Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Analyzing The Yankees' Early Contact Rates

With the regular season still just three weeks old, offensive sample sizes are still too small to draw any meaningful conclusions.  For a player like Robinson Cano, we can safely assume that his hot start isn't due to BABIP luck and that he'll continue to rake moving forward, but for guys like Lyle Overbay, Francisco Cervelli, and Vernon Wells those assumptions aren't as concrete.  Their tripleslashs right now paint a positive picture, but a more accurate representation of how good they've been can be found in their early contact rates.  Regardless of sample size, contact rates tell the real, simple story of just how well a player is swinging the bat at any given time, regardless of whether those swings result in hits and RBI.  What do the contact rates for some of the Yankee hitters through the first three weeks of the season tell us about them?  Good question.

Pineda Throws Sim Game, Comeback Continues

Michael Pineda's journey back from serious shoulder surgery reached another big milestone yesterday when he threw his first simulated game at the team's MiL complex in Tampa.  Pineda has been throwing BP sessions for a few weeks now, and is slowly working his complete pitch repertoire back into the mix, but yesterday was the first time that he threw in a real serious game-type situation.

Both Bryan Hoch and Chad Jennings had the details on the session and they all sound positive.  Joe was in attendance and said he was, "happy with what I saw," calling Pineda's performance "pretty good" for a first sim game.  Pineda reportedly threw his fastball, changeup, and slider during the outing and while there was no radar gun on him (as there shouldn't be yet) the consensus seemed to be that he threw the ball very well.

There's still a ways to go and Pineda's rehab countdown still hasn't started, so he's got plenty of time to continue to work at the pace deemed best by the team.  But this does represent another important step forward for Pineda, who could become a key mid-season addition if the back end of the rotation continues to struggle.

Game 18 Wrap-Up: TB 5 NYY 1

(Courtesy of the AP)

From one AL East road trip to another, the Yankees made their way to Tampa to start a 3-game series against the awakening Rays last night, and they went in with their ace, CC Sabathia, on the mound.  They needed him too because they were facing another lefty and a good one at that in Matt Moore.  Joe tinkered with the lineup a bit again to try to find a combination that worked, but the late scratch of Kevin Youkilis due to his back tightening up on him again left the lineup even weaker than usual.  The situation couldn't have been better for Moore, and he thoroughly dominated.

Game Notes:

- Not the 1st inning CC wanted.  It was bad when he hung an 0-2 slider to Ryan Roberts for a solo HR.  It was worse when he gave up two straight hits with 2 outs to bring in another run.  And it got even worse when he followed that up by giving up a 2-run bomb to Yunel Escobar.

- Moore plowed through the lineup the first time through the order, then got touched up a bit when Robinson Cano took him deep to break up the no-hitter and shutout in the top of the 4th.

- CC worked around a 2nd-inning leadoff HBP but still didn't seem right in the innings after.  He was flexing his pitching a lot on the mound and in the dugout, and he gave up his second HR to Roberts in the bottom of the 3rd to make it a 5-1 deficit.

- Cano's homer gave the Yanks a little life, but there was really no more offense to speak of against Moore.  He abused the Yankee hitters with his fastball mix and retired the last 8 batters he faced on his way to 8 1-run innings.

- The Yanks had one decent chance in the top of the 6th after a Brett Gardner leadoff walk and Cano 1-out single.  Moore started to look shaky, but regrouped to strike out Vernon Wells and pop up Frankie to end the threat.

- Give CC credit.  He got it together after the poor start, and at least limited the damage to just 5 through 7 innings.  His velocity was actually better than last time, he just got hurt on bad location.