At first glance it would appear the New York Yankees have their rotation pretty much filled out. After re-signing Hiroki Kuroda and Andy Pettitte this offseason to accompany CC Sabathia, Phil Hughes, and *ahem* Ivan Nova, the Yankees starting five looks all set. However, if last season taught the Yankees anything, it’s the fact that you can never have enough pitching. The Yankees benefited from Kuroda, Hughes and Freddy Garcia stepping up when Sabathia hit the disabled list. But the Yankees were also exposed when they couldn’t find a viable long-term option when Nova couldn’t get anybody out for the entire season. David Phelps was coddled by management, Garcia’s effectiveness diminished, and anyone else who had an opportunity obviously didn’t do the job. In steps the reason the Yankees should at least explore the possibility of Shaun Marcum.
The 31-year-old pitcher, has experience pitching well in the AL East with his time with the Toronto Blue Jays. In 2010, he had perhaps his best season with the club going 13-8 with a 3.64 ERA (3.71 xFIP). His career numbers include a 3.76 ERA with a 4.21 xFIP, which shows that his ERA may not be indicative of how he actually performs.
As for his repertoire, he features a high 80’s fastball, with a slider/cutter, curveball, and change-up. He’s not fastball-reliant (~30%), and he mixes his secondary pitches in very well, as he’s a quintessential junkballer. His slider and changeup grade out to above average, and subsequently he’ll need that change-up to keep the ball in the park against lefties.
Speaking of giving up home runs, Marcum has a propensity for giving up the big fly. Over his career his HR/9 equals 1.22, but it’s been better in recent years, when *surprise surprise* he moved to Milwaukee and played with the Brewers. The graph below illustrates my point exactly. While he’s gotten a little better over his career, he’s definitely still above league average, and it’ll (most likely) get worse with a move to the Bronx and against American League competition.
The scariest part about Marcum is his groundball rate. In each of the past three years he had a sub-40% groundball rate, which does not bode well at all for the launching pad that is Yankee Stadium. Luckily, he is about average when it comes to strikeouts. The league average in 2012 was 7.56 K/9, with Marcum topping out at 7.91. Furthermore, he walks batters at league average rate (2.98 BB/9 for Marcum vs. 3.05 league average).
So it all comes down to dollar and cents (doesn’t it always?) for Marcum services. Various reports show Marcum requesting a two- or three-year deal. Last season he made 7.7 million, so he’ll likely ask for a bit of a raise, maybe between $8-8.5 million range. However, he is 31 and he had a shoulder injury in the middle of 2012. With the Brewers not even in the mix for him, that throws some red flags up concerning his health and effectiveness. That said, Marcum could slot into the #4 or #5 position in the rotation, but at $8 million per year, he would be an expensive back-of-the-rotation type. If the Yankees had any concerns about Hughes, Nova or Pineda entering 2013, then you’ll see them courting Marcum in the near future.
Stats courtesy of Fangraphs