Nova better beat his projections

I was thinking about starting a series called, “Things that have to go well.” The idea was to talk about certain Yankees players and how they have to stay healthy and play well if the Yankees are to compete in 2014. But you can probably see the obvious problem with such an idea. EVERYTHING has...

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Applying PITCHf/x And GIFs To Tanaka

This is the GIF portion of a two part post. For anyone interested in the mechanical look at Masahiro Tanaka, please refer to this post.

A few months ago, I posted an article with GIFs showing the different pitches used by Masahiro Tanaka. I included as much data as I could find, and the results were interesting, yet felt incomplete. Since then, the NPB posting system has changed, Tanaka entered an odd “will-he-be-posted?” limbo, and now that he’s finally available to major league teams, everyone wants to know who this pitcher is.

I was going through my PITCHf/x databases looking for some possible game that Tanaka might have popped into unexpectedly. I’d previously looked through the 2013 World Baseball Classic, but Japan never made it into a stadium with PITCHf/x cameras. As I was double checking to see if I possibly missed something, I came across the 2009 World Baseball Classic. Randomly clicking away, I finally spotted Tanaka.…

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A PITCHf/x Glimpse At Masahiro Tanaka

This post originally appeared on ESPN here earlier today, January 6, 2014. 

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Everyone wants to know who Masahiro Tanaka is. Even with scouting reports and numbers from the NPB, we still get a blurred picture of a pitcher that will likely command well over $100 million later this month. This type of money is usually reserved for position players or well-established starting pitchers. In fact, of the 49 MLB contracts over $100 million, only 12 of them went to pitchers.

So why will a starter who hasn’t thrown a singe MLB inning receive such a mammoth contract? Tanaka has entered the market at the perfect time, as one of the highest potential Japanese players under a new posting system. Under this system, Tanaka has essentially become a free agent with “only” a $20 million posting fee attached. All 30 MLB team’s have the ability to pay him. At 25 years old with the highest upside of any other free agent, Tanaka has some of the biggest potential that’s ever reached the open market.…

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How bad was Sabathia in 2013?

There are times when I wish our readers could see the great conversations the writers here have in our e-mail threads. Every day there are fascinating conversations. Recently, the topic of CC Sabathia has come up and the chances he has to bounce back to be some semblance of his old self as...

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On Kuroda’s Fatigue and Whether He Should Be Re-Signed

What’s up with Hiroki Kuroda? The guy was in contention for the Cy Young award a little less than a month ago, and now he’s one of the weakest pitchers in a dilapidated rotation. Yesterday, he struggled in 6.0 innings of work, luckily giving up just 3 runs on 8 hits and 4 walks. But his struggles have exceeded just last night’s game. Over Kuroda’s last 7 games, he’s pitched 41.0 innings with a 6.37 ERA.

It’s hard to tell exactly what’s wrong with Kuroda. Many say that the 38 year old starter has hit a wall at the end of the season, that he looks fatigued. But Kuroda’s velocity is actually up. Compared to his first 24 starts of the year, his sinker velocity is up nearly a mph from 92 mph to 92.9 mph. This increased speed can be seen in all of his pitchers, including his splitter, slider, and curveball. That’s not entirely surprising, considering how long it takes for a pitcher to reach full strength throughout the year, but you’d expect a fatigued a older pitcher to lose velocity.…

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Who Is The Real Ivan Nova?

The jury was always out on Ivan Nova, who came into 2013 with two and a half years split between dominance and floundering. Much like the pitching prospects before him, Nova’s reputation was a seesaw teetering between hype and disappointment.

After winning August’s Pitcher of the Month award, the hype was again high for the right-handed starter. Since his stint with Triple-A, Nova put together 86.2 innings and a 2.28 ERAt. It wasn’t an huge sample size, but it was enough to start believing in the results. Since then, Nova faced the Red Sox twice and the Orioles once. He gave up 11 earned runs over 14.0 innings, good for a 7.07 ERA and a .298/.388/.509 slash.

So now we’re left wondering, who is the real Ivan Nova? We have 377.2 innings of data from his age 23 to 25 seasons that say he’s a back of the rotation pitcher. His 4.38 ERA over that time is far from bad, especially when you take into account the ballparks and competition, but it’s certainly not what the Yankees or fans wanted.…

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Why The Yankees Like David Huff

As Brad mentioned this morning, the Yankees have decided to pull Phil Hughes from the rotation in favor of David Huff. Huff, who spent most of the season at Triple-A Scranton, is a big mystery as a starter. His career numbers look troublesome, but as so many fans have agreed, it’s hard to be much of a downgrade over an inconsistent Hughes.

The left-hander looked good enough in Scranton, and has performed extremely well in his recent 15.0 innings with the Yankees, giving up just 1 earned run, 6 hits, and earning 10 strike outs during that time. But Huff didn’t even start the year with the Yankees. The former first-round pick was a failed prospect with the Indians earlier in the year, and something about the starter caught the attention of the Yankees in May.

As I’ve seen in a number of articles today, Huff doesn’t have the best career numbers, owning a 5.18 ERA in 304.1 major league innings.…

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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.…

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Pettitte Finding More Consistency With Mechanical Adjustments

After putting up a 4.39 ERA at the All Star break, Andy Pettitte wasn’t necessarily disappointing on the mound, but he left room for improvement. Many fans still expected him to replicate his 2010 and 2012 this season. After an awful start against one of the leagues worst offenses (the White Sox), Pettitte reached a season high 4.71 ERA after going just 2.2 innings and giving up 11 hits, 1 walk, and 7 earned runs on August 5th. Since then, Pettitte has made some changes on the mound, resulting in 4 starts, totaling 24.0 innings where he allowed 23 hits, 9 walks, and just 2 earned runs.

While it looks like he hasn’t made much progression with strike outs, Pettitte has lowered his line drive rates and increased the amount of weak contact. From the naked eye, the lefty appears to possess more command and better movement since his implosion in Chicago, and last night we got a quote as to why he’s seeing better results.…

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