New York Yankees: Anibal Sanchez

W2W4: ALCS Game 2

October, 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.

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.

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.

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.

W2W4: Yankees at Tigers (August 8)

August, 8, 2012
CC Sabathia Stats to Watch
Sabathia had one of his best outings of the season last time out against the Mariners, when he struck out 10 batters in a complete game three-hitter. It was his 13th 10-strikeout game in pinstripes, passing Lefty Gomez for the fourth-most by a Yankees lefty in the Live Ball Era.

Sabathia is 2-0 with a 3.00 ERA against the Tigers this season. He has dominated Detroit's righties, holding them to a .154 average. Nearly one of every four pitches he threw to them was a slider; he got 14 outs and allowed just two hits with the pitch against the Tigers' righties.

However, he has struggled against the Tigers’ lefties, who have six hits in 16 at-bats (.375). He's challenged them with pitches on the inner half of the plate, but had little success. The Tigers' lefties are 3-for-6 in at-bats ending in a pitch in that location; the three hits were a double, triple and homer.

Key Matchups
Miguel Cabrera has owned Sabathia during his career, with a .400 batting average in 25 at-bats -- the second-highest mark by any active hitter that Sabathia has faced at least 30 times. But he is just 1-for-7 against him this year, with four infield outs and a strikeout.

Jhonny Peralta, on the other hand, has not enjoyed his at-bats versus Sabathia. He is hitting .100 (2-for-20) against Sabathia, the second-lowest batting average allowed by Sabathia to any active player he has faced at least 25 times. The lowest average is .083 in 24 at-bats by Jose Lopez.

Anibal Sanchez Stats To Watch
Sanchez was able to win comfortably in his most recent start, a 10-2 win over the Indians. But of note, he did allow seven line drives, including four in the first four innings, when the game was still close.

Only one Yankee has significant matchup experience with Sanchez. Raul Ibanez was 0-for-his-first-7 against Sanchez, but is 6-for-18 since against him.

The Sanchez changeup has been an all-or-nothing proposition for Ibanez. He’s swung at 10 in the last three seasons and gotten three hits, but he’s also missed on five of those swings.

How do you get the Tigers' big guys out?
Sabathia’s best bet in trying to get Fielder out will probably be if he can get him to chase a slider in the dirt. Over the last three seasons, Fielder has missed on 48 percent of his swings at breaking balls from lefties. That ranks among the half-dozen worst rates on such pitches from lefties among major league hitters.

But if Sabathia doesn’t get the ball low enough, Fielder will reach out and poke it for a hit -- even if it’s out of the strike zone, as he did for an RBI against Sabathia on June 1.

Cabrera’s weakness, if he has one, is that he’s vulnerable when Sabathia jams him inside. Over the past four seasons, he’s 1-for-11 when an at-bat ends with a Sabathia pitch on the inner-third of the plate or closer to him.

But if Sabathia misses his spot, be forewarned: Cabrera is 6-for-9 against him elsewhere.



Jacoby Ellsbury
.271 15 67 69
HRM. Teixeira 21
RBIJ. Ellsbury 67
RB. Gardner 81
OPSB. Gardner .759
WM. Tanaka 12
ERAH. Kuroda 3.81
SOM. Tanaka 135