A Baseball Weblog

Monday, May 30, 2011

Yanks visit Cahill

Following a disappointing three-game set in Seattle, the Yankees will begin a three-game series against the Athletics in California this afternoon.  The Yankees will start the well-rested (and brilliant) Bartolo Colon, and the A's will counter with sinkerballer Trevor Cahill.  Cahill is just 23 years old and appears to be improving since his 2009 debut.  The short story is that he gets a ton of groundballs (54% of balls in play this year) and is improving his strikeout rate (4.5 K/9 in 2009, 5.4 in 2010, 7.1 so far in 2011).  His walk rate has hovered around 3 per 9 over his career, which is certainly good enough considering his other skills.  I wrote about Cahill for the Hardball Times in April, so I'll refer you to that for a more in depth look.  One of my points in that piece was that Cahill seemed to have abandoned his slider this year; since the time that article was published, Cahill has reintroduced the pitch.  Again, this is just a quick one to update on Cahill's 2011 numbers.  Spin charts and result tables for his five pitches are below.

mph#Swing RateWhiff RateZone RatensCall Rate*GB Rate


non-swing call rate - percentage of called strikes on pitches not swung at (called strike divided by called strikes plus balls)

Now for some plate locations, split up into five horizontal and vertical regions (dividing the zone into thirds with two "out of zone" areas on either side).  For these purposes, the strikezone extends one foot from either side of the center of the plate and includes pitches 1.5 to 3.5 feet above the ground, normalized for the batter's strikezone.

I'll be posting some league averages at THT soon; for now I'll say that Cahill's sinker, vertically, is where most sinkers are.  Horizontally, he is more apt to throw it inside to lefties and away to righties than is the typical major leaguer.

Closing thoughts: his sinker is good, his four-seamer less so.  I'd probably say that his curveball is his best out-pitch, based on this and last year's performance.  After that hiatus in April, the slider is back and is being thrown a few times per game; it really just seems like a "show-me" pitch and not one that Cahill's going to use to put away hitters.  Overall, he has a good repertoire of pitches to pick up groundballs and a strikeout when he needs to, and he seems to be getting better all the time.

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