Guilt by Association movie full Sergio Mitre pitched a fairly good game last night in his Yankees debut, allowing 3 ER in 5.2 IP, with 8 hits (1 XBH) and 1 walk. He tired a bit at the end of his outing, but likely would have allowed fewer runs if his defense was a bit better. Let’s take a bit of a closer look at Mitre and his start. Cliff Corcoran at Bronx Banter had this to say
about Mitre prior to his start:
Mitre’s career line in the majors is certainly unimpressive (5.36 ERA, 1.54 WHIP, 5.4 K/9), but he was rushed to the majors in just his third professional season at age 22, jerked between the majors, minors, rotation, and bullpen in each of his three seasons with the Cubs, and came down with shoulder problems in May of his first season with the Marlins in 2006. Given all of that, I’m tempted to just toss out those first four partial major league seasons in which Mitre went 5-15 with a 6.01 ERA in 25 starts and 26 relief appearances.
Instead, I look at what Mitre did with a healthy arm and a rotation spot in the first half of the 2007 season under manager Joe Girardi. In 16 starts (not counting one aborted start in which he tore a blister during the first inning), Mitre posted a 2.82 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, and a 3.1 K/9. Ten of those outings were quality starts and two others were scoreless but cut short by a tight hamstring. Mitre’s season fell apart in late July due to the elbow problems that led to his Tommy John surgery and wiped out his 2008 season…..
Like the pitcher he replaces, Mitre is a groundballer, which makes him well-suited to the Yankees’ homer-happy new ballpark. In his minor league rehab work this year, Mitre has induced roughly three groundouts for every fly out, a rate comparable to Wang’s at his peak. Mitre has also shown tremendous control, walking just seven men in nine starts or 1.16 per nine innings, a rate that recalls another ex-Cub Tommy John rehab project that worked out well for the Yankees, Jon Lieber. In those first 16 starts in 2007, Mitre’s walk rate was 1.76, compared to 3.7 in his first four partial major league seasons, another indication that the Mitre we see tonight is more likely to be the early 2007 model. Six of Mitre’s seven starts for Triple-A Scranton have been quality starts, and his work for Scranton has yielded a 2.40 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, and 7.00 K/BB.
What kind of stuff does he have? Cue Mike at RAB:
Stuff-wise, Mitre’s primarily a sinker-changeup guy, throwing the former 70.3% of the time and the latter 16.0% of the time in his big league career. He fills in the gaps with a curveball and a slider, though his reliance on the curve has waned over the last few years. Girardi says he remembers Mitre’s sinker being high-80’s/low-90’s, and Chad Jennings says he’s been 90-93 with Triple-A Scranton. He generally gets about six or seven miles an hour of separation with the change. As you can imagine, he’s a groundball guy. posting a 2.53 GB/FB ratio in his big league career. For comparison’s sake, the guy he’s replacing in the rotation has career GB/FB rate of 2.70.
So, what did Sergio do last night? Well, Brooks Baseball has him throwing 31 four seam fastballs and 35 sinkers, which constitutes 72% of his 91 pitches. However, both pitches seem to be at the same speed and are in the same ballpark in terms of break, which leads me to believe that Pitch F/x may be mistaken and is calling his sinker a four seamer at times. Regardless, those (two) pitches had an average pitch speed of 91.3, which is very solid for a sinker that was consistently down in the zone. He threw 13 changeups at 83 mph, which represents a decent variance from his sinker’s pitch speed. He also threw 9 curveballs and 3 sliders, with the curve looking like it had the makings of a solid third offering. He threw one on the outer edge to Markakis that set him up perfectly to come back inside and strike him out on a slider. Overall, I was fairly impressed with his stuff.
In terms of results, Mitre only walked one batter, throwing 57 strikes in his 91 pitches. He did a nice job of staying ahead of hitters, and kept the ball down when he fell behind and needed to get one over. This led to a 3.30 GB/FB rate, a number that could lead to a lot of success for Mitre should he come close to sustaining it. He allowed just one XBH, worked quickly, and even struck out 4 batters. In all, it was a good debut for a guy that we did not know much about. He certainly earned a few more starts, and the stuff that I saw from Mitre suggests that the Yankees may have a bargain on their hands.
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