JunkStats, an fun blog about unique statistics, ran an interesting post yesterday that looked at the extremes of runs allowed for each team in the majors. What they found was quite interesting:
Somehow, the Yankees staff has managed to give up between 2 and 6 runs in 25 of their 28 games (89%). That’s consistency, for better and for worse. They haven’t had many shutdown games, but they also haven’t let many games get out of control.
The study shows that the Yankees have only allowed 7 or more runs in 2 games, 2nd in baseball, but have only allowed 1 or 0 runs in 1 game, tied for last in the sport. While the pitching has not been truly dominant, it has been good enough to keep them in every game, as the most recent starts from CC Sabathia and Freddy Garcia illustrate. Those are the sort of games that seemed likely to turn into blowouts, but both pitchers settled down and gave the offense a chance to steal a victory.
I think there are two important takeaways from the JunkStats data. Firstly, if the pitching continues to be solid and keeps opposing teams from running up the score, the Yankees will eventually begin to steal some victories with their offense. The Sabathia and Garcia games referenced earlier are perfect examples of the sort of contest that the offense can turn around in the later innings once they begin clicking on all cylinders. With an offense like the one the Yankees have, they do not need the pitching to be dominant, just good enough to keep games close.
The second point is that the good but not great nature of the Yankees’ pitching may lead to some early burnout for the bullpen. The Yankees have leaned on their primary relievers a lot this season, and the fact that almost every game remains winnable into the late innings has certainly contributed to that usage pattern. More close games means that when the 6th or 7th inning rolls around, you are unlikely to see lesser relievers like Lance Pendelton and Buddy Carlyle warming up, and you might see the manager have a quicker hook with his starter than he would in a blowout. As long as this trend continues, Joe Girardi will need to try and squeeze as many innings as possible from his starters, as he did in the series against Detroit, so as to keep his primary relievers as fresh as possible heading into the summer.
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