As the Highlanders squared off against the Red Sox this afternoon, Ivan Nova did his best impression of Smoky Joe Wood. His final line was 6.0 innings, 7 hits, 2 runs, and 5 strikeouts. Out of 3 starts, he has now won 3 games, thanks to a continuous barrage of run support for the pitcher. Let’s take a look at the PITCHF/x numbers to see how he went about one of the most potent offenses in baseball.
Nova threw the four-seamer, two-seamer, changeup, slider, and curveball tonight. The four-seamer sat at the new standard 92.6 mph, and topped out at 95.6. Compared to the last start against the Angels, Nova’s fastball was right around the same speed, but it had more than 2 inches of less horizontal movement in to right handed batters and about an inch more “rising” action. In the last PITCHF/x piece on Ivan Nova, I wrote about how he has regained strength from last year, and throwing the ball harder but with some ridiculously high “rise”. The last start had the “rising” action at 5.85 inches, and this time it was at a 2011 level of 6.79 inches. Despite a lack of movement into right handed hitters, it seems that Nova has corrected the control issues with his fastball, as the break numbers are much closer to last year.
As you can see above, the four-seamer is thrown in the upper left corner. When looking at the cluster of orange slider, you can see a few changeups and a cutter in there. These are mis-classified pitches, and the reason why is that Nova had trouble with the pitch. Although the horizontal break matches that of last years, his vertical break in 2011 was -0.79, here it averages 2.94, a difference of more than 3.5 inches. He threw the pitch about 25 times tonight, but only drew 2 whiffs. Also, he only threw the pitch for a strike about 60% of the time, indicating that he struggled with it’s command.
Fortunatly for the Highlander, Nova threw his curveball like a machine. The pitch consistently spun at around 50 degrees, average 82 mph, and dropped around 7 inches. Not only was he consistent with the pitch, but he threw 21 of the 23 for strikes with 2 whiffs. His command had hitters making contact with pitches that were impossible to get hits out of. He only gave up 2 hits on the curveball today, one to Dustin Pedroia down and away hitting the corner perfectly, and another on on the corner for a flyball from Mike Aviles that would have been caught on a day where the Sun wasn’t interfering. Aside from a slider he threw down the middle to challenge David Ortiz, the rest of the hits were given up on poorly placed four-seamers. The only runs scored against Nova came on the homerun from Ortiz, and the misplayed flyball from Mike Aviles.Cory Wade and David Robertson worked the 7th and 8th inning giving up one hit each and no runs. Cody Eppley came in for his first time as a Yankee and faced Jarrod Saltalamacchia. Although he worked the hitter to a 3-1 count, his 5th pitch was actually quite brilliant, hitting the opposite corner perfectly with a sinker. The BABIP Gods were unappreciative, and allowed a groundball through Robinson Cano and Mark Teixeira. Checkout his pitch sequence and locations on the right. I’m excited to see a side arm thrower with the Yankees. Mariano Rivera took care of business in the rest of the 9th, posting 2 strikeouts and all zeroes.
Too Many Homeruns
Yesterday, I predicted the Yanks would hit Clay Buchholz. His pitch movement is so strong that hitters aren’t tricked by the huge vertical and horizontal break. His numbers against the Yankees, particularly in Fenway were already terrible, and the small ballpark seemed to play against the righty. Indeed, Buchholz was tricking no one this afternoon. In his 6.0 innings of work, he gave up 9 hits, 6 runs, 5 earned, 2 walks, and only 2 strikeouts. Oh yeah, and 5 homeruns.
In this at bat against Nick Swisher in the 2nd inning, Buchholz starts the count with two four-seamers, one down and in and one middle away. Then he proceed to jam him with a cutter in, followed by a cutter down. In nearly the same location, he throws his four-seam fastball, and unsurprisingly Swisher takes advantage of it by hitting it into the Green Monster seats. Buchholz hit his spot perfectly, a very stupid stupid spot, but I’m perplexed why he wouldn’t go breaking ball there, especially after Swisher saw four consecutive fastballs.
Here we have Chavez’s first homerun against Buchholz. He sets him up with two four-seamers, one in the zone away, and one in the zone in. His 3rd pitch is a changeup up and away, a zone that I said yesterday was a recipe for disaster. Sure enough on an 0-2 count, the left handed hitter drove the ball into the Red Sox’ bullpen.
For Chavez’ second homerun, it was definitely more of a battle. He starts the count with a fastball down and away in the zone, then two cutters to try and jam him, followed by a fastball hitting the inside of the zone. After the curveball, he threw the cutter up and away missing the zone. The 7th pitch, the four-seamer away in the zone is fouled off. On pitch 8, the catcher sets up for the cutter down in the strikezone, but the pitch misses almost exactly how pitch 6 misses, and ends up exactly where Chavez was looking on the previous four-seamer. He smokes the cutter to dead center for an absolute bomb.
Not much to describe here, Arod pulls a cutter thrown down the middle of the strikezone over the Green Monster. Buchholz probably wants this pitch away to get Rodriguez chasing, and a cutter down the middle to a right handed hitter isn’t the best selection.
Finally we have Martin’s at bat. Another short one, the right handed pitcher throws a four-seamer in to jam him. On the second pitch he leaves it right in the sweet spot, and Martin crushes it.
The Highlanders took the Red Sox in the first game of the series 6-2.
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