As someone with a long Polish last name, I sympathize with Marc Rzepczynski. Any time people see more than eight letters and an ski at the end, it’s an opening for 1) gross mispronunciation, and 2) ridicule, because it’s not a good ol’ ‘Merican name — the “I’d like to buy a vowel” line is already old, at least in my mind. Yet I can’t empathize with him. My name is 100 percent phonetic. If you took the time to look at the letters, you could pronounce it with ease (when I took the GREs, the administrator said anyone who couldn’t pronounce it is an idiot…I liked her). Marc? Not so much. So please, for the sake of your host, let’s lay off the guy, at least on his surname.
And, for reference, it’s Zep-CHIN-Ski.
A 2007 fifth-round pick out of UC Riverside, Rzepczynski shot through the minors. He spent a full year at Class A Lansing last season, posting excellent numbers in 121 innings. The most impressive: just two homers allowed. In fact, in 254.2 minor league innings, spanning back to the New York Penn League in 2007 through his stint in AAA this season, Rzepczynski allowed just five home runs. FIVE. In the majors he’s allowed just one homer through 27.2 innings. His 3.1 percentage of fly balls hit for home runs is far, far below the league average of 7.8 percent. Normally I’d say he’s in line for a statistical correction, but it appears this anomaly is part of Rzepczynski’s skill set.
How does he do this? The double threat of strikeouts and ground outs. Rzepczynski has a 1.94 ground out to air out ratio, well above the league average of 1.07. He also gets 1.09 ground balls for every fly ball, again well above the league average of 0.78. He has also struck out 25.4 percent of all batters he’s faced in the majors, much higher than the league average of 17.8 percent. In fact, it seems the only reason he’s not pitching better right now is that he still has a case of the walks: 14.4 percent of major league batters facing him have walked, far above the league average of 9 percent. This could be a boon for a patient team like the Yankees.
Rzepczynski is mostly a fastball-slider guy, averaging 88 mph with the fastball — with considerable sink, of course. He also has an average curve and an average change, which he uses to mix things up. FanGraphs’ linear weighs for pitch types shows his slider to be his most effective pitch. I’m willing to bet that’s how he gets the bulk of his strikeouts.
On the hill for the Yanks is Sergio Mitre, who has supposedly worked out the kinks which hampered him in his last start. The Yanks aren’t asking the world. Just six innings, three runs. Then hopefully the Yanks can get to this rookie starter.
Oh, and as if you hadn’t already heard, the Yankees have recalled RHP Anthony Claggett. To make room for him on the roster, they’ve designated Cody Ransom for assignment.
1. Derek Jeter, SS
2. Johnny Damon, LF
3. Mark Teixeira, 1B
4. Alex Rodriguez, DH
5. Nick Swisher, RF
6. Robinson Cano, 2B
7. Melky Cabrera, CF
8. Jerry Hairston, 3B
9. Jose Molina, C
And on the mound, number forty-five, Sergio Mitre.