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W2W4: ALCS Game 2

10/14/2012

Hiroki Kuroda Stats To Watch

Kuroda will be making his first career start on three days' rest. He had no-decisions in both starts against the Tigers this season, allowing five runs and 17 hits in 13 1/3 innings.

The Tigers had some good fortune against Kuroda’s splitter. They had five hits in those two starts, three of them being infield hits. They also had five hits against Kuroda’s slider, two of those being infield hits.

Did You Know?

Kuroda allowed 10 hits on the 21 ground balls he induced. He allowed a .189 batting average on ground balls against other teams this season.

Miguel Cabrera is 4-for-9 against Kuroda with two home runs, one of which came on June 2 of this season in Detroit. That was a 466-foot shot that came on a hanging slider over the middle of the plate. The other came in 2010, on a pitch far enough inside that it would have hit some batters.

Keep an eye on Kuroda’s splitter in this game. It has been a good pitch for him in the last three starts. In the last three starts, he’s thrown 50 of them, netting 12 outs and yielding just one hit.

Anibal Sanchez Stats To Watch

The Yankees pummeled Sanchez for seven runs in three innings in a win over the Tigers on August 8.

The biggest problem that Sanchez had in that game is that he didn’t fool anyone. Of the 27 pitches he threw out of the strike zone, the Yankees only swung at one of them. Sanchez would normally expect to get seven or eight chases against that many pitches, based on his season totals.

Sanchez’s slider, normally a modestly effective pitch, was pounded for four hits, including a homer by Curtis Granderson in those first three innings.

Anibal Sanchez curveball
Last 6 Starts

When Sanchez is going well, he’s very effective against left-handed hitters, which is trouble for some of the slumping Yankees. He’s held lefties to a .645 OPS, about 100 points below how the average right-handed pitcher fared in 2012.

Granderson should be ready for plenty more offspeed offerings. Sanchez throws his offspeed stuff to lefties more than half the time. As the chart on the right shows, his curveball has been his most effective pitch recently.

Nix or Nunez?

Should Jayson Nix start at shortstop, he would join the parade of cold bats in the Yankees lineup. Nix is 1-for-his-last-15 with six strikeouts against right-handed pitching dating back to September 5. Nunez is not much better. He’s 4-for-33 against (big-league) righties dating back to April 23.

Defensively, Nunez had four errors and two defensive misplays in 116 regular-season innings at short. Nix had one error and two defensive misplays in 134 innings.

Neither Nix or Nunez has ever faced Sanchez. Nix has had a rough time against the next two Tigers starters in this series. He’s 1-for-20 with 12 strikeouts combined against Justin Verlander and Max Scherzer. Nunez is 1-for-3 against Verlander and has never faced Scherzer.

Whither Robinson Cano?

Cano is 0-for-his-last-22 and 2-for-28 this postseason.

Cano became the first player to have a pair of 0-for-6s in the same postseason. The only other player to have a pair for his career is Craig Biggio.

The one thing Cano may have going for him is that he’s only struck out four times in the playoffs.

The chart on the right shows how Cano’s numbers when hitting the ball run counter to his regular-season success.

Robinson Cano in 2012

The Tigers continued the strategy of pitching Cano on the outer-half and off the outside corner that worked so well for the Orioles. All six outs in Game 1 came on pitches to that area (The Tigers righties employed a similar strategy to Mark Teixeira, with 20 of the 21 pitches to him being to the outer-third of further off the plate).

The Tigers made sure Cano could not turn on an inside pitch. Of the six they threw him on/off the inside corner (in other words, on the inner-third or closer), only one was in the strike zone.