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BB and the Bear

yankees big man CC SabathiaReferring, of course, to Brad Bergesen and CC Sabathia, the starters tonight up in the gleaming monument to hubris that is New Yankee Stadium.

Sabathia, as we know, has historically pitched well against the Orioles (6-1, 2.67 in 11 starts). Opening Day proved, however, that we can have his number when things are clicking. That’s true for all the Yanks, actually — the season series is split so far.

I’m more concerned about Bergesen, who seems to be having a little bit of trouble adjusting to the majors. Opponents are hitting .348 against him. It’s still early, but that’s a tough number to ignore.

Also tough to ignore is the awesomeness that is Adam Jones, who will be back in the lineup tonight.

I won’t get a chance to watch or listen to this one as I’m off for a birthday dinner followed by some birthday drinks. Keep things warm for me.

(photo via)

8 comments to BB and the Bear

  • Andrew

    Happy birthday, Neal.

    I’m concerned about Bergesen, too, but only in the sense that he’s doing mostly what I expected and now when he pitches I am concerned. But let’s break it down some and see what’s going on (you know I love doing this):

    Bergesen is not a strikeout pitcher. He’s never been a strikeout pitcher. His minor league average is 5.8 K/9, but that’s a little high – in his only full season of advanced ball (2008) he sat at 4.7 (4.4 at Bowie). His game is not walking guys and getting grounders. And in the minors, that’s how he’s succeeded: 1.8 BB/9 and 0.6 HR/9 (and at Bowie those are roughly the same numbers).

    So far with the Orioles, BB (I like it!) has the strikeout numbers you’d expect (4.61/9 is if anything a little high), but the walks (2.63/9) and especially the home runs (1.32) have jumped up. Which is weird, because the ground ball to fly ball ratio looks pretty good (2.43). Maybe it’s a combination of BB being frazzled (he sure has looked frazzled) and better hitters with better ideas of the strikezone (BB is only putting 50.9% of pitches in the zone)?

    In two ways that I see, Bergesen is getting unlucky. His BABIP is .363 and his home run to fly ball ratio is 17.4%. So he’ll regress to the mean and look better eventually.

    Maybe not against the Yankees, but you know, with a ground ball pitcher, a lot has to go onto the defense, which continues to underwhelm, especially Markakis, Jones, and Izturis. They can’t stop the home runs, but when opponents are getting a .363 BABIP and a line of .348/.389/.522 on a guy throwing almost 55% ground balls the defense has to be a little accountable, don’t they?

  • dan the man

    BB is quality, and so obvious that it’s funny we didn’t think of it sooner.

    The home runs and lack of strike-throwing I attribute to just plain old pitching in the big leagues. I expect those numbers to get better, but with the type of stuff BB has, if he throws dead-middle, he’s going to get taken deep. When he throws it over low with movement, he’ll get his ground ball. The walks should improve, but sometimes you just have to pitch around dudes. You’re not necessarily doing that in AAA as much.

    The thing I really like about BB as a pitcher is that he doesn’t seem vulerable to the big inning knockout. He might give up 2 or 3 in an inning, but he’s just as likely to come back out the next inning and toss a scoreless frame. It’s not like he runs out of gas and starts getting shelled – it’s more like he’s just inconsistent with his location. If it’s off a little bit, he’ll get hit. And although he seems a little nervy at times, I really don’t think he gets rattled. We’ll just have to keep watching him. The Yanks are hot right now, though, so I’m not expecting greatness from the kid tonight.

    Re: the defense, I feel like the D has been especially good (but not great) when BB is on the hill compared to, say, Hendrickson. He lets up some seeing-eye grounders, but that’s not the defense’s fault all the time. I think they play a little sharper when he pitches, even though that sounds like a DT cliche.

  • Andrew

    Dear Brad Bergesen,

    Keep the ball on the ground like that. Understand that a walk is way preferable to that “pitch” you lobbed in there for ARod. You will succeed regardless of the lineup if you keep the ball on the ground above all else.

    Andrew in Rochester

  • Andrew

    How fair is this:

    Of the two starting pitchers tonight, here are the batted ball statistics going:

    Bergese: 0 line drives, 12 ground balls, 7 fly balls, .158 BABIP (.120 xBABIP)

    Sabathia: 5 line drives, 7 ground balls, 5 fly balls, .176 BABIP (.414 xBABIP)

    Goddamn Yankees, are there any games we play them where they don’t get all the lucky breaks?

  • Andrew

    Good job by Bergesen. As with any young pitcher, you hope that putting a really strong outing against the Yankees in Yankee Stadium builds the confidence to go out there against lesser teams and beat that sinker into them.

    Terrible, terrible, terrible job by the offense (okay, they were pretty unlucky all things considered) and Chris Ray. What’s wrong with Chris Ray? I don’t know…but since I’m finished with school but for one last final exam, I plan on figuring it out sometime today (if I can).

  • dan the man

    All in favor of Chris Ray working on shit in the minors say “aye”.

    AYE GOD DAMNIT. Jim Miller – you’re up, dude.

    Seriously, not only is Chris Ray just flat out not zoned in yet (although he seemed fine in ST, but it was ST), he has an embarrassingly bad record of pitching against the Yankees. Without looking up the stats, I know he’s blown games against NY in the past. He just can’t pitch to them, straight up. Screw it, I’m gonna look it up right now and prove it to you.

    In 18.1 career IP against the Yankees, Ray is 1-4 with an 8.35 ERA, has allowed 21 hits, 17ER, 6 home runs, and has a 1.96 WHIP. He’s only pitched more innings against Tampa (20.2IP, 0.00ERA). The next closest is Boston (15.1IP, 4.11 ERA). He’s the opposite of a Yankee killer, and that’s not going to cut it right now.

    Further more, for the first time really all year, I have disagreed a pitching move from DT. You’re going to Chris Ray with his terrible career numbers against the Yankees in a 2-1 game with base-runners in New York? Really? Just because he’s supposed to be “slotted for the 7th inning”? Come on now, everyone and their mother knows Ray’s last 3 scoreless appearances have been smoke and mirrors. It’s Baez right there, especially with the day off.

    That said, it was a great job by lil BB in the lion’s den, and that – really – is all that matters.

  • Andrew

    @dan the man – I’m glad it wasn’t Baez’s call. That late in the game, with just 1 out, you figure the Yankees score at least once and that you aren’t getting it done against Sabathia or Rivera anytime soon. It was basically time to punt. Not a popular opinion perhaps, but now you can use Baez today potentially, when it might matter.

  • rick

    Bergesen had a good outing, until he walked the two in the 7th. Another bullpen implosion. Looking very Nationals-like, which is not where you want to be.

    Hopefully Guthrie can pitch like an ace tonight and the O’s get a W.