 3.2 IP/G
Igawa - 1 start, 3 innings, 3 IP/G
Kennedy - 8 starts, 43.2 innings, 4.1 IP/G

While the comparison of the veterans isn't bad, where it really falls apart for the Yankees has been with the young pitchers that they needed to contribute, and the spot starters who, as previously noted, have been unable to even muster an average of four innings per start. The Sox, on the other hand, have actually improved team averages as both Masterson (6 IP/G) and Colon (5.2 IP/G) have both put up better or equivalent per game averages than have Matsuzaka (5.2 IP/G) and Buchholz (5.1 IP/G).

The Yankees, on the other hand, have had trouble plugging that five-hole, and it was thirty games into the season before they had a solution - Rasner - at the four spot. Consider that only Ian Kennedy, outside of the front four in the rotation, has even averaged as many as four innings per start at 4.1.

And let's be serious - Rasner has never started more than six games in the majors...ever. Already the deterioration has started. Rasner won his first three starts and lost his last four. In his first four starts Rasner averaged 6.1 IP and went 3-1. His last three - 0 - 3 and 5.2 IP.

When Rasner completely spits the bit, then what is the Yankee solution?

To stay competitive this season the Yankees will need to trade away some young talent and acquire someone that will give their bullpen a rest. Otherwise, they should get used to .500.

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