Game 135: Nova needs to be super

Last night was a big win for the Yankees and a win today would be even bigger so if Ivan Nova knows what’s good for him, he’ll pitch well.

Got it?? (Kidding)

Here’s the Yankees lineup:
Gardner CF
Jeter SS
Cano 2B
Soriano DH
Rodriguez 3B
Granderson LF
Reynolds 1B
Ichiro RF
Stewart C

(As of the writing of this post- 11 AM – the Orioles haven’t posted their lineup) Continue reading Game 135: Nova needs to be super

Yankees 8, Orioles 5: Staying alive

stayin-alive

I can admit that I didn’t have high hopes going into this one, right? It’s not hard to understand why I’d feel this way because CC Sabathia has been struggling this season, he struggled in his last start and well, he wasn’t great tonight either but luckily for him and for us, his offense bailed him out with a five-run fifth inning.

So the game was scoreless until the fourth inning when Chris Davis hit an RBI single to put the O’s up 1-0. The Yankees came right back in the bottom of the frame and went ahead 2-1 thanks to a two-run home run by Alfonso Soriano.

Of course, because nothing is easy, the Orioles came right back in the top of the fifth and scored three runs to go ahead 4-2. Danny Valencia hit a two-run shot and Manny Machado hit an RBI single.

In the bottom of the fifth, Curtis Granderson led the inning off with a double which was immediately followed by an RBI double by Mark Reynolds which cut Baltimore’s lead to 4-3. The next batter, Ichiro Suzuki, wasted no time when he sent Miguel Gonzalez‘s first pitch of the at bat into right field to put the Yankees up 5-4.

After a visit to the mound, Austin Romine hit a double then Brett Gardner hit a single to move Romine to third and Derek Jeter walked to load the bases with no outs.

T.J. McFarland came in to replace Gonzalez and Robinson Cano greeted him with two-run single to put the Yankees up 7-4. Alfonso Soriano grounded into a force out which moved Jeter to third, caused Cano to be out at second and Soriano to make it to first. Alex Rodriguez ended the inning on a double play.

Adam Jones rudely opened the sixth with a double but Sabathia was able to get Davis to pop out to A-Rod and also induce a ground ball out from J.J. Hardy but then failed to get the third out of the inning after he surrendered an RBI single to Nick Markakis. Joe Girardi, who had a short leash tonight, pulled Sabathia after 86 pitches and called upon Shawn Kelley to get the third out. He didn’t right away but after a single to Valencia that only advanced Markakis to third, Alexi Casilla grounded out to end the inning.

The Yankees added an insurance run in the seventh inning thanks to an RBI single by A-Rod.

Kelley, Boone Logan, David Robertson and Mariano Rivera combined for 3.3 innings of shutout ball and Rivera picked up his 39th save of the season.

Sabathia picked up his 12th win of the season, thanks to his offense and his ERA for the season is now sitting at 4.91. Yikes.

The Yankees are now 71-63, a half game behind both Baltimore and Cleveland (71-62) in the Wild Card standings with less than 30 games to go. This last month is going to be intense if the Yankees can keep on winning. This game was a good start, let’s hope Ivan Nova can keep his good pitching streak going. Continue reading Yankees 8, Orioles 5: Staying alive

Game 134: Robbie’s back!

Here’s your game thread, my apologies for it’s tardiness. I lost track of time.

Oops.

To say this series is do or die is a bit of understatement. The Yankees need to win in order to keep their playoff hopes alive.

YANKEES
Gardner CF
Jeter SS
Cano 2B
Soriano LF
Rodriguez 3B
Granderson DH
Reynolds 1B
Ichiro RF
Romine C

ORIOLES
McLouth LF
Machado 3B
Jones CF
Davis 1B
Hardy SS
Markakis RF
Valencia DH
Casilla 2B
Teagarden C

The pitching matchup is CC Sabathia vs. Miguel Gonzalez. Sabathia is looking to bounce back from another lackluster game in his last start. Gonazlez is 0-1 against the Yankees this season but has a 2.25 ERA at Yankee Stadium in two starts.
Continue reading Game 134: Robbie’s back!

Quick hit: A change to the rotation

Joe Girardi had hinted earlier that he had some news regarding changes to the pitching rotation this weekend. Now, we know what they are.

Because of yesterday’s off-day, Phil Hughes‘ next start will be Monday against the White Sox instead of on Sunday against the Orioles. Andy Pettitte, who was on the schedule as Monday’s starter will now be pitching on Sunday on regular rest.

Personally, this is great news for me because I’m going to Sunday’s game and I wanted the Yankees to have a chance to win and not have to watch as Phil Hughes gives up a 500-foot home runs to Chris Davis. Continue reading Quick hit: A change to the rotation

Joba Chamberlain: Not So Bad

If someone happens to come up to you and mention Joba Chamberlain, the proper Yankee fan reaction is to drop one’s head and let out and long and drawn out sigh.

After Tommy John surgery and a freak trampoline accident, Chamberlain has been far from the same pitcher we witnessed in his rookie season. The velocity remains on his fastball, the movement as well, and he still has one of the best breaking sliders in the MLB. But Chamberlain has been flat out awful in 2013, where he’s managed to lower his ERA to 4.21 in recent weeks, but maintained a 1.596 WHIP.

Something caught my eye in his recent outing against the Blue Jays on Wednesday. It was typical mop up duty for the reliever, who probably won’t see another high leverage inning with the Yankees again. He went 2.0 innings with just one base runner on a walk. He worked relatively quickly, he was inducing ground balls, and most shockingly he was hitting his spots.

Perhaps the Chamberlain anti-hype has hit such a height that nobody has noticed how good he’s actually been over the last two months. I certainly didn’t. In the first 20 games of the season, Chamberlain went 19.1 innings with a 6.05 ERA, yet over the last 2 months, 18 games, 17.0 innings, the reliever is pitching to a 2.12 ERA with batters hitting just .219/.333/.344 against him.

In either scenario, the volatile nature of relief pitchers as a whole makes it hard to determine what even a season’s worth of data means. A handful of innings representing first and second half sample sizes make it all that much harder to judge a reliever. Instead, when working with such a small sample size, I think it’s best to go to the old techniques and actually look at how the player is performing. When I saw Chamberlain hitting his spots on Wednesday night, I figured something had changed for him, and sure enough it did.

jobareleasepoints

Here are the average release points calculated by PITCHf/x from his first half and second half of 2013. You’ll see that the release points from July and August are in a much tighter zone, and find themselves a couple of inches closer to the right-handed batter’s side.

armslot

This would be why. Chamberlain has moved a few inches to the right of the rubber, as well as incorporating a slight drop in his arm slot.

jobarelease

Here is the animation in it’s entirety. The pitch from the first half of the season comes on June 26th against the Rangers. This was yet another outing where the reliever showed a high 90’s fastball and a swing and miss slider, yet struggled to retire anyone due to awful command. This four-seam fastball was 97 mph and set up down and away from the right-handed Adrian Beltre. Of course, the pitch ended up letter-high.

The pitch overlaid is from August 23rd against the Angels. The catcher set up down and away from the switch hitting Hank Conger, who’s batting from the left side. This pitch wasn’t nearly as fast as Beltre’s four-seam, but at 93 mph, he hit his target perfectly.

joba

In order to see which pitch is which, I’ve outlined each of them above. The pitch to Beltre is Blue, while the Conger earns red.

Overall, there are a number of changes in Chamberlain’s mechanics, including improved momentum. The arm slot and placement on the mound seems to have helped him dramatically with replicating his release point though, and perhaps that’s why we’ve seen such a vast improvement over the last two months.

He’ll probably only be a Yankee for another year, but as a fan that watched Chamberlain in his minor league days and early major league domination, it’s hard not to root for the guy. He’s had such a bizarre set of health circumstances coupled with poor development. Rooting for him, even in another uniform, feels like rooting for the underdog. Even with his inevitable departure, he may be able to contribute in the last month of the season, though I wouldn’t count on Girardi trusting him anytime soon. Continue reading Joba Chamberlain: Not So Bad

Some Off-The-Radar Prospects

Greg Bird 2013

It’s been another non-banner year for the Yankee Minor League system in 2013.  Their top hitting prospects didn’t have the big take-off years that many were hoping for/predicting, some of their higher-level prospects took a step back rather than forward as they started getting closer to Major League consideration, and injuries continued to affect the top pitching prospects in one way or another.  This year’s draft class brought some high-ceiling talent, though we’ll have until next year to get a real good idea of what we’re working with there.  It wasn’t a great year by any stretch of the imagination, but there were some promising developments from lesser known players lower in the system.  As many of the MiL teams wrap up their 2013 seasons, here are a few names to keep an eye on for 2014. Continue reading Some Off-The-Radar Prospects

The Farm Report: 8/29/13

Scranton/Wilkes-Barre beat Lehigh Valley 9-2: After being delayed by rain, the RailRiders jumped out to a nice lead in the bottom of the first. JR Murphy hit a one out homer and Ronnier Mustelier followed him with a long ball of his own. Brent Lillibridge grounded a single to first and stole second, reaching third on an error. Neil Medchill then drove out the third homer of the inning, giving the RailRiders a 4-0 lead. Lehigh Valley finally got on the board when they got three straight singles in the fifth, but Scranton still held the 4-1 advantage. They cut Continue reading The Farm Report: 8/29/13