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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Monday Morning Food For Thought: Didi Gregorius Vs. Left-Handed Pitching

Gregorius Spray Chart vs LHP Career

Courtesy of Texas Leaguers

That, ladies and gentlemen, is Didi Gregorius‘ spray chart against left-handed pitching for his MLB career to date.  You’ll recall that Gregorius, a lefty hitter, has been mostly underwhelming with the bat in his 724 career plate appearances.  A big reason for that has been his performance against lefties, which has been very, very bad (.184/.257/.233, 0 HR, 25.0% K rate in 180 PA).

That spray chart shows all the balls he put in play in those 180 PA, and to be honest, it’s not as bad looking as I thought it would be.  There’s not an overwhelming over-distribution of grounders to one side of the infield, there’s balls being hit to all parts of the outfield at a relatively even rate, and there’s balls being hit for hits to all parts of the outfield.  The BIP distribution is very indicative of the type of hitter Gregorius has been in his short MLB career: high contact, not much power, can hit to all fields.  …

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Tough Night For Greene Comes At The Worst Time

Greene Pitch Plot 9-2-14

Courtesy of Texas Leaguers

That’s Shane Greene‘s pitch plot from last night.  It’s not a pretty one and it perfectly reflects the ugliness of his start.  6 hits, 2 home runs, 3 walks, and 6 earned runs allowed in less than 3 innings.  Fastball command has been what’s made Greene so tough since coming up in early July, but it was his undoing last night.  Lots of sinkers either dropping into the middle of the strike zone or completely out of it.  No movement on his 4-seamer.  That’s a hard way to get by against a Major League lineup and Greene found that out the hard way.

Here’s how bad he was last night in a nutshell.  He threw 67 pitches in his 2.2 innings, 30 of them were sinkers.  He didn’t get a swing and miss on any of them.  Didn’t get a swing and miss on any of his 6 4-seamers either.  Of the 8 outs he did manage to record, not a single one of them came on a groundball.  …

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What to Watch For: Yankees vs Rick Porcello

The Yankees tonight begin a crucial three-game series against the Tigers, who are two games ahead of them in the Wild Card standings. Rick Porcello, who lost to the Yankees earlier this month, gets the ball in the series opener for Detroit.

The Tigers have three former Cy Young winners and the reigning league ERA champ in their (healthy) rotation, but that “other starter” – Rick Porcello – might be the most consistent pitcher on their staff this season.

Porcello owns a 3.10 ERA in 2014 and has seen that number drop each month, including a 2.53 ERA in August. He has yet to allow more than three runs in back-to-back starts this season and his three shutouts are tied for the most in baseball.

He held the Yankees to one run over seven innings in his only outing against them this year on August 7, a game the Yankees actually won 1-0 thanks to a more dominant effort by Shane Greene.…

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Pineda’s Slider Was Straight Up Disgusting Last Night

Given the situation and the small sample size from which to choose, it’s fair to say that last night was the best start of Michael Pineda‘s Yankee career.  Facing a hot team with a sneaky dangerous lineup, Pineda looked as good as he did in 2011 in spurts, flashing mid-to-high 90s fastballs with late movement and a hard, biting slider that he threw all over the zone.  KC really only put 2 good swings on him all night: on the Moustakas home run that he left up on a tee in the 3rd and the Perez double in the 7th on his final pitch of the night.

The fastball velocity, both in terms of the number and the sustainability, was really great to see.  The Yankees don’t have anybody in their rotation right now who can throw real smoke (maybe Greene kinda when he’s feeling good), so having Big Mike up there humming 95-97 is a good way to mix things up.  …

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Inside McCarthy’s transformation with the Yankees

Where would the Yankees be without McCarthy in the rotation? (Photo: Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

Where would the Yankees be without McCarthy in the rotation? (Photo: Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

Brandon McCarthy arrived in the Bronx with a 5.01 ERA but somehow has emerged as the de facto ace of the Yankees staff over the last six weeks. He has a remarkable 2.30 ERA and four wins in seven starts – numbers that even Brian Cashman could not have imagined when he traded for the sinkerballer at the beginning of July.

Let’s take a deeper look at some of the adjustments by McCarthy that have made him into one of the most effective pitchers in the AL during the past month and a half. Hint: It’s more than just slimming pinstripes that have helped him.

It is high, it is far…it is not gone
The most fundamental difference in McCarthy’s performance since coming east is his ability to limit the longball. He gave up 15 homers in 109 2/3 innings as a Diamondback, but only three home runs in 43 innings as a Yankee.…

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Brian McCann’s Crazy Reverse Platoon Split

McCann HR vs HOU

Nice looking home run swing. Against a lefty.

In last night’s game recap, I made mention of Brian McCann‘s reverse platoon split this season and how he’s hit left-handed pitching incredibly well while being downright awful against righties.  It wasn’t an exaggeration.  After last night’s game, McCann owns a .301/.345/.544 tripleslash in 103 PA against southpaws, good for a .388 wOBA and 147 wRC+.  In 275 PA against righties, his slash line is .211/.270/.327 (.268/64).

That’s an astonishingly wide OPS gap.  Almost 300 points.  It’s even more astonishing when you consider that McCann’s career OPS against righties is .834 compared to .755 against lefties, and his career batting average is 15 points higher against righties.  This isn’t a case of big variations from year to year either.  Go back through each one of his Major League seasons and you won’t find a single instance of McCann’s OPS being better against LHP than RHP before this season.  Since 2005, the formula has been that McCann hits for better average, better power, walks more, and strikes out less against righties.…

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