Archive for Chan Ho Park
Buried at the bottom of Bryan Hoch’s latest notebook is a note that injured reliever Chan Ho Park is scheduled to throw off a half mound tomorrow, and could possibly throw a full mound session the next day. If all goes well, he should make a few rehab appearances in minor league games next week, which could perhaps have him back with the big league team in time for next weekend’s series against the Twins (my admittedly optimistic timetable).
Yankee relievers not named Mariano Rivera have a 4.53 ERA through 26 games, so CHoP’s return will be welcome. Of course, when your starters pitch as deep into the game as every non-Javy Vazquez Yankee starter has recently, the shaky middle relief becomes less of an issue.
Via Bryan Hoch, reliever Chan Ho Park is heading to Tampa to continue his road back from a hamstring issue. The hammy is still a little tight, so CHoP requested the move hoping that the warmer weather will help loosen it up. Apparently the same trick worked for him last year.
Park’s been on the disabled list for a little over a week, and it looks like his stint will last longer than the minimum 15 days. It sure would be nice to have him back in the bullpen, though.
Who had Chan Ho Park in the “first to hit the disabled list” pool? The veteran reliever was placed on the 15-day DL today after he injured his hamstring while warming up last night. His replacement? Lefty Boone Logan, who has done a bang-up job for Triple-A Scranton so far this year (6.2 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 9 K). He threw 27 pitches just last night, so he might not be available until tomorrow.
Apparently CHoP could’ve just rested it and been available when the Yanks go out to the west coast next week, but the team didn’t want to risk. No point in doing so this early in the season.
Via Bryan Hoch, Chan ho Park injured his hamstring while warming up in the bullpen tonight, and will be reevaluated tomorrow. Park battled hamstring issues in Spring Training last year, as well as last September with the Phillies, so this is something worth keeping an eye on. The good news is that tonight’s injury involved his right hammy, last year’s troubles were with the left.
If a disabled list stint is required, Boone Logan would be the obvious callup, however he threw for Triple-A Scranton tonight, so he might not be available for a few days. In that case, Mark Melancon is the guy.
No matter how much we preach, it’s easy to fall into the trap of basing too much on small sample sizes this early in the season. We’ve already seen the Joba Chamberlain 8th Inning Machine rear it’s ugly head after two-thirds of an inning, and many fans had already written off Chan Ho Park by Monday morning. Instead of relegating him to mop-up duty like his predecessor may have, Joe Girardi ran CHoP out there again last night in the 7th inning of a tied game, receiving more than acceptable results.
It’s clear that Park was better last night, and a large part of that has to do with pitch selection. The former starter broke out everything but the kitchen sink during his three innings of work, throwing two types of fastballs, two types of breaking balls, and a changeup for good measure. There’s no better way to use a pie chart than to graphically depict pitch selection, so let’s have a look…
Again, small sample size comes into play, and we’re also at the mercy of PitchFX’s pitch classifications. There’s not much we can do about it, so we have to run with it.
On Sunday night, 13 of CHoP’s 21 pitches were fastballs, including the one Dustin Pedroia lifted over the Monstah for a two-run homer. Tack on six sliders, and more than 90% of the pitches he threw on Sunday were either fastballs or sliders. Jumping ahead to Sunday, and it’s clear from the pie chart that he used everything in his arsenal pretty evenly.
Marco Scutaro, the first batter Park faced, was retired on two breaking pitches, which was followed by Jacoby Ellsbury getting four fastballs and three offspeed pitches. Dustin Pedroia got two breaking balls and a fastball before making an out. In that first inning of work, CHoP threw just one four-seam fastball, but three two-seamers, three sliders, three curveballs, and a changeup. If you were standing in the box, you were playing a guessing game.
Park’s second inning of work was much of the same. He started Victor Martinez off with a curve, then threw a change, slider, and a two-seamer before putting him away with another curve. In a five pitch at-bat, Boston’s catcher saw four different kinds of pitches. Kevin Youkilis made a first pitch out on a four-seamer, and David Ortiz went down swinging on a curve, change, and slider. Through two innings of work, CHoP had thrown two four-seamers, four two-seamers, five sliders, six curves, and three changeups.
In his third inning of work, Park sat down Adrian Beltre on a slider and a four-seamer before J.D Drew singled on a two-seam fastball. Mike Cameron was due up next, and he was set down on the V-Mart Plan: four different pitches in a five pitch at-bat. Facing Scutaro for the second time, Park threw him a curve, a two-seamer, and two consecutive sliders to get him to line out to Brett Gardner.
CHoP started Drew off with two straight changeups, the first time he doubled up on a pitch all night. After mixing in a four-seamer, he threw another changeup, the only time he threw the same pitch three times to one hitter on Wednesday. The back-to-back sliders to Scutaro to end his night was the only other time Park doubled up on a pitch.
When a pitcher is throwing five different pitches, that means there’s a total of 25 different combinations of a two pitch sequence. Park used 17 of those 25 different sequences last night, and only one of them more than three times (see right). He had no pattern whatsoever, he gave the Red Sox nothing to pick up. By the third inning, you can usually tell if a guy likes to follow a fastball with a changeup or a slider or whatever, but not last night. It was a clinic in keeping hitters off balance.
(Note that the chart only reflects sequences thrown to one batter. So it doesn’t include the last pitch of one at-bat and the first pitch of the next.)
The job Park did with mixing his pitches up was clearly the story of his outing last night, but it’s also worth nothing that he had a little more giddy up on his stuff as well. On Sunday, his four-seamer topped out at 92.8 mph, but last night it didn’t dip below 92.96. The slider also jumped from 85-88 to 88-89. CHoP was reportedly battling some kind of stomach bug earlier in the week, so maybe that came into play somehow on Sunday. Either way, being unpredictable and throwing hard is quite the combination.
Obviously, it was just one outing. Park’s not always going to be as good as he was last night, but he’s also not going to be as bad as he was Sunday. He’ll likely settle in somewhere in the middle, but if he keeps mixing his pitches like he did last night, especially in bursts of short relief, he’s going to one helluva weapon out that pen. It’s not always about pure stuff, keeping hitters off balance works just as well.
There were a few moments in the ninth when it didn’t seem like the Yankees would see extra innings. The Sox nearly ended it a couple of times, but the Yanks hung in there and took advantage during Papelbon’s second inning of work. I’ll take a win against the Sox any way it comes, but it’s so much sweeter when Papelbon is the goat.
Biggest Hit: Curtis Granderson‘s 10th inning jack
After a 10-pitch, 1-2-3 ninth inning, Jon Papelbon got the call to face the bottom of the Yankees’ order in the 10th. He had already taken care of the heart of the order, retiring A-Rod, Cano, and Posada in the ninth, so he had a seemingly easier task ahead of him. With the Yankees’ order, though, there is no soft spot. Every hitter can do serious damage. Curtis Granderson, the No. 7 hitter, proved that almost immediately.
Papelbon opened the at-bat with a fastball low in the zone, his 10th in 11 pitches. Granderson fouled it off. Once again Papelbon went with the fastball, this time leaving it up in the zone. Victor Martinez set up low, but it looked like Papelbon just missed his spot. Granderson sent it well over the right field wall, giving the Yankees the lead and leaving the game up to Mo. That’s never a bad thing.
Honorable Mention: Nick Swisher‘s RBI single
For three full innings the Sox held a 1-0 lead. John Lackey didn’t exactly work efficiently, but the Yanks couldn’t get anything going off him. Then, in the seventh, with Lackey’s pitch count at exactly 100, the Sox went to the bullpen. With two lefties and a switch hitter due up, Francona went to Scott Schoeneweis. He did his job against the two lefties, striking out both Robinson Cano and Curtis Granderson. His trouble, however, came from Jorge Posada, who doubled on a slider right in his wheelhouse.
With another switch-hitter, Nick Swisher, due up, Francona went to Dan Bard to finish the inning. He started Swisher with a 97 mph fastball on the inside edge, which Swisher fouled away. The next pitch was similar, though it caught a bit more of the plate. Same result. The third pitch had a bit more zip, registering at 99 mph, but again Swisher fouled it off. For the fourth and final pitch, Bard took a little bit off. The pitch registered at 91, but it featured a bit more movement than the previous three pitches. Movement or not, though, it was right over the heart of the plate and Swisher slapped it on the ground to right.
The ensuing play would have been more comical if 1) it wasn’t close and 2) if Jorge hadn’t hit the ground hard. J.D. Drew’s throw home was a bit up the line and Victor Martinez had to reach out to get it. Jorge was just about at the plate by that point, and the two got a bit tied up trying to avoid a big collision. The ball rolled away and Jorge touched up to tie the game.
Biggest Pitch: Ortiz finally gets a hit
David Ortiz gave us all a chuckle with his expletive laden rambling last night, but in the third inning last night he was no laughing matter. Dustin Pedroia doubled down the left field line to open the inning, but Andy Pettitte came back to retire Victor Martinez and Kevin Youkiis. To escape the frame without damage all he had to do was retire David Ortiz, 0 for the season at the time with just one walk.
Pettitte started the at-bat with a low fastball called for strike one. Then he went to the cutter, throwing it three straight times and getting one swing and miss, bringing the count to 2-2. For the fifth pitch he went back to the fastball, this time looking inside. This one didn’t have as much life on it as the first pitch, which allowed Ortiz to extend his arms and smack it to right. Were Jesse Barfield in right he probably would have gotten Pedroia at the plate. Nick Swisher, however, didn’t get nearly enough on the throw and the Sox took an early 1-0 lead.
Biggest Blunder: A-Rod’s DP in the 6th
As John Lackey’s pitch count rose it looked like the Yankees were finally getting to him. Derek Jeter led off the sixth by working a 2-2 count, reaching base when Lackey hit him in the back. Nick Johnson, looking for his first hit smoked the seventh pitch of the at-bat to right. It was within J.D. Drew’s range, though. Teixeira then walked, putting runners at first and second with one out for A-Rod, hitless so far on the night.
It looked like the Yanks had Lackey on the ropes. He had already thrown 17 pitches in the inning and his first pitch to A-Rod would be his 99th. Yet A-Rod swung at the first pitch. It was somewhat in his wheelhouse, a 91 mph cutter on the inner half. He only managed to foul it away, though. Lackey came back with another hittable pitch in about the same location, this time a four-seamer, but A-Rod didn’t put a good swing on it. A grounder to third meant an around the horn double play, ending the threat.
In addition to having the biggest negative WPA play for the Yankees, A-Rod also had by far the lowest total WPA, -.279, more than 10 percent worse than Cano’s -.137.
Don’t judge him by one appearance
Chan Ho Park faced his share of criticism after serving up a home run to Dustin Pedroia on Sunday night. He got the night off on Tuesday while Al Aceves worked his multi-inning magic. Park found himself in that same role last night. He took over in the seventh after Andy Pettitte battled through six innings, but this time he didn’t disappoint.
He didn’t exactly pitch his three innings gracefully. He did face only 10 batters, with Marco Scutaro batting twice. Of the nine outs he recorded seven were in the air, and a few of them came a little close to the wall for my liking. But he did get the job done. J.D. Drew collected the only hit of the outing, and while Mike Cameron and Adrian Beltre gave us a bit of a scare, well, no harm no foul. Also, no one would have even left their seat at Yankee Stadium on Cameron’s fly.
It helped, too, that as soon as Park finished his job Granderson gave the Yankees the lead, thus giving Mo the ball. I hope to see more instances of Park and Aceves pitching multiple innings. Why take the ball away if they’re pitching well?
Things that made me smile
Victor Martinez. After hitting Burnett hard last night, he was the last guy I wanted to see up with runners on first and second with none out in the fist. Pettitte got him to ground to third, though, and A-Rod tossed it around the horn for two outs. I wondered if he would take it to third, killing Ellsbury, before throwing across the diamond. With Martinez running he had a chance. Best, though, to take the surest path to multiple outs.
Pettitte’s final inning start off annoyingly, with Adrian Beltre singling, but it ended wonderfully. J.D. Drew grounded an 0-1 curveball to Cano, which started a double play. After he struck out Mike Cameron I did a little fist pump. So did Pettitte.
I never want to see someone get hit in the head, but if it’s going to happen at least let it be like Pettitte’s fastball off Youkilis’s head. The 90 mph fastball seemed to get away from Pettitte. Youkilis was in the process of ducking, so he was moving away from the impact. Otherwise, it wouldn’t have been a laughing matter. All I could think at the time was, “schtoink!”
Then I smiled some more when Pettitte struck out Ortiz to end the inning.
Mo for the second night in a row.
Things that annoyed me
A-Rod. His fly outs in the first and fourth didn’t look to bad, but from the double play on he took some weak hacks. None, of course, was as costly as the DP.
Dustin Pedroia and his tiny strike zone. It would annoy me a lot less if he wasn’t a damn good hitter.
Adrian Beltre hitting the ball hard almost every time up.
Friday night at 7 the Yanks head into Tampa. Javy Vazquez goes for the Yanks against David Price for the Rays.
Check out the full WPA breakdown at the FanGraphs box score.
Last night’s game represented Phase I of a bullpen experiment. With 2009’s primary setup man moving into the rotation, Joe Girardi will have to go through the sometimes painful motions of figuring out who belongs where in the bullpen pecking order again this year. Much like 2009, David Robertson was brought into a sticky situation – a strikeout situation – in the 6th inning, but Girardi opted to deploy Chan Ho Park in the 7th inning even though Robertson had thrown just six pitches.
GM Brian Cashman did nothing but gush when he signed Chan Ho Park, and he certainly looked the part with six stellar spring outings (7 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 8 K). Of course, Spring Training stats mean nothing, so Park’s audition for a late inning setup job started yesterday. Summoned out of the bullpen to face three guys who don’t exactly represent power threats (Marco Scutaro, Jacoby Ellsbury, Dustin Pedroia), he didn’t just relinquish the Yanks’ two run lead, but he left the game with the go-ahead run in scoring position.
After sitting 93-95 with his fastball during his relief stint with the Phillies last year, Park sat 90-93 last night, which really isn’t that big of a deal since it’s April and it was his first outing for the year. Once the weather warms up and he gets some more innings in, he should be back up to normal velocity. More importantly, he was missing his spots big time. Just look at where Jorge Posada set up and where the pitch ended up on Pedroia’s homer. It was supposed to be a fastball down and away, probably to try and get a double play ball, but it ended up at the letters and out over the plate. Pedroia’s a good hitter, and he did what good hitters are supposed to do.
What I really want to touch on is why Park was brought into the game in that spot anyway. Robertson had thrown just those six pitches, and had plenty more in the tank if Girardi wanted to give him at least start the 7th. Instead, the manager needed to begin the process of figuring out who are going to be the team’s late inning, hold a small lead in a big game relievers. It’s not always going to pretty, and there will be plenty of times when such an audition costs the team a game, which is exactly what happened last night. But as we’ve seen in the past two years, we’re looking at short-terms losses for long-term gains.
Despite his fantastic spring and rock solid relief work for the Phillies last year, no one really knows what to expect out of Park in the AL East. He has the traits that lead you to believe he’ll be successful – he gets groundballs, throws strikes, can go multiple innings – but until we see him out there, we have no idea how he’ll respond. That’s why it’s important to get him out there in these kind of spots sooner rather than later. To make a decision and figure out his role as soon as possible. Will he continues to miss those spots, or is that just a function of throwing only seven starts in camp? It’s trial by fire, plain and simple.
Easing Park into it by starting him out in lower leveraged innings may sound like a good idea, but that just prolongs the process. He’s 36-years-old, not some rookie that has to learn the ropes. He should know the routine and know what’s expected of him. There’s no sense in dragging this out, run Park out there in this big spots in April and let’s see what he’s got. Is there a chance he’s the next LaTroy Hawkins? Sure, but right now we have no idea. He didn’t get off to a good start last night, but one outing and 22 pitches isn’t enough of anything to base a decision on. He’ll get another chance to prove himself, probably this series, and that’s just the next step in determining his value to the 2010 New York Yankees.
Building a bullpen is a far from an exact science. After enjoying the left-right tandem of Mike Stanton and Jeff Nelson in front of Mariano Rivera during the late-90’s, the Yankees stumbled through the overpaid (Steve Karsay, Kyle Farnsworth), the overworked (Tom Gordon, Paul Quantrill, Scott Proctor, Luis Vizcaino), and the overmatched (Tanyon Sturtze, Juan Acevedo) before going back to the drawing board. They left the overpriced retreads in the past, and instead began hoarding interchangeable (and cheap) relievers with good stuff. Now in it’s third year, the bullpen plan has yielded some long-term pieces, and allowed the team to bring in establish veterans to fill in the gaps rather than carry the torch.
Joe Girardi will have his choice of relievers to use in the late innings this season, perhaps led by the soon to be 25-year-old David Robertson. Part of the epiphany draft of 2006 that has already produced five big leaguers, three pieces of trade bait, and one other player on the team’s 40-man roster, Robertson came into his own once he was called up from Triple-A Scranton for good last May. After getting his feet wet by striking out four batters and allowing just one hit in his first four innings following his callup, Robertson struck out 15 of the next 34 batters he faced, and by the end of August he was sporting a 13.28 K/9 and an ERA around 3.50 (3.28 FIP).
Because of the depth in the bullpen, Robertson was routinely used in the 6th and 7th inning of close games and to finish off contests when the team had a bit more of a cushion. He led the American League with a 12.98 K/9 (min. 40 IP), and only twelve AL relievers bested his 3.05 FIP. Although he appeared in only five games during the postseason, Robertson escaped a bases loaded, no out situation against the Twins in Game Two of the ALDS, and won Game Two of the ALCS with an inning-plus of scoreless relief.
The biggest negative about Robertson’s game is that he can get a little too liberal with walks, though his 4.7 BB/9 last year was a full walk worse than his 3.6 minor league mark. It’s worth noting that he did cut his walk rate down to just three batters per nine after July 24th last year, covering his final 21 innings (out of 43.2 total, so basically half his season workload). Robertson’s strikeout rate is right in line with his minor league performance, though his .347 BABIP in 2009 was pretty high, so maybe his .226 batting average against stands to come down some. He also shows a reverse split (3.70 FIP vs. RHB, 2.74 vs. LHB), which is always pretty nifty.
Here’s what the projection systems say…
That’s a quality relief pitcher right there. The walks are still high because of his limited big league track record, but the strikeouts are through the roof as well. As a fly ball pitcher, Robertson will always be a bit homer prone, though that’s hopefully something that can be improved with age. The projected performance is better than what most teams have available for their 8th inning, but there’s a chance K-Rob won’t be anything more than a 7th inning guy in the Bronx this year.
After pitchers and catchers showed up for work in Tampa, the Yankees jumped all over an undervalued free agent and signed 36-year-old Chan Ho Park to a one year deal worth just over a million bucks. A middling starter for most of his career, Park has posted a 3.29 ERA (3.70 FIP) with a 7.55 K/9 and a 2.30 K/BB ratio in over 120 innings as a reliever in the last two years. His velocity clearly plays up in relief, and last year he stranded all but four of the 21 runners he inherited (81%). Let’s look at the projections…
Park’s projections are a little screwy because of the time he spent as a starter in recent years, but rest assured, the Yankees will use him exclusively in relief (unless there’s a meltdown of biblical proportions in the rotation). Even if Park were to pitch to his projection, the Yankees could deploy him in low leverage situations or easily boot him off the roster. However, I suspect Park will outperform his projection, and will likely fill a role similar to what Al Aceves provided in 2009.
In addition to Robertson and Park, the Yankees also carry one of the game’s best lefty relievers in their bullpen. After battling shoulder trouble and general ineffectiveness early in his stint in pinstripes, Damaso Marte proved his worth and showed everyone what he was capable towards the end of 2009 and into the playoffs. He posted a 5.62 ERA after coming off the disabled list in mid-August, but that’s misleading because four of the five runs he allowed came in one disastrous outing. Overall, he had a 2.58 FIP and a 7.88 K/9 after returning, and went on to be nearly perfect in the postseason, retiring all but the first two men he faced.
At 35-years-old and a veteran of 540 big league appearances, Marte has proven to be death to lefthanders. He’s held them to a .197-.294-.287 batting line against during his career, and was even better than that in 2009 (.120-.214-.280). If he stays healthy, which is admittedly far from a given (shoulders are scary), Marte will be a major weapon in a division that features such lefty mashers as Adam Lind, Nick Markakis, Carlos Pena, and the corpse of David Ortiz. His performance against righties has improved as his career has progressed, but with guys like Robertson and Park aboard, Girardi shouldn’t have to deploy him against hitters of the opposite hand too often.
Let’s see what the five freely available projection systems have in story for Damaso…
Clearly, the projections see Marte working primarily as a lefty specialist, hence the low innings totals but relatively high number of appearances. Much like every other pitcher, limiting Marte to specific and specialized situations will only increase his effectiveness. At $4M, he’s the sixth highest paid pitcher on the team and most expensive non-Mo reliever, so he’ll be expected to pitch more than capably in whatever capacity he’s used.
The Yankees head into the 2010 season with a three-headed monster at the back of their bullpen, and that doesn’t even include Aceves or the loser of the Phil Hughes/Joba Chamberlain fifth starter battle. It’s clear that the team views Robertson as a long-term fixture, maybe even a future closer, while Park is just a short-term fill in, the product of a market inefficiency. Marte is under contract for at least the next two years, but contract status is a mere formality. All three of those guys are capable of handling late inning duties by themselves, yet the Yankees have the luxury of being able to deploy all three.
Photo Credits: Marte via Tony Gutierrez, AP; Robertson via Matt Slocum, AP; Park via Kathy Willens, AP
Via Chad Jennings, Mariano Rivera and Damaso Marte will make their long awaited Spring Training debuts on Tuesday night against the Astros. The last time we saw those two on the mound, they were busy recording the final seven outs of Game Six of the World Series. Chan Ho Park, meanwhile, will throw live batting practice later today before getting into a game later this week.
Those three will probably get about eight innings in before the season starts, which is pretty normal for veteran relievers. Mo won’t travel at all, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Marte and Park didn’t either.