Game One Gunslingers: The best ALDS pitchers duel ever?

But, unlike many power pitchers, both pride themselves on pitching deep into games.  They ranked second and third in the AL in innings per start in 2011 (behind James Shields).  Each also commands a four-pitch arsenal that includes an A++ breaking ball.  Verlander throw his curve relatively hard (79.3 MPH, #11 among MLB starters) and often (18.3%, #14).  Sabathia also works in his slider frequently (21.3%, #19), but depends upon its incredible movement, rather than velocity (82.4 MPG, #56).

I hypothesize that one reason both pitchers have gained an even greater level of dominance in 2011 is the increased utility of their second breaking pitch.  Sabathia came into the league in 2002 with a curveball.  When he developed his slider under Carl Willis in Cleveland, he gave up the curve all together.  In 2011, he’s brought it back, especially as a “get me over strike” against right-handed hitters.  He doesn’t use it often (6.2%), but it adds another element of surprise that keeps hitters off balance.… Click here to read the rest

Story of a Season: Russell Martin

When the Yankees announced they were signing Russell Martin after he was non-tendered by the Dodgers, I was thinking one thing: He’s a placeholder for Jesus Montero. Once Montero was ready–maybe around May or June–Martin would shift to the backup role, Montero would catch, Cervelli would go…somewhere. Well, it didn’t happen that way, and that’s not necessarily a bad thing. Martin caught fire coming out of the gate and ended up as a pretty valuable player for the Yankees. He added good offense for a catcher, he played good defense, and the pitching staff seemed to like working with him.

At the plate, Martin had two phenomenal months. April featured a .420 wOBA/164 wRC+ and August saw Martin hit to .391/144 marks. Russell was just about average in May (.320/96), but was sub replacement level in June (.241/42), July (.264/58), and September (.289/75). Overall, this added up to a .325 wOBA and a 100 wRC+. Compared to the league, then (w/o adjusting for position), Martin was exactly average with the bat.… Click here to read the rest

Yankees announce ALDS roster

Position players

Mark Teixeira
Robinson Cano
Derek Jeter
Alex Rodriguez
Russell Martin
Brett Gardner
Curtis Granderson
Nick Swisher
Jorge Posada
Jesus Montero
Andruw Jones
Eduardo Nunez
Eric Chavez
Chris Dickerson

Some thoughts:

  • Bartolo Colon is the most obvious snub. I can’t say I’m that surprised, but on the other hand I’m not sure there’s necessarily a good reason for preferring Burnett to Colon. If Colon has pitched his last game as a Yankee, I’d just like to say that it was a lot of fun watching him pitch this year, and that the Yankees aren’t where they are now without him. Thanks Bartolo!
  • The Yankees did indeed leave Austin Romine off of the roster, so they aren’t carrying a true backup catcher. With Jorge Posada starting as the designated hitter in the series, that means Jesus Montero is the primary backup catcher, with Posada the emergency option.
  • Maybe it’s just me, but this looks like a bench that really lacks speed, which is a little odd for a postseason bench.
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Bring on the Tigers

The Headliner

Justin Verlander turned in a tremendous season atop the Tigers’ rotation, going 24-5 with a 2.40/2.99/3.12 pitching slash line (ERA/FIP/xFIP). Amongst pitchers who reached the 200 IP plateau, his 4.39 K/BB was second in the AL (behind Dan Haren) and his whiff rate of 10.2% was third (behind CC Sabathia and James Shields). He was also the owner of the highest average velocity amongst AL starters this year, clocking in at 95.0 (CC was third at 93.8). He has four legitimately nasty pitches—fastball, curveball, slider, and changeup; all four were working in 2011, with his wFB/C and wCB/C coming in at career highs (the value in runs ascribed to 100 of each pitch thrown). I won’t get into the CC/Verlander argument here—Brian’s work on the topic can stand pretty well on its own—but I’ll highlight Verlander’s one bugaboo: his BABIP of .236 is ridiculously low, nearly 50 points below his career average. What’s that mean? Well, it means he’s had a good deal of luck on his side.… Click here to read the rest

2011 ALDS Preview, Part 3 | Game 1 Starters: CC Sabathia vs. Justin Verlander

It doesn't get much better than this, folks.

For previous installments of TYA’s 2011 ALDS Preview, please see the following:

Part 1: The 2011 Yankee Offense, Top to Bottom
Part 2: Head-to-Head Overall Team Numbers

The Yankees will send CC Sabathia to the hill for his 6th career Game One start with the Bombers. Sabathia has a 3.41 ERA over 31.2 innings across his five previous Yankee Game 1 starts, although that figure drops to 1.67 if you take out his uncharacteristic 4 IP, 5 ER performance against Texas in last year’s ALCS.

Here’s Sabathia’s season line, along with some selected splits:

It’s no secret that CC put up arguably his best season in pinstripes this year, though he did appear to be somewhat out of sync during the season’s final month and a half as the Yankees expanded their rotation to six men. Following his August 1 start against Chicago, Sabathia’s ERA sat at 2.55 and batters had hit .233/.285/.309 against him.… Click here to read the rest

ALDS Preview Radio Show

Last night, I co-hosted a 1-hour radio show with Mike Silva of New York Baseball Digest. We covered a host of topics from the amazing final day of regular baseball, our expectations for the Yanks in the ALDS, the prospect of adding an additional Wild Card team, and some other issues surrounding the teams including a Deadspin rumor that nobody else has touched. Mike and I always have fun when we do these shows, and the hour flies by. You can give it a listen here. Click here to read the rest