Originally Posted by jojo
Baselines are really important for context...
In 1998, the average AL starter looked like this: ERA= 4.75, FIP= 4.64, K/9=6.16, BB/9=3.27
The Yankees rotation looked like this: ERA=3.85, FIP=4.11, k/9=6.96, BB/9=2.81 making it easily the best in the AL that year.
And while Pettitte "only" posted an ERA= 4.24 and a FIP= 4.28 in 1998, it was still significantly above average for the environment of 1998 and to fair it was following 1996 where he posted an ERA= 3.87 and a FIP= 4.08 and 1997 where he posted an ERA= 2.88 and a FIP= 2.96.
So really viewing Pettitte properly invalidates comparisons between Pettitte and Leake. Sticking Leake in Pettitte's environment likely balloons Leake's ERA/FIP above 5 given Leake's career numbers relative to league average in Leake's career context.
The point wasn't that Leake is Pettite at all.
The point is that you can win without 5 extremely dominant starters, and you can win a lot. Pettite wasn't great in 1998 and the Yankees won 114 games and swept the World Series. Wells anchored that rotation, and really caught fire in the playoffs; Pettite pitched WS game 4 after pitching poorly in the season and postseason. But enough about him... this is about Mr. Leake!
I think that being upset that Leake isn't elite when he is perfectly serviceable and probably even better than that as a BOR starter is a lot of misdirected energy. Its extremely difficult to find upgrades to guys like Leake when there aren't people who are definite upgrades who can be had at his price and provide his skillset to the team. Chapman may have been an upgrade, but 1) we won't find out this year because management put him in the pen making this now a non-issue, and 2) objectively, taking Chapman from the pen to the rotation and putting Leake into the pen likely weakens both areas in the short term; the bullpen would be certainly weaker, so starter-Chapman would have had to be significantly better than starter-Leake to offset that.
My stance is that Leake is likely in the top half of starting pitchers in baseball, if you include all pitchers who are going to start games this year and also pitchers who "aren't retired by choice," if you will. Again, his numbers across 2010, 2011, and the last 24 starts of 2012 support that he is a guy with an ERA of about 4, WHIP of about 1.3, and K/BB of about 3. Even last year, including his poor first 6 starts of the season, Leake's ERA+ was 93. Why isn't this OK for a 5th starter in a rotation?