Oct
09

Getting beat by Chris Davis

By

(Patrick McDermott/Getty)

The first two games of the ALDS have been similar but different. Similar in the sense that both were extremely close games for almost all nine innings, different in the sense that the Yankees had the big ninth inning in Game One but not Game Two. As thrilling as Sunday night’s win was, the Orioles weren’t just to roll over and give New York the rest of the series. They were hot on their tails for the division in September and aren’t going to go away quietly.

One similarity between Games One and Two of the series is that Chris Davis has really put a hurting on the Yankees. He went 2-for-4 in both games (all singles), and all four hits came off lefties CC Sabathia and Andy Pettitte. The 26-year-old Davis actually didn’t show much of a platoon split in the regular season, posting a 121 wRC+ against righties and a 111 mark against lefties. For his career, those numbers are 104 and 86, respectively, but there are sample size issues (only 416 plate appearances against southpaws).

Davis performed well against same-side pitchers this year (and last year for that matter), so he shouldn’t be considered a platoon bat despite his strikeout woes. He hits for big time power and as we’ve seen these last two days, he can also slap some singles. If you go back to the last three weeks of the regular season, Davis hit .352/.418/.746 with eight homers in Baltimore’s final 20 regular season games. The guy finished the season on fire and he’s carried it over into the postseason, and right now he’s making the Yankees pay.

In the first two games of the ALDS, Davis has seen a total of 18 pitches in his eight plate appearances. Ten of those 18 pitches were sliders, the other eight some kind of fastball (four-seamer, cutter, etc.). Davis has taken just six pitches in the series — three fastballs on the inner half and three pitches in the dirt (two fastballs and a slider). Here is a plot of the dozen pitches he’s offered at (via Texas Leaguers)…

The two hits in Game One came on fastballs — the red square and upside pink triangle, to be exact — while the two hits in Game Two came on sliders, including that one just hanging up near the top of the zone. That was the two-run third inning single off Pettitte. Davis has swung and missed three times in the series, all three times on those down-and-away sliders. Based on his heat map against lefties (blue is good for pitchers, red is bad), throwing him fastballs up-and-in and sliders down-and-away is a pretty good plan of attack for left-handed pitchers. Pettitte hung some sliders and got burned while that inside fastball Davis hit for a single was actually just a broken bat bloop. Can’t really blame Sabathia for that.

With both Clay Rapada and Boone Logan in the bullpen, the Yankees should have no trouble matching up with the Orioles’ big left-handed batter in the later innings. Hiroki Kuroda and Phil Hughes are scheduled to start the next two games though, so the whole fastball up-and-in and slider down-and-away approach goes out the window for the right-handers. Here is Davis’ heat map against righties (via Baseball Heat Maps)…

As I said before, blue is good for the pitchers and red (or in this case, green) is bad. What the map is telling us is how Davis performs on pitches in these locations compared to the league average, so he’s been effective on pitches up in the zone but not so much down at the knees, particularly away. Kuroda should have no trouble getting the ball down with his splitter, but it will be a challenge for Hughes. He pitches up in the zone with his fastball, which is why he gets so many fly balls and swings and misses. Phil will have to be careful with Davis come Game Four.

The Yankees have done a pretty good job of keeping Adam Jones (1-for-8), Matt Wieters (also 1-for-8), and J.J. Hardy (1-for-7 with a walk) in check during the first two games of the series, but Davis is the one guy who has really given them trouble each time through the lineup. He will strike out a bunch (30.1% strikeouts this year), so going after him with offspeed pitches down in the zone will be important these next two games. Catching too much of the plate like Sabathia and Pettitte did could result in big problems given Yankee Stadium’s short right field porch.

Categories : Playoffs
  • MannyGeee

    Chris Davis is getting hot in October, particularly due to the fact that A-Rod sucks so bad at baseball… also, Swisher is a choke artist. Go Ibanez!

    /all of today’s comments sections’d

    • Robinson Tilapia

      I thought the Orioles won the World Series last night.

    • forensic

      If A-Rod and Swisher could hit, the offense would keep batting around and then they wouldn’t have to face any of the Orioles hitters.

      Blame them.

    • jjyank

      Fire Cashman.

    • dave

      When you cannot hit with RISP like this team cannot you are not beating ANYONE.

      Nick “I swing for a HR” Swisher has NOTHING between his ears and his act is getting old.

      Why should he just go to get a hit which would put them a head when he can hit a HR and be the big hero.

      Quite a difference from the Oriole hitters who went up there to get hits to score there runs.

      • Robinson Tilapia

        Except that, on Sunday night…..oh, what’s that?

      • DC

        Nah, your “bash Nick” act is what’s getting old.

  • http://burningdowntheyard.com Lance

    Don’t complain – at least you guys didn’t get beat by Russell Martin in game 1…

    • jjyank

      An O’s fan, eh?

      • http://burningdowntheyard.com Lance

        Yep – I don’t mind reading the words and minds of my AL East counterparts.

        This is one of the better, if not the best, NYY blog I’ve found to be worth reading as an O’s fan.

        • jjyank

          Well welcome. New perspectives are always nice, as long as they’re…well, as long as it’s not what we occasionally do to OTM posters.

          And yes, RAB rocks.

          • http://burningdowntheyard.com Lance

            haha, don’t worry – I’m pretty laid back and don’t mind kidding around.

        • Robinson Tilapia

          Welcome aboard, Lance. Your team is going to get hell here every now and then, but it’s all in good spirits.

          Tell us you hate the Red Sox and it’s all good.

          No shame in being beat by Russell Martin. Axisa even called it before the playoffs started. Russell Fucking Martin.

          I’d say “best of luck,” but who am I kidding.

          • http://burningdowntheyard.com Lance

            Thanks. I do hate the Red Sox – glad they were too incompetent to do anything to us (the O’s) the second to last series of the season.

            And what do you mean there’s no shame in being beat by Russell Martin? Of course there is – although, with as good of a job as he does defensively and framing pitches (as well as that silly homerun he hit in game one) he’s certainly earned a new contract from the NYY.

            And we don’t need luck – we have Miguel Gonzalez and Chris Tillman going in games three and four. Looks like Mike’s prediction of it being over in 4 was correct. ;-)

            • jjyank

              Heh. Easy now, cowboy.

              Martin sure isn’t the star you want to get beaten by, but even a year of flirting with the Mendoza Line, he still has shown good pop in his bat all year. If it was Chris Stewart on the other hand…Jim Johnson would/should have broken down into tears.

              • http://burningdowntheyard.com Lance

                Don’t worry, I’m only kidding when I slam Martin. I know he’s got some good pop and he’s actually hit well above the Mendoza line since the second half.

                He’s a really good catcher and if we didn’t have Wieters I certainly wouldn’t mind having Martin.

                But yeah – Chris Stewart..

    • Luisergi

      But we are gettin’ beat by Nate Mclouth… well not really, but it’s annoying that he has more hits than A-Rod (!).

      YES i brought it up!!

      Just Kidding

      • Luisergi

        Shit, i have to stop with the A-Rod comments, i’m turning into stuardlelama.

        • jjyank

          Nah, you’ll know when that happens. You’ll age about 30 years overnight and wake up only to find “hoodlums” trespassing on your lawn. And your only defense will be the mere shake of your fist.

  • Eddard

    Yankee pitching is not the problem. Chris Davis and Nate McClouth are not the problem. They’ve allowed 5 runs in two games! That should be good enough to win with this lineup. The problem is the offense, specifically A-Rod, Swisher and Granderson. That’s the problem.

    • MannyGeee

      not sure if you’re serious right now or if I am having a stroke…

  • DC

    He’s no Ike Davis.

    /stuart’d

    • Robinson Tilapia

      No parade….yet.

      • jjyank

        but he can have a raise….

  • Jose M. Vazquez

    Have got to love the Yogism “the first two games are similar but different”. Kidding aside, up to this year,Davis had been just a platoon player. He has improved a lot, the luck of (the Irish) Orioles. The Yanks have to make him hit the other way at YS. If they do that we will be ok.

  • Blake

    Annoying when so many mediocre-bad players somehow play well at the same time…..Davis, mclouth, Lew Ford…..

    • Robinson Tilapia

      Lew Ford starting on a team that even sniffs the playoffs is annoying onto itself.

      • DJ4K&Monterowasdinero

        It must be Buck.

        it is the only way to explain the Baltimore Orioles/2012.

        • http://twitter.com/#!/Clay_Bellinger Clay Bellinger

          Along with pure luck. Both of their 2 run innings have included a broken bat single – by a terrible hitter. On the other hand, ARod smokes a ball and it virtually kills our inning.

      • http://twitter.com/#!/Clay_Bellinger Clay Bellinger

        This. This is abnoxious. When Miggy or Hamilton get big hits or whatever we could just tip our caps. When Lew Ford does it, I want to kill someone.

    • http://twitter.com/#!/Clay_Bellinger Clay Bellinger

      The word medicore is offended my being associated with Lew Ford.

  • Luisergi

    Whatever, A-Rod sucks.

    /morning’d