Cleat Geeks

Stop Saying the Yankees Have a Pitching Problem

The Yankees entered this season with high expectations and are so far overachieving with prominent players not really providing what was expected of them and rookies getting called up faster than expected. Many people are pointing at the pitching staff as the main question mark on the team. However, if you take a look at the numbers, there really isn’t an issue with the 2018 Yankees’ pitching staff.Image result for new york yankees bullpen

Let’s start off with the most important statistic that is kept in sports: a team’s record. The Yankees are entered the Subway Series against the Mets at 40-18 and with the opening game win they now have a .690 winning percentage. With that win and the White Sox besting Sale and the Red Sox the Yankees now lead the division by 0.5 game but have also played five less games due to weather. They are leading the majors in winning percentage as well. It is very difficult to pinpoint an area of weakness in a team that wins almost 70 percent of their games, but fans feel the pitching needs to improve if this team wants to win their 28th World Series.

Team ERA is a big stat that many people care about. Honestly, I do not care for ERA because if a man gets on base, the job is to not let him score even if he reached on an error. At the time of this writing, the Yankees post a 3.64 ERA, which is 11th in the majors and fourth in the American League. My first thought after looking at the number is the Yankees have played a lot of good hitting teams, including 20 games against the other AL teams to reach the playoffs last season.

Batting average against is another big stat that I care more about than ERA since you are finding out how many batters get a hit, of course this is flawed since getting a hit in Yankee Stadium with the short porch is different than getting a hit in Seattle, but it is more reliable. The Yankees are fourth in baseball with .219 and only behind the Houston Astros in the AL.

Image result for new york yankees bullpen

Those numbers include the bullpen so let’s look at quality starts (how many times a starting pitcher throws a minimum of six innings with a maximum of three earned runs allowed in a game). The Yankees have thrown 32 in 58 games, 55.2 percent of the time. Tell me that isn’t good when the team is without Jordan Montgomery for the rest of 2018 and possibly 2019.

Could the starters improve? Of course, the Yankees have 327 innings thrown by their starters (the number includes Domingo German’s starts, not any innings accumulated from the bullpen) and could look for more length. If you are a fan of the team, you would know our AAA team is stacked with major league-ready talent like Brandon Drury, Clint Fraizer, and Ronald Torreyes and GM Brian Cashman could pull the trigger on a trade involving one or more of these guys in order to get a starting pitcher since there is a bevy of everyday player talent in their farm system that a rebuilding team would love to get their hands on. Could they get a pitcher the caliber of Tampa’s Chris Archer? Probably not without giving up a major piece of their farm system but they could be in the market for veterans on struggling teams like a Cole Hamels or James Shields, pitchers who have pitched in big games and understand what they need to do in order to succeed in the Bronx.

Image result for new york yankees bullpenI do believe the Yankees will go after a starting pitcher before the trade deadline, especially with the news of Montgomery needing Tommy John surgery instead of coming back before the All-Star Game like previously reported. I also think Aaron Boone and Brian Cashman understand they do not need the starting pitchers to throw seven-plus innings a game in order to win. The team has the most explosive bullpen in the majors and would be a waste not to use their strength, Joe Girardi had it right with how he used the bullpen for a majority of the season last year, have a quick hook if need be and manage the pitchers you have. Boone has been amazing so far with how he has elected to use his bullpen.

I have been hearing all sorts of trade proposals to bring a pitcher to the Bronx but unless they get another Sonny Gray trade, they will settle with a Jamie Garcia-esque move. An improved Sonny Gray might be the move they need as they will have Luis Severino, Sonny Gray, Masahiro Tanaka, and CC Sabathia lined up in the playoffs. If Gray gets right, as he looked like he is in his last start in Toronto, that is arguably the second-best playoff rotation in the AL and also having a huge bullpen to follow.

Feel free to tell me your opinion in the comments below and tweet me @VinPensabene if you want to keep up with me and my work.

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