Hughes rides new approach to success

The biggest difference with Hughes these days continues to be his near total abandonment of his cutter. Far from letting it all hang out with his four-seamer, however, Hughes has also been utilizing his changeup and his curveball with increasing frequency in his last three starts. The culmination of that trend was his last start this past Saturday against the Mariners when Hughes called on the fastball just 58% of the time (slightly less often than before he called on the great spirit of the bullpen, actually), and threw four cutters out of 112 total pitches. The difference? 14 changeups and 29 curveballs. Yes, over 1 in 4 of the pitches Hughes threw against the Mariners was a curveball, a pitch that was almost laughably bad earlier this season. Far from utilizing it as a show me pitch or getting in trouble with it, however, Hughes threw the pitch for a strike over half the time (51.7%), and generated a whiff rate of 6.9% and a foul ball rate of 10.3%.… Click here to read the rest

Breaking down Kuroda’s stinker

Here’s a visual representation of Kuroda’s location Wednesday night, marked by pitch type:

All those pitches in the middle of the plate just jump right out at you, don’t they? The sinker, in particular, was often left up and over the plate and, indeed, the sinker was Kuroda’s least effective pitch according to Brooks Baseball’s linear weights.

Now let’s look at each of the home runs Kuroda allowed last night. First the two-run bomb J.P. Arencibia hit in the second inning:

The home run came on a slider that just didn’t get off of the plate in time, and which Arencibia was able to get in front of and square up for a home run. Not a bad pitch to throw in a full count, but Arencibia had already seen three in the at bat, and apparently was ready to hit one that caught that much of the plate.

The three run home run Edwin Encarnacion hit in the next inning:

This time the home run comes on a sinker up and slightly off the outside corner.… Click here to read the rest

Robbie’s fastball problem

Earlier in the month, Brad took a look at the struggles of Robinson Cano. Cano’s definitely rebounded since then; for the month, he’s hitting .357/.379/.554/.993. Still, there’s something that seems not quite right with Robinson, and like Hiroki Kuroda (though for different reasons, obviously), it’s old number one.

I took a look at Robbie’s pitch f/x data for this year and last year and there were some odd rends regarding the four seamer. Cano’s seeing fewer of them this year and putting more in play, yet he’s whiffing at more fastballs than he did last year. The numbers from 2011 and 2012 are pretty similar when comparing the two seamers, but the results are a little different. Let’s run over to FanGraphs quickly and take a look at the pitch f/x pitch values for Cano when it comes to four seamers and two seamers.

For his career, Cano has been above average against fastballs, 0.57 runs per 100 pitches with the four seamer and 1.24 runs above average per 100 two seamers.… Click here to read the rest

Morning stroll down memory lane

Whenever someone mentions Jason Giabmi’s tenure with the Yankees, I get pretty peeved. He wasn’t exactly the player he was in Oakland and his glove was, well, let’s just not talk about that. However, he was still productive with the bat, posting a .404 OBP and a .525 SLG (.925 OPS) in his time with the Yankees; his wOBA with the Bombers from ’02-’08 was a robust .397, good for a 145 wRC+. I still don’t get why people say he was a disappointment on offense. Anyway, today marks a special anniversary for Giabmi and the Yanks. Today is the 10 year anniversary of his walk off grand slam against the Twins, and Chris Jaffe over at Hardball Times has a nice retrospective about the homer; he’s also got notes on other “Day-verseries” like this one: “5,000 days since Jeff Bagwell finally hits his first career grand slam. It’s his 218th home run” and anniversaries like this one: “1887: Pud Galvin, the first pitcher to win 300 games (and also the first to lose 300), gives up the only grand slam of his career.”… Click here to read the rest

Yanks tattooed by Toronto, 8-1

In his short Yankee career, Hiroki Kuroda has frequently had trouble in the 1st inning, putting his team in a hole early in the game.  The good news about today’s outing was that Kuroda managed to avoid 1st-inning trouble, sending down Toronto’s first 3 batters in order.  The bad news, however, is that Kuroda got into trouble in the 2nd.

After a up a leadoff single by Edwin Encarnacion, Brett Lawrie grounded to short.  Jayson Nix made the throw to second to record an out, but Robinson Cano bobbled the ball as he was trying to get it out of his glove.  There was no error on the play (because you can’t assume the double play) and it likely would have been close at 1st, but Cano’s misplay didn’t do Kuroda any favors.  JP Arencibia made the Yankees pay by stroking a 3-2 slider to left-center for a home run, putting the Jays ahead 2-0.

Kyle Drabek held the Yankees hitless through the first 3 innings, and Kuroda faced off against #9 hitter Omar Vizquel and the top of the Blue Jay order in the bottom of the 3rd.  … Click here to read the rest

Kuroda spanked. Offense tanked. A Yankees loss in the dome

In the game thread before the game, it was mentioned that Hiroki Kuroda needed to keep the ball inside the ballpark. Mission so not accomplished. Kuroda, who has struggled in the first inning, set the Blue Jays down in order in the first and struck out two. But in the second inning, Edwin Encarnacion singled, was forced out at second by Brett Lawrie. After Colby Rasmus struck out and Lawrie stole second, J.P. Arencibia hit a 3-2 pitch just over the wall in left. That was just the beginning.

In the third inning, Kuroda easily got the first two outs. A two-out double to Eric Thames was followed by a walk to Jose Bautista. That brought Edwin Encanacion to the plate. Kuroda left a 1-0 fastball over the plate and Encanacion belted it into the second deck in straight away center field. The Yankees were down, 5-0 and the game was essentially over.

Jose Bautista completed the scoring against Kuroda with one of the hardest hit balls I have ever seen.… Click here to read the rest

The Farm Report: 5/16/12

Trenton lost to Binghamton 1-0:
Despite having two baserunners on in each of the first three innings, Trenton could not come through with a run.  Binghamton failed to take advantage of a triple by Juan Lagares in the second and the game entered the ninth scoreless.  Luke Murton drew a walk, but the Thunder failed to bring a base runner home yet again.  Binghamton got a big start to the bottom of the ninth with a double by Matt Den Dekker.  Josh Rodriguez singled, putting runners on the corners with no outs.  A walk loaded the bases and Jefry Marte hit a single to right, plating Dekker and giving the Mets the first and only run of the game.  Luke Murton went 2-3 with a walk.  No other Thunder player had more than one hit and none had extra base hits.  Brett Marshall made the start for Trenton, throwing seven strong innings.  He allowed just two hits and one walk, holding Binghamton scoreless and striking out two.  … Click here to read the rest

May 16 Game Thread: Yankees vs. Blue Jays

After a disappointing end to their 2-game series in Baltimore, the Yankees north to take on the Toronto Blue Jays.  Hiroki Kuroda (3-4 3.56) takes the hill for the Yankees, and will face Toronto’s young gun in Kyle Drabek (2-4 3.66).  Drabek had a disappointing start to 2011 that caused him to get demoted to the minors, but he has turned things around quite nicely this season.

Drabek features a fastball that averages 93 mph (approximately 65 percent of the time), and mixes in a curveball, changeup, and cutter with equal regularity.  He has been fairly home-prone throughout his career (averaging over 1 per 9 innings), though he has also been successful at keeping the ball on the ground this season (GB% of 56).  Courtesy of YES’s Jack Curry, 4 current Yankees (Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, Andruw Jones, and Raul Ibanez) have faced Kyle’s father Doug Drabek.

Because of the long 16-game stretch without a day off that the Yankees are currently in, Derek Jeter will have the night off to give him some rest.  … Click here to read the rest