Current State of the Yankees Rotation

(NEW YORK DAILIES OUT) in action against the at Yankee Stadium on October 1, 2015 in the Bronx borough of New York City. The Yankees defeated the Red Sox 4-1. The Yankees clinched a wildcard playoff position and won their 10,000th regular season game.


The awfulness of the New York Yankees offense down the stretch got most of the attention and blame for the downfall of the second half, but the starting pitching played a role as well and the Yankees are in an interesting spot this offseason when it comes to their rotation.

The Yankees finished 18th in starters ERA at 4.25, but eighth with a 3.75 xFIP. The biggest issue was a lack of innings, as the Yankees finished 21st in MLB in starters innings and it felt worse than that. CC Sabathia of all pitchers led the team with 167.1 innings. This really manifested itself down the stretch when the bullpen performance fell off due to too many innings.

The thing with the Yankees starting rotation is that it’s tantalizing with potential, almost like a tease. We’ve seen Masahiro Tanaka perform like an ace at times. We’ve seen flashes from Michael Pineda and Nathan Eovaldi that suggest they can be good second and third starters.…

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Quick Hit: Severino’s Changing Approach?

In the recap this morning, I hinted at a potential change in Luis Severino’s approach over his last few starts.  He’s been much lower on strikeouts and higher on GB contact, and he made a comment about being more of a pitcher than a thrower before his last outing against Toronto in reference to that one bad outing earlier in the month.  It all adds up to a guy who’s starting to realize the differences between what does and doesn’t work when you go from Triple-A to the Majors and adjusting his approach accordingly.

A quick look at the differences in pitch usage provide some supporting evidence to this theory.  Here’s the breakdown of pitches over Severino’s first 8 Major League starts, courtesy of Texas Leaguers (Brooks hasn’t added their pitch data from yesterday’s start):

Severino Pitch Breakdown 8-9-15

TL reads more cutters and 2-seamers than Brooks, but it’s a real heavy dose of fastball-slider with a small side salad of changeups.  Compare that to his pitch usage in his last 2 starts:

Severino Pitch Breakdown Last 2 Starts 15

That’s a little more balanced.  …

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An Evolved Eovaldi

William has been knocking Nathan Eovaldi‘s evolution out of the park the last few weeks, but I’m going to steal his gimmick for a quick post illustrating just how much Eovaldi has changed with a small sample comparison.  You could argue that the last 2 starts have been Eovaldi’s best of the season. They’ve certainly been the starts in which his stuff has looked the best and they’re a far cry from what he showed in his first 2 starts.  How far?  See for yourself.

Eovaldi Pitch Plot First 2 Starts


That’s Eovaldi’s pitch location plot for his first 2 starts of the season, 4/10 against the Red Sox and 4/15 against the Orioles.  The pitch selection breaks down to roughly 45% 4-seamers, 31% sliders, 15% curveballs, and a handful of changeups.  In those 2 starts, Eovaldi’s line was 10.1 IP, 16 H, 5 ER, 4 BB, 10 K.


Eovaldi Pitch Plot Last 2 Starts


That’s the pitch plot from his last 2 starts.  It breaks down to about 46% 4-seamers, 32% splitters, 15% sliders, and a few curveballs.  …

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Nathan Eovolving – Part 2

MLB: Philadelphia Phillies at New York Yankees

Looking at most leader boards on statistic sites, you cannot find a Yankee starting pitcher anywhere. They are not present in any of the big categories like FIP, ERA+, WAR or pretty much anything else. Yankee starters are deemed serviceable but not able to go long into games and at least most of the time, give the very good offense a chance to win the game. So imagine the glee of sorts to find a Yankee starter on top of one of a big-time writer’s lists–Keith Law’s list..

In a post last week, Keith Law ranked pitchers with the best pitches in various categories. For example, Law ranked Clayton Kershaw‘s curve as the best in baseball. Well, duh. Then we get to the split-fingered fastball and sitting on top of Law’s list is Nathan Eovaldi!

This is remarkable for a couple of reasons. First, Nathan Eovaldi did not have a split-fingered fastball before 2015. It’s a brand new baby of a pitch.…

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About Last Night: That Last At-Bat

Miller vs Tulo

That’s the sequenced pitch plot from the Andrew MillerTroy Tulowitzki showdown that ended last night’s game.  I’m still buzzing from the stress and excitement of that at-bat, and writing the recap made me want to go back and look at it again. It was such a great battle, both in terms of execution and strategy.  Regardless of what side you’re rooting for in this division race, you have to tip your cap to both guys in this case.

When you look at the pitch location and pitch result breakdown, this clearly was a case of the batter knowing what was coming, the pitcher knowing that the batter knew what was coming, and the pitcher finally throwing a pitch good enough to get the swing and miss he needed.  Miller starter Tulo off with a called strike slider down and in and he kept pounding away at that area trying to get Tulo to swing over one.  The 3 balls way outside were the only fastballs Miller threw in the at-bat, and none of them were even close.  …

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About Last Night: A Tale Of Two Severinos?

Lost in all of last night’s late-inning festivities was an underratedly good second start by Luis Severino.  He looked very much the part of a 21-year-old making his second start in the early innings, but righted the ship and finished up with a 6-inning, 2-run no decision performance.  The outing was not as flashy as his debut in terms of results, but in showcasing Severino’s ability to work through trouble and still provide length it may have been a better outing.

The prevailing thought after the game was that Severino made some mid-game adjustments to fix things and that’s how he was able to survive.  That was the narrative I was selling in my game recap, so I figured it was worth looking into a little more to see what those adjustments were.  Severino’s 6 innings split up nicely into 2 equal 3-inning samples.  A comparison of the counting statistics shows a drastic difference in results from the first sample to the second.  …

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About Last Night: CC Sabathia

Well, last night’s result was unexpected, wasn’t it?

While I realize the 2015 version of the Boston Red Sox doesn’t have the scary lineup that the 2015 Toronto Blue Jays currently pencil in every night, when CC Sabathia is pitching, he can make just about any lineup seem like those formidable Jays for at least an inning. Thankfully for us, and for the Yankees, that didn’t happen last night. He had his scary inning – the fifth – but it didn’t result in five unanswered runs. Progress!

I think it’s safe to say that he pitched his best game in a long time last night.

So how did Sabathia actually pull off that feat? By pitching like the CC of old. Mr. Sabathia was dialing it up to 94 in some spots. Specifically during his bases loaded strikeout of David Ortiz to end the fifth inning. He needed to get the out and he did by pitching Ortiz inside and hard.…

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Quick Hit: The Return Of Nova’s Sinker, For One Day At Least

Just wanted to touch on an observation I had during yesterday’s game.  I don’t know how much we can take from one start, but it’s worth noting that Ivan Nova‘s sinker looked really good yesterday.  He’s struggled to command the pitch since coming back, and that lack of command has contributed to his hittability and low strikeout/swing-and-miss rates.  Not yesterday.  Here’s where Nova’s 43 sinkers were located:

Nova Sinker Plot 8-2-15

Of those 43 sinkers, Nova threw 26 of them for strikes.  He drew swings on 20 of them and swings and misses on 5.  3 of those 5 whiffs came on strikeouts, which might be the best part about Nova’s outing yesterday.  He struck out 7 batters overall, 6 of them swinging, and got the 6 swinging Ks on 3 sinkers and 3 curveballs.  That’s the type of stuff we’re used to seeing from Nova when he’s on his game.

Compare yesterday’s results to the 202 sinkers Nova threw over his first 6 starts:

Nova Sinker Plot 6-7-15

The overall location distribution looks very similar, and it is.  …

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About Last Night: Pineda’s Slider

Pineda Slider Location 7-24-15

Courtesy of Texas Leaguers

That’s Michael Pineda’s slider plot from last night.  He threw that pitch 39 times out of 92 total pitches, by far the most of any of his offerings, despite not having very good command of it.  Miguel Sano took him deep on a hanging 3-2 slider to get the Twins’ offensive outburst started and they put a lot of good swings on other sliders that missed up in the zone.  Normally the slider is Pineda’s best pitch and one he uses to rack up strikeouts.  Last night the Twins put it in play 25.6% of the time they saw it and did a lot of damage against it.

Location in the strike zone is usually the issue when Pineda’s slider isn’t working and last night was a prime example of this.  Throwing almost 75% of 39 sliders inside the zone is way too many for what is supposed to be a swing-and-miss out pitch.  Throwing at least half of that 75% up and in the middle of the zone is real good evidence of Pineda not having the feel for the pitch, as is the location of most of the sliders he did manage to bury down out of the zone.  …

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