New York Yankees: Statistical Projections for Pitching Staff in 2012

Phillip BrownSenior Analyst IIDecember 14, 2011

New York Yankees: Statistical Projections for Pitching Staff in 2012

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    The New York Yankees' pitching staff has its strengths and weaknesses.

    The Yankees' rotation, aside from C.C. Sabathia and Ivan Nova, is full of question marks. Do you really trust Freddy Garcia, A.J. Burnett, Phil Hughes or any other possible starter in a must-win game?

    On the other hand, the Yankees own one of the best bullpens in the majors, led by the greatest closer of all-time in Mariano Rivera and one of the best young relievers in the game today in David Robertson.

    How will the Yankees' pitching staff do in 2012? Let's find out.

No. 1: C.C. Sabathia

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    Innings: 236

    Record: 22-7

    ERA: 2.63

    WHIP: 1.14

    Strikeouts: 232

    Walks: 64

    C.C. Sabathia had a 2.55 ERA before Joe Girardi instituted his six-man rotation in late July.

    A pitcher's rhythm is everything. If you have him pitch every six days instead of every five days, it messes with his routine, and he becomes a less effective pitcher.

    Sabathia is reportedly repeating his conditioning workout from last offseason that helped him lose 30 pounds. If he can keep that weight off during the season, unlike last season, he should be able to pitch more effectively late into games.

    All of this will lead to a much better C.C. Sabathia in 2012.

No. 2: Ivan Nova

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    Innings: 195

    Record: 18-7

    ERA: 3.36

    WHIP: 1.28

    Strikeouts: 121

    Walks: 59

    Ivan Nova had an incredible 2011 season, finishing with a 16-4 record and 3.70 ERA. With another season in the majors and not being sent down to Triple-A for most of July, he should've had an even better season in 2011.

    Nova settled down once he got used to the majors, as shown by his 8-0 record and 3.09 ERA after July 1.

    If he can remain unpredictable to hitters that have now seen him multiple times, he should improve and have a better 2012 season.

No. 3: Freddy Garica

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    Innings: 160

    Record: 13-8

    ERA: 3.71

    WHIP: 1.37

    Strikeouts: 112

    Walks: 53

    Wasn't Freddy Garcia a nice surprise? Garcia posted a 3.62 ERA in 2011, and if it wasn't for him slicing his thumb open with a knife in early August, it could have been even better.

    Garcia owned a 3.16 ERA before the injury, but after he cut his thumb, he wasn't the same until his final start in September when he threw six shutout innings against the Boston Red Sox.

    Personally, I think that struggle came from his inability to throw his off-speed pitches due to the thumb injury, but it could be attributed to his age.

    If Garcia can remain sharp like last season and hope his mid-80s fastball can keep hitters honest, he should have another solid season in New York.

No. 4: Phil Hughes

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    Innings: 172

    Record: 15-10

    ERA: 3.98

    WHIP: 1.34

    Strikeouts: 152

    Walks: 69

    Phil Hughes is an enigma. It isn't his fault that the Yankees tossed their highly-touted prospect back and forth between the rotation and bullpen.

    At 25 years old, Hughes has been successful in both roles by posting a 3.03 ERA in 2009 out of the bullpen and winning 18 games in 2010 in the starting rotation.

    Hughes will get a shot in the rotation in 2012, but which Phil Hughes will we get? The one with the 6.75 ERA in 60 innings pitched from April to August or the one with the 1.59 ERA in 17 innings from September to October?

    I guess we will have to wait to find out, but I am not expecting much from Phil Hughes in 2012.

No. 5: A.J. Burnett

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    Innings: 203

    Record: 12-10

    ERA: 4.87

    WHIP: 1.38

    Strikeouts: 180

    Walks: 88

    Can anybody trust A.J. Burnett? He has great stuff, but he is a headcase and therefore unpredictable.

    In May 2011, Burnett pitched seven innings in two straight games and gave up three total runs on four total hits against the Tigers and Royals. Sounds great, right? The next game he didn't even go six innings and give up six runs on eight hits against the Rays.

    How about the time he gave up nine runs in five innings against the Orioles or seven runs in four innings against the White Sox?

    He did come up big in Game 4 of the ALCS against the Tigers by only giving up one run in 5.2 innings, but even after that, I do not trust him.

    Burnett will give his usual 200 innings and high strikeout rate, but as always, his ERA will hover around five.

7th Inning Man: Rafael Soriano

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    Innings: 58

    Holds: 31

    ERA: 3.11

    WHIP: 1.12

    Strikeouts: 55

    Walks: 21

    Was Brian Cashman right, or was he right?

    After the Yankees missed out on Cliff Lee, the Steinbrenners went against Cashman's wishes and signed Rafael Soriano to a three-year, $35 million deal. Soriano posted a 4.19 ERA in 2011 and missed most of the season due to injury.

    Soriano did post a 3.33 ERA after the All-Star break and a 1.93 ERA in the postseason, so there is hope. But, he will never live up to his contract, especially at 32 years old.

    Bottom line, he may be good, but don't expect the Rafael Soriano from 2003 to 2010 when he posted a 2.37 ERA.

Set-Up Man: David Robertson

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    Innings: 65

    Holds: 35

    ERA: 0.96

    WHIP: 1.02

    Strikeouts: 103

    Walks: 29

    David Robertson was the best relief pitcher in the majors in 2011. Not only did he post a 1.08 ERA during the season, but he had a 0.25 ERA on the road and a 0.86 ERA after the All-Star break.

    He even got a fifth-place vote for AL Cy Young and AL MVP.

    If Robertson can keep his torrid pace up, not only will he have a great 2011 season, but he will also be the best possible heir to Mariano Rivera.

Closer: Mariano Rivera

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    Innings: 63

    Saves: 47

    ERA: 1.82

    WHIP: 0.86

    Strikeouts: 60

    Walks: 7

    This will most likely be Mariano Rivera's final season.

    Rivera will finish his career near the top of his game by posting an ERA under 2.00 for the 11th time in his career and a WHIP under 1.00 for the ninth time.

    Mo will also save 47 games, conveniently giving him an even 650 for his career and by far the most ever by a closer.

    Mariano Rivera will go down as the best closer of all time and the best pitcher of our generation.