Yankees can’t hit good pitching, win game started by Justin Verlander anyway

Source: FanGraphs

The Yankees have a great offense that can’t hit good pitching … except for when they hang five runs on Justin Verlander in six innings. I think that’s how the narrative goes. Anyway, let’s recap Friday night’s walk-off win with bullet points…

  • Off The Hook: Ivan Nova‘s undefeated streak remains intact — I think it’s up to 20 starts now — though he didn’t pitch all that well. The Tigers ground balled him to death in the third before putting together some very hard-hit balls in the sixth. Raul Ibanez‘s defense didn’t help, though Nova did allow the leadoff man to reach base in five of his six innings. Shake it off and do a better job five days from now.
  • Long Ball: Verlander hadn’t allowed a single homerun this season until running into the Yankees, who took him deep twice. Alex Rodriguez connected a legit solo shot to right in the fourth, and one inning later Russell Martin hit a two-run shot the other way. Martin’s was a total Yankee Stadium cheapie, but I’ll take it.
  • Strong Relief: Other than Boone Logan, who didn’t retire either of two left-handers he faced but did get an out on the bases, the relievers once again slammed the door shut. Cory Wade got four outs, David Robertson and Mariano Rivera three each. Rafael Soriano threw about five innings in a simulated game in the bullpen based on how many times he warmed up.
  • Winning Rally: Once again, it was the Captain who set the stage. Derek Jeter‘s 15-game hit streak came to an end, but he drew a one-out walk before advancing two bases on a wild pitch. Hooray for sending the runner in a 3-2 count. With runners on corners and one out, all A-Rod had to do was hit the ball in the air. Instead, the ball went to the backstop. Catcher Alex Avila completely whiffed on a Brayan Villarreal pitch, allowing it scoot far enough away that Jeter was able to score the winning run. Just like they drew it up.
  • Leftovers: I couldn’t really tell from where I sitting, but I assume Joe West had a horrible strike zone given Joe Girardi‘s ejection and all the bickering throughout the game … A-Rod had three hits and started the game-tying rally in the eighth with a single before Robinson Cano extended it with a single and Mark Teixeira capped it off with a sac fly … Nick Swisher doubled off Verlander twice, giving him nine for the season and the second most in baseball … Mo’s appearance was the 1,050th of his career, the eighth most all-time.

MLB.com has the box score and video highlights, FanGraphs some other stats, and ESPN the updated standings. Game Two of this three-game set will be played Saturday afternoon at 4pm ET, though it’s not a FOX game. Freddy Garcia will look to right the ship against rookie left-hander Drew Smyly. RAB Tickets can help get you into the ballpark if you want to catch the game.

Turley’s gem highlights offense-less night

For the first time this season, you get bullet points…

  • Triple-A Empire State (win): Dellin Betances walked only four in five innings, an improvement over recent starts. The bullpen trio of Juan Cedeno, Chase Whitley, and Kevin Whelan threw four nasty innings. Kevin Russo had three singles and Craig Tatum whacked a two-run dinger on a slow night of offense.
  • Double-A Trenton (loss): The Thunder drew eight walks but only mustered three singles with the sticks, one each by Abe Almonte, Walt Ibarra, and Ronnie Mustelier. Shaeffer Hall allowed two runs in six innings in an otherwise uninteresting game.
  • High-A Tampa (loss): Rob Segedin had two hits including a double, but J.R. Murphy‘s single was the only piece of offense they could put together. Nike Turley threw a gem — two runs, five strikeouts, and one walk in eight innings — before Branden Pinder got hit around for the walk-off loss.
  • Low-A Charleston (loss): Mason Williams went hitless in three at-bats before being lifted for a pinch-hitter to open the ninth. I hope that was just a function of getting him rest in a blowout rather than an injury. Gary Sanchez doubled on a night when Tyler Austin, Dante Bichette Jr., Angelo Gumbs, and Cito Culver all failed to reach base. Will Oliver got hammered — five runs in 2.2 IP — and the parade of fringe prospect relievers didn’t fare much better.

Game 19: Revenge

(REUTERS/Ray Stubblebine)

The last two times I made it to the Bronx for a playoff game, the Yankees were eliminated. The first was Game Four against the Indians in 2007, the second was Game Five of last year’s ALDS. Unless you’re celebrating a World Championship, there’s nothing fun about walking out of the Stadium following the last game of the season. The last three or four days have been pretty rough in Yankeeland, both on and off the field, so a win against the Tigers tonight would be greatly appreciated. Here’s the starting nine…

SS Derek Jeter
CF Curtis Granderson
DH Alex Rodriguez
2B Robinson Cano
1B Mark Teixeira
RF Nick Swisher
LF Raul Ibanez
3B Eric Chavez
C Russell Martin

RHP Ivan Nova

Tonight’s game starts a little after 7pm ET and can be seen on YES locally and MLB Network nationally. Just a heads up, DotF and the game recap will be up a little later than usual. Enjoy the game.

Joba continues playing catch, will shed walking boot next week

Via Chad Jennings and Peter Botte, right-hander Joba Chamberlain visited the doctor yesterday and will lose his walking boot next week. He made 50 throws today and said he’s been playing catch regularly since the ankle injury. “It’s going to take a lot of things to stop me from (getting on mound this year),” said the obviously optimistic right-hander. I’m glad he’s working hard to come back, but the Yankees can’t count on Chamberlain for anything this season. Whatever they get out of him should be a bonus.

For what it’s worth, Jennings says Joba has lost a noticeable amount of weight. He wouldn’t say exactly how many pounds he lost, but he did acknowledge that it’s “more than a couple … obviously I look different.” Here’s a photo from last night’s NY Rangers game so you can see for yourself. Notice the scar on his elbow.

Yanks vying for worst monthly starters’ ERA in a decade

It’s no secret that the Yankees’ collective starting pitching has not lived up to expectations thus far on the young season. While there’s nowhere to go but up at this point, I was curious to see how the team’s woeful April performance — at 5.73, the Yankee starters have put up the second-worst collective ERA in MLB; the only team with a worse mark is Minnesota. Boston’s starters, after a week of beating up on the AL Central, brought their mark down to 5.71 — stacked up against previous Yankee teams, so I went back and collected the last 10 years worth of monthly Yankee starting pitching ERAs.

If the Yankee starters were to finish April out at their current 5.73 ERA, it would represent the second-worst mark the team has put up in a month in the last 10 seasons. The worst was April 2007’s 5.94, much of which was due to Kei Igawa being allowed to throw 20.2 innings of 7.84 ERA ball, although Chien-Ming Wang‘s 5.84 in 12.1 innings and Chase Wright’s 7.88 in 8 innings didn’t help things, either.

Now obviously ERA only tells a very small and flawed portion of the story. I was also curious to see how the team got to this point and whether they were doing anything substantially different, so I grabbed their PITCHf/x stats for April 2012, April 2011, and the MLB average.

The first thing that jumps out is the team’s deployment of the four-seamer appears to be way down from a year ago in favor of more sinkers and way more sliders. And this is problematic in that the rotation’s sinkers are collectively getting crushed to the tune of -5.3 runs above average and -1.91 per 100 pitches thrown. The latter figure is 92%(!) worse than league average. This appears to be due to location issues — the team is leaving its sinkers closer to the middle of the plate horizontally than the league, and its sinkers are rising nearly an inch-and-a-half higher. As always, we need to approach the classification algorithm with some wariness, but if this data is accurate it helps partially explain why the execution’s been so poor.

Somewhat surprisingly, one of the primary culprits for the poor sinker showing is CC Sabathia, who TYA’s Mike Eder noticed last week was leaving the pitch up during his first few innings against the Twins until correcting whatever flaw in his mechanics led to this happening. Given Sabathia’s improvement in the latter half of the Twins game and strong showing against the Rangers last Monday, I wouldn’t expect the sinker to be an issue going forward. Sweaty Freddy’s sinker has been the worst in baseball in the early going, though I have less confidence that he’ll be able to rectify his situation.

The other bizarre aspect relating to the Yankee starters’ performance this month is that their peripherals have been, for the most part, outstanding.

They’ve been striking a ton of men out — second-highest K/9 in the AL, behind Chicago by 0.01 — and walking almost no one. The team’s biggest bugaboo has been the home-run ball. Surprisingly the starters haven’t even given up the most total home runs in the AL, but on a rate basis they’ve been abysmal, with a second-worst-in-MLB 1.73 HR/9, and a 17.3% HR/FB% ranking third-worst. They also have the highest BABIP in the league by a not-small margin, and all three of these figures are way, way above league average.

Despite all of this starting ineptitude, at 10-8 the team is only two games behind where it was last year after 18 games, and two games better than the 2007 team and its decade-worst monthly ERA. Even better news for Yankee fans is that it would be almost impossible for the team’s starters to perform any worse than they have, and hopefully they start turning it around sooner rather than later.

The RAB Radio Show: April 27th, 2012

It’s pretty obvious what we’re going to talk about, right?

Podcast run time 43:58

Here’s how you can listen to podcast:

Intro music: “Die Hard” courtesy of reader Alex Kresovich. Thanks to Tyler Wilkinson for the graphic.

Moose Skowron, Yankee fan favorite, passes away at 81

Bill “Moose” Skowron, a mainstay of the great Yankee dynasty of the 1950s and long-time fan favorite at Old Timers’ Day, has passed away at the age of 81. Moose was a first baseman during the years of Mickey Mantle and was a five-time All Star with the Yankees and White Sox. He also won five World Series win the Yanks and Dodgers and is the only player to baseball history to homer for one team in the World Series and then homer against that team in the following year’s Fall Classic. He completed that feat in 1963 while with Los Angeles.

In 1087 games with the Yankees, Skowron hit .294/.346/.496 with 165 home runs. He always drew a rousing ovation during his myriad Old Timers’ Day games, and his baseball card from the mid-1950s that my dad had when I was a child remain one of my earliest memories of card collecting. He will be missed in the Bronx this year.