Just when it looked like the home runs at the new Stadium were coming back to a normal level, the hitters have started popping pitches out of the park at an alarming rate. Over the five games so far this week the Yankees and their opponents have hit 23 home runs. True, both the Yankees and the Phillies are home-run-hitting teams, but this is still a high total, and particularly to right field. Unsurprisingly, the pitchers aren’t taking the trend so well.
The Daily News spoke to Andy Pettitte on the matter, and he said what is true for pitchers at every park: “It’s simple, if you leave a ball up and they hit it with the barrel right now, it’s a home run. You can’t make a mistake up in the zone.” What he means, I would imagine, is that a mistake is far more costly then it was at the old park. Leave one up last year and maybe it’s a fly-out to the warning track. Leave one up this year and will almost certainly clear the fence. It’s easy to imagine how that makes a pitcher feel, especially a veteran like Pettitte who normally does a good job of keeping the ball in the park.
Pettitte goes on to talk about how a pitcher’s stuff plays into the equation: “You have to get the ball down, especially if you are not overpowering. If you don’t have, or if you are not throwing, overpowering stuff, you cannot let your guard down ever out there right now.” Yet as A.J. Burnett learned, even if you do have overpowering stuff you can’t let your guard down. Dave Eiland talked about Burnett’s mistakes from Friday night, noting that all three home runs he surrendered came when he left his left side open, altering the spin on the ball which ultimately meant a pitcher higher in the zone than intended. Those are the kinds of mistakes both the Yankees and their opponents are taking advantage of.
Unfortunately for a contact pitcher like Pettitte, the new Stadium just doesn’t play to his style. Runners frequently reach base off the southpaw, but he’s able to bear down in those situations and get ground balls or lazy flies, thus limiting the damage. Now, though, situations become tougher with men on base because even a slight mistake can lead to multiple runs. Again, this leads Pettitte to a universal pitcher tenet:
“I cannot walk guys,” Pettitte said. “I walked a guy in that inning before the three-run homer. I am gonna have to stop doing that, because you know you are gonna give up home runs. I am gonna give up a few homers, so I just can’t walk guys.”
I don’t think anyone is against any of the Yankees pitchers walking fewer hitters. Perhaps Andy should have this talk with Jose Veras.
Thanks to The Artist for sending this in.