Examining the Arms

Monday, May 16 2005 @ 03:38 PM EDT

Contributed by: Pepper Moffatt

Prevention is better than cure
Bad apples affecting the pure
You'll gather your senses I'm sure

Standings as of May 16th, 2005

1. Baltimore    24-13 .649         (7-6 2WK)
2. Boston       22-15 .595  2.0 GB (9-4 2WK)
3. Toronto      20-18 .526  4.5 GB (6-6 2WK)
4. New York     19-19 .500  5.5 GB (9-4 2WK)
5. Tampa Bay    14-25 .359 11.0 GB (6-6 2WK)
Instead of beating the tar out of each other, the teams of the AL East beat the tar out of teams in other divisions, which made it possible for every team in the division to post a .500 or better record since the last report.

In this report, we'll look at the pitching staffs of the 5 teams in the AL East. The designations (#1 starter, closer) have been provided by MLB.com. The Value of Replacement Player (VORP) statistics have been provided by Baseball Prospectus.

On with the ratings!

#1 STARTER           TEAM     G     IP     VORP
Roy Halladay         TOR AL   9   69.0     20.8
Matt Clement         BOS AL   8   50.0     13.5
Randy Johnson        NYA AL   8   57.3     10.3
Rodrigo Lopez        BAL AL   8   48.3      3.4
Scott Kazmir         TBA AL   8   45.0      3.2
Halladay has gone back to being the class of the American League East. The Red Sox are hurt under this comparison since both Schilling and Wells are injured, but still pick up the #2 spot thanks to the strong pitching of Matt Clement. I expect that RJ will finish higher than third by the time the season is over.

#2 STARTER           TEAM     G     IP     VORP
Mike Mussina         NYA AL   8   52.0     10.8
Tim Wakefield        BOS AL   8   52.3     10.0
Mark Hendrickson     TBA AL   6   38.3      3.9
Daniel Cabrera       BAL AL   7   42.0      3.3
Ted Lilly            TOR AL   7   27.7    -14.0
Ouch! Ted Lilly has been almost 25 runs worse than Mike Mussina so far this season, which is why he no longer has the #2 spot in the rotation.

#3 STARTER           TEAM     G     IP     VORP
Erik Bedard          BAL AL   8   53.7     18.9
Bronson Arroyo       BOS AL   7   46.3     14.1
David Bush           TOR AL   7   37.7      2.5
Hideo Nomo           TBA AL   8   41.7     -1.9
Carl Pavano          NYA AL   8   45.0     -5.8
A lot of Jays fans have been disappointed by the performance of Dave Bush this season, but things could be a whole lot worse. Despite having the #3 label Eric Bedard has been by far the best starter for the Orioles this season.

#4 STARTER           TEAM     G     IP     VORP
Josh Towers          TOR AL   7   43.3     11.2
Sidney Ponson        BAL AL   7   45.7      2.7
Wade Miller          BOS AL   2   10.7      1.9
Doug Waechter        TBA AL   7   33.3      0.6
Kevin Brown          NYA AL   6   37.0     -3.0
Here's where the Jays really shine. Who thought that Kevin Brown would be the worst #4 starter in the American League East?
#5 STARTER           TEAM     G     IP     VORP
Gustavo Chacin       TOR AL   8   48.3     13.4
Bruce Chen           BAL AL   7   45.3      9.5
Casey Fossum         TBA AL  11   20.7      4.3
Chien-Ming Wang      NYA AL   3   20.3      3.2
Jeremi Gonzalez      BOS AL   3   14.0     -3.9
The #4 and #5 starters for the Jays have a higher combined VORP than the number 1 through 3 starters. Mind you, a lot of that is due to Ted Lilly, but if you take him out of the equation, Chacin and Towers have still be collectively better than Halladay and Bush.
CLOSER               TEAM     G     IP     VORP
B.J. Ryan            BAL AL  21   21.7     10.0
Miguel Batista       TOR AL  17   17.0      5.0
Danny Baez           TBA AL  14   17.0      4.0
Mariano Rivera       NYA AL  12   12.7     -0.8
Keith Foulke         BOS AL  18   19.0     -2.7
B.J. Ryan has been excellent for the Orioles all season, but Miguel Batista isn't too far behind. The Red Sox and Yankees will climb in the standings once Rivera and Foulke return to form.

RIGHTY SET-UP        TEAM     G     IP     VORP
Mike Timlin          BOS AL  18   18.0      9.6
Vinny Chulk          TOR AL  14   18.7      6.0
Todd Williams        BAL AL  16   17.0      2.0
Lance Carter         TBA AL  13   20.7      1.3
Felix Rodriguez      NYA AL  11   11.7      0.5
Vinne Chulk has very quietly put up some pretty good numbers for the Jays. Less surprising is the terrific performance by Red Sox reliever Mike Timlin. Most of the Yankees relievers are interchangable, so it's really hard to slot a particular person into a particular role.

LONG RELIEF          TEAM     G     IP     VORP
Pete Walker          TOR AL   9   19.3      8.5
Tanyon Sturtze       NYA AL  10   15.7      3.1
John Halama          BOS AL  13   18.0     -1.4
Rick Bauer           BAL AL   5    8.3     -3.6
Seth McClung         TBA AL  10   11.3     -7.7
Not surprisingly, long relievers tend to be right around replacement level. It's kind of scary (but I guess in a good way) how much the Yankees lean on Tanyon Sturtze.

Jorge Julio          BAL AL  18   19.0      7.3
Matt Mantei          BOS AL  17   14.0      4.0
Paul Quantrill       NYA AL  12   17.0      4.0
Jason Frasor         TOR AL  14   16.0      2.3
Travis Harper        TBA AL  14   21.7     -3.0
Some pretty good relievers here, with the sophmore Frasor holding his own.

John Parrish         BAL AL   6    7.3      3.7
Buddy Groom          NYA AL   9    8.7      2.6
Alan Embree          BOS AL  18   17.7      2.4
Trever Miller        TBA AL  15    9.7      0.2
Scott Schoeneweis    TOR AL  19   12.7     -2.8
As much as I love "I told you so"s I really hope that Schoeneweis improves. I honestly thought that former Blue Jay Trever Miller was doing better than that this year. But the numbers don't lie. Well, the honest ones, at least.

Tom Gordon           NYA AL  19   18.0      3.6
Justin Speier        TOR AL  14   11.7     -0.5
Steve Reed           BAL AL  11   12.3     -1.0
Jesus Colome         TBA AL   7    6.7     -1.7
Cla Meredith         BOS AL   3    2.3     -5.5
Some pretty decent names here along with some pretty subpar performances. The Yankees lead this category, but you could put Gordon, Quantrill, and Rodriguez in a hat and shuffle them. It wouldn't make any difference. I've been very disappointed by the performance of Justin Speier this season. I was quite certain he'd have an excellent season.

Mike Myers           BOS AL  11    4.7      3.0
Scott Downs          TOR AL   1    2.0      0.3
Mike Stanton         NYA AL  14    9.7      0.2
John Switzer         TBD AL   0    0.0      0.0
Steve Kline          BAL AL  16   12.3     -1.0
John Switzer avoids last place in these rankings by the simple feat of not pitching at all this season. As you can tell from the numbers, some teams rely a lot heavier on bullpen lefties than others. The Orioles not only have two lefty middle relievers they use extensively, but their closer B.J. Ryan is also a lefty.

Questions of the Day:

1. Which pitchers do you expect will improve over the season? Which are playing over their heads?

2. Is the Orioles pitching staff for real?