This morning, I talked with Butch Stearns over at the Pulse Network about the baseball goings on. We discussed the Terry Francona/Theo Epstein situation (comparing it to Brian Cashman/Joe Torre post-2007) and of course, the upcoming ALDS matchup between the Yankees and Tigers. Watch here and enjoy!
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.…
- 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.
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.…
For previous installments of TYA’s 2011 ALDS Preview, please see the following:
The Yankees will send
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...