So about those last two games…

First, they almost get no-hit by Phil Humber. Then, Brent Lillibridge literally robs the game from the Yankees twice. And, both times, Rafael Soriano gave up runs, with last night’s runs costing the team the game. To say the least, but also to say the most obvious, the first two games against the Chicago White Sox have not been fun.

The starters have pitched will, giving up a grand total of two runs in their outings. The offense and Soriano have not held up their ends of the bargain and the Yankees have lost two games that they should have won. “Frustrating” does not even begin to describe Monday and Tuesday’s contests. Considering how good the offense is, there aren’t going to be many two game stretches in which the Yankees’ starters give up two runs combined that end in Yankee losses. But, we have to remember that the season we love most is a long one and things like his will happen.… Click here to read the rest

A quick look at Nova's curveball last night

(photo c/o The AP)

Ivan Nova threw arguably the best game of his young career last night, notching a career-high .262 WPA (besting his previous outing against Chicago last season on August 29 — his top game in 2010 — by .034 WPA). There seems to be something about the White Sox that matches up very favorably with Nova — probably some sort of combination of the team’s propensity to swing at everything (47.3% Swing%, second-highest in the AL) and relative impatience (7.1% BB%, third-worst in the AL) — but I also wanted to see how Nova’s pitch breaks compared with his season averages and previous start against the ChiSox.

 Here’s what Nova did last night, c/o Brooks (click to enlarge):

Here are Nova’s 2011 seasonal pitch break averages, c/o TexasLeaguers.com:

Nova’s four-seamer’s vertical break was right in line with its seasonal average last night, though he was, on average, nearly half an inch closer to the plate horizontally yesterday. His four-seamer also had some additional kick on it (up 0.9mph from its seasonal average).… Click here to read the rest

Should Montero replace Posada?

Let’s talk about Posada first. No, Jorge isn’t off to a very good start. Take away the home runs, and the guy just looks lost. And even with the home runs, his .145/.243/.453 batting line and 30.6% strikeout rate aren’t very attractive. But is this what we should expect Posada to do over a full season? Not, not at all.

Yes Posada is getting pretty darn old by the standards of professional baseball players, but let’s not act like the guy has shown signs of rapid decline. In 2009 he hit .286/.363./.522. Last year, he hit .248/.357./.454. A decline, yes, but still perfectly respectable, especially for a guy hitting in the bottom third of a lineup. Even if Posada declines again this year, he should still be much closer to league average with the bat than to the number’s he’s putting up now. Then again, maybe he won’t be. Maybe he will just totally fall off of a cliff offensively. But Posada does deserve some benefit of the doubt, in my opinion, based on recent performance.… Click here to read the rest

Pitiful offense, Rafael Soriano and Brent Lillibridge team up to beat Yankees

There was not a lot to like about this one. For the second night  in a row the Yankees managed only a handful of hits against a White Sox starter, this time Gavin Floyd, who led Chicago to a 3-2 victory. Floyd wasn’t over-powering. Most of his pitches were in the high 80’s, so it’s safe to say that the Yankee bats have cooled. This was to be expected because most of the damage was coming from about half the lineup.

Adding insult to injury, the Yankees squandered their second consecutive strong start. Ivan Nova made it into the seventh inning for the first time in his Major League career, lasting 6.1 innings on 92 pitches, allowing only one run on five hits and two walks. Nova was pulled in the seventh to make way for David Robertson, who continued his brilliance this season, getting the last two outs of the inning. The Yankees were up 2-1 after seven.… Click here to read the rest

Game 20: White Sox 3, Yankees 2

The Yankees did not take long to regain the lead.  With two outs in the bottom of the fifth, Brett Gardner drove his second homer of the season, giving the Yankees a 2-1 edge over Chicago.

Nova made it through six innings and returned for the seventh.  After issuing a one out walk to A.J. Pierzynski, the Yankees called on David Robertson out of the pen.  Robertson got Beckham to strike out, but gave up a single to Mark Teahen, putting runners on first and third.  Pierre hit a grounder to short, and Derek Jeter made the easy play to first to end the inning and preserve the New York lead.

Rafael Soriano came in for the eighth, but failed to redeem himself for his tough outing Monday.  With one out, Soriano hit Carlos Quentin with a pitch, and the White Sox put Lillibridge in to pinch run. Paul Konerko the drove a two-run homer to left and the White Sox took a 3-2 lead.… Click here to read the rest

Appreciating the Bullpen

A lot of discussion has been had lately over the Yankees bullpen. Most of the conversation focuses around the Yankees having to use it so often because of the inability of the starting pitching to go deep into games. Often the bullpen is discussed in a negative light. They give up too many runs. They’re over hyped. They’re under performing. I think that’s not really accurate though and taking a look at the numbers, it’s been a pretty good unit so far.

 

First off, there’s no denying the Yankees have used their bullpen a lot. It’s hard to tell by looking at the numbers because the Yankees have played the fewest amount of games in baseball so far, so I sorted the data by relief innings pitched per games played:

Let’s look at the bad news first. The Yankees right now lead baseball in “Meltdowns”, which is a WPA context stat determining if the relief pitcher made his team more likely to lose or not.… Click here to read the rest

Jesus Montero Should Replace Jorge Posada as The Yankees' Regular DH

Jorge Posada is hitting .145/.243/.435 this season. According to Joe P. over at Fangraphs, he’s swinging at more bad pitches, making contact less, and continuing downward trends from past years. Almost all of his offensive contribution has come from his 6 home runs. He has just 3 singles other than those, plus 7 walks against a sky-high 19 strikeouts. He is not simply suffering from bad luck – the inputs are bad.

Sure, he has played less than a month of baseball, and has earned just 70 plate appearances. For many players (Say, Nick Swisher), it would be logical to wait out their down streak before even thinking about replacing them. Players can be relied on in the long term to for the most part play to the back of their baseball cards. However, under no circumstances should Jorge Posada be given the benefit of the doubt. This is exactly the type of performance that we should expect to see from a 39 year-old catcher in the twilight of his career.… Click here to read the rest

Change in approach and results for Soriano

Rafael Soriano had a bit of a rough night last night. It started with an embarrassing play in which neither her nor the infielders could catch a simple pop up behind the mound off the bat of Alexi Ramirez. It ended after he gave up another hit, a walk, and allowed a run to cross the plate, upping his season ERA to an ugly 6.75. He’s now allowed seven earned runs on the year after surrendering just 12 in 2010. What’s going on here? One thing I’ve noticed is a pitch selection issue.

Courtesy of Texas Leaguers, we can see that in 2010, Soriano used his four seam fastball 47.7% of the time, his slider 21.4% of the time, and his cutter 29.7% of the time. Going into last night, 2011 had much different data. 56.4% of the time, Soriano’s used his cutter (though I think there may be classification issues there, since that number is so high), his slider 27.9% of the time, and his four seamer only 15.7% of the time.… Click here to read the rest