I wrote this post late last week, after hitting coach Kevin Long made some comments about pitchers throwing the Yankees a lot of offspeed pitches and their need to adjust. He was right of course, the Yanks were getting a ton of soft stuff, but that wasn’t a problem when it came to sliders and changeups. They were still hammering those pitches. The curveball though, that was a different story.
At the time, the Yankees were dead last in the American league at 2.22 runs below average for every 100 curveballs thrown their way, and after last night’s game that number sits at 2.24, still last in the AL by a mile (the Twins are second worst at 1.50). Other teams are aware of this weakness and have been pretty much all year (at the time of last week’s post, the Yankees saw more curves than all but one other AL team), and it was on full display last night. Brad Penny threw 19 curves out of 98 pitches on Tuesday (19.4%) compared to just 15.8% curves in his first six starts. Same deal with Justin Verlander on Monday; he threw 24 curveballs out of 127 pitches (18.9%) after throwing just 16.8% curves in his first three starts. This goes back through the weekend and last week as well.
Luckily the Yankees face Max Scherzer tonight, and he doesn’t throw a curveball at all. He’s a fastball (63.3%), changeup (21.3%), slider (15.3%) guy and the Yanks’ still rank among the league’s best against each pitch. As I showed in the post last week, these struggles against curveballs are not an ongoing thing with his group of players, it’s been isolated to this season. So I guess it’s time to ratchet up the pitching machine, set it for curveballs, and go to town in the cages. They just have to work their way out of it, that’s all.