Hughes Exhibits No Change in First Start

Phil Hughes looked pretty solid in his Spring debut, yesterday. 2 innings of no hit, no run ball is nice. 90-92 on his fastball, for the first outing of the year is nice. Working hitters inside for a change is nice (despite nicking a couple guys). His curve didn’t have the nasty bite it had at the end of last year, but it was nice.

But one thing that hasn’t changed is… well… his change. Granted, the kid is still only 22, but that is the pitch that many pundits point to as the key to his becoming an ace or just a pretty good pitcher, and he’s been working on it for the last two years now with, uh, no change.

Obama may have won the election by calling for change, but Jorge Posada ain’t winning nothin’ if he calls for that change from Phil. Yes, the kid is absurdly young and could still develop that pitch, but it’s very odd that Hughes learned a curve in a month and made it his best pitch.… Click here to read the rest

Yankee Starters In Control

Earlier this week, Chris took a look at the (very impressive) average fastball velcoties of the Yankee’s starting rotation. Reader OldRanger astutely pointed out the following:

As (I think) we all know, speed without Command & Control means nothing. Even without a lot of movement, C&C covers a lot of sins.

OldRanger makes a great point. Looking at fastball velocity tells us a piece of the story, but we also have to take control into account. Here are the Yankee starters ranked by BB/9 in 2008, and then fastball velocity:

  • C.C. Sabathia: 2.09 BB/9m, 93.7 Mph
  • Andy Pettitte: 2.4 BB/9, 88.5 Mph
  • Chien-Ming Wang: 3.3 BB/9, 91.8 Mph
  • A.J. Burnett: 3.5 BB/9, 94.3 Mph
  • Joba Chamberlain: 3.5 BB/9, 95 Mph

No one has particularly bad control. Burnett and Chamberlain are slightly below average, but both manage to strike out around a batter per inning, which compensates for that quite nicely. Sabathia is particularly deadly in both departments, and Pettitte makes up for his velocity with strong control.… Click here to read the rest

The Insane Awesomeness Of Mariano Rivera

Beyond the Boxscore has an article up about Mariano Rivera and his cutter, otherwise known as the Hammer of God. It is a fascinating post that uses various methods to display how incredibly amazing that one pitch really is:

But it’s not Rivera’s stat line that makes him an anomaly, especially since it’s not that far removed from his career numbers. What made Rivera’s 2008 so different was his nearly complete reliance on one pitch to achieve it, and it wasn’t even a traditional fastball. I’m talking of course about what some have dubbed the greatest pitch in the history of the game, his cutter.

I called Rivera an anomaly was because he threw the fastball less than any other pitcher with at least 50 IP last year except for Tim Wakefield. Per Fangraphs, he threw the fastball 18% of the time, and the cutter 82% of the time. That 82% is also the second highest for any single pitch, only Daniel Cabrera threw a single pitch more often (fastball, 82.6% of the time).

Click here to read the rest

Skipping Joba

From George King III (NY Post):

The Yankees are contemplating skipping Joba Chamberlain during the first trip through the rotation for two reasons:One, with a 150-innings limit on his electric right arm it would be a way of attaining that goal.

Two, it would allow the Yankees to open the new Yankee Stadium with CC Sabathia, their $161 million ace.

“It’s in the mix,” manager Joe Girardi said yesterday when asked if skipping Chamberlain was an option.

Sabathia will open the season in Baltimore on April 6. Because the Yankees don’t play on April 7, Sabathia could return April 10 in Kansas City. Five days later he would be ready to hurl against the Indians, his original team, in the home opener.

A fifth starter isn’t needed until April 12 in Kansas City and that could be Chamberlain’s debut.

If that’s the case, Chamberlain could fall in between Sabathia and Wang in the rotation.

Hmm, I wonder if Girardi was referring, specifically, to skipping Joba during the first rotation run through or if he was simply stating that skipping starts was a general possibility.… Click here to read the rest

Jorge regaining his power stroke

Jorge Posada hit a homer and a double in yesterday’s 5-1 win over the Rays. Both hits were big for the Yankees, not in terms of a win, really, but because they demonstrate that Posada’s shoulder is healing well after the severe shoulder injury which sapped him of his power in 2008.

Here’s Posada’s take on last season’s difficulties.

“I don’t want to say it was a lazy swing, but there was no extension,” Posada said. “I wasn’t able to drive the ball righty or lefty, because the shoulder was weak. It was just a really messed-up swing.”

Although Girardi tried to keep Posada around to DH after his season-ending injury, not only did that idea fail (and I’m not blaming Girardi for that), but it also cost the Yankees now, as Jorge’s rehab is coming down to the wire. If he had received treatment (surgery) earlier, rather than trying to play through the issue, he could have been further along in the recovery process.… Click here to read the rest

Hughes hopes

From Bryan Hoch (MLB):

“I feel like if I can stay healthy and pitch well wherever I’m at, I’ll do pretty well,” Hughes said. “I’m just trying to get ready, and if I do go to Triple-A, I’ll just be working there to get back up.”

I’m a huge Phil Hughes fan, however, I’m also one of those guys who believes he is an injury-prone pitcher. Yes, none of the injuries have been of the arm variety — that’s true — though I would argue that the injuries he has succumbed to (rib, hamstring), have been caused by poor mechanics. I wouldn’t be surprised to see him spend time on the DL again in 2009. Obviously, I’m hoping that doesn’t happen, but it’s not outside the realm of possibility.… Click here to read the rest