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Flash Points: John Flaherty breaks down the Game 1 pitching match-up

Posted by: Sam Borden - Posted in Misc on Oct 16, 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. Here’s his take on the Game 1 starters:

YANKEES: LHP CC Sabathia (1-0, 1.35 ERA)

WHAT’S HE THROW? “Fastball, slider, change-up in that order. The slider is his strikeout pitch.”

STRENGTHS: “During the start against the Twins, he had a nice little hesitation over the mound and then got everything moving in the right direction, so right away you saw him throwing fastballs in on right-handed hitters and hitting his spots. Tonight he’s got to get ahead of the guys that aren’t big bombers, like Aybar and Figgins, because they will make him work and push the pitch count up. I’d also look for less sliders because the weather can make breaking pitches hard to grip. He may try to pound more fastballs in.”

WEAKNESSES: “If you see the running game get him distracted from what he’s got to do, he’ll have some problems. When the Angels get on first and second base, they’re a distraction for the pitcher and catcher, and it takes your focus away. How do you know if he’s distracted? If he’s suddenly taking longer between pitches or looking over constantly, it shakes his rhythm and that’s when he can get into trouble.”

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ANGELS: RHP John Lackey (1-0, 0.00)

WHAT’S HE THROW? “Fastball, curveball, hard slider, but his pitch is his fastball. He’s got a straight one, a four-seamer, and a hard biting two-seamer.”

STRENGTHS: “If you’re going to talk about the strengths for Lackey, you don’t even talk about his stuff. You talk about his makeup. He’s a big-game guy who has been there and won those games and is a competitor – that’s why he started Game 1 against Boston and that’s why he’s starting Game 1 tonight. … He’s changed up what he does since he won Game 7 in 2002 – he throws a little more two-seamers than when he was young – but the look on his face is the same. He’s a gamer. … In this cold weather, he’s going to be pounding fastballs in on the Yankees hands and if he hits his spots, it’ll be tough.”

WEAKNESSES: “I would take the start he had against the Yankees this year and just throw it out. He was hurt early in the year and, even though he pitched well, wasn’t nearly at the level he is tonight. For him, it’s going to be all fastball location because he likes to attack. If he misses, though, and the Yankees are aggressive early in the count, they can do some damage against him and maybe knock him out.”

———–

EDGE: “This is a flip of the coin for me. I feel good about both guys pitching well and I think the wild card in this is going to be the weather: who’s going to be able to handle the elements? Who’s going to want it more? Who’s going to compete and challenge? We’ll see. I think both guys could pitch great and the game will end up in the bullpens.”

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