Wednesday, April 9, 2014

McCann's Slow Start Could Be Due To Lack Of Selectivity

(Courtesy of Getty Images)

Despite spending more than a few bucks to upgrade the offense this past offseason, the Yankees have been slow to see any fruit from their free agent labor.  They've scored 29 runs in their first 8 games, good for 18th in MLB, and their 3 HR are still just enough to keep them out of the basement in that category and tied for 29th.  The biggest reason for this sputtering offensive start is the lack of production from the middle of the order.  Mark Teixeira hit the DL before he even got going, Alfonso Soriano is just now starting to find his stroke after a rusty start, and both Carlos Beltran and Brian McCann are sporting sub-.500 OPS values in 60 combined plate appearances.

Obviously there's going to be improvement from all 4 of these guys as the season progresses, everybody gets settled in, and Teix gets healthy again.  But in looking at McCann's rough start, the roughest of all at .172/.200/.172, there could be a pretty simple explanation and an easy fix.

Infield Woes On Full Display Yesterday

(Originally published at IIATMS/TYA)

Question.  What do you get when you combine a 40-year-old shortstop with already severely limited range coming back from a series of various leg injuries, a 36-year-old second baseman who's played in only 29.6% of all regular season games since 2010, a 26-year-old MiL lifer playing third base, and a backup catcher playing first base for the first time since high school?  Why it's yesterday's starting infield, course!

Whether you watched it live or read about it later, you probably already know that yesterday afternoon's game was a disaster.  Ivan Nova and his poor command are mostly to blame for that, but the infield deserves its fair share too.  The argument could be easily made that nobody on that infield deserved to be a Major League starter as his position and yet there the 4 of them were.  On this day, this was the best a team with a near $204 million Opening Day payroll could muster.

What Was Nova's Problem Yesterday?

(Courtesy of Texas Leaguers)

The better question might be what WASN'T his problem yesterday.  That pitch location plot tells the story as simply and as straightforward as any game recap could.  He threw too many fastballs, 2 and 4-seam, up in the zone and then couldn't command his curveball near the zone.  Nova didn't have 1 pitch working for him yesterday and when that's the case and you're missing up in the zone a lot, you're going to get punished.

The good news is that he didn't walk anybody yesterday, though I'm not sure that counts for much when you consider how many hits he gave up and the fact that he walked 5 in his first start.  In 9.1 IP over these first 2 starts, Nova has put 23 men on base.  16 hits, 5 BB, and 2 HBP.  That's way too many of all 3 of those categories and Nova needs to be better than that.  He's had 2 starts with command issues.  Time to see if he really has matured and can make the adjustment next time out to correct them.