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Yankees 2010 Projections

By: Justin Diaz

As the 2010 season debut is in a week, I thought it would be fitting to write an article with my projections for the season. To put it simply, these are educated guesses. I did not use any complicated sabermetric statistics such as line drive percentage, BABIP (batting average of balls in play), DIPS (defensive independent pitching statistics), or PENIS (percentage of erroneous numbers in statistics). Okay, maybe I made that last one up. But it really shocks me to see some of the statistics that some baseball writers, such as ESPN writer and sabermetrics obsessed Keith Law, use when comparing players. Sabermetrics bashing aside, here are my projections for the 2010 New York Yankees pitching staff.

SP, CC Sabathia:
The Yankees signed C.C Sabathia last offseason hoping they finally found their ace that can lead them into a deep postseason run. Sabathia’s 2009 was that and a bucket of fried chi…um, bag of chips. After an up and down first half, Sabathia might have been the best pitcher in baseball for the entire second half of the season. Aside from a freak injury, I see nothing stopping Sabathia (29 years old and the most durable pitcher in baseball the past few years) from having another great year.
2009 statistics: 19-8, 3.37 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 197 SO, 230 IP
2010 projection: 20-7, 3.35 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 205 SO, 235 IP


SP, A.J. Burnett
A.J Burnett is baseball’s prime example of that annoying saying, “What you see is what you get.” He’ll toss a gem one game that makes you think, “This guy is unhittable!” and follow it up with a two inning, eight run performance that makes his fantasy owners and Yankees fans yell, “*!@% you A.J!” Despite the fact that he he has the stuff to be a top pitcher in the league, he is 33 years old and is not going to change this late in his career. Yankees fans should be happy with what they got from him last season. He had some really good stretches throughout the year, particularly in the beginning of the season when Sabathia was struggling. Most importantly, he stayed healthy. Still, the question going into the season remains, “Will he stay healthy?” In his 11-year career, the 2008 and 2009 seasons marked the first time he was able to throw for 200 plus innings in back to back years. Does this mean his health issues are gone? Only time will tell.
2009 statistics: 13-9, 4.04 ERA, 1.40 WHIP, 195 SO, 207 IP
2010 projection: 14-10, 4.23 ERA, 1.45 WHIP, 198 SO, 202 IP

SP, Andy Pettitte
After 2008’s up and down season, many people thought Andy Pettitte’s days as a workhorse starter were finally over. The guy was 36 years old and had just pitched his 14th season in the league, so it only made sense, right? Somehow, Pettitte came back to prove everybody wrong, with a solid regular season followed by a spectacular postseason. Assuming Pettitte stays healthy and continues his steady diet of HGH (kidding….?), he should have a similar performance in 2010.
2009 statistics: 14-8, 4.16 ERA, 1.38 WHIP, 148 SO, 194.2 IP
2010 projection: 15-8, 4.25 ERA, 1.40 WHIP, 145 SO, 196 IP

SP, Javier Vazquez
The return of Javier Vazquez to New York has caused mixed reactions so far to say the least. There are those who are appalled at the idea of bringing back a guy who struggled in his one season with the Yankees. However, many people seem to forget that Vazquez was well on his way to having a very good season (he was selected to the all star game) before injuries derailed the second half of his season. Then there are those who are thrilled about bringing in a guy who posted a sub-three ERA and finished fourth in the Cy Young voting, thinking he will be able to have a similar season in 2010. I expect Vazquez to fall somewhere in between. He will not come close to replicating his numbers from last year due to the obvious fact that the N.L drastically inflates pitchers statistics. Don’t forget, he is going to be the Yankees fourth starter, they are not expecting him to finish in the top five in Cy Young voting again. All they need from him is to throw for around 200 innings and consistently keep them in games, something I expect him to do.
2009 statistics: 15-10, 2.87 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, 238 SO, 219.1 IP
2010 projected: 14-9, 4.15 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, 205 SO, 205 IP

SP, Phil Hughes? Joba Chamberlain? Chad Gaudin? Sergio Mitre? Babe Ruth?
Yes, I know that Phil Hughes will start the season as the fifth starter. Yankees fans should brace themselves for the possibility of another season long revolving door at fifth starter. Hughes will have an innings count for the season, something the Yankees haven’t handled so well in the past.

Maybe they’ve learned from the past three seasons of the “Joba Rules”, which basically ruined any chance Joba Chamberlain had at being a successful starter. If they follow the same 50-inning rule that they used with Joba, Hughes inning count would be in the 150 range this season (he totaled around 100 innings last year including his brief stint in the minors). He would reach this number well before the season ended if he were to pitch every five days.
The Yankees will either have to give him extended breaks between starts or just give him one long break in the middle of the season like the Tigers did with Rick Porcello last season. Either move could prevent Hughes from getting into a rhythm, as it seemed to do with Joba last season.

The question will be if Hughes is seriously struggling in the middle of a tight divisional race, will they stick with him in order to allow him to develop? Or will they try out studs such as Chad Gaudin or Sergio Mitre? No matter what happens, the Yankees fifth starter could be a question mark all year.

Bullpen:
I’m not going to bother projecting statistics for the Yankees bullpen. Relievers year to year statistics generally fluctuate quite a bit. Instead, I’ll just give a general overview of how I feel the bullpen will do.

The season will surely start with Mariano Rivera blowing a save, followed by questions of “Is he finally done?” and rash statements such as, “What a great career, had to end sometime though.” This will be followed by 35 straight saves and a Peter Gammons special on why Rivera is the best baseball player of all time without a major award (happens every season, trust me). In other words, Rivera is about as sure of a thing that there is in sports.

The rest of the bullpen might not be the guaranteed product that Rivera is, but it is deep and has the potential to be a strength. David Robertson is an exciting young pitcher who had a great finish to the season, including an impressive postseason performance. Damaso Marte finished with a great postseason as well, but who knows what you’ll get from him after his up and down (mostly down) regular season.

Alfredo Aceves has shown he is a reliable long reliever, no reason to expect anything different from him. It should be interesting to see how Chad Gaudin is used, but I expect him to be more of a spot starter than anything else. Boone Logan was brought in as the new lefty specialist, so I’m sure we’ll be seeing plenty of him with Girardi as the manager (whether or not he performs well is another question). Chan Ho Park has fallen far from the days he was a quality starting pitcher, but he is still a quality live arm out of the bullpen.

Then, there’s Joba. He’ll surely start the season in the 8th inning set up role, that’s not a question. The question is, can he return to the electrifying form he wowed the world with when he was first called up to the majors? If last season and the playoffs were any indication of how he is going to pitch this season, the answer to that question is a very obvious no.

I would love Joba to succeed and be the great pitcher that he seemed destined to be at one point. I’m not buying the fact that Joba is going to start throwing a fastball in the upper 90’s after watching him struggle to hit 92 for an entire year. Even when he was in the bullpen for the postseason, he wasn’t going much higher than 93-94. I hope Joba proves me wrong and returns to his old, fist pumping self. Based on his performance last year, I just don’t see that happening.

I will post my projections for the starting lineup on Saturday, thanks for reading.

8 comments:

  1. I like your projections but I am looking for a little better line from Sabathia than what you are giving him. I think after being in NY another year and settling in with the team he will be a consistent stud all year long. Of course you have him winning 20 games so hard to argue that much but I think the ERA is going to be in the awesome 2 range instead of over 3.

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  2. This whole 5th starter thing is way over blown, whoever is pitching 5th is going to be better than the majority of the other 5th starters in baseball. In fact the Yankees can even afford a starter to get injured and still have the back of the rotation in OK shape. I vote for Hughes though.

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  3. Great Article!!! Cant Wait for Tomorrow's article.

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  5. Great article. I agree with everything you said, particularly the PENIS part haha.

    And about the Hughes thing, let's just hope the Yankees learned from their mistake with Joba. It wasn't all that long ago that Hughes was the best pitching prospect in baseball so maybe he will finally put it together this year.

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  6. I gotta say, I enjoyed the article, and 2 things struck with me the most. The first, I agree so much about Mo, its so upsetting that with everything hes done, every year so consistently, that hes never won a Cy Young, I know hes a reliever, but hes also so much more then that.

    The other thing was Joba, I really do hope he can find that electrifying stuff he once had. 99MPH then that nasty splitter, hes un hittable, in fact its awe inspiring watching him when hes electric. Very nice article, look forward to more!

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  7. Great insight!!! Great Job.

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  8. no way pettite stays healthy and productive another year.... otherwise, excellent analysis.

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