Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Andy Not Immune To The HR Epidemic

("It's fun to stay at the... " Courtesy of The AP)

Home runs have been the biggest thorn in the side of the Yankee rotation this season, that's no secret.  And as last night showed, Andy Pettitte has not been spared from that trend in his first 4 starts back.  He has allowed 6 HR in those 4 starts, 2 per start minus the scoreless masterpiece he threw against Cincy, and those 6 HR are responsible for 9 of the 11 total ER he's allowed.

Mike Trout's RBI triple last night also scored a run, meaning 10 of the 11 runs allowed by Andy have been via the XBH, the even higher-level problem that has been a constant theme when discussing the rotation this year.  But the reality is that Andy has actually pitched really well since coming back.  Eliminate the handful of poorly-located balls up in the zone and we could be talking about Andy as the early favorite for Comeback Player of the Year.  His ERA is solid, he's giving up less than a hit per inning, he's not walking a lot of batters, and his strikeout numbers are more than acceptable for a soon-to-be 40-year-old.

It's that pesky 26.1% HR rate that's fucking him up right now, and hopefully we see that number start to come down as the IP sample size goes up.

Why The Hell Is Freddy Garcia Still On The Roster?

(I think your time has come, fella.  Courtesy of The AP)

Real talk for a minute, why the hell is Freddy Garcia still a Yankee?  Can anybody explain it to me?  What's the point?  He's been equally useless as a starter and a reliever this season (5.56 FIP as starter, 4.50 as reliever) and currently brings no value to the table as a bullpen option.  Since being demoted after his start on April 28th, he's worked 9.1 innings in relief in 5 appearances.  He went 10 days in early May without seeing any game action, and currently hasn't pitched since May 21st.  None of his appearances have been in games where the Yankees were winning, and only 2 of them have been in games where they were within 3 runs.  Both of those times Garcia allowed more runs to score, effectively killing any real chance of a Yankee comeback in the 8th or 9th.  On the 12-man pitching staff, he's firmly entrenched in the 12th spot, and is damn close to being 13th.

Game 49 Wrap-Up: LAA 5 NYY 1

(Shucks.  Courtesy of The AP)

Andy Pettitte has already exceeded my expectations and the expectations of many others with what he's done in his first 3 starts back after over a year way from the game.  But if there was anything left that was needed to legitimize his comeback, it would be a good performance on the road against a hot team.  That's exactly what he was facing last night in Anaheim, both at the plate and on the mound, and the outcome wasn't what he was looking for.

Game Notes:

- Pettitte started off solid, working quickly and cleanly through the first 2 frames, but he got into trouble in the 3rd when he started missing with his offspeed stuff.   Mike Trout hit an RBI triple to left on a slider that was up just enough with 1 out, and Albert Pujols hit a hanging cutter out for a 2-run HR with 2 outs to make it 3-0 Anaheim.

- Angels' starter Dan Haren looked just as good as he did against Seattle early, and he really had his splitter working down in the zone.  But the Yanks still managed to load the bases against him in the 3rd before he struck out Robinson Cano, so there was reason for optimism.

- That optimism turned into confidence in the 4th, when Raul Ibanez hit a 1-out double to right and came around to score on Nick Swisher's RBI single.  For once, the Yankee hitters didn't seem overmatched by a pitcher who was on his game.

- Pettitte seemed to find his game after the 3rd, retiring the next 8 batters he faced in order, 6 via groundout.  He was locating his cutter much better and the Angels' hitters couldn't do much with it.

- Only problem was that Haren and his splitter were even better, and he kept the Yankee lineup at bay after the run in the 4th.  He was constantly ahead in the count, pounding the strike zone with splitters and 4-seamers, and worked quickly out of any trouble he got into through 7.

- Pettitte left a cutter up to Pujols in the 3rd, and he left one even higher up in the zone to Mark Trumbo in the 7th and Trumbo took it out for a solo HR and a 4-1 Anaheim lead.  Andy left after giving up a leadoff hit in the bottom of the 8th, which eventually came around to score off of Cody Eppley.

- It wasn't a horrible outing for Andy.  He threw a lot of strikes, got a lot of groundballs, and didn't walk a batter.  3 bad pitches were what did him in, and the offense couldn't generate enough to pick him up.

The Yankees threatened in the 8th, putting runners on the corners with 1 out, but Peter Bourjos made a great catch on a deep drive to right center to rob Nick Swisher and kill the potential comeback.  It was the third time that Swish was robbed of at least a double in the gap.  Talk about bad BABIP luck.