Logan could adopt new role amid injuries

5/16-5/17 Series Preview: Toronto Blue Jays
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(Nick Laham/Getty Images)

It might be Rafael Soriano‘s time to shine, but he’s not the only member of the Yankees bullpen whose role will change. With both Mariano Rivera and David Robertson on the shelf, the entire bullpen moves up two pegs. For Boone Logan, that could mean a change in roles from left-handed specialist to setup man.

When Logan debuted for the Yankees in 2010 he was essentially useless against right-handed batters. In 78 PA that season righties hit .279/.372/.471 against him, the virtual equivalent of Mark Teixeira that year. Yet his role was to get out lefties and he did that very well, holding them to 15 hits, and just one for extra bases, in 79 AB. Combined with a 3:1 K/BB ratio, he looked like a pretty solid lefty specialist.

In 2011, however, Logan found more success against righties than lefties. H held them to 16 hits, including just five doubles and no homers, in 61 AB, good for a .262/.328/.344 line — the virtual equivalent of Robert Andino. Lefties hit him a deal better in terms of power, socking 12 of 27 hits for extra bases. That led to the myth that Logan had somehow become better against righties than against lefties.

While Logan’s results against righties were better than those against lefties, his peripherals against lefties remained superior. That is to say, this year we could have reasonably expected him to come down to earth against righties. At the same time, we could have expected his extra base hits against lefties to regress as well, leaving Logan as mostly a lefty specialist.

As expected, this has mostly come true. He has held lefties to a .661 OPS, with a 5:1 K/BB ratio, while righties have a .824 OPS against him. Yet Logan still does have a 3:1 K/BB ratio against righties, and one of those walks was intentional. In fact, he has struck out 34.6 percent of righties faced, while striking out 35.7 percent of lefties. His unintentional walk rates are also similar. Perhaps, given more chances against righties, Logan’s numbers could even out a bit, giving the Yankees another viable late-inning option.

To date we’ve seen a big spike in Logan’s strike out rate — 35.3 percent, against a 20.6 percent career rate. While some of that is small sample noise, there are some indicators that he’s changing his approach. For instance, he’s throwing far more sliders than ever before: 48.9 percent against 32.8 percent for his career. It has clearly been his most effective pitch, fooling both righties and lefties into swinging wildly. He has also used a two-seamer, which breaks away from righties, with some success this year.

Having a lefty setup man does provide the Yankees with some advantages. Logan is still superior against lefties, so Joe Girardi could choose to deploy him in either the seventh or the eighth, when the opponent has two or three lefties due up in the next four batters. He could also, as we’ve seen a few times this season, deploy him to get outs at the end of the seventh and the beginning of the eighth. That allows Girardi to emphasize his strengths while using him to cover multiple batters in late innings. A LOOGY he is not.

It’s difficult to tell now what’s real and what’s just sample size noise. But given his results over the last season-plus, combined with the recent injuries, Logan seems in line for a much more significant role in 2012. He clearly has the weapons to succeed. If Girardi deploys him in a way that emphasizes his strengths, the Yankees just might have another late-inning reliever on their hands.

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5/16-5/17 Series Preview: Toronto Blue Jays
As the rotation turns...
  • Frank

    He’s too unconsistent for me to trust him in the set up role. Please hurry back D-Rob.

    • handtius

      sorry. need to do it: *inconsistent*

      (it’s for the youths)

  • Manny’s BanWagon

    They really have no choice but to use Logan against righties and lefties for now in a set up role.

    If Soriano is the closer, Wade the primary set up man and Garcia the long reliever, it only leaves Phelps, Rapada who is strictly a LOOGY and Eppley who is pretty much a ROOGY.

  • Tim

    Well, if there is one thing our skipper does very well it’s manage the bullpen.

    I am more than impressed with the evolution of Boone. What I really like about Boone is his ability to put away hitters when he gets 2 strikes.

    In 10 0-2 counts he has recorded 8 K’s 0 hits
    In 11 1-2 counts he has recorded 7 K’s 2 hits
    In 8 2-2 counts he has recorded 4 K’s 1 hit
    In 6 3-2 counts he has recorded 5 K’s 0 hits (6BB’s)

    By my math, when Logan gets a hitter to 2 strikes they are hitting .085 (3-35) 3 hits 24 K’s. It may seem like a mundane stat but putting away hitters isn’t as easy it appears (ask AJ or Hughes)

    • vin

      And not just retiring hitters, but striking them out (very useful for a reliever). By your numbers, if he gets two strikes on a batter, there’s a 68% chance he’ll get the K. I have no frame of reference, but that seems pretty good to me.

  • http://fendersonandhampton.com Cuso

    Now playing the role of Mike Stanton: Boon Logan
    Now playing the role of Jeff Nelson: Cory Wade

    • http://fendersonandhampton.com Cuso

      Boone

  • vin

    Trading Arodys for him was the best deal Cashman ever made.

    Seriously though, I actually do trust him to get the occasional righty out. Rapada, on the other hand, should be the middle inning LOOGY.

    I’m shocked to see that he hasn’t thrown any changeups this year (per Pitch F/X) since righties account for 38% of the batters he’s faced. I guess his slider has just been that good, as Joe mentioned.

    • Voice of Reason

      http://www.fangraphs.com/pitch.....&dh=0

      He has thrown some changeups as you can see there, they’ve just been misclassified as two seamers

      • vin

        That must be it. Thanks.

      • http://www.riveraveblues.com Joe Pawlikowski

        I don’t know about that. His average two-seamer velocity is still over 92 mph. Maybe there are a few stray changes in there, but I doubt it’s anything significant.

        • Voice of Reason

          I didn’t say every 2 seam fastball is really a change up. Check those game chart graphs I linked to, there’s a well-delineated cluster of pitches that are clearly change ups that were incorrectly classified. He’s obviously not throwing many of them, just not none.

  • Robinson Tilapia

    Rational or not, I actually feel more at ease at the sight of Boone Logan than at the sight of Rafael Soriano. No, I can’t believe I just said that.

    Here’s to continued improvement.

    *Raises bottle of Pennicilin*

    • Manny’s BanWagon

      Soriano can be shaky but let’s be real, he’s a much better option than Logan.

  • Voice of Reason

    The best indicator that Logan’s improvement this season is legit is his ridiculous 61% contact rate. He could easily stop missing so many bats as the season goes on, but in consideration of that number, his strike out rate is definitely not noise thus far.

  • Gil L

    Quick recommendation:

    Check out the CSC low A box score for today…
    Wow.

  • Mike HC

    The second Javy Vazquez trade might work out after all.

    • Get Phelps Up (formerly Freddy Garcia’s 86 mph Heat)

      It will now be known as the Boone Logan Trade!

    • Manny’s BanWagon

      Doubt it.

      Even if Vizcaino never becomes a viable major league pitcher, Logan will have to pitch superbly just to balance that negative WAR atrocity that Vazquez put up in 2010.

      • Mike HC

        hahha … you know what, I didn’t take into account how much negative value Javy added. Good point.

      • http://twitter.com/urbainshockcor Urban

        Amazingly (to me) he was at basically breakeven fWAR in 2010. That’s still pretty bad for a member of the Yankees starting rotation. Even AJ was producing positive WARs for his throwing events he’d put on every fifth day.

        I think Javy caused more damage to Yankee fans’ mental health. I wonder if that can be added into WAR!

        • Manny’s BanWagon

          LOL.

          He and AJ were each about a -1000 mental WAR.

    • I Live In My Mom’s Basement

      Nah, the great Melky Cabrera.

      • Mike HC

        The one year of team control we had left on Melky was an amazingly bad year for him in atl (maybe he would have performed better on the Yanks, who knows). We could have signed him as a free agent the next year. ARod begged Cashman to take him and he wanted to come back and we passed. Losing Melky is not on the trade, it was on Cash not wanting to re sign him.

        • Mike HC

          And Gardner, Thames, Jones and Ibanez have basically replaced his role, so it is not like we didn’t replace his production.

  • Zooboy

    Does he still earn a cookie for doing well if he’s in a new, non-LOOGY role?

  • Brian in NH

    I just remember not long ago that Axisa was throwing up the Logan picture with a giant red X on it. Now we’re talking about him being a set up guy? Next year this guy could be completely done. Gotta love the volatility of bullpen arms.