2011 ALDS Game 3 Preview | CC Sabathia vs. Justin Verlander redux, with some bonus notes on the changeup

Being that I already wrote a CC SabathiaJustin Verlander preview, there’s no sense in rehashing the entire thing, so just click here if you need a refresher. The primary aspect of the initial preview post that changes is that they’re not at Yankee Stadium anymore, which probably slightly favors Verlander, though it’s not as if Sabathia’s chopped liver on the road.

One trend I did want to note prior to tonight’s game is the Tigers’ effective deployment of the changeup against the Yankees thus far in the series.

In Game 1, the Yankees saw 20 changeups, 7 of which were balls, 4 of which were swinging strikes, 3 called strikes, 3 foul and 3 put in play.

  • The Yankees got one hit on the 20 changeups; a Jorge Posada single. The other two balls put in play were groundouts.
  • Two of the 20 were ball four.
  • Of the four swinging strikes, two were strikes threes.

Inside Weaver's outing against the Yankees

The righthanded Cliff Lee? (Photo by Lisa Blumenfeld/Getty Images)

Both Jered Weaver and Dan Haren put on respective pitching clinics last weekend while facing the Yankees, combining to hold the vaunted Bomber lineup to one run over 18 innings, whiffing 17 men and allowing only seven hits. While there’s something to be said for the fact that neither hurler faced the Yankees’ “A” lineup due to assorted injuries and fatigue — though Weaver more or less faced the best the Yankees have to offer — the fact remains that both pitchers still utterly dominated their competition.

Haren of course pitched the first complete-game shutout of the season against the Yankees, racking up a Game Score of 86, second among all starters that faced the Yankees this season to Josh Beckett‘s 87 back on April 10. Weaver was right behind him with an 81, tied for third-best on the 2011 season with Max Scherzer, who notched his 81 back on May 4.…

Brett Cecil becomes Majors' winningest pitcher against 2010 Yankees in Blue Jay rout; A-Rod hits 30-HR plateau for 13th straight season

It may say Managing General Partner next to Hal Steinbrenner’s name, but it is in fact 24-year-old Brett Cecil who actually owns the New York Yankees. Cecil led the Blue Jays to a 8-3 romp of New York, picking up his Major League-leading fourth win against the Yankees in 2010 and improving to 4-0 in five starts against the Bombers this season. The win was no surprise whatsoever considering the Yankees haven’t been able to do anything of note against Cecil all year and have done nothing but struggle against slow-throwing pitchers of his ilk.

It obviously didn’t help the Yankees’ cause that they were starting soon-to-be-former-Yankee Javier Vazquez, who did his best A.J. Burnett impression in giving up seven runs over 4 2/3 innings. The more you think about it, it’s actually pretty incredible that the Yankees ended up making it to the postseason with 40% of their Opening Day five-man rotation pitching to a 5.00-plus ERA in more than 350 innings.…

Hughes and CC, closer than you think

Recently I put together a post analyzing Ivan Nova‘s performance. My purpose was to take a look at his peripheral stats to try to understand if he was really showing potential, or if he was getting lucky, and was due to get shelled. To do this I collected data on all the Yankee pitchers, to contextualize Nova’s stats. I noticed something interesting along the way, something that had nothing to do with Ivan Nova. Phil Hughes and CC Sabathia have eerily similar peripheral stats this year, save one.

Take a look:

The data above that are most important to the argument are both pitchers’ stats in 2010. To add a little color (at Larry’s spot-on suggestion) I have included how CC did when he was younger, closer to Phil’s age. We’ll return to those later data.

The similarities between CC Sabathia and Phil Hughes are to be found in their K/9, BB/9 and BABIP. These data are almost identical for the two pitchers this year.…

Follow-up analysis on pitchers who throw less than 90mph

Last week we took a look at starters the Yankees have faced who don’t crack 90mph with their fastballs. Sometime Yankee contributor Skip subsequently encouraged me (or perhaps more appropriately, berated me) to delve further into the data:

“Larry, I just read your 90-mph pitcher post, and you’re drawing conclusions from the wrong set of data. You want to know how the Yankees do against soft-tossing starters, and yet you use the final game score and talk about the team’s overall record. I was expecting you — in a story about soft-tossing starters — to look at only how the team did against those starters. Maybe the Yanks kept a game close because of their excellent pitching, and then won the game against a hard-throwing bullpen. Looking at a final game score tells you very little about how the starter did. I know the ol’ wins and losses is ultimately what matters, but you’re not answering the question you asked.…

Yankees vs. Rays V: Another potential playoff preview

The Yankees (87-56) head down to Tampa (86-56) tonight for their fifth set of the season with the Rays, who they have gone 5-6 against thus far in 2010 and hold a scant 1/2 game lead over for first place in the AL East. This also marks a second straight series against a potential playoff opponent, as many Yankee pundits — myself included — expect the Yankees and the Rays to ultimately square off in the American League Championship Series next month.

It’s obviously been a tough week for the Yankees, coming off a sweep at the hands of the Rangers that put the exclamation point on what was likely the ugliest stretch of baseball we’ve seen from the team all season. The media will be hyping the heck out of both this week’s and next week’s showdowns with Tampa Bay, and while the games are important, they’re not quite as big a deal as some people will have you believe.…

The 2010 New York Yankees vs. starting pitchers who don't crack 90mph with their fastballs

If there’s one topic I’ve potentially spilled more digital ink on than the Yankees getting beaten by pitchers they’ve never seen before/starters making their Major League debuts, it would be the team seemingly routinely getting shutdown by starting pitchers with fastballs that top out around 89-90mph, pinpoint control and an uncanny ability to change speeds. In particular, we’ve seen Dallas Braden, Brett Cecil and Brian Matusz — the latter both beating the Yankees in the last two days — each stymie the Yankee lineup during the past week.

Though Braden took the loss in his game last Thursday, he still only yielded one run on two hits over five innings before departing with an injury. Cecil and Matusz of course picked up wins, each limiting the Yankees to three earned runs. While neither was outright dominant, and the Yankees had beaten Matusz the three previous times they faced him, both pitchers figure to be continuous thorns in the Yankees’ sides for a good while what with being young, very good and residing in the AL East.…

Yankees vs. Orioles V: This Time it's Personal

The Yankees last saw the Orioles nearly three months ago, having played Baltimore 12 times in a span of about six weeks and going 10-2 in those contests. The last time the two teams played Baltimore snapped the Yankees’ 10-game winning streak against them by countering with the Yankee baseball equivalent of a wooden stake or silver bullets: a rookie starting pitcher making his Major League debut in Jake Arrieta. That, or an off-speed pitcher with a ruthless changeup. And if you’re able to combine the whole rookie-making-his-MLB-debut thing with a starter who can’t break 90 and has a 77-mph changeup, you can create the ultimate Yankee-killing machine, also known as Josh Tomlin.

In any event, a funny thing happened on the way to ignominy for the 2010 Baltimore Orioles: They hired former Yankee (and Diamondback and Ranger) skipper Buck Showalter to try to turn around what has become a bit of a mess of a franchise and end the year on a respectable note while ideally becoming considerably more competitive next year.…

Granderson, Sabathia power Yanks to 5-0 shutout over A's to complete four-game sweep

It’s fun being right.

In Monday’s A’s series preview I wrote “Sabathia should dominate the A’s lineup and I expect the big man to come through once again in this contest.” Obviously this was far from a bold proclamation, but nevertheless it feels good to be validated. And it feels even better in the face of nonsensical comments like this guy’s.

Of course, despite my confident prediction I can’t say I expected CC Sabathia to toss eight innings of one-hit ball, using only 95 pitches to record 24 outs. Sabathia was outrageously good, taking advantage of an incredibly light-hitting A’s team that hit four balls past the infield as the Yankees won their sixth straight game, 5-0. I was a little disappointed that CC didn’t come back out for the ninth given his low pitch count, but I also understand Joe not wanting to needlessly tire the big man out in a game that was all but locked up, while also getting a look at what the team may have in the new-and-improved Jonathan Albaladejo (who pitched a scoreless ninth).…