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Archive for May 13th, 2010

The Yankees series in Detroit comes to an end with a genuine pitcher’s duel. C.C. Sabathia and Justin Verlander wont be facing high noon, but they will be pitching under a cloud…ran clouds that is. With an estimated window of three hours before the onset of a major storm, the matchup of aces may be the only reason the Yankees and Tigers are able to play the game to completion.

Sabathia has been no stranger to bad weather this season. He has already picked up a rain shortened six inning victory and had another start halted after 4 2/3 innings because of a rain delay. Once the game starts, you can be sure both teams will push to get the game past five innings so as to not lose a start from their respective aces. Of course, with runs always at a premium against pitchers like Sabathia and Verlander, you can also expect more small ball in the early going.

As one would imagine, neither lineup has had much success against the pitcher they will face today. For the Yankees, only Derek Jeter and Alex Rodriguez can boast impressive numbers against Verlander, while Magglio Ordonez, Miguel Cabrera and Gerald Laird have had their share of success against Sabathia. Each team’s offense will likely center around those players.

The Yankees lineup also features yet another new twist as Juan Miranda makes his season debut at 1B. Miranda was activated before the game in place of Kevin Russo, who was optioned back to Scranton. Also in the starting lineup for the first time is Greg Golson, who replaces Nick Swisher (bicep tightness) in right field.

vs. Justin Verlander PA BA OBP SLG HR RBI
Derek Jeter SS 16 0.400 0.438 0.400 0 0
Brett Gardner CF 0 0.000 0.000 0.000 0 0
Mark Teixeira DH 14 0.083 0.214 0.083 0 0
Alex Rodriguez 3B 13 0.300 0.462 0.600 1 4
Robinson Cano 2B 14 0.286 0.286 0.357 0 0
Jorge Posada C 11 0.100 0.182 0.200 0 3
Juan Miranda 1B 0 0.000 0.000 0.000 0 0
Randy Winn LF 3 0.000 0.333 0.000 0 0
Greg Golson RF 0 0.000 0.000 0.000 0 0
Total 71 0.238 0.310 0.317 1 7
             
vs. CC Sabathia PA BA OBP SLG HR RBI
Austin Jackson CF 0 0.000 0.000 0.000 0 0
Johnny Damon DH 19 0.222 0.263 0.222 0 1
Magglio Ordonez RF 69 0.262 0.333 0.525 3 17
Miguel Cabrera 1B 9 0.625 0.667 1.000 1 6
Brennan Boesch LF 0 0.000 0.000 0.000 0 0
Brandon Inge 3B 55 0.149 0.273 0.149 0 1
Gerald Laird C 14 0.417 0.500 0.750 1 2
Scott Sizemore 2B 0 0.000 0.000 0.000 0 0
Adam Everett SS 6 0.000 0.000 0.000 0 0
Total 172 0.243 0.308 0.395 5 27
Yankees vs. Tigers    
Season: 2010 Season: 2009 Season: 2008 All-Time
DET: 2-1 NYY: 5-1 DET: 4-2 NYY: 1036-921
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Over at the Hardball Times, Harry Pavlidis, who has been charting every pitch thrown in 2010, has provided an early benchmark for pitch types. Pavlidis also breaks out his data into a variety of different outcome-based and performance-based measurements. For example, according to his data, more batters swing and miss at the splitter than any other pitch, while the curve is the most likely common pitch to be taken for a called strike.

Because pitch selection is often predicated by the count, the performance-based metrics are not necessarily indicative of the relative effectiveness of each pitch, but they still offer an interesting look into how much damage is being done on each type. Pavlidis’ preliminary data indicates that the most damage (as measured by SLG% on balls in play) is done on the four seam fastball, while the least amount of pain is caused by the splitter.

There are several other interesting early inferences that can be drawn from the data, but the point of this post is to examine what pitches are currently being thrown to Yankee batters, and how each performs relative to the diet they are being fed. Again, without a breakdown based on counts, the value of pitched-based performance is mitigated somewhat. Still, the general picture provides some insight into what’s going on each time a Yankee batter steps into the box.

Breakdown of Pitches Seen By Yankee Batters (based on Fangraphs data)

The table above displays the frequency of pitch types being thrown to each Yankee hitter (more detailed charts appear below). For the sake of simplicity, I have narrowed down the variety to five pitches (fastball, slider, cutter, curve and change) and labeled all others as such. (more…)

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A young right hander throws seven shutout innings to out duel  a struggling veteran who put forth his best outing of the season. Where have we heard that before? In the second game of the day/night twin bill, Phil Hughes was the author of that familiar story line as the Yankees turned the tables on the Tigers with their third shutout of the season.

Joba Chamberlain attempts a shovel pass to Mark Teixeira at first. Although replays showed otherwise, the play resulted in an infield single for Austin Jackson (Photo: AP)

After being held scoreless in game one of the doubleheader, the Yankees quickly manufactured a run in the first inning when Alex Rodriguez drove home Brett Gardner, who had singled and then stolen second. That run would be all the Yankees would need because Phil Hughes was dominant once again.

Perhaps the only ball hit hard off Hughes was Miguel Cabrera’s lead off double in the second inning. After giving up the two bagger, Hughes responded by striking out the next three batters: the first two on hellacious curves and the last on a fastball. The only other time the Tigers would threaten was when they loaded the bases with one out in the fourth inning, but once again Hughes responded with a strikeout of Alex Avila before Don Kelly popped up to end the inning. Hughes would then retire the next six batters he faced before pitching around two hits in the seventh.

While Hughes was setting the Tigers down, the Yankees weren’t doing much better off Jeremy Bonderman. Just as they did in the first, the Yankees manufactured a second run in the third when Derek Jeter walked, stole second and then scored on Mark Teixeira’s seeing-eye single. Otherwise, the offense was just as dormant as in the first two games of the series.

With only a slim 2-0 lead in the eight, Joe Girardi turned the game over to Joba Chamberlain, who once again exhibited a mid-90s fastball and sharp breaking slider. After allowing a one-out infield single to Austin Jackson on a ball that glanced off his chest (a replayed showed that Chamberlain’s diving shovel pass to Teixeira actually beat Jackson to the bag), Chamberlain slammed the door on the inning by getting Damon to ground out and Ordonez to strike out swinging on a nasty slider.

As Mariano Rivera waited to notch his first save (and appearance) since April 30, the Yankees finally broke out of their mini-slump with a six run outburst. To be fair, the rally, which started when Phil Coke hit Robinson Cano with a pitch, was mostly composed of bloops and bleeders. In fact, the only ball struck particularly well was Arod’s double off of rookie Alfredo Figaro, who was making his major league debut.

Despite the now bloated 8-0 lead, Mariano still came on to close out the game and looked as if he hadn’t missed a day. After 12 pitches, 10 of which were strikes, the game was over and the Yankees had salvaged the split.

  • Phil Hughes is the youngest Yankee pitcher to begin a season at 5-0 since Whitey Ford started off 9-0 in 1950.
  • With seven shutout innings, Hughes lowered his ERA to 1.38, good for best in the American League.
  • Nick Swisher was removed from the game after the seventh inning with tightness in his left bicep. The injury is not considered serious.
  • Before the game, the Yankees announced that they had inked right handed pitcher Tim Redding to a minor league contract and assigned him to Scranton. Redding previously pitched one game for the Yankees in 2005. In that game, Redding surrendered six runs to the Red Sox in only one inning of work.
  • In the Yankees six-run ninth, Greg Golson recorded his first major league hit on a blooper to center field.
  • Mariano Rivera’s appearance was his first in May. The 11 days between appearances was the sixth longest inactive stretch in Rivera’s career.

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