New York Yankees 2013 Statistical Preview: Pitching
Unlike the Yankees' hitting, which has been decimated by injury, the Yankee pitching staff will go into the season relatively healthy. Just like their counterparts in the lineup, the Yankees will be relying on their veterans. Hiroki Kuroda returned to the Yankees on a one year deal, looking to improve upon his 16 win / 3.31 ERA season. Andy Pettite will also return for another go around after looking sharp last year before breaking his leg.
Where the Yankees will need help is from the back end of their rotation. Phil Hughes has never lived up to the hype of being a top-flight starter. Now in a walk year, Hughes will start the season on the DL, but needs to give up less home runs (35 in 191 innings) if he wants a contract extension.
Either Ivan Nova or David Phelps will occupy the fifth spot. Nova pitched well enough in 2011 to be the No. 2 starter in the postseason, but his wildly inconsistent 2012 forced him out of the rotation by the end of last season. Phelps pitched well filling in for Sabathia and Pettite during last season, but struggled somewhat during the playoffs. With their offensive troubles, the Yankees will need quality starts nearly every time out.
The bullpen is the strength of the entire team. The Yanks will enjoy one more year of Mariano Rivera closing games, who looks to be back after not allowing a run during spring training. David Robertson and his 12.0 K/9 remain one of the best setup men in the game, and another hard thrower in Joba Chamberlain and an excellent lefty specialist in Boone Logan back him up. If the Yankees starters can leave with leads, this bullpen should be able to shut opposing teams down.
Sleeper: Michael Pineda
In a trade rapidly approaching Scott Kazmir for Victor Zambrano proportions, the Yankees traded Jesus Montero (boy could they use him right now) for the 24-year-old right-hander Michael Pineda. He promptly battled a sore shoulder, which led to season ending surgery in April 2012.
The Yankees aren’t counting on him to return in 2013, but he could provide your fantasy staff a boost in the second half of the season. In case you forgot, Pineda had a 1.10 WHIP and averaged over a strikeout per inning. A pitcher who hasn’t pitched a meaningful game in a year and a half probably won’t repeat those stats; you could be stashing a mid-level starter for nothing.
Bust: CC Sabathia
CC Sabathia has been as good as advertised since the Yankees signed him for the 2009 season, but all those innings are starting to add up.
Sabathia has pitched about 250 innings per year for the Yankees, including the postseason. He made two short trips to the DL last season, once for a groin pull and the second for elbow pain that led to offseason surgery. Sabathia declared himself fully healthy, even if his 5.40 spring ERA says otherwise. He should still be an ace, but it comes with significantly more risk than it did a year ago.
If you’re a Yankee fan, you’re not going to worry about the pitching because you’re probably still hyperventilating that a guy who was cut by the Red Sox ends up two days later as your starting first basemen. Providing they can avoid injury, the Yankees pitching staff should keep them competitive until the bats come back.