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Posts Tagged ‘Chicago White Sox’

In 2011, the Yankees’ starting rotation posted the fifth lowest ERA (4.03) in the American League. However, most of the season still had the feel of waiting for the other shoe to drop. Despite featuring a mix of inexperienced youngsters and veteran retreads, the Yankees’ staff was able to survive the year intact, but the offseason is almost sure to bring about change.

Is the pursuit of Mark Buehrle in the Yankees' plans?

It’s entirely possible that the 2012 Yankees could have a completely different starting rotation than last season. Although Bartolo Colon and Freddy Garcia provided an unexpected shot in the arm during 2011, the chances are high that neither will return next year, particularly because they both seemed to run out of gas in September. In his post-ALDS summation, Joe Girardi stated that while Phil Hughes and Ivan Nova would be given a chance to compete for a spot in the 2012 rotation, nothing would be set in stone. Following an impressive rookie season in which he won 16 games, Nova seems like a sure bet to be one of next year’s starting five, but Hughes still has a lot to prove. At this point, getting rid of A.J. Burnett is probably more of a pipe dream than a realistic option, but after two futile seasons, the Yankees could decide to swallow hard and eat most of his remaining contract in order to facilitate a trade. Finally, CC Sabathia wearing something other than pinstripes in 2012 might be inconceivable, but until his opt out situation is settled, that unpleasant thought remains a possibility.

Even if Sabathia returns and Nova holds on to his slot, the Yankees will still need to bolster their rotation, especially because internal options like Dellin Betances and Manny Banuelos are probably at least a half-season away. Over at The Yankee Analysts, Larry Koestler set about to answer what free agent pitchers the Yankees should pursue and narrowed it down to two choices: Yu Darvish and CJ Wilson. Larry makes an interesting case for both pitchers, but perhaps the decision doesn’t have to be an either/or proposition?     

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The Yankees blew into the Windy City like a cyclone and swept the fading White Sox in Chicago for the first time since 1976. During the four games, the Bronx Bombers outscored the White Sox 34-11, but what made the series even more remarkable was the Yankees did not walk a single batter, making them only the third team (joining the 1905 and 1968 Boston Red Sox) since 1901 to record a four game sweep without issuing a free pass.

Even without limiting the criteria to a single series, going four straight games without issuing a walk is still an extremely rare event for a major league pitching staff. Since 1919, only 13 teams have accomplished the feat, and only two teams were able to carry the streak forward (over the same span, 16 teams have thrown four or more consecutive shutouts).

Most Consecutive Games without Issuing a Walk, Since 1919

Team Strk Start End G W L IP ERA Opp
NYY 9/5/2002 9/10/2002 6 5 1 54 2.17 DET,BAL
LAD 7/31/1965 8/4/1965 5 2 3 42.1 3.61 STL,MLN
NYY 8/1/2011 8/4/2011 4 4 0 36 2.75 CHW
OAK 9/8/2000 9/11/2000 4 3 1 36 0.75 TBD
KCR 9/29/1992 10/2/1992 4 2 2 35 2.57 CAL,MIN
PHI 6/4/1976 6/7/1976 4 2 2 34 4.50 SFG,LAD
BOS 8/5/1968 8/8/1968 4 4 0 37 1.22 CHW
STL 8/9/1949 8/13/1949 4 3 1 36 2.00 CIN,PIT
CIN 7/21/1933 7/23/1933 4 3 1 36 1.75 BRO,PIT
CIN 8/4/1932 8/6/1932 4 2 2 34.2 1.30 BSN
BRO 5/30/1931 5/31/1931 4 3 0 38 3.32 NYG,BSN
STL 8/19/1927 8/23/1927 4 4 0 36 1.00 BSN,PHI
PIT 8/10/1921 8/12/1921 4 3 1 38 3.55 BRO,CHC

Source: Baseball-reference.com

The last batter walked by the Yankees was Nick Markakis, who worked a free pass off Freddy Garcia during Sunday’s game against the Orioles. Since then, the team has reeled off 42 1/3 consecutive innings without surrendering a walk. Although impressive, neither total comes close to the top marks since 1919, both of which belong to the 2002 Yankees.

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(In addition to appearing at The Captain’s Blog, this post is also being syndicated at TheYankeeAnalysts.)

By most objective standards, the Yankees have the best pitching staff in the American League. And yet, according to some, Brian Cashman’s inability to acquire another pitcher has branded the team as a “trade deadline loser”.  So much for perspective.

American League Pitching Staffs, Ranked by Average WAR*

Team bWAR fWAR AvgWAR ERA+
Yankees 18.5 16.6 17.6 121
White Sox 15.7 17.4 16.6 111
Angels 14.8 15.4 15.1 111
Athletics 17.7 12 14.9 118
Mariners 13.7 13.3 13.5 103
Rangers 13.9 10.8 12.4 115
Red Sox 11.8 12.6 12.2 106
Blue Jays 12.0 9.5 10.8 97
Tigers 8.6 11.3 10.0 92
Rays 7.2 9.2 8.2 97
Indians 6.4 9.4 7.9 96
Royals 8.0 6.9 7.5 88
Twins 4.0 7.8 5.9 90
Orioles 7.3 4.2 5.8 82

Note: AvgWAR = bWAR + fWAR/2
Source: Baseball-reference.com and fangraphs.com

Let’s be honest. The reason so few people seem to believe in the Yankees’ rotation is because the team’s second and third best starters were looked upon as veteran retreads less than four months ago. No matter how well Freddy Garcia and Bartolo Colon continue to pitch, that stigma will remain until they come up big in October. Based on the injury history of each veteran, it’s hard to criticize that perception. After all, if the Yankees were completely confident in the pair, Cashman probably wouldn’t have even entertained some of the discussions he reportedly had with other general managers.

‘I think they’re in trouble,’ said one scout. ‘I look at their rotation, and there’s CC [Sabathia]. And then there’s CC.'” – anonymous scout quoted by Jayson Stark, July 31, 2011

The second part of the above statement is a reasonable one. In fact, I’ve probably uttered it myself on occasion.  However, just because the Yankees do not have another pitcher on Sabathia’s level (very few in the entire league are), does that really mean the Yankees are in trouble? Even though Garcia and Colon remain legitimate question marks, is every other American League contender that much stronger in terms of rotation reliability? Let’s take a look.

Comparing the Rotation Depth of Main A.L. Contenders, Based on Average WAR* (click to enlarge)

*Note: AvgWAR = bWAR + fWAR/2
Source: Baseball-reference.com and fangraphs.com

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