Last week we looked at the Yankees hitters against the best ground ball pitchers and against the best fly ball pitchers. We saw that the Yankees often demolished ground ball pitchers, while they had more of a mixed bag against the fly ball type. Today we’ll move onto high strikeout pitchers. Again, the idea is to plot their performances against pitchers of all different types at the end. Some guys, after all, fall into multiple classifications. As we’ll soon see, Justin Verlander is both a strikeout and fly ball pitcher.
As with the ground ball and fly ball pitchers, we run into a few issues with strikeout pitchers. First, the pitcher with the third highest K rate, Zack Greinke, never faced the Yankees. Second, two of the top 10 pitched for the Yankees. For this study I’ll list qualifying AL starters with a greater than 7.00 K/9 rate. The last pitcher on the list is John Lackey; the next highest K rate belongs to Andy Pettitte.
This list is nice, because everyone but Floyd appeared on either the fly ball or the ground ball one. Once I saw that there were four guys on the fly ball list and seven from the ground ball list, maybe we’d see a trend emerge. Sadly, this doesn’t appear to be the case. Even when we average it all out, the Yankees scored almost exactly the same runs per nine innings against strikeout pitchers as they did fly ball pitchers.
One aspect I noted in the previous post was the team’s home run rate. Against ground ball pitchers they hit 1.63 home runs per nine innings, and against fly ball pitchers that number dropped to 1.36. They hit 1.38 home runs per nine innings against strikeout pitchers. It appears Beckett skews the numbers against ground ballers and strikeout pitchers a bit higher, since he gave up an inordinate amount of home runs against the team. Then again, against Felix, Gloyd, Baker, and Lackey they hit no home runs over 26.2 innings, so perhaps that helps balance the figure.
Again, the Yankees beat up on the rookies, Anderson and Romero, and knocked around the Red Sox. The other pitcher they hit well, Jered Weaver, has always pitched poorly against them. In 41.1 career innings against the Yankees Weaver has allowed 28 runs, or a 6.10 RA. It’s a terribly small sample, covering just seven starts, so I expect we’ll see that even out a bit more in the coming years. Ditto with Anderson and Romero, especially the latter, since he’ll face the Yankees plenty.
While I’ll continue the series with the low-walk and low-homer pitchers, it doesn’t appear we’ll see many definitive trends. Considering the short samples we see from each pitcher, and considering each pitcher is defined by more than one aspect, this makes sense. There are just so may variables to consider that we can’t put much stock in how a pitcher fared against the team in 10 to 20, or even 40 innings. Though, in Halladay’s case, yeah, he’s pretty damn good against the Yanks.