And The Answer Is Quality Starts

May 24, 2010 – 1:55 pm

Although it might appear that the offense has been struggling of late, in reality that is not the case. If you look at the hitting over the last 10 games, it’s actually pretty good — the team BA is .304, they are hitting a respectable .298 with RISP, and are averaging 5.6 runs per game. The problem is on the pitching side, where they are giving up 5.7 runs per game. And although clearly the bullpen is a disaster right now (6.37 ERA over the last 10 games), it’s been sporadic all season. It’s really the starting pitching that has broken down of late.

I pulled some data on the old “quality start” statistic, and came up with some interesting numbers. So far this season, the Yankees have gotten quality starts in only 21 games (44%), which ranks a dismal 11th in the AL. However, when they do in fact get a quality start, they win 90% of the time (19-2), which ranks first in the league (the league average for winning given a quality start is 68%). In the current skid, losing five of the last six, in four of those five losses they did not get a quality start. Definitely a pattern here.

What all this means (at least to moi!) is that the Yankees have strong enough offense that if the starter can get them to the seventh inning while giving up three or fewer runs, odds are they are going to win. But if the starter pitches poorly and they have to either rely on either winning a slug fest or having the bullpen hold a slim lead, odds are they are going to lose. Bottom line is that the problem is the bullpen — no surprise there. And until that situation is somehow fixed, it’s going to be up to the starting rotation to keep the Yankees in the hunt.

The last three times through the rotation, each of the top four pitchers has only one quality start in his last three starts. Surprisingly only Javier Vazquez has two quality starts in his last three. So the problem isn’t with just one or two of the regulars — everyone needs to step it up a notch. Well, everyone except Javier, who just needs to keep doing what he has been doing!

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