Thursday, March 29, 2012

Setting Up the Yankees' Starting Rotation

Our pitchers:
Pitcher FB Slider Cutter Curve Change Split
Sabathia 62.1% (93.5) 16.2% (81.0)
6.1% (78.1) 15.6% (85.4)
Kuroda 60.8% (92.0) 21.1% (84.3)
4.6% (78.7)
13.6% (87.1)
Hughes 63.0% (92.3) 1.5% (82.0) 11.6% (88.3) 19.8% (74.8) 4.0% (82.9)
Pineda 62.2% (94.7) 31.5% (84.1)

6.3% (87.6)
Nova 62.0% (92.7) 9.6% (85.7)
22.6% (80.1) 5.8% (85.6)

All of our guys throw their fastballs a lot (and with Kuroda the soft-tosser at 92 mph, it's not hard to understand why).

Only Sabathia is a lefty, so handedness isn't really a factor.

Sabathia, Kuroda and Pineda all use their slider as their #2 pitch. Sabathia and Pineda follow that with the change as their #3, though of course Pineda was nearly a 2 pitch pitcher last season. Regardless, I wouldn't let Sabathia and Pineda pitch back to back.

Similarly, Hughes and Nova both rely on their curveballs as their follow up pitches. I'd keep them apart.
The question, for me, revolves around whether or not Kuroda should pitch in the #2 spot. All three of the young guys depend (or will depend) on their change up to keep hitters honest. How similar are these pitches? Pineda and Nova's speeds are similar with their change, but I can't speak to the drop or fade of either pitch. Pitch fx will give you some of the data, but I think the ultimate decision needs to be made by someone who can evaluate the pitches from inside the batter's box.

It may be that the Yankees would be better served by Sabathia, Nova, Kuroda, Pineda, Hughes, rather than Sabathia, Kuroda, Nova, Pineda, Hughes. Either way seems acceptable to baseball etiquette- with Nova in the #2 spot, you recognize his breakout work with the team last season and his team first mentality following his midseason demotion and return; with Kuroda in the #2 spot, you show deference to the veteran.

Ultimately, I think questions like this are more interesting in the playoffs or in a short series- the regular season will smooth over most of the advantages or disadvantages of one choice or the other.

Also published as a fanshot over at Pinstripe Alley

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