In case you missed it over the weekend, the Yankees signed the recently released Derek Lowe. He’s agreed to pitch out of the bullpen, making him the second veteran to make some “concessions” before joining the team (though in both his case and Ichiro Suzuki‘s, I think concessions are warranted).
With Lowe’s agreement to pitch out of the bullpen, we can assume that tonight against the Rangers, he’ll act as a caddie to starter David Phelps. Since his last start on July 4th, Phelps has thrown 30 or more pitches just twice (back to back outings on July 28th and 30th vs. Boston and Baltimore respectively) so I can’t imagine he’ll be able to throw a lot of innings tomorrow. If/when Phelps can’t go long, Lowe can take over, eat up a few innings and hopefully hand the ball off to the matchup or late-inning relievers. He also provides insurance in case Phelps isn’t so sharp this time around and can’t make another start; though it wouldn’t be desirable, Lowe could pick up that start. I have a feeling Lowe is on the Darnell McDonald Path: He’ll be ketp around so long as someone is on the DL, CC Sabathia in this case, and when that guy comes back, Lowe is gone. If Lowe does manage to pitch well enough to stick around, well, we’ll cross that bridge if we come to it. Now onto the title of the post: Is there anything good about Derek Lowe this year?
At first glance, not really. His ERA is a pitiful 5.52 and he’s actually walked more (45) than he’s struck out (41). He’s also allowed 204 baserunners in 119 innings (156 H, 45 BB, 3 HBP). Looking a little bit deeper, there are some encouraging signs. While they’re probably not sufficient enough to wipe out those bad numbers above, Lowe does have two things going for him. Despite all the times he’s been scored upon this season, it doesn’t seem that the homer bug has bitten the veteran Lowe. He’s given up just 0.61 HR/9 in 2012 (career: 0.72) and just an 8.7 HR/FB% (career 12.2%). Keeping the ball in the park is always a good thing, and Lowe’s been pretty good at that this season. His groundball rate is also fantastic, at 60.0%. Among AL SPs with at least 110 IP, that groundball rate is the best in the league. A groundball pitcher in the AL East, especially in Yankee Stadium, is always appreciated.
Will Derek Lowe make some huge difference for the 2012 Yankees? Highly unlikely. However, he can fill a role as a spot-starter or long-man for a few weeks. That’s all the Yankees need him to do and that’s probably all he will do. If he succeeds, great. If he sucks, well, don’t let the door hit you on the way out. Of course, we’re all hoping for the former. Good luck, Derek.
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