Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Mid Season in Review: Pitchers

We're doing this letter grade style, starting with the pitchers:

Shawn Chacon: D-. I warned everyone during the off-season that this might happen; for a short while in April, it looked like Shawn would defy that analysis by changing the way he pitches, becoming more of a strikeout guy at sea level. That didn't last, neither, does it seem, will Chacon.

Scott Erickson: F. Erickson's got an amazing reputation, matched only by Jose Lima, perhaps. It leads to comeback attempt after comeback attempt when the guy isn't pitching well enough to deserve it. Erickson didn't pitch well at Columbus, then came up to the show and lasted about a month before the Yanks caught on that he wasn't pitching well in the major leagues. Compare that to Colter Bean, who got two appearances and a DFA.

Kyle Farnsworth: C-. Has allowed a hit an inning, and 21 walks in fewer than 40 innings. And four wild pitches. Not good. It was easy to take Tom Gordon for granted the last couple of years...

Randy Johnson: C-. He's been much better of late, true. Still, since his big Memorial Day start against the Tigers, Johnson's ERA is 4.21. It's better than the 5.89 ERA he sported coming into the game, but that's still not what you expect from your ace. The Yanks thought they got a dominator, and instead they have a flawed six-inning pitcher.

Mike Mussina: A. Now this is how your ace pitches. Completely unexpected, too, because for the last couple of years Mussina looked stick-a-fork-in-'im done. Also, a total joy to watch pitch.

Mike Myers: A-. Recent slip-ups aside, Myers has been an excellent addition to the Yankee pen. Although righthanded batters have hit him like he's throwing slow-pitch softball over the years, this year, he's held his own when he's had to face them.

Scott Proctor: C-. Had the misfortune of doing well at the same time that Torre mainstay Tanyon Sturtze was failing. Had a 1.69 ERA in April, and hasn't been under 5.00 any month since. May wind up a case study on reliever abuse, a concept sabermetricians have never really explored.

Mariano Rivera: A. The strikeout rate is a little down, but otherwise everything is in its usual state of excellence with the Yankees closer.

Aaron Small: F. Cinderella didn't live happily ever after. It happens. Instead of mourning the sudden end of Small's amazing, unexpected run, we should just realize that it just points out how special Small's 2005 actually was. A shame the Yanks couldn't get him a ring to go with the 10-0 record, because that would have gotten him a Disney movie contract, for sure.

Matt Smith: B+. Has a 0.00 ERA, and has spent the majority of the season with the big club. Don't know who he is? Not a problem. True to form, as the third lefty in the pen and a rookie, Torre's had him buried, giving him the lowest leverage innings of any of the regular relievers. Here's hoping that in the second half Torre realizes "Matt Smith. It's not just for garbage-time any more."

Tanyon Sturtze: D. Gets the benefit of the doubt because of the torn rotator cuff that will keep him out this season.

Ron Villone: B+. Has done a good job (2.54 ERA in 43.7 innings) but gets a small deduction in that it took him so long to get Torre to give him the ball when it counts. If he could keep up this production while slipping into the #2 or 3 reliever spot (the old Mike Stanton role), it'd be great progress.

Chien Ming Wang: A-. Right now, he's the rock that's holding the Yankee rotation together. He's the #4 pitcher in the rotation, because you need someone who can give you innings between Jaret Wright and whoever the #5 guy will be. But Wang's my second choice to start a playoff game right now, behind Mussina and ahead of Johnson.

Jaret Wright: B-. He's been league-average, which is way better than we expected after last year's performance. If he were more than a five-inning pitcher, you'd have a real commodity.

Incompletes--TJ Beam, Colter Bean, Darrell Rasner, and Kris Wilson all fall below my arbitrary 10 IP limit for grading pitchers. I will refrain from comment.

We'll come back for the hitters. In the meanwhile, here are your weekly awards for the last week of the first half:

Record for the Week: 4-3, 50-36 overall, 3 games behind Boston

Player of the Week: Melky Cabrera had a big week, going .333/.419/.519 to finish the first half strong. He's the player of the week. Runners up include Derek Jeter, continuing his torrid batting for average with a .407/.419/.444 week, Bernie Williams (.364/.417/.500), Miguel Cairo (.381/.381/.476), Wright (10 K in 6 scoreless IP) and Villone (3.18 ERA in 5.7 relief IP).

Dregs of the Week: Shawn Chacon probably wore out his welcome with a 1.3 IP 6H 3BB 7ER start. Jorge Posada hit .143/.250/.143, and Andy Phillips had an abysmal .138/.138/.138 week, continuing his pattern of consistent inconsistency. While not really a "dregs" week, we will note Alex Rodriguez's .259/.355/.296 week. Way to follow up last week's dramatic homers, huh?

No comments: