Game 32: Yankees 0, Tigers 2

After weather postponed Tuesday’s game, the Yankees and Tigers played a doubleheader on Wednesday.  The afternoon game showcased a couple pitchers who have struggled quite a bit this year, but surprisingly, Javier Vazquez and Rick Porcello  both seemed to find their groove.  Vazquez pitched his best game of the year so far, but the Yankee hitters had no answers for Porcello as the Pinstripes dropped their third straight contest, losing 2-0.

After five scoreless innings, the Tigers put together a rally in the bottom of the sixth inning.  Austin Jackson and Johnny Damon hit back-to-back singles, and Jackson scored when Magglio Ordonez hit into a force out.  He moved to second on Miguel Cabrera’s single and scored when Brennan Boesch slapped a single to right.  Vazquez got Brandon Inge to hit into a double play to end the inning, but those two runs were all Detroit needed to walk away victorious.

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Catching up (Thursday’s linkaround)

It’s been an incredibly busy stretch for me at work and I haven’t been able to post nearly as much as I would have liked. Thankfully, with the deeper roster, Larry and TCM were more than able to pick up when I was down. There’s a bunch of things that I wanted to discuss and share with you in longer form, but I’ll have to be brief. Let’s get it started:

  • I’ve linked to him once and this will be a second time… and judging by the quality of his work, there will be many, many more. J-Doug takes a good long look at Mo and does his regression-ification magic to tell us a few things:
    • Mo’s velocity is dipping, although not as much as I thought. At one point this season, Rivera had lost 0.6 mph on his fastball between this year and last, but in his last two starts he really let it fly, bringing his season average within 0.2 mph of the previous year’s.
    • Even when Rivera’s cut fastball was coming up short through 8 starts, it certainly wasn’t affecting overall outcomes—Mariano has yet to allow a run this year. Compare this to April 2009 when he had already blown two saves. So why is Mariano still able to compete without the zip on his cutter? Two reasons: break, and luck. While the cut fastball’s velocity is dipping, Mo has added to the already maddening break of his cutter. As you can see in the graph, Cut Fastball v.2010 is breaking a full inch more than the 2009 version.
    • Methodology: I wasn’t satisfied with the idea of adding h-break and v-break together to obtain a “total break” value, since pitches don’t move that way. Instead, I calculated the Pythagorean break, assuming that the h-break and v-break were the lengths of the perpendicular sides of a right triangle, and calculating the Pythagorean break as the hypotenuse (P-break = sqrt( h-break^2 + v-break^2 ). Yes, I know that pitches don’t move that way either, but I think it’s a bit closer to reality.

Let’s rejoice that someone can both consider and calculate the Pythagorean break and the hypotenuse. Honestly, that’s way above my abilities.

  • Joe P at RAB would like to dirtbike down yesterday’s WPA graph. Once, I would have said “I’d like to ski that”. Now, not so much.
  • TYU examines Gardner’s spray chart and likes what they see. Ditto
  • Katie Sharp at ESPN Stats and Info wonders where ARod’s power went in 2010. (UPDATE: The Yankeeist was thinking the same thing) Me, I’m not worried. Maybe ask Prince Fielder; his is missing, too.
    • This season, A-Rod is really struggling to hit for power vs. righties. Last year, he crushed both lefties and righties, slugging .529 against righties and .538 against lefties. This year, it’s a different story, as he is slugging just .405 vs. righties – which happens to be one point less than Brett Gardner’s .406 slugging percentage. It is worth noting that he is slugging a robust .606 vs. lefties, so he does seem to be having a problem with right-handed pitchers this year.
    • A closer look at his batted ball profile reveals another possible reason for his power outage this season. While he is hitting line drives, ground balls and flyballs at nearly identical rates to last year, he is uncharacteristically hitting a lot of infield flies. 11.1% of his flyballs have been hit to the infield, which is nearly double the rate of 6.8% that he had last year. Based on this number, he appears to be getting under the ball more this year than in the past, as he is popping up flyballs that he normally would be driving to the outfield.
    • Another indication that A-Rod has possibly lost some muscle behind his flyballs hit this year is that just 8.3% of them have left the park. While that number would be acceptable for Yunel Escobar, it is far below Rodriguez’s career rate of 23.4% and last year’s rate of 22.7%.
  • Lar at Wezen-ball is up to his Wezen-best as usual, sharing sad endings for Hall of Famers’ career.
  • Larry finished up his spectactular four part series about salary caps in baseball:
  • Rob Parker looks at Javy’s start yesterday and sees good things. You can’t draw a line with one point, but it’s a step in the right direction.
  • Wallace Matthews is a bit bummed that the Yanks wound up with a split despite only giving up two runs. Me too, but there’s a lot to be pleased with right now.
  • Johnny Damon thinks Phil Hughes would be the de-facto “ace” on 15-20 other teams in MLB. That’s what you get when you go 5-0 with a 1.38 ERA to open the year:
    • On 15 to 20 teams, he’s probably an ace,” ex-Yank Johnny Damon said of the 23-year-old. “For the Yankees, he’s the No.4 starter.

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Off-topic: Schadenfreude, pigskin style

Hard not to laugh at the expense of billionaires who are upset about the regular folks not paying thru the nose for PSLs:

Described by some as extortionate money grabs, PSLs are controversial “licenses” giving the buyer the right to buy season tickets for a particular seat within a stadium. The licenses are forfeited if the PSL owner does not purchase the 10-game season ticket for that seat every year.

[…]

The pricey PSLs — put in place so the Jets and Giants could offset the cost of building the new stadium — are so unpopular that both teams long ago blew through decades-long ticket waiting lists.

The article notes that the Jets are in much worse shape, PSL-wise, than the Giants:

Conversely, the Giants are in much better shape and seemingly in no danger of what would be their first regular-season blackout since 1974, the year after pressure from Congress prompted the creation of the league’s blackout policy.

On the flip side, my brother, who has been on the ticket waiting list for 23 years, might be getting a call soon. And then he can tell them to shove their PSLs, too. It’s about the money, suckas! Continue reading Off-topic: Schadenfreude, pigskin style

Hughes continues to dominate, picking up fifth win while snapping Yankee losing streak

Several hours after their league-leading offense was shutout by the team with the fourth-most potent offense in the American League, the Yankees returned the favor, blowing the Tigers out 8-0. Of course, the game was a good deal closer than that up until the ninth inning, when the Yankees batted around and dropped six more runs on Detroit. Thankfully for the Yankees they had Phil Hughes on the mound, who has, quite simply, been one of the best pitchers in baseball thus far. Remember how I said Rick Porcello was brilliant in the day game? Well Hughes was even better Continue reading Hughes continues to dominate, picking up fifth win while snapping Yankee losing streak

Quick notes after a long day of Baseball

-Phil Hughes is currently the best pitcher in the American League. –Just what we needed. If Swisher needs a day off, then today’s afternoon matinee could feature an outfield of Brett Gardner, Randy Winn  and Greg Golson in what may very well be the weakest Yankee offensive outfield ever assembled. Doesn’t sound serious, though. –Girardi weighed in on Mo’s question from yesterday, and it appears that Sergio Mitre will get the start on Sunday. That pushes Vazquez’s next starts to Monday against the Red Sox at the stadium, and Saturday against the Mets at Citifield. The Red Sox are a Continue reading Quick notes after a long day of Baseball

Porcello brilliant as Yankees shutout for first time

Apparently Rick Porcello was struggling prior to his start against the Yankees on Wednesday afternoon. You’d never have known — unless you were unfortunately stuck listening to John Sterling and Suzyn Waldman call the game — given the way he flat-out destroyed the Yankees, tossing 7 innings of shutout ball as the Yankees fell to the Tigers 2-0 in the first game of a day-night doubleheader. Without being able to watch the game I have no idea if any of the Yankees had good at-bats, but following along via radio made it sound like nearly every single Yankee swung at Continue reading Porcello brilliant as Yankees shutout for first time

Starting Options For Sunday's Game

With last night’s rainout and today’s doubleheader, the Yankees are now a starter short for Sunday’s contest with the Twins, as slated starter Javier Vazquez just lost a day of rest due to the rescheduling. Jscape2000 over at Pinstripe Alley presents the options: Option 1: Short rest They could ask Javy to pitch on 3 days rest Sunday in Minnesota. This would set up Hughes, Sabathia, Burnett, Pettitte for next week’s two game sets with the Red Sox and Rays. This also lines up Javy to pitch the first game at CitiField, which Joe G has said he wants. Option Continue reading Starting Options For Sunday's Game

A Closer Look At Mo

J-Doug at Rational Pastime recently noticed that Mariano Rivera’s velocity has been slightly down this April compared to last. He wondered why it was not impacting Mo’s performance, and found two primary explanations (I recommend clicking through to the article to see some nifty velocity and break charts): Even when Rivera’s cut fastball was coming up short through 8 starts, it certainly wasn’t affecting overall outcomes—Mariano has yet to allow a run this year. Compare this to April 2009 when he had already blown two saves. So why is Mariano still able to compete without the zip on his cutter? Continue reading A Closer Look At Mo

Previewing the Double Header with Pitch F/X

Later today, the Yankees will square off in a day/night double header. In game one, Javier Vazquez will oppose Rick Porcello and in game two, Phil Hughes will face Jeremy Bonderman. Let’s examine how the Yanks’ opponents have done so far and see what the Yankees can do to counter Bondo and Porcello. We’ll start with the guy whose pitches will start the day: Rick Porcello. After a solid rookie season in 2009, Porcello has struggled. He hasn’t allowed fewer than five runs since his second start of the season and has not pitched more than six innings in any Continue reading Previewing the Double Header with Pitch F/X