What makes a good Yankee Stadium pitcher?

Phil Hughes doesn’t like Yankee Stadium. It’s short fences aren’t fit for his league leading 48.1% fly-ball rate, and it bites him with home run after home run. Him and Yankee Stadium were never meant to be friends. Each of them have little invested in the success of the other; Yankee Stadium doesn’t help Hughes limit runs to the opposition by operating with short porches and Hughes doesn’t help Yankee Stadium limit runs to the opposition by serving up ample fly-balls. Like I said: a smart partnership in no way.

To wit: Hughes has surrendered 13 homers at Yankee Stadium this year and six everywhere else. Last year, the disparity was smaller but still apparent, as Hughes gave up six home long balls in 33 and a third home innings while only surrendering three in 41 and a third away innings. The previous year was otherworldly, as he gave up four times more homers at home (20) than he did on the road (5).

There is a skillset worth screening for in Yankees starters: a prototype that thrives on groundballs and strikeouts, keeping the ball out of the air and out of fate’s hands, or the wind’s. Below is a breakdown of those best suited to pitch within the Yankee Stadium fences (with a somewhat arbitrary score of 1-10 from me; all numbers from 2010-2012 considered, and all pitchers with 150+ innings considered).

GB%

FB%

K/9

Score

Derek Lowe

59.8

21.8

5.73

7

Tim Hudson

59.7

23.4

5.98

7

Trevor Cahill

56.7

26.4

6.04

7

Adam Wainwright

51.7

28.4

8.41

10

Jaime Garcia

54.5

27.1

7.19

9

Ricky Romero

55.1

28.1

7.06

9

Justin Masterson

56.7

25.7

6.89

7

League Average

44

36

7.1

5

Andy Pettitte

48.1

34.9

7.67

6

C.C. Sabathia

48.9

31.7

8.23

8

Hiroki Kuroda

47.4

33.3

6.92

6

Ivan Nova

51.1

30.6

6.24

7

Freddy Garcia

35.5

39.3

6.04

3

Phil Hughes

34.6

46.8

7.29

2

David Phelps

43.8

34.4

11.08

8

Derek Lowe, for one, is a free agent in 2013. Adam Wainwright isn’t far behind, hitting the market in 2014. Tim Hudson will be a free man in the winter of 2014, in all likelihood. Justin Masterson’s the only other one set to hit the market before within the next three years, as the Indian’s own him for two more arbitration years.

Andy Pettitte and C.C. Sabathia have made the mold of a successful pitcher at Yankee Stadium. Neither Pettitte nor Sabathia allows the short porch to stranglehold them; they pitch to the ground and focus on generating as many strikeouts as possible at home. Sabathia, for illustration’s sake, owns a robust 10.30 strikeouts per nine innings at home this season, while sporting a 7.71 mark on the road. Ivan Nova, on the other hand, should objectively succeed at Yankee Stadium but doesn’t; rather, he’s struggled with home runs in all venues this year due to some unfortunate luck.

But by continuing to stick with Nova in the rotation (as if they’ve had a choice of late), they – unbeknownst to be – played a smart chip. Nova is one of the few who, when harnessing his good stuff and gathering the good graces of luck, can succeed in Yankee Stadium. A pitcher who can balance life on the road and at home is instrumental for a deep playoff run, and that’s precisely why Phil Hughes should watch his back in the rotation when a healthy staff is in order. David Phelps is built for home.

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2 Responses to What makes a good Yankee Stadium pitcher?

  1. Bob says:

    Him and Yankee stadium?! Please don't pretend you are a writer.

  2. Nick Fleder says:

    Point taken – "Hughes and Yankee Stadium." Move along…