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A New York Yankees blog by Chad Jennings and the staff of The Journal News


Flash Points: John Flaherty breaks down the Game 2 pitching match-up

Posted by: Sam Borden - Posted in Misc on Oct 09, 2009 Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

Former Yankee and current YES Network analyst John Flaherty has agreed to break down the pitching match-up for every Yankees postseason game exclusively on the LoHud Yankees blog. Be sure to watch John on the YES pregame at 5 p.m. and immediately after the last out on the postgame show. Here’s his take on the Game 2 starters:

YANKEES: RHP A.J. Burnett (13-9, 4.04 ERA regular season)

WHAT’S HE THROW: Fastball (2-seam, 4-seam), power curveball, change-up

STRENGTHS: “The key for A.J. – and something fans can watch for – is if he can locate his fastball on the outside corner to a right-handed batter. If he can really drive that pitch through the corner and not let it leak back to the plate, that’s a great sign for him. If you see that in the first inning, he’s going to have a big game because it means he’s mechanically on and his curveball will fall into place behind it.”

WEAKNESSES: “For a guy that throws as hard as he does, you see a lot of good swings on his fastball. You see hitters pretty much right on time and what that tells you is that he’s opening up too quick and they’re getting a good look at the fastball. CC can almost throw the ball down the middle because he’s so deceptive; A.J. sometimes needs to hide the ball better than he does. … Also, the first inning is huge because he’s going to be so pumped up. I think Jose Molina has got to do a good job of slowing him down in that first inning because he’s a big rhythm pitcher and he’s probably going to be trying to work too quickly.”

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TWINS: RHP Nick Blackburn (11-11, 4.03 ERA regular season)

WHAT’S HE THROW: Sinking fastball, curveball, slider, change-up

STRENGTHS: “I’ve been impressed with his curveball, though he throws four pitches but none are particularly above-average. Tonight, I think the big pitch for him is going to be the change-up. If he can get the Yankees going back and forth and not knowing what speed is going to come, he’ll be effective. He’s not a power pitcher, not a guy who is going to get strikeouts. He’s a sinkerballer who is hoping for a lot of groundballs.”

WEAKNESSES: “If I’m Ron Gardenhire, I’m worried that this is Blackburn’s first postseason start and he’s going to be fired up. For a sinkerballer, that’s not good – they’re almost better when they have less energy and are tired because it keeps the sinker sinking. If he lets the moment get the best of him and his sinker stays up in the zone, the Yankees are going to be all over it.”

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EDGE: “I give the edge to the Yankees, in part because Burnett has better stuff but also because there is more pressure on Blackburn. Down 1-0, the crowd against you and all of that – it’s a lot to take for a guy who doesn’t have the sort of stuff to just shut a team down.”

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