Opening Day provides clues on approaching Cano

Little, if anything, on Opening Day is predictive. The Astros probably aren’t going to beat the Rangers many more times this year and I don’t think there are going to be many innings when CC Sabathia coughs up four runs at a time. To break my own rule, though, there are things that may give us a bit of an indication as to how something will unfold over the course of the season. In the case I’m about to present, it has much more to do with process than it does with results.

As time has passed and the other big name players on the Yankees have waned in terms of talent or health–think Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira–and with Derek Jeter and Curtis Granderson injured to start the season, Robinson Cano is, even more obviously (if possible) the focal point of the offense. And even though there are (semi) brand names backing him up–Travis Hafner, Kevin Youkilis, and Vernon Wells–they’re not shining like they used to. To wrap this all up succinctly, it’s not a stretch to say that for the first part of the season, Robbie isn’t going to get many pitches to hit.

Yesterday, I didn’t get to watch most of the game; I was working, but was able to catch a bit on Gameday and a few innings (including the Yankees’ run scoring!) on the radio. While watching on Gameday, Robinson Cano’s first inning at bat against Jon Lester stuck out to me. Every single pitch was low and away. I didn’t catch any of Cano’s other at-bats, whether on GD or the radio, but my thought was “Of course they were low and away; EVERYBODY is going to pitch him low and away.” That was true, at least for the rest of the day. Glove slap to Mike Eder for these pics.

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cano_apr1swings

The first picture shows all the pitches that Cano took yesterday and whether or not they were called balls or strikes. The second picture shows the pitches that Cano swung at along with the ones he took. With the exception of the two cut fastballs in the second picture, everything Cano saw yesterday was low and away. It was clear that Boston did not want Cano to be able to pull anything and we can expect this pattern to continue for this series and the rest of the year. Cano will need to either take the pitches into left field and left center field–which he’s certainly capable of doing–or take them altogether and earn his walks. I’m fine with either strategy, though I think Cano is more likely to do the former. Until the cavalry arrives, Cano better get used to lots and lots of outside pitches.