Quick Hit: How About Chris Martin?

Chris Martin vs BOS

Courtesy of Getty Images

It was barely a footnote in last night’s loss, but Chris Martin came out of the bullpen to relieve CC Sabathia and turned in a solid outing.  Clean inning of work, couple strikeouts, an efficient 11 pitches, it was the type of inning we’d usually expect from Dellin Betances but have yet to see in his setup role.  With those struggles being the main bullpen headline thus far, I think it’s worth giving a quick shout out to Martin for the excellent job he’s done in middle relief.

After last night’s appearance, Martin has now pitched 4.2 innings in 5 games.  He’s given up 2 earned runs on 2 hits, all accumulated in his shaky 4th appearance against Boston over the weekend, and struck out 6 while walking only 1.  Not too shabby for a 28-year-old late bloomer who just got his first taste of big league ball last year in pitcher-unfriendly Colorado.  He’s shown the ability to throw his fastball with velocity (mid-90s 4-seamer) and movement around the strike zone, and he’s used his good command to pound that strike zone and work from ahead in the count consistently.…

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Early Yankee BABIP Problems

Can you judge a team’s offense after just eight games? Probably not. But you can look at trends to keep an eye on in the weeks ahead. According to most statistics I am looking at, the Yankees are a middle of the road offense. The one thing lagging behind everything else is the team’s batting average on balls in play or BABIP.

The Yankees are ninth out of thirty teams in runs scored. No doubt that fourteen-run explosion the other night helped that out quite a bit. The team is seventh in ISO, so the power numbers are decent. They are eleventh in wOBA. And they are fifteenth in on-base percentage.

Looking further at the numbers thus far, the team is ground ball / fly ball neutral. In other words, they are not leaning heavily in one batted ball type or the other. The team hasn’t hit a lot of line drives to this point and are 28th in that category.…

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Game 8 Quick Recap: Orioles 4 Yankees 3

Teix K vs BAL

Classic strikeout face. Courtesy of the AP

If you’ve been reading my stuff since AB4AR, then you know my theory on winning streaks.  They don’t really start until you reach 3.  2 of anything in a row is not a streak.  That’s just good small sample size luck.  The Yankees had a chance to start their first true winning streak of 2015 tonight in the second game of their first road series,

CC Sabathia was back on the mound for his second start, and his outing was another frustrating and familiar one.  He gave up the long ball (solo homer by Adam Jones in the 1st), he struggled to throw his fastball for much velocity or consistent command, and his lack of mobility came back to bite him on some bad defensive plays.  The Orioles put up 3 runs on 5 hits against him over the 4 first innings.

To his credit, CC did settle down and work through the next 3 innings unscathed.  …

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Game 8: Sabathia vs. Gonzalez

Here are tonight’s lineups:

New York Yankees Baltimore Orioles
 Jacoby Ellsbury, CF Everth Cabrera, SS
 Chase Headley, 3B Manny Machado, 3B
 Carlos Beltran, RF Adam Jones, CF
 Mark Teixeira, 1B Steve Pearce, 1B
 Brian McCann, C Delmon Young, RF
 Garrett Jones, DH Chris Davis, DH
 Chris Young, LF Jonathan Schoop, 2B
 Stephen Drew, 2B Caleb Joseph, C
 Didi Gregorius, SS Alejandro De Aza, LF
CC Sabathia, SP Miguel Gonzalez, SP

Enjoy the game!

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Early Analysis Of Pineda’s Changeup

The final line of 5 earned runs and 9 hits against in 6+ innings didn’t look great to the naked eye, but if you watched the game last night you probably thought Michael Pineda pitched much better than his line indicated.  He was locating his fastball and slider well, showing great command of each, getting a ton of swings and misses, and he even mixed in another solid batch of changeups.

After 2 starts, one thing that stands out with Pineda compared to last year is his use of the changeup early.  I ID’d it as one of the things to watch for in his first start and he didn’t disappoint, using it 12 times and getting some empty swings on it.  Last night he broke the pitch out 14 times against the Oriole lineup, and once again it was a very effective and useful pitch for him.  The sample sizes are still very small this early, but the statistical implications of the 26 changeups Pineda has thrown are very inspiring.…

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About Last Night: Stephen Drew vs. Tommy Hunter

When Joe Girardi had Stephen Drew pinch hit for Brett Gardner, a lot of Yankee fans were questioning his sanity. And with good reason. Drew was batting .150/.182/.300/.482. After Drew deposited a 95 mph fastball from Tommy Hunter into the Camden Yards abyss for a grand slam, Yankee fans were too excited to remember that they were even complaining about the move.

So how did Drew complete that feat? He didn’t swing the bat until the fifth pitch of the at bat. Hunter started the at bat with a sinker* followed by a curveball: The sinker was a called strike and the curve was a ball. He then went to his fastball for the remainder of the at bat. (*One system I looked at says sinker, the other says curve. I am going with a sinker for this post.)

hunterspeedbrooks

After seeing Hunter’s fastball two times, Drew put on a good swing on pitch number five.

brooksdrewHR

As you can see, it was on the upper outside corner of the zone but given that called strike one of the at bat was a little out of the zone, I actually don’t blame Drew for swinging.…

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What’s the Half-Life of a Decaying Beltran? Or: Who’s Next for Right?

This is one of those pessimistic posts I’d be happy to laugh at myself for writing, ideally after Carlos Beltran heats up. Last season, he clearly played through pain, and not for a payday — he was just starting the three-year, $45 million deal that’s very likely his last major contract — but to help the team’s faint playoff hopes. And from interviews, he seems like a good guy who cares about his quality of play. But that quality of play sure has gotten poor.

Granted, 2015 Beltran has only 30 bad plate appearances of a .143/.167/.214 line that leaves him an OPS (.381) barely higher than Alex Rodriguez‘s OBP – but Beltran has been aging ungracefully for longer than April 2015. The 2015 bad start follows a bad 2015 spring, which follows a sub-replacement 2014 (-0.2 WAR), which follows a generally injury-prone 30s. So it’s not early-season gun-jumping to be pessimistic about a guy with that record of decline and brittleness who’s just days away from turning 38.…

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Quick Hit: Nova To Face Live Hitters Today

I wanted to touch on this briefly before I forgot and the news cycle moved on.  Via Marly Rivera yesterday, Ivan Nova is scheduled to throw live batting practice down at the Tampa complex today.  It will be his first time facing live hitters since his Tommy John Surgery last year.

I haven’t seen specifics on a planned pitch count, who he’ll be facing, and what he’ll be throwing, but I would assume he has no pitch type restrictions if he’s progressed to this point.  Nova has been throwing his offspeed stuff in bullpens for about a month now.  This will be another significant milestone reached for Nova on his way back from TJS.  If he comes through today OK, the Yankees can start thinking about a timetable for getting him into some Extended ST games and then a MiL rehab assignment.

June has been the projected target for his return to Major League game action, but with the spike in early elbow and shoulder injuries for pitchers, it wouldn’t shock me if the Yankees took a more careful approach with Nova.  …

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Game 7 Recap: Yankees 6 Orioles 5

Drew GS vs BAL

The gang’s all here. Courtesy of the AP

The Yankees’ season-opening tour of the AL East made its way outside New York for the first time last night, as the Yanks traveled to Baltimore to start a 3-game series with the rival Orioles.  They had Big Mike on the hill, a lineup feeling better about itself after the big offensive breakout on Sunday night, and a bullpen that should have been back to normal after a long few days last week.

Michael Pineda got off to a bit of a rough start,surrendering 2 runs in the bottom of the 2nd on an Adam Jones leadoff single, Manny Machado double past a diving A-Rod down the third base line, and a Jonathan Schoop ribbie double to left that stood up on challenge replay.  He was missing with his fastball in spots and you could tell there was something a bit off with his stuff.  Then he struck out the 8-9 hitters to end the threat and you could start to see him pull it together.…

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