Game 149, Yankees at Mariners

marc w · September 14, 2011 at 6:01 pm · Filed Under Mariners 

Jason Vargas vs. Ivan Nova, 7:00pm (ESPN telecast, so note the change in start time).

You may have seen Jeff Sullivan’s post on Jason Vargas’ recent mechanical tweak, or Kyle Boddy’s follow-up at The Hardball Times – essentially, Vargas added an Eric Bedard/Felix Hernandez-style “twist” in his delivery to add a bit of velocity while improving his deception. (Kyle discusses how a twist might produce such results in his article).

Tonight’s a great opportunity to see how well the new approach works – can he maintain the velocity increase? It’ll be especially valuable since it’ll be his second straight start at home, so the impact of pitch fx calibration will be moderated. For an example of what I mean, check out his last road start here compared to his start in late August here. They look like two different pitchers – the movement’s different, the speed’s different, even the spin rate’s quite distinct. Now compare them to his start with the new mechanics. Clearly, he picked up some velo, but we need to figure out how much of the improvement carries over, and how it might be impacted by his pitch mix too.

I’m biased, obviously, but I find this fascinating. We’re able to watch a pitcher evolve with such focus. It’s not perfect; that Oakland start can realllly throw off a trend analysis. But we learn from the player what he’s trying to do, and now we’ve got all this data to illustrate it and to show how it impacts his effectiveness. Again, just like with Phil Hughes, we’ve got a pitcher who’s constantly tweaking his mix, his pitches themselves, and his delivery to stay in the rotation, and we’re perhaps more aware of it than ever before. Maybe it’s a lot of heat and not a lot of light, but as a Jamie Moyer fan, I’m just fascinated as to how guys throwing 86-88 can survive in this league – by what separates Vargas from Vasquez, or Travis Blackley. Deception and command are huge, but I do wonder if constantly evolving and adapting isn’t part of it as well.

The Yankees send out Ivan Nova, who’s had a very effective year for New York. He’s got a fastball in the 92mph range that looks quite straight, but gets a very good number of ground balls. He also throws a curve and change-up. I’m fascinated that a pitch with very little horizontal movement and an fairly normal amount of sink can produce the GB rates that Nova’s put up. But there, just ahead of Nova on the fangraphs leaderboard, is Zach Britton, who throws a 92mph FB (from the left side) with similar sink and gets similar results with it. I don’t know enough about either to really push this as a comp; Britton’s is a two-seamer and it has much more horizontal movement, but there’s certainly a precedent for Nova’s GB ability. Speaking of precedents, Britton shut out the M’s in May. On the plus side, Nova gets comparatively few whiffs and few strikeouts, and I’m getting fairly sick of the M’s striking out so much. However, the line-up includes Wily Mo, Olivo, Trayvon Robinson and Luis Rodriguez, so…maybe next game.

The line-up:
1: Ichiro
2: Seager
3: Ackley
4: Carp
5: Smoak
6: Olivo
7: Pena
8: Rodriguez
9: Robinson


21 Responses to “Game 149, Yankees at Mariners”

  1. juneau_fan on September 14th, 2011 7:24 pm

    Well…I guess they didn’t strike out, but is first pitch swinging outs better?

  2. Breadbaker on September 14th, 2011 7:28 pm

    The Yankees have to be careful not to score too many runs tonight so that there’s a save situation in the ninth. Max 3, I’d imagine.

  3. juneau_fan on September 14th, 2011 7:38 pm

    Gak, Olivio and Pena together in the lineup? No runs coming this inning.

    ETA: The only question was going to be, which one would hit into the DP out of the two, and it was Pena.

  4. djw on September 14th, 2011 8:14 pm

    what happened to Smoak?

  5. Westside guy on September 14th, 2011 8:16 pm

    Woo-hoo! Nice to see someone else’s catcher miss the ball!

    (Actually that was probably 70/30 the pitcher’s fault)

  6. Breadbaker on September 14th, 2011 8:23 pm

    And the only way we’ll ever score with Olivo the automatic K at the plate.

  7. juneau_fan on September 14th, 2011 8:39 pm

    Smoak slid into second awkwardly, djw.

    For such a big ol’ country boy, he seems to be awfully fragile. *sigh*

  8. erich39 on September 14th, 2011 8:41 pm

    Looks like the “twist” is working for a second straight game. Vargas’ velo is again up about 1mph across the board. Blowers mentioned its also helping him hide the ball a little better…. nice to see after the 2nd half he’s had.

  9. juneau_fan on September 14th, 2011 8:51 pm

    That was inevitable.

    Oh wow, pulling him already!

  10. juneau_fan on September 14th, 2011 9:05 pm

    I swear, the torment of Pena’s every at bat. There’s a reason every team’s dumped him. Stop assuming he’s going to hit a HR.

  11. G-Man on September 14th, 2011 9:21 pm

    So did Wedge think that all the way through before he decided to bunt with Robinson? Because Seagar against Robertson was a tough assignment.

    OK, at least now Ackley is up.

  12. juneau_fan on September 14th, 2011 10:17 pm

    Olivio, you make my heart hurt.

    Oh gods, and now Pena.

  13. Daron Andrew on September 14th, 2011 10:18 pm

    Wow. Utterly putrid showing by Olivo tonight.

  14. bookbook on September 14th, 2011 10:18 pm

    Why wouldn’t you pitch hit for Olivo?

    Figgins is tanned, rested, and ready to go!

  15. bookbook on September 14th, 2011 10:19 pm

    No, seriously, why not let Casper Wells or Brendan Ryan try to put the ball in play?

  16. Daron Andrew on September 14th, 2011 10:22 pm

    And if not for Olivo, why not for Pena? Why the f are those guys still in the lineup after a combined 0-8 with 4 k’s and a double play?

  17. Breadbaker on September 14th, 2011 10:28 pm

    Brendan Ryan has back spasms.

  18. juneau_fan on September 14th, 2011 10:32 pm

    Sims sounded like he really wanted to go home. Don’t blame him.

  19. Breadbaker on September 14th, 2011 10:33 pm

    Theeeeeeee Yaaaaakeees Lose!
    Theeeeeeee Yaaaaakeees Lose!

  20. Sports on a Schtick on September 14th, 2011 10:33 pm

    Yea Luis! And Delabar with his first career win!

  21. Ben Ramm on September 14th, 2011 10:48 pm

    We need a poster of Rodriguez and Delabar celebrating this game together. A sort of monument to obscurity and joy.

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