A week ago, the Yankees began an eight-game winning streak with a homerun filled victory in
That night the starting pitching produced the following: seven innings, nine hits and five runs. The relievers produced two innings and four runs on seven hits.
Other than that night for the most part during the longest winning streak of the year, the numbers have somewhat been reversed.
During this winning streak, the starting pitchers have pitched 45 innings for an ERA of 5.20. On three occasions a starting pitcher has not lasted long enough to qualify for the win and this is a stretch that includes a dominating performance by CC Sabathia and A.J. Burnett’s best start in at least a month.
That brings us to the bullpen, which since July 26 has pitched 115 innings and allowed 20 earned runs.
During the last week, that group has pitched 26 2/3 innings. In that span, they have allowed just seven runs and that gives them a 2.36 ERA. Subtract last Saturday and you have a collective group of arms that has combined to allow three runs in 24 2/3 innings for an ERA of 1.09.
The last time the Yankees won this many games in a row was right after the All-Star break in 2009 from July 17-24. So naturally, I was curious to see the breakdown between starters and relievers.
In the same winning streak 13 months ago, every starting pitcher made it into the sixth and the rotation of Sabathia, Burnett, Andy Pettitte, Joba Chamberlain and Sergio Mitre combined for an ERA of 2.34 (14 ER/53 2/3 IP). The bullpen produced one victory and six saves, while pitching to an ERA of 2.50 (5 ER/18 IP).
So what is there to make of these numbers? Are the relievers being overused because of Ivan Nova going 4 2/3 Friday, Javier Vazquez doing the same in today’s 7-5 win and Dustin Moseley going 4 1/3 Monday?
To examine that, look at the appearances of the relievers in the last eight days:
Mariano Rivera – five appearances, five innings three hits, 66 pitches and ERA has decreased from 1.18 to 1.07.
Kerry Wood – four appearances, 4 1/3 innings, one hit, zero earned runs, 47 pitches and overall ERA has dropped from 4.26 to 3.75.
Joba Chamberlain – four appearances, 3 2/3 innings, five hits, two earned runs, 51 pitches and ERA has increased from 4.72 to 4.73 (because of allowing two runs in 1/3 IP last weekend but his second half ERA is 2.90, down from 5.70.
David Robertson – three appearances, two innings, two runs, 28 pitches, ERA has risen from 3.74 to 3.97 (because of allowing two runs last Saturday), but second half ERA is 1.50 in 18 innings. Last year it was 3.00 in 21 innings.
Boone Logan – five appearances, 2 2/3 innings, zero runs, 25 pitches, ERA has dropped from 2.59 to 2.43.
Those are some very good numbers from the top five relievers, especially in a week like this.
So while the rest of the world focuses on things like Vazquez being disappointed with Girardi’s quick hook with two outs in the fifth, we’ll discuss the pen. But if you want to do want to know why Vazquez was not as good as the two relief appearances, I have my theories.
One is pop. As Jerome Preisler wrote last Monday, you could hear the pop from the fastball in Jorge Posada’s glove. This time, I don’t recall hearing any of those pitches making that sound in Francisco Cervelli’s glove.
So that naturally brings the whole can Vazquez win with slightly diminished velocity question? Personally I have no idea, that’s why I’m not a pitching coach or a pitcher unless you count that one time in Little League 21 years where I hit three batters consecutively (one might have been intentional).
So I went to Cervelli and asked. He told me the speed was not there and that they tried to mix it up.
The numbers seem to indicate that fact.
According to pitch f/x, Vazquez threw 29 four-seam fastballs, 14 were for strikes and the average speed was 87.76. He also threw five of 12 two-seam fastballs for strikes for an average speed of 87.70. The average speed of the 24 changeups (13 strikes) averaged 79.75, the 15 curveballs (12 strikes) averaged 72.95 and the eight sliders (six strikes) averaged 82.88.
Three weeks ago, Vazquez started against the Seattle Mariners and lasted three innings. The numbers that day were similar – eight of 16 four-seamers for strikes and an average speed of 87.68, 17 of 26 changeups for strikes, averaging 79.92, three of seven sliders for strikes, averaging 83.86, 10 of 13 curveballs for strikes, averaging 73.88.
Cervelli also noted that Vazquez’s arm angle was a little low and that might have had impacted the lack of late life on the fastball that was created with the mechanical adjustment that was discussed Monday and made Vazquez’s fastball pop in Posada’s glove.