Jorge Posada Proves Problem for Yanks, Just Not the One I Expected

Travis NelsonSenior Analyst IApril 28, 2008

BAD NEWS: Hughes and kennedy are now collectively 0-5, with an ERA of 8.20, with 27 walks and only 26 strikeouts in 34 innings.

GOOD NEWS: Ian Kennedy' opponents' batting average on balls in play (BABIP) this year is .361, and for Phil Hughes, it's even worse, at .388.

Why is that good news? Because on average, most major league pitchers allow a BABIP around .300 these days. (That hasn't always been the case, but a study of that history is beyond the scope of this post.) If Kennedy and Hughes are so far above the normal average, and there isn't something physically wrong with them, then they're likely to regress toward the mean eventually, and start pitching like we've been told they can.

On the other hand, Mike Mussina's not been exactly great this year, only 2-3 with a 4.94 ERA and only 10 strikeouts in 27 innings. Worse yet, he's got a BABIP of only .250, which means that when the mean catches up with him, he's likely to get worse, not better. Moose's problem to this point is that he's just not fooling anyone with his mid-80's fastball and 68-mph knucklecurve, so he never strikes anyone out anymore, allows a homer every 4 innings, and makes the defense work for him. Unfortunately, the Yankee defense is better known for its ability to hit than its collection of Gold Gloves, Derek Jeter's small collection of them notwithstanding.

Regardless, the two young guys have got to start pitching better if the Yankees are going to compete. Mussina, too, of course, but if he falters, they can always try Joba Chamberlain in the rotation and relegate Moose to mop-up duty. Or they can try Moose as a once-a-week starter, keeping him a little more fresh for each time he pitches, and helping to take some of the pressure off Joba and Hughes and Kennedy, so they don't have to rack up so many innings on those young arms.

Not that they're likely to try something that unusual, but don't ever let it be said that there were no alternatives out there.