Is This New Bullpen Sustainable?Posted: July 7, 2011
The injuries to Rafael Soriano and Joba Chamberlian have been very tough to the Yankees and their bullpen. It has paved the way for David Robertson to step in to the eighth inning role and it has forced Brian Cashman to make a few moves to help stabilize the pen so far it has worked. Rob and I talked a little bit about how well they have pitched up to this point on the last podcast, but can they continue to pitch this way?
Before we get into the specifics, let’s take a longer look at how the Yankee pen has performed up to this point. They rank in the top five in the American League in ERA, FIP, WAR, homers per nine innings, and HR/FB. But can they can keep this type of pitching up?
Cory Wade is one of Cashman’s mid-season acquisitions that has been very good for this team. It is a very small sample (nine innings), but Wade has pitched to a 2.00 ERA in his eight appearances. However, if we take a look inside the numbers, we can see that he has been getting a little lucky.
He doesn’t miss many bats only getting a swing and miss 7.7% of the time this season and only striking out around six per nine innings for his entire career. His walk totals are low, but his FIP is 3.84 which also proves that he is getting lucky. Wade was a good temporary fix for the time being during interleague play and while competition wasn’t as good, but now that he has been exposed and is facing better teams, we shouldn’t expect Wade to be as effective.
Luis Ayala was the guy that was supposed to step up and be the seventh inning guy when Joba went down, but he really hasn’t. He doesn’t strike out overwhelmingly high amount of guys (6.33 per nine innings) and he walks a pretty high number (3.33 per nine). This being said, he only has an ERA of 1.33 on the season, but his FIP is more than two points higher sitting at 3.47. This shows that Ayala has been walking a tight rope, especially recently when his control has been questionable. He’s good for the mop up role he had earlier this season, but not for big situations.
I honestly have no idea why Hector Noesi is still with the big league club. He should have been sent down when they brought up Lance Pendleton a few days ago instead of Brian Gordon. This would allow Noesi to be stretched out as a starter and keep his innings up, kind of like Ivan Nova.
The reason I bring this up is because I don’t think Noesi’s stuff projects well to the bullpen. He’s a guy who pitches to contact and doesn’t get many swings or misses or strikeouts, only getting 4.09 per nine innings. He has a 3.68 ERA, but once again his FIP says it should be higher at 4.32 and he is allowing too many base runners yielding a 1.41 WHIP. Hector lives a little too much on the edge to be a reliever and he doesn’t even have as low a walk rate as Wade to back him up. He should be in Scranton’s rotation.
Just when Boone Logan was starting to win back my trust and respect, he allows a homer to Lonnie Chisenhall last night. Down in the minors this season, Chisenhall hit .200/.282/.360 against south paws until being called up recently. That is a guy Logan needs to get out. I can’t say I’m surprised though, because Boone has been very unimpressive this season.
Sure he has pitched to a 3.43 ERA, but as the lefty specialist, he was allowing lefties to hit over .300 until two weeks ago. By lowering his arm angle he has, made himself more effective by creating movement on his fastball, but last night reminded me that he could be very bad.
Remember, the good that remember from Logan comes from a very small sample of about three months last season (21.2 innings) and besides that he was pretty bad. Maybe I’m just upset for no reason because the Chisenhall thing is just one homer, but it does prove my point: we have no idea what we will get on any given day from Logan against lefties or even just in general.
As you can see, there are a lot of holes in this bullpen that have not been totally exposed yet and we have been getting pretty lucky. Rafael Soriano is due back in about two weeks, which will squeeze out one of these guys with a worse track record (hopefully Noesi to Triple-A). Just remember, for the time being, these are the guys who will be pitching in the middle innings of close ball games and could decide the fate of a game before David Robertson or Mariano Rivera has a chance.