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Archive for July 28th, 2010

vs. Fausto Carmona PA BA OBP SLG HR RBI
Derek Jeter SS 19 0.353 0.421 0.353 0 3
Nick Swisher RF 23 0.333 0.435 0.778 2 6
Mark Teixeira 1B 19 0.375 0.474 0.563 1 3
Alex Rodriguez 3B 12 0.250 0.500 0.625 1 1
Robinson Cano 2B 18 0.389 0.389 0.389 0 3
Jorge Posada DH 7 0.286 0.286 0.714 1 1
Curtis Granderson CF 41 0.412 0.512 0.794 2 4
Francisco Cervelli C 0 0.000 0.000 0.000 0 0
Brett Gardner LF 8 0.000 0.125 0.000 0 1
Total 147 0.347 0.422 0.589 7 22
vs. AJ Burnett PA BA OBP SLG HR RBI
Trevor Crowe CF 4 0.500 0.500 0.750 0 1
Asdrubal Cabrera SS 6 0.250 0.500 1.000 1 2
Shin-Soo Choo RF 11 0.125 0.364 0.500 1 1
Carlos Santana C 0 0.000 0.000 0.000 0 0
Travis Hafner DH 7 7.000 0.400 0.556 1 4
Austin Kearns LF 20 0.333 0.400 0.556 1 5
Matt LaPorta 1B 0 0.000 0.000 0.000 0 0
Andy Marte 3B 0 0.000 0.000 0.000 0 0
Jason Donald 2B 3 0.500 0.500 1.500 0 1
Total 51 0.286 0.373 0.667 4 14
Yankees vs. Indians
Season: 2010 Season: 2009 Season: 2008 All-Time
NYY: 4-2 NYY: 5-3 CLE: 4-3 NYY: 1089-866

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Last 10 Last 20 Last 30
Yankees 6-4 15-5 21-10
Indians 6-4 10-10 16-14

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Road vs. RHP
Yankees 29-20 41-22
Home vs. RHP
Indians 23-24 29-40
  • Before the game the Indians traded Johnny Peralta to the Tigers for minor league pitcher Giovanni Soto.
  • AJ Burnett has never won a game at Progressive Field/Jacobs Field. In four starts, Burnett is 0-4 with an ERA of 9.00.

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Last night, the Yankees lost to a pitcher making his major league debut, an all too common occurrence as any Yankee fan can attest. In fact, the sight of a pitcher making his first start against the Yankees is enough to make those who follow the team let out with an audible groan. Based on the results that often follow, one wonders if those in the lineup do the same.

Sometimes, perceived trends emerge in baseball, but in reality, they are really myths. For example, the idea that Miguel Cairo is a clutch hitter who always comes up big can gain a life of its own. Despite evidence to the contrary, what sticks out in most people’s minds are events that defy expectations, so when a poor hitter like Cairo comes through, it becomes indelible. Similarly, the notion that the Yankees never hit new pitchers is prone to the same effect. Everyone expects the Yankees to pound the wide-eyed rookie, so when he turns in a strong outing, we all remember. The only problem with that theory is the evidence actually supports the myth, at least with regard to pitchers making their major league debut.

Listed below is a chart that displays every major league debut by a starting pitcher against the Yankees since 2000. In the 11 games the Yankees have played against pitchers making their debut, the Bronx Bombers are a paltry 3-8. And, it’s not just that the Yankees lose to their green mound opponents, but they seem to be dominated by them. In the 11 starts, the collective ERA is an astoundingly low 2.32. What’s more, only one pitcher from among the group, the Royals’ Eduardo Villacis, posted a game score lower than 52.

Yankees vs. Starters Making Their Major League Debuts, Since 2000

Pitcher Date Team NY Rslt IP H ER BB SO HR GSc ERA
Josh Tomlin 7/27/10 CLE L 7 3 1 0 2 0 69 1.29
Jake Arrieta 6/10/10 BAL L 6 4 3 4 6 0 54 4.50
Koji Uehara 4/8/09 BAL L 5 5 1 1 0 0 52 1.80
Daryl Thompson 6/21/08 CIN L 5 4 0 4 2 0 57 0.00
Anibal Sanchez 6/25/06 FLA L 5.3 7 0 0 2 0 57 0.00
Gustavo Chacin 9/20/04 TOR L 7 4 3 3 2 0 56 3.86
Eduardo Villacis 5/1/04 KCR W 3.7 6 5 4 0 1 24 13.5
Jake Peavy 6/22/02 SDP W 6 3 1 2 4 0 64 1.50
Brian Sikorski 8/16/00 TEX L 7 4 0 4 5 0 70 0.00
John Parrish 7/24/00 BAL W 7 4 3 2 9 1 62 3.86
Paul Rigdon 5/21/00 CLE L 7 2 0 4 2 0 71 0.00
Totals 66 46 17 28 34 2 57.8 2.32

Source: Baseball-reference.com

One of the theories advanced for this strange phenomenon is the Yankees are a veteran team that is used to using their familiarity with a pitcher to out think him while at the plate. Another reason put forth is the Yankees’ resources allow them to accumulate an inordinate amount of scouting materials, but that advantage becomes mitigated when their isn’t as much history upon which to draw. Of course, if both of those theories were true, you’d expect the team to also struggle when facing relievers who are making their major league debuts. Unfortunately, the data doesn’t cooperate. Even though it should be noted that in 20 of 35 appearances no earned runs were charged to the reliever, the analysis does not take into account inherited runners and leverage. Nonetheless, the chart below provides a snapshot of how the Yankees have performed in the particular situation.

Yankees vs. Relievers Making Their Major League Debuts, Since 2000

Relievers IP H R ER BB SO HR ERA
35 46 2/3 53 41 39 23 32 8 7.52

Source: Baseball-reference.com

Finally, it is entirely possible that if the Yankees struggle against debuting starters, then maybe everyone does.  Again, however, the numbers do not comply. Since 2000, 381 starters have made their major league debuts, but the results have been somewhat lackluster. In total, the team record in the aforementioned sample was 190-191, while the ERA of the pitchers involved was 5.29 and the average game score was 45.6 (see below for comparison to Yankees).

Relative Performance of Starters Making Their Major League Debuts, Since 2000

W L IP H R ER BB SO HR Avg. GSc ERA
vs. MLB 190 191 1964.3 2056 1231 1155 925 1317 302 45.6 5.29
vs. Yankees 8 3 66 46 18 17 28 34 2 57.8 2.32
vs. MLB – Yankees 182 188 1898.3 2010 1213 1138 897 1283 300 45.3 5.40

Source: Baseball-reference.com

Now that we have established that the Yankees’ lack of success against debuting starters is contrary to the general experience around the league, let’s take a look at how their own freshly minted pitchers have done. Well, maybe it would be better to look away? In the 16 starts made by Yankee pitchers just breaking into the big leagues, the team has managed to go 9-7 despite some absolutely horrendous outings. In total, the 16 pitchers have accounted for less than five innings per game to go along with an ERA of 6.54 and an abysmal average game score of 36.4. To be fair, the last three Yankees to make their major league debuts have had success, but otherwise the landscape has been littered with land mines.

Yankees Starters’ Performance in Their Major League Debut, Since 2000

Player Date Opp Rslt IP H ER BB SO HR GSc ERA
Ian Kennedy 9/1/07 TBD W 7 5 1 2 6 1 63 1.29
Tyler Clippard 5/20/07 NYM W 6 3 1 3 6 1 65 1.50
Matt DeSalvo 5/7/07 SEA L 7 3 1 3 0 0 64 1.29
Phil Hughes 4/26/07 TOR L 4.3 7 4 1 5 0 37 8.31
Chase Wright 4/17/07 CLE W 5 5 3 3 3 1 45 5.40
Kei Igawa 4/7/07 BAL W 5 8 7 3 2 2 22 12.6
Jeff Karstens 8/22/06 SEA L 5.7 6 3 2 2 2 45 4.76
Sean Henn 5/4/05 TBD L 2.3 7 5 2 0 0 19 19.3
Chien-Ming Wang 4/30/05 TOR W 7 6 2 2 0 0 55 2.57
Brad Halsey 6/19/04 LAD W 5.7 5 2 1 3 1 53 3.18
Alex Graman 4/20/04 CHW W 2.7 8 5 2 2 0 22 16.9
Brandon Claussen 6/28/03 NYM W 6.3 8 1 1 5 1 55 1.42
Brett Jodie 7/20/01 TOR L 2 7 6 1 0 3 17 27.0
Christian Parker 4/6/01 TOR L 3 8 7 1 1 2 15 21.0
Randy Keisler 9/10/00 BOS W 5 4 1 3 2 0 54 1.80
Jake Westbrook 6/17/00 CHW L 1.7 7 6 2 0 1 15 32.4
Totals 9-7 75.7 97 55 32 37 15 36.4 6.54

Source: Baseball-reference.com

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C.C. Sabathia lost his first game since May 23, but the only real mistake that the big lefty made was allowing the Indians to put the ball in play.

Curtis Granderson and the ball both lay on the ground after the Yankees’ centerfielder could reel in Austin Kearns long drive in the sixth inning (Photo: Getty Images).

For most of the game, Sabathia was dealing one of his best fastballs of the season, consistently throwing in the mid-90s and topping out at 98mph, along with a devastating change. On most nights, that would have been enough to dominate the opposition lineup, but a comedy of errors in the fourth inning effectively scuttled Sabathia’s entire outing. After allowing a leadoff single to Asdrubal Cabrera and an “excuse me” opposite field double to Shin-Soo Choo, Sabathia induced a groundball to third off the bat of Austin Kearns. Arod fielded the ball quickly and fired home to Cervelli, but the excitable catcher lost control of the ball while attempting an easy tag. After a pop out by Shelley Duncan, Sabathia seemingly extracted himself from the mess by getting Johnny Peralta to hit into an inning ending double play. The only problems were Robinson Cano failed to touch second base and the umpire at first awarded a close call to the runner. So, instead of two outs, the Yankees got none. A sacrifice fly by Matt LaPorta plated the Indians second unearned run in the inning before Sabathia finally took matters into his own hands by striking out Jason Donald to end the frame.

Normally, allowing two runs wouldn’t be such a make or break event, but the Yankees lineup was once again dormant against a pitcher making his major league debut. Rookie Josh Tomlin kept the Yankees hitless until the fifth inning, and only allowed one run on three hits in his seven-plus innings. The truth is the stats don’t even tell the whole story. Tomlin kept the entire Yankees lineup off balance for his entire outing, which made him look like an accomplished veteran facing an offense of impatient rookies.

After needing 25 hard pitches to get through the fourth inning, Sabathia seemed to lose a bit of his command. Still, he battled for three more innings, but in the process encountered more shaky defense. In the bottom of the sixth, Kearns led off with a long drive to center that Curtis Granderson seemed to track well. Once again, however, a Yankee defender simply dropped the ball. Although it would have been a fine play, Granderson’s inability to make the grab resulted in a man on third with no outs and created a do or die situation that eventually consumed Sabathia. By the time the lefty extracted himself from this latest jam, the Indians had two more runs and the Yankees had what seemed like an insurmountable deficit to overcome.

The Yankees finally broke through against Tomlin in the eighth when Cano led off with a double that chased the rookie from the game. Cano eventually scored on a groundball by pinch hitter Colin Curtis, but no further damage was done. As they often do, the Yankees did manage to bring the heart  of their order to the plate as the tying run in the ninth, but Nick Swisher, Mark Teixeira and Arod all appropriately made weak outs to end what was a lackluster effort.

Later wins by the Rays and Red Sox added insult to the injury of last night’s loss, but the bigger concerns continue to be developing cracks in the Yankees’ defense along with an offense that melts at the sight of a rookie and falls off considerably on the road. As Brian Cashman wavers on possible trade scenarios, a night like yesterday might push him back toward looking for a bat.

C.C. Sabathia’s Pitch Breakdown

Avg. Speed Max Speed Count Strikes Percentage
Changeup 88.2 90 27 18 66.7%
Curve 80.8 83.3 11 8 72.7%
Four Seam Fastball 95.9 98.1 61 43 70.5%
Slider 81.5 84.1 10 5 50.0%
Sinker 95.3 97 10 5 50.0%
Inning Pitches Strikes Percentage
1 11 8 72.7%
2 9 7 77.8%
3 22 16 72.7%
4 25 16 64.0%
5 13 9 69.2%
6 23 12 52.2%
7 16 11 68.8%
Total 119 79 66.4%
  • By failing to reach base, Mark Teixeira’s streak of reaching base in 42 consecutive games came to an end.
  • Before the game, Jorge Posada was scratched from the lineup with a sore left knee. According to the Yankees, he is day-to-day.

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