Key Stats for Each Yankees Pitcher
Key Stats for Each Yankees Pitcher
By Chris O’Connor
May 18, 2021
Note – This was written before last night’s game.
I took a look at hitters last week in part one of this two part series and part two will focus on the pitchers. This list consists of all pitchers with at least 10 innings pitched for the team and I wanted to look at a key stat that describes their season thus far.
Gerrit Cole: First among all pitchers in fWAR with 2.8, well ahead of second-place Jacob Degrom at 2.3. Cole has been unbelievable. He’s striking out tons of hitters, allowing few runs, giving length in his starts, and proving to be well worth the record contract that he was given. Not much to decipher here as he is one of frontrunners for AL MVP.
Corey Kluber: Fourth among all qualified pitchers in walk rate as his 10.7% would be a career high. I thought that this was notable because Kluber traditionally is a slow starter and this was only amplified by his only having pitched a total of 36.2 innings since the start of 2019. I expect his walk rate to decline as he shakes off the rust. To boot, he is 3-0 with a 2.39 ERA in 26.1 innings over his past 4 starts. His walk rate is 7.6% during that span, so he already appears to be settling in.
Jameson Taillon: Strikeout rate of 30.7% is a career high and it is not all that close. I believe a huge reason for this is the change he has made in his repertoire: he now throws his four seam fastball 50.4% of the time compared to 27.2% in 2019. He has completely ditched the sinker that he threw 19.8% of the time in 2019 and is throwing his curveball and slider significantly more. The good news is that he has walked hitters at about his career average, so this increased swing-and-miss stuff has not led to a loss of control. He has allowed home runs at more than double his career high so hopefully that proves to be unsustainable and his performance improves.
Jordan Montgomery: Ranks in the 84th percentile in chase rate. Montgomery is throwing his fastball less than ever at just 12.1% of the time this year and is compensating with more changeups, curveballs, and sliders. His last start against the Orioles notwithstanding, he has been a decent solid back-end of the rotation starter with a 4.75 ERA (3.97 FIP and 3.82 SIERA) and 0.6 fWAR in 41.2 innings.
Domingo German: Ranks in the 85th percentile in walk rate. German’s control has been terrific this year, and after struggling in his first few starts, he has shown few signs of rust after having last pitched in September 2019. With a 3.62 ERA in 37.1 innings, he has been a solid end of the rotation starter in a similar vein to Montgomery. His peripherals, which include a 4.23 FIP, suggest that he has been getting a tad lucky, but even some regression leaves ample room for German to have a nice season.
Aroldis Chapman: First among all pitchers (minimum 10 innings) with a 57.4% strikeout rate. That number is just absurd and easily a career high for Chapman. With his average four seam fastball velocity the highest it has been since 2017, a new splitter, and a wipeout slider, Chapman looks the best that he has been since coming to the Yankees.
Chad Green: His strikeout rate (29.2%) and walk rate (4.2%) are at their lowest since 2016. Green has been his typical solid self even while pitching more to contact than he has in years with his 2.21 ERA its lowest since 2017. He continues to be a guy that I really trust in the late stages of games as a multi-inning guy and is a huge piece in the Yankees bullpen.
Jonathan Loaisiga: Ranks in the 99th percentile in hard-hit rate allowed. Loaisiga has been excellent this year with a 2.49 ERA in 21.2 innings out of the bullpen. For someone who’s average fastball velocity of 97.2 mph ranks in the 96th percentile of all pitchers, he surprisingly has just an average strikeout rate. He has really succeeded in limiting hard contact, one of the reasons that I believe his breakout to be real. He can be even more dominant if his strikeout rate bounces up.
Michael King: His ground ball-fly ball ratio has more than doubled from 1.00 in 2020 to 2.09 thus far in 2021. King’s goal entering the year was 100 innings in a long-relief/spot starter role and though that appears unlikely, a 2.16 ERA in 16.2 innings is more than serviceable. While his peripherals suggest that he has been lucky thus far, he can continue to be a valuable weapon out of the bullpen if he sustains his high ground ball rate.
Lucas Luetge: Ranks in the 98th percentile in hard-hit rate allowed. Similar to Loaisiga, Luetge has been able to succeed with an average strikeout rate due to his propensity for inducing soft contact. He has a 2.95 ERA in 21.1 innings and has solid peripherals, and if you are wondering why the Yankees took a flyer on him: the spin rate on his fastball ranks in the 95th percentile. It is well known how much the Yankees love their high-spin pitchers.
Luis Cessa: Strikeout rate of 25.6% is by far a career high, but so is his 16.7% walk rate. It appears that Cessa has succumbed to the pitch design revolution in the MLB today, selling out for more strikeouts by throwing more sliders than ever before. He has thrown his slider 64% of the time, a significant increase from his career high set last season at 54.4%. Cessa has been solid overall with a 3.18 ERA in 17 innings, so if he can get his walks down, he may be on to something.