About Last Night: Two-Pitch Eovaldi Thrives

First off, yes, I know this is complete gimmick infringement on my part for using Stacey’s series title.  I’m sure she’s OK with it.  Second, and more importantly, I wanted to talk about a possible trend that’s developing after Nathan Eovaldi‘s strong third start.  Eovaldi put a dangerous Detroit lineup in a diaper last night, consistently making big pitches when he needed them to snuff out potential rallies.  He surrendered a lone run in his 7 innings of work, making last night easily Eovaldi’s best start in pinstripes.

What was interesting about those big pitches he threw last night was the fact that almost all of them were fastballs and sliders and not a single one of them were splitters.  After working on that pitch during the spring and using it 12 times in his first start against Boston (according to Brooks Baseball), Eovaldi has now thrown only 2 splits in his last 2 starts.  What was a more balanced pitch mix approach at the beginning of the season has become less so with each start since.  …

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What to look for: Nathan Eovaldi

Tonight Nathan Eovaldi will be making his third start this season. Eovaldi is 2-1 with a 2.96 ERA in eight career starts in April but he is 0-5 with a 6.23 ERA over his last six road starts which is the longest road losing streak of his career.

In his last outing this past Wednesday night, on the road in Baltimore, Eovaldi only lasted five innings. And while his nine strikeouts were a good sign, he surrendered eight hits, three walks and two runs. He also threw a season-high (and so far, team high) 101 pitches in those five innings which caused the bullpen to be called in early and they ultimately, and almost immediately, gave up the lead and the Yankees lost.

Let’s see how Eovaldi is doing so far.

16 hits – 14 singles, one double and one home run:

Courtesy of ESPN Stats and Info

Courtesy of ESPN Stats and Info

  • Against lefties, Eovaldi’s given up eight hits, has struck out eight and walked one.
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About Last Night: Masahiro Tanaka

As Brad said in his recap of last night’s game, Masahiro Tanaka‘s first two starts were not great. Tanaka needed to have a good performance against the Rays in Tampa, 1) to quiet the whispers abut his elbow, and 2) to keep the Yankees on a bit of a roll.

Thankfully, he succeeded. He looked like the Tanaka of the first half of 2014, seemingly having no issues with the Rays’ lineup whatsoever. He lasted seven innings, gave up only two hits, didn’t walk a batter and struck out eight. He also lowered his season ERA from 7.00 to 3.94 with last night’s outing.

According to Brooks Baseball PITCH f/x, Tanaka favorited his four seam fastball – throwing 28 of them. He also reached nearly 94 m.p.h. (93.9) with that pitch while averaging 91.7.

Here’s what his velocity overall looked like last night:

Courtesy of Brooks Baseball

Courtesy of Brooks Baseball

As you can see, the last pitch of his outing was one of the fastest he threw on the night.…

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About Last Night: CC Sabathia

In his first start of the season, CC Sabathia faced the Toronto Blue Jays and gave up five runs (four earned) on eight hits in only 5 ⅔ innings to pick up the loss. But he also struck out eight, didn’t walk a batter and didn’t surrender a home run.

Last night’s game was similar in many ways.

“Lucky” Seven and Adam Jones

Seven was a big number for Sabathia last night. He pitched seven innings, gave up seven hits and struck out seven. He also gave up four runs, walked one batter and gave up a home run to Adam Jones. Jones had two RBI last night. He also hit a sacrifice fly in the bottom of the third.

Jones has faced Sabathia more than any other pitcher in baseball (72 plate appearances) and he is batting .273/.306/.545/.851 with four home runs, four doubles, a triple and 14 RBI, but Sabathia shouldn’t feel too bad because eight games into the 2015 season, Jones is batting .429/.469/.929/1.397 with a .579 wOBA and a 278 wRC+.…

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Early Analysis Of Pineda’s Changeup

The final line of 5 earned runs and 9 hits against in 6+ innings didn’t look great to the naked eye, but if you watched the game last night you probably thought Michael Pineda pitched much better than his line indicated.  He was locating his fastball and slider well, showing great command of each, getting a ton of swings and misses, and he even mixed in another solid batch of changeups.

After 2 starts, one thing that stands out with Pineda compared to last year is his use of the changeup early.  I ID’d it as one of the things to watch for in his first start and he didn’t disappoint, using it 12 times and getting some empty swings on it.  Last night he broke the pitch out 14 times against the Oriole lineup, and once again it was a very effective and useful pitch for him.  The sample sizes are still very small this early, but the statistical implications of the 26 changeups Pineda has thrown are very inspiring.…

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What To Look For From Pineda Tonight

Yankees Spring Training

Courtesy of Charles Wenzelberg/NY Post

Masahiro Tanaka‘s start wasn’t that great on Monday, and Yankeeland went into near meltdown mode as a result.  After the pesky off-day yesterday, we move from that injury concern storyline to a less serious one tonight in the form of Michael Pineda.  He’ll make his 2015 debut after a very strong spring campaign, one that, even in the context of watered-down ST competition, has built some of the excitement back up that he can be the upper-tier pitcher the team expected him to be when they acquired him.

With Pineda looking and pitching better this spring and with him being further removed from the shoulder surgery, I wanted to touch on a few things worth following in his start tonight.  While it’s equally silly to predict a monster year for him based on 1 start while fretting over Tanaka after 1 start, there are a few factors that could suggest good things to come for a guy who I still think didn’t get enough credit for how good he was last year.  …

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Nathan Eovaldi’s putaway problem

Nate Eovaldi has electric stuff, so why are his strikeout totals so underwhelming? (Photo: NY Daily News)

Nate Eovaldi has electric stuff, so why are his strikeout totals so underwhelming? (Photo: NY Daily News)

The scouting report on Nathan Eovaldi is pretty simple: a hard-throwing yet hittable right-hander, who has struggled to rack up strikeouts despite a blazing fastball that he throws consistently in the mid-to-high 90s.

The stats back up the scouts, too. Eovaldi’s heater last season averaged 95.7 mph, tied for third-highest among starting pitchers, yet his strikeout rate of 16.6 percent ranked 70th in that group of 88 qualified starters. He racked up just 142 strikeouts in 199 2/3 innings last year, one more than Masahiro Tanaka managed in his injury-shorted season of 136 1/3 innings.

Eovaldi even admitted that his lack of strikeouts remains one of the biggest holes in his resume. “That’s one of the big issues I’ve had, not being able to finish the batters off,” Eovaldi told reporters this spring.

So why does Eovaldi struggle so much to get strike three and put away hitters, despite a fastball that nearly reaches three digits?…

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Following Up On Eovaldi’s Changeup

Shame on me for not recalling this yesterday when I wrote the initial post, but commenters JJToucan and chrisN pointed out to me that Nathan Eovaldi did state that he had started working on a changeup/split-finger fastball hybrid during his final few starts of the 2014 season.  That quote actually came from the Bryan Hoch story that I linked to on January 23rd, so double shame on me for missing it multiple times.  That’s really nothing more than my own forgetfulness.  Yes, Nathan Eovaldi has started working on throwing a changeup a new way, and yes, that new way explains the increase in changeup velocity.

Via Brooks Baseball, Eovaldi threw 19 of these split-changeups last September and the SSS results were much more encouraging than his earlier changeup numbers.  The 90 MPH average is impressive.  We don’t usually think “changeup” when we think 90+ velocity, but when you’re talking about a guy sitting 96 and touching 97, 98, 99 with his 4-seamer and you add some downward movement to the pitch, you can understand how that could be a handful for left-handed hitters.…

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Reviewing Nathan Eovaldi’s Changeup

Eovaldi vs LAA

Pitch shown- Probably not a changeup. Courtesy of Getty Images

The word that’s been attached to Nathan Eovaldi the most since he was acquired by the Yankees, at least as far as I’ve seen, is “potential”.  It’s not hard to understand why when you look at the basic package: solid frame (6’2″/215), very good fastball velocity, 25 years old with multiple years of MLB experience already.  With that makeup, there’s no reason Eovaldi can’t be a top-of-the-rotation starter in either league.  He has all the potential in the world, potential that he’s slowly started to show in the form of his improving FIP and K/BB numbers over each of his 4 MLB seasons.  He also has the potential to make the leap to upper-echelon starter this year if he can work out some of the kinks in his game and smooth over some of the rough edges.

The roughest of his edges might be Eovaldi’s glaring lack of a reliable third pitch.  …

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