About Yesterday Afternoon: #TANAK

Tanaka vs BAL III

The Yankees needed to win yesterday’s game to avoid falling 5 1/2 games behind the Blue Jays in the division race and to avoid an embarrassingly awful four-game sweep at home. Luckily they had Masahiro Tanaka on the mound, and while he didn’t last as long as he did in his last start against Toronto , he was just as great. Tanaka kept most of the power hitters off balance, and helped shut out the Blue Jays lineup for the first time since the All-Star Break.

In his last two starts against Toronto (16 innings pitched), Tanaka is 2-0. He has walked three batters, struck out 15, has held the potent Blue Jays lineup to a paltry .164 BA and he has not allowed a home run. That last one is important because that team likes the long ball and hits it often.

So how do you shut down a team with such a potent offense? You don’t allow them to feast on fastballs.…

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Checking in on Didi Gregorius

Back on July 15, I wrote about the slow and steady progression of Didi Gregorius so I thought in light of last night’s performance and his performance against the Braves this past weekend, we could take a look at how he has been doing since the All-Star break.

In 147 at bats (42 games), Gregorius is hitting .327/.365/.435/.800. He’s batting .233/.273/.315/.588 at home and batting .419/.451/.554/1.005 away from Yankee Stadium.

Here’s his overall spray chart since the All-Star break:
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And here’s the heat map:
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Some numbers:

  • Gregorius has gotten three singles off the cutter – two off David Price – and he’s batting .375/.375/.375/.750.
  • He’s gotten one single off the splitter. .286/.286/.286/.571
  • He has trouble with the changeup, batting .111/.190/.167/.357, but he hit a double in Saturday’s game against the Braves.
  • He’s hit five singles and a double off the slider and he’s batting .259/.259/.296/.556.
  • In six at bats against the knuckleball, he has three singles – two off R.A. Dickey and one off Steven Wright.
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The Yankees’ One-Dimensional Offense

The game last night between the now-second place New York Yankees and the Houston Astros was a glaring look at the flaws of this 2015 team. I am not really talking about the pitching because every team’s pitching staff will get blown out like that occasionally (although the Yankees’ love affair with Chris Capuano is stunning). The real weakness of the 2015 Yankees is the one-dimentional offense. If they do not homer, they do not score.

The Yankees have now played 34 games in which the team did not hit a home run. The team is 10-24 in those games. In those games, the Yankees have averaged 2.184 runs scored a game. In one of those games, they managed to score ten runs. If you throw that game out, the average goes down to 1.94 runs per game. Just imagine the standings if the Yankees could have managed to be five or six wins better in those games.

To be fair, the Blue Jays, who never seem to lose these days, are even worse with a record of 6-25 when that team does not hit a homer.…

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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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Quick Hit: What’s Up With Brett Gardner?

Brett Gardner went 0-4 at the plate last night, his second straight 0-4 game and the continuation of what has become a prolonged second half slump.  Gardner is hitting just .200/.288/.215 in August after a .247/.369/.341 July that was his worst offensive month to date.  Gardner has a history of wearing down physically and seeing his production level drop in the second half, and Matt called out that drop in production last Monday.  So what’s up with Gardner?  Is he hurt?  Is he tired?  Is he just slumping?

Gardner Spray Chart 4-6 15

Gardner Spray Chart 7-8 15

Those are Gardner’s spray charts from April through June and July through today of this season.  In terms of BIP distribution, there hasn’t been a noticeable difference.  Part of what has made Gardner a better offensive player is his ability to hit to all fields.  His power is almost exclusively to the pull side, but he can go the other way for hits with the best of them.

What really jumps out in comparing the 2 samples is the dramatic drop in pull power from the first 3 months to the last 2.  …

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Quick Hit: Continued Appreciation Of The Shreve/Wilson Lefty Tandem

Way back in the middle of June, I wrote a post about the changing of the bullpen hierarchy and heaped a bunch of praise onto Chasen Shreve and Justin Wilson for the work they had done up to that point.  They’ve been rewarded for those strong performances by having their spots in the Joe Girardi Circle of Trust solidified and continuing to get regular high-leverage work.  Shreve and Wilson are probably the 2 and 2A setup relievers behind Dellin Betances, and Shreve turned in a nice 8th inning yesterday in which he struck out Miguel Sano on a nasty changeup.

Since July 1st, Shreve has a 2.65 ERA with 21 strikeouts in 17.0 innings pitched over 17 appearances.  He’s been a tad more homer prone and has walked a few more batters in that timespan, but he’s still got a 2.05/3.75 ERA/FIP split for the season with a 28.8% BB rate.  In 8.2 innings of high leverage work, batters are hitting .111/.207/.115 against him.…

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Quick hit: The Yankees’ offense is offensively bad

Unless you’ve been stuck in a place with no internet or TV, you know that the Yankees have fallen off a cliff offensively the past seven days.

And last night was more of the same. Sure, the Yankees were able to score four runs, but they weren’t able to score more than that and ultimately lost the game in 16 innings. A big reason for that failure? It wasn’t Stephen Drew. It was the top of the order.

So how bad was the top of the order last night? Read this tweet from ESPN Stats and Info and weep, my friends:

And here’s what ineptitude that looks like in spray chart form:

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Alex Rodriguez, the oldest hitter in the lineup, had the only hit among the first five batters in 16 innings of play last night.…

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How The Yankees Fare Against the Knuckleball: It Ain’t Pretty

On Wednesday night, the Yankees were stymied by Boston’s knuckleballer Steven Wright and tonight, they will be facing another knuckleballer in R.A. Dickey. Because of this, I decided to take a look at how the Yankees have fared historically against the knuckleball. (Please note: My data only goes back to 2009, but I figured that was a big enough sample size for this exercise.)

Anyway, here’s their spray chart. Again, this is 2009 – 2015:


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Their best year came in 2009 when they played in four games against knuckleball pitchers and faced 188 pitches: .283/.327/.478/.805

Their two worst years are 2010 and this season and the numbers are quite similar. In six games in 2010, the Yankees batted .174/.204/.283/.487 and this year, in four games so far, they’re batting .171/.242/.305/.547. Note the on base and slugging numbers which combine for the OPS are higher in 2015, but are still pretty awful.

Some more stats:

  • 2014 marks the only year in which the Yankees did not hit at least one home run off the knuckleball.
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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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