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 check him out on the pre- and post-game show on YES today. Here’s his take on the Game 2 starters:
YANKEES: RHP A.J. Burnett
WHAT’S HE THROW? “Two kinds of fastballs, the big power curve and a rare change-up.”
BREAKDOWN: “Early on in the postseason A.J. did a good job getting ahead in the count with strike one, but then against the Angels they changed it up and were attacking him. He adjusted after that first inning, but you wonder if the Phillies will do that again. Normally they’re a patient team, so I think the first time through the order they’ll wait and see if A.J. can throw the ball over the plate.
“Don’t forget, too, that this is the most pressure A.J. has faced this postseason. This is his first time pitching after a loss. He’s going to be jacked up and needs to control his emotions, particularly since you know the Phillies are going to make the running game a big part of what they do. They’ve got Davey Lopes over there (coaching first base) and he’s the best baserunning instructor in the game, so look for them to try and rattle A.J. on the basepaths as much as they can. He needs to fight through that and stay cool.”
PHILLIES: RHP Pedro Martinez
WHAT’S HE THROW? “Fastball, curveball, change-up.”
BREAKDOWN: It’s still the same pitches but the fastball isn’t mid-90’s anymore, it’s upper 80s. His best pitch is the change-up and the curveball he can drop in for a strike or a strikeout if he needs it. The arsenal is the same it’s just not as nasty as it was in his best days. That being said, his greatest asset is his mind – he can read swings. He knows what he’s doing. I absolutely expect him to show up tonight.
“The crowd? It’ll be crazy, but I think Pedro’s greatest strength is that he’s been there, done that. He’s not going to be intimidated. think that’s why Manuel threw him in this game, instead of Cole Hamels.
“In terms of beating him, it’s the same formula: Work him and get him out. What’s good for the Yankees is that Instead of years ago, where you couldn’t really sit on one pitch, I think the Yankees can sit soft stuff now. I think they can look for that change-up and look for that curveball and still be able to do something with that fastball because it’s not as fast as it was before. I think the Yankees have a little advantage in that they don’t have to worry about that velocity as much. Those six or seven mph are huge, and the Yankees can try and sit on the soft stuff and attack when they get it.”
EDGE: “This is an absolutely fascinating game to me. I guess I would give a slight edge to the Phillies because this is a freebie for Pedro basically. They’ve already got their one game they wanted in New York and there’s no pressure on him now. With Burnett, would anyone be surprised either way? If he went out and dealt, I wouldn’t be surprised – this is what they brought him to New York to do. But I also wouldn’t be surprised if he wasn’t that effective, particularly if he lets his emotions get too much in the way. Whatever happens, it’s going to be a really, really intriguing night.”