Jason Hammel Stat To Watch
Hammel has made a major transformation this season and it has led to great success so far.
In a demo on "Baseball Tonight" last week, ESPN analyst Rick Sutcliffe showed how Hammel has fixed issues he had with his follow-through
In turn, Hammel is getting ground balls on 60 percent of the balls hit against him so far this season, up from a 47 percent rate in the three previous seasons.
Hammel has not allowed more than two earned runs in any of his six starts this season. In his last three starts -- against the Blue Jays, Yankees and Red Sox -- he’s allowed four runs in 19-2/3 innings pitched, with 20 strikeouts and four walks.
Neither lefties nor righties have been able to hit Hammel. Lefties are hitting .200 against him, righties .191. In fact, lefties are missing on swings against his fastball at a rate (21 percent) double what they did against him last season.
Alex Rodriguez hit four home runs in 15 at-bats against the old version of Hammel from 2006 to 2008. He was 0-for-2 with a walk in his previous meeting with Hammel this season.
Ivan Nova Stat To Watch
You may have read our game preview last week and Ben Jedlovec’s follow-up for ESPN Insider that noted that a lot of ground balls against Nova were sneaking through the area between second base and shortstop.
The other issue specific to Nova is his home run rate. He’s now allowed eight home runs this season, allowing at least one in all but one of his starts in 2012.
Nova is giving up hard-hit balls to left-handed hitters at a high rate. Last season, his rate of balls in the air to balls on the ground against lefties was about 50-50. This season, he’s given up 34 balls in the air and 22 ground balls.
What’s Ibanez Doing Well?
Raul Ibanez’s timing against fastballs has been particularly good lately. Of the last 57 he’s seen, he’s only swung and missed at one. He’s netted six hits against them, while making only six outs in that stretch.
Overall, he’s hitting .346 with four home runs in 26 at-bats over his last eight games.
The Grandy Man Can’t
Curtis Granderson is 2-for-19 with eight strikeouts in his last five games. Pitchers have worked him away with effectiveness. In that stretch, he’s made nine outs against pitches on the outer-third or further away. Five were strikeouts. The other four were on ground balls.
Granderson had 20 homers on outside pitches last season, and four more this year.
Derek Jeter (3,142 career hits) needs one hit to pass Robin Yount into 16th place on the all-time hit list.
Like Granderson, Jeter has gone into a statistical funk against pitches on the outer-third or further away. He’s hitless in his last 10 at-bats that ended with such a pitch (five times on fastballs, three on sliders, two on curves).
It looked like Jeter would get a hit on such a pitch in the fifth inning on Sunday, but his ground ball was snagged by Brendan Ryan and turned into a rally-killing double play.