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Pregame notes: “That fastball moves a lot quicker in person”

Posted by: vmercogliano - Posted in Misc on Apr 27, 2014 Print This Post Print This Post | Email This Post Email This Post

Masahiro Tanaka

First big league start? Check.

First start at Yankee Stadium? Check.

First start in front of a hostile crowd at Fenway? Check.

Masahiro Tanaka has aced every test through his first four starts as a Yankee, and tonight will provide another with a nationally televised game against a Los Angeles Angels’ lineup that has a few big names in the middle. But less than a month into his major league career, Tanaka has already established an expectation of dominance.

“You expect him to really go out and compete and give you a good chance to win,” Joe Girardi said.

Tanaka has downplayed his early successes and seemed to shrug off questions about facing stars such as Mike Trout and Albert Pujols. As I wrote this morning, he just has this quiet confidence that he carries himself with and he doesn’t seem to be fazed by any situation.

It has certainly caught the attention of his manager.

“You wonder how a pitcher is going to adapt to the culture, and (pitching) every fifth day, and all new teammates, and New York City, and the American League East,” Girardi said. “He’s seemed to make it pretty seamless from everything that I’ve seen, and that’s a little surprising. I’ve seen it where you bring any free agent here, whether they know the culture or they’ve pitched every fifth day or played every day, so that has been a little surprising to me.”

• While Tanaka acted as if he had barely heard of some of the top players that he’ll face tonight, Girardi is sure that he’s aware of what they’re capable of. “I think he knows how good of players they are,” Girardi said. “I think that he probably knew how good they were before he even came to this country, because obviously when you’re a baseball player, you pay attention to all baseball players. I’m sure he was pretty aware of who Trout was and who Albert Pujols was. But the one thing that he doesn’t know is how they’re going to react to his pitches, and it kind of goes both ways. We don’t know how they’re going to react, and vice versa.”

• So far, the reactions that Tanaka has been getting have overwhelmingly positive. He’s struck out 35 while only walking two in 29 1/3 innings, and his swing-and-miss percentage is off the charts. He can locate several pitches, doesn’t seem to show any intimidation, and that split looks as nasty as it was advertised to be. CC Sabathia spoke about Tanaka, and how he’s benefited from facing hitters who have never seen him. “I think he has an advantage in that,” CC said. “They haven’t seen him. It’s all on video, and that fastball moves a lot quicker in person.”

• Girardi also spoke about how much of an advantage that has been for Tanaka. “You can watch video, and you can say that a guy throws 92 to 94, or his curveball does this, his split does this – but until you actually see it, 92 to 94 can look like 90, or it can look like 98,” he said. “A lot of times, it’s the deception and how well they hide the ball, and if you pick it up or you see something. Some guys you just see better than others, too. I think that scouting reports are great, video is great, but until you step into the box, you’re really not sure how you’re going to react to it and how you’re going to see it. To me, a lot of times that’s the advantage.”

Brett Gardner• Brett Gardner is out of the lineup today after being hit by a pitch yesterday. It sounds like he’ll be fine, but Ichiro will get the start in left tonight. “He’s sore from yesterday getting hit,” Girardi said. “Obviously, he had X-rays and those came back negative. He’ll go through treatment today and see if he’s available to me later on. He did talk about how it felt better than he anticipated this morning, which was a good thing, but he’s still sore.”

• Yangervis Solarte will start at second with Kelly Johnson at third, as Solarte has clearly become the guy that Girardi is most comfortable moving around. With Solarte playing a strong defensive third base and Johnson having played most of his big league career at second, you might think that alignment would make more sense, but Girardi said that Solarte played more second in the minors than anywhere else. “That’s what you want out of a utility-type player; that they can move around and not just play one position, and they’re used to doing it,” he said. “And he’s done it in the minor leagues, which probably helps him and has helped him make the transition of going to third, or if we put him at short or second. He’s played all of those positions in the minor leagues. It’s something that he’s used to doing.”

• Michael Pineda threw a bullpen today, and Girardi said they’ll put together some type of sim game for him this week to keep him stretched out and sharp. He also downplayed any concerns about how Pineda might pitch in a cold weather situation moving forward without being able to use pine tar. “We’re trying to take every precaution to keep him sharp,” Girardi said. “He threw a bullpen today. He’ll throw Tuesday in a simulated game somewhere. We’ll get him to where he sees live hitters somewhere, and then he’ll be ready to go on Monday like he’s getting an extra days rest. And he’ll throw bullpens here. He’ll probably throw a bullpen on Friday.”

• Brendan Ryan was scheduled to play a game in Tampa today, but Girardi didn’t have any information on how he came out of it.

• As Chad reported this morning, Bruce Billings was put on the 15-day DL with a strained right forearm and Preston Claiborne was recalled from Triple-A.

UPDATE, 6:42 p.m.: It was just announced that Solarte has been scratched with a sore right shoulder. Brian Roberts will take over at second base and bat eighth.

Associated Press photos

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45 Responses to “Pregame notes: “That fastball moves a lot quicker in person””

  1. pete2 April 27th, 2014 at 6:30 pm

    Billings might be a bit of a phantom DL. Lets hope so for the kids sake. Good way to get Claiborne back early, he pitched well I thought.

  2. jmills April 27th, 2014 at 6:30 pm

    I’m over here fielding ground balls, who’s going to join me?

  3. jmills April 27th, 2014 at 6:32 pm

    pete2, u beat me to the quick.

  4. JimK April 27th, 2014 at 6:32 pm

    Repost:
    To Exiled, after I read Luis’ post I went back and read your post about losing your job after years of service, which I am very sorry to hear. The same thing happened to my brother-in-law, who after 32 years with IBM, was given his “walking papers.”
    It seems to me in today’s corporate culture, especially if you are in your 50?s or 60?s, the Michael Douglas quote, “not economically viable,” from the movie “Falling Down” is the new rule of thumb.

  5. chicken_stanley April 27th, 2014 at 6:33 pm

    jmills – sounds like you oughta put down the glove and pick up a rake! :)

  6. bigdan22 April 27th, 2014 at 6:37 pm

    Zoilo with homer number 5 this afternoon. He has an OPS of over 1.000 batting left-handed. He’s 0 for 21 batting right-handed.

  7. jmills April 27th, 2014 at 6:37 pm

    chicken, I take care of my yard, I’m just not into the golf course thing. Nice to see you, btw :D

  8. chicken_stanley April 27th, 2014 at 6:39 pm

    good to see you jmills… just teasing you about the leaves

  9. jmills April 27th, 2014 at 6:42 pm

    chicken, its kinda’ funny. I have a beautiful garden, but you’re my guest and can judge for yourself.

  10. JimK April 27th, 2014 at 6:44 pm

    I have not seen much of Tanaka as of yet, but if I recall correctly, one of his shortfalls was he did not have a very good FB, yet when I did see him pitch his FB was occasionally clocked at 94MPH.

  11. jmills April 27th, 2014 at 6:47 pm

    Wow, Liona Boyd in concert in my high school Bobby Orr town of, Oshawa. Gordon Lightfoot in Hamilton, May 7. I should get my butt in gear. Liona Boyd had a romantic connection with, Pierre Trudeau.

  12. chicken_stanley April 27th, 2014 at 6:48 pm

    JimK – I’m no Tanaka expert either but from what I’ve seen, he throws a 2 seamer in the low 90′s and can dial up his 4 seamer to the mid 90′s.

  13. Jerkface April 27th, 2014 at 6:50 pm

    I have not seen much of Tanaka as of yet, but if I recall correctly, one of his shortfalls was he did not have a very good FB, yet when I did see him pitch his FB was occasionally clocked at 94MPH.

    The knock against him by some scouts is they thought his fastball was straight. He does have a 2-seam(shuuto) and a cutter which are decidedly not straight. Even still his 4 seam also has some run to it, so what they were really complaining about is that when he throws his 4seam up in the zone it doesn’t have much vertical movement. So it stays on the same plane because he drops and drives on his release so hard with such a huge stride.

    Why this doesn’t really matter is that he has a huge stride so his fastball gets on guys more quickly than someone with equal delivery/speed/movement but with a shorter stride. And his 4seam has a lot of spin which reduces the drop in the zone more than a normal 4seam so hitters will end up swinging under it more often.

    And of course if he throws it at the knees it does have enough movement to get by.

    His fastball isn’t a dominating pitch, but its plus by virtue of his command and a better than average pitch.

  14. pete2 April 27th, 2014 at 6:59 pm

    JimK April 27th, 2014 at 6:44 pm

    I have not seen much of Tanaka as of yet, but if I recall correctly, one of his shortfalls was he did not have a very good FB, yet when I did see him pitch his FB was occasionally clocked at 94MPH.
    =======================

    His FB has been one of his more hittable pitches, at least his 2 seamer has. It sits at 90-91 and he has a tendency to leave it up in the zone. Hitters are batting 320 against it and the Red Sox batted 1000 against it leading Tanaka to reduce his usage.. His 4 seamer hits 94-95 and he seems to get better results with it, hitters batting 222 against it.

    The splitter and slider have been pretty much unhittable though, as hitter batting 122 against the split and 147 against the slider.

    All data from Brooks Brothers

  15. bigdan22 April 27th, 2014 at 7:03 pm

    “All data from Brooks Brothers”

    ——

    that’s where I get my shirts.

  16. bigdan22 April 27th, 2014 at 7:03 pm

    So John Ryan is the bench tonight. That should be interesting.

  17. exiledintampa April 27th, 2014 at 7:08 pm

    I heard Solarte is out and Roberts will start but I can’t confirm it. Sore shoulder is what I hear.

  18. chicken_stanley April 27th, 2014 at 7:13 pm

    pete2 – interesting. I would have thought the 4 seamer had been hit harder and more often. Its funny how one can so often be wrong when using memory alone

  19. UnKnown April 27th, 2014 at 7:16 pm

    Jacked, Hyped, Psyched, Amped, etc.

    LET’S PLAY

  20. pete2 April 27th, 2014 at 7:17 pm

    imK April 27th, 2014 at 6:32 pm

    Repost:
    To Exiled, after I read Luis’ post I went back and read your post about losing your job after years of service, which I am very sorry to hear. The same thing happened to my brother-in-law, who after 32 years with IBM, was given his “walking papers.”
    It seems to me in today’s corporate culture, especially if you are in your 50?s or 60?s, the Michael Douglas quote, “not economically viable,” from the movie “Falling Down” is the new rule of thumb.

    ——————————–

    This will happen to most people in the private sector in their 50′s except those who reach top top management or who own their own business. Those in the public sector don’t have to worry much and many retire in their mid 50′s at 80% salary. At one time when I was growing up you were told to go into the private sector as it paid better. Maybe. But today the public sector has much better benefits and security, probably because politicians cave to unions more easily than in the private sector. They are measured by how many votes they can get and not profit and loss, and playing hard ball against a group that can help vote you out of office is not wise.

    So if you are young and don’t think you have what it takes to be top management material for a fortune 500 company (and even if you do there is no guarantee what with mergers, bankruptcy and moving offshore), best try to work for the government or military. This will also help you land a job after retiring in the private sector with companies who rely on government/military contracts or deal with their regulations and want someone connected while you are collecting an 80% pension.

  21. pete2 April 27th, 2014 at 7:19 pm

    chicken_stanley April 27th, 2014 at 7:13 pm

    pete2 – interesting. I would have thought the 4 seamer had been hit harder and more often. Its funny how one can so often be wrong when using memory alone
    ===============

    I was expecting the same thing. I guess the added velocity is the difference maker. You can miss up in the zone at 94-95 and get away with it, but at 90-91 you have to keep it down.

  22. pete2 April 27th, 2014 at 7:20 pm

    All data from Brooks Brothers

    I meant Brooks Baseball. :LOL:

  23. exiledintampa April 27th, 2014 at 7:23 pm

    Now the updated lineup has Roberts a 2B. Hope Solarte’s not hurt.

  24. austinmac April 27th, 2014 at 7:29 pm

    Now we have an effective 23 man roster tonight.

  25. yankeefeminista April 27th, 2014 at 7:30 pm

    exiled, there is an update above: Solarte has a sore right shoulder.

  26. pete2 April 27th, 2014 at 7:31 pm

    Update says he has a sore shoulder. Must be pretty sore for Solarte to complain about it and get himself pulled from the lineup

  27. exiledintampa April 27th, 2014 at 7:34 pm

    Ok thanks

  28. trisha - true pinstriped blue April 27th, 2014 at 7:36 pm

    exiled, is your health good enough to get you to a Yankee game?

  29. trisha - true pinstriped blue April 27th, 2014 at 7:42 pm

    exiled, what I mean is if everything else was in place, are you healthy enough to go to a game? Obviously I don’t know your exact situation, but I’m asking for a reason. Of course you can tell me it’s none of my business, which it isn’t.

    :)

  30. chicken_stanley April 27th, 2014 at 7:43 pm

    I’ve been on the blog a little over a year… I JUST REALIZED there is a link to previous and next threads at the bottom of the page!!!! I’ve been scrolling up to check on new threads; then I forget and languish in old threads forever. Well, no more!!! Today is the first day of the rest of my blog life! :)

  31. exiledintampa April 27th, 2014 at 7:45 pm

    trisha my health could handle it but it’s just not feasible. Times are hard. Thus my reason for being “exiled”. Anyway. I really should apologize for bringing that up here. I want to talk baseball not my personal problems. It got out of context with the point I was trying to make about how employers, Yankees included can treat employees.

  32. JimK April 27th, 2014 at 7:47 pm

    Thanks to all for the excellent analysis of Tanaka’s FB; I would have thought hitters would have more of a problem with his 2 seam FB than his 4 seam FB, guess I was wrong.

  33. trisha - true pinstriped blue April 27th, 2014 at 7:49 pm

    exiled, my mom always used to say that where’s a will, there’s a way. You never know what the baseball gods may have in store for you.

    ;)

    I think if your dream is to go to YS, then you should be able to go. And you owe no apologies. As much as we are fans here, we are also a family.

    Do you have any family or friends in NY, meaning if you got to NY, would you have anyone you could crash with?

  34. exiledintampa April 27th, 2014 at 7:56 pm

    I have a daughter in Long Beach. Don’t know what kind of room she’d have. I think things are getting serious for her and a BF. So, IDK. She’s had a ruff time. Hubby was killed 2 years ago while they were surfing in Sumatra. They named the Beach after him in Long Beach. They were a highly thought of couple.

  35. trisha - true pinstriped blue April 27th, 2014 at 8:00 pm

    Oh exiled, I am so sorry. :( What an awful thing for her to have gone through, and you also as her dad. I do hope that she’s found someone who makes her happy. And I am also so sorry for what happened to you at work. This economy has taken such a terrible toll.

    Try to think happy thoughts because I have a feeling things are going to turn around for you. Somehow. I really do.

    :)

  36. Ys Guy April 27th, 2014 at 8:03 pm

    “he’s the one who has to make an adjustment”

    albert pujols about tanaka

  37. exiledintampa April 27th, 2014 at 8:04 pm

    One of these nights, Tanaka is gonna come across a team in a funk and pile up the strikeouts. A no hitter is in his future.

  38. chicken_stanley April 27th, 2014 at 8:07 pm

    Ys – the jabbering about Tanaka didn’t work out so well for Adam Jones… Hope Pujols has the same results

  39. UnKnown April 27th, 2014 at 8:07 pm

    True Dat. Def No Hitter coming and soon.

  40. Ys Guy April 27th, 2014 at 8:07 pm

    this is gonna be another good test. this is one of the best hitting teams in baseball. they lead the league in runs/game and OPS.

  41. JimK April 27th, 2014 at 8:09 pm

    Exiled, please accept my apologies on my post regarding your personal situation, but I also was just trying to make a point about the hard realities for many of today’s “older” employees.

    Pete2; those retired federal employees you refer to are usually in the upper echelons of the federal government, former legislators, or legislative staff members, and does not pertain to the majority of retired federal employees(note: I am a retired federal employee with 31 years of service; I receive 58% of my base pay, plus subsidized health insurance. I am not complaining since my pension is more than many people earn, but this is only because I retired from a mid-level government position).

  42. Ys Guy April 27th, 2014 at 8:09 pm

    jones is becoming great.

    albert has 500 HR.

  43. UnKnown April 27th, 2014 at 8:09 pm

    Caution – Tanaka Tanamition in Progress

  44. UnKnown April 27th, 2014 at 8:10 pm

    Smart by Trout there. That is why he is the best right now.

  45. jmills April 27th, 2014 at 8:25 pm

    chicken, sometimes I have no idea what you’re talking about, but I’m tryng :D

    We can rip around a hardball in that back alley, no problem. I fear if we go out front, I’m going to make somebody’s windshield eat it.

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