Yankees expectations for Derek Lowe
The Yankees are the wrong team for Derek Lowe. There, I said it. Derek Lowe himself is not necessarily a bad thing, but Derek Lowe on the Yankees is a perfect case of baseball gone wrong. Obviously the Yankees will be asking for the bare minimum out of him, but the bare minimum will be a lot more bear because of what he is.
Derek Lowe is a ground ball pitcher. He is so much of a ground ball pitcher that, dating back to 2009, he has the second highest ground ball rate in the majors. This year his ground ball rate is 60%, his highest since his days with the Dodgers, back in 2008. Ground ball pitchers get a lot of ground balls, but they don’t get a lot of strikeouts. That means that Derek Lowe will need all the help he can get from his infield defense in order to convert all those ground balls into outs. The Indians traded for him in the offseason thinking their defense would be able to protect him when he was on the mound. They were wrong.
According to Ultimate Zone Rating/150, a statistic used to identify what plays a player can make compared to the plays his peers are able to make over a 150 game period, the Indians as a team scored a -4.8, good for fourth from the bottom. About the only thing the Indians have been good at doing is preventing errors. To break down defensive statistics further, we can see how many runs they were able to save through double plays, defensive range and error prevention. The Indians have saved 4.1 runs due to error prevention; however the team has lost runs when it comes to double plays and range. A score of -26.9 range runs saved, as in runs lost, completely wipes out any positives that could exist.
The Yankees won’t be offering much better. They are just two spots ahead of the Indians in UZR/150 at -3.1. On top of that they are also at negative runs saved for everything but error prevention. A score of -14 range runs saved is a lot of grounders sneaking past a defender’s glove. Sometimes those plays can be costly. Backing up Lowe with the likes of Jayson Nix, Eric Chavez, Alex Rodriguez and Derek Jeter, all of who have a negative UZR/150 score for the year, is asking for disaster. Add to them the terrible defensive years Curtis Granderson and Raul Ibanez have had and it looks like no place is safe on the diamond.
Derek Lowe is doing his job. He gets ground balls. That’s not to say he’s doing everything else he is supposed to be doing, because he’s not. At a miniscule 3.10 K/9, he is striking out half as many batters as he did last year. He is also walking over three batters a game and has seen a rise in his line drive rates. At 39 years old, Derek Lowe is on the way out, but the Yankee defense won’t make it look any more graceful. All we can hope for is that the bare minimum isn’t that much to ask.
By: Jason Cohen