Yankee Pitching Options Part 2
Dustin Pedroia was named the AL MVP today, proving that most the voters are Red Sox fans. That’s all I can come up with. There’s no other possible explanation. Joe Mauer and/or Cliff Lee were robbed. OK, I’m done venting, and I’ve already written about this so it’s time to move on to the Yankees.
In my last blog I wrote mainly about AJ Burnett, so this time I’ll focus on Derek Lowe. In contrast to Burnett, since the Red Sox took Lowe out of the bullpen and returned him to the rotation in 2002 he has never had a season in which he won less than 12 games. In three of those seven seasons he’s been 8 or more games over .500. His career record is 126-107, but he’s 108-85 as a starter and 106-75 since 2002. That’s not bad considering that he spent half of that time on a team that gave him very little run support. Just this year, the Dodgers scored 2 or less runs in 13 of his 34 starts.
Lowe has a career ERA+ of 122 which is significantly better than Burnett’s. Other than his rookie year when he only threw 41 innings and had an ERA+ of 125, Burnett’s highest single season ERA+ was 122. Lowe’s two highest ERA+ years came when he was a reliever, but they were 198 and 190. His highest as a starter was 177. Even this year at age 35 his ERA+ was 131, which again, is higher than any single season of Burnett’s career.
What about my test for an ace of at least 15 wins with an ERA+ of 115 or greater? Lowe has done it twice and just missed this year with 14 wins (he lost four games 2-1 and two games 1-0). Remember Burnett has done it 0 times. In 2002 Lowe was 21-8 to go along with that 177 ERA+.
There are three knocks I hear against Lowe. First, he’s pitching in the NL. Second, he’s pitching in Dodger Stadium. These two suggest that his numbers look better than they really are. Third, he’s 35. As I’ve stated before, ERA+ takes into account the league average and adjusts for ballpark effects. Look at his ERA+ in his 4 seasons with the Dodgers: 114, 124, 118, 131. If 115 signifies an ace, those look like pretty good numbers. As far as being 35, that’s true, but he never threw more than 123 innings until he was 29. That means he has less wear and tear on his arm than the typical 35-year-old. I believe that he has a couple of good years left in him, possibly 4. He’s also made over 30 starts in every season since 2002, making him more durable than Burnett.
Postseason? The Yankees beat him up badly in 2003, but since then he’s 4-1 with a 3.07 ERA, including 7 shutout innings in the World Series during which he gave up 3 hits and walked 1.
Summing up, Lowe is durable, consistent, has the ability to be an ace, and has had some postseason success during the past 4 seasons. I still think that Wang will be the ace no matter who the Cashman brings in, but if the Yankees can’t get Sabathia, Lowe should be their next target.