Two interesting articles regarding the two most important Yankee relievers were published today. The first (from RLYW) is about Mariano Rivera, and bodes well for 2011:
It’s a good bet he will need to be used less and less frequency because a 40-41 year old body just doesn’t recover like one that’s 30. That’s a legitimate point in discussing Rivera’s value, because value is not just about rate of performance. You’re not very valuable if you aren’t pitching.
Just because he’s now turned 40, there’s very little reason in his statistical record to think that he’s about to fall off a cliff. He certainly could, and he’s got the same risk any pitcher does of hurting his arm and becoming worthless….
Rivera’s CAIRO projection is still top tier for all relief pitchers, and it does include both aging and some component regression to the mean for his FIP and xFIP. For CAIRO, his projection for runs allowed is based on 35% RA, 30% ERA, 15% FIP, 10% xFIP, and 15% component ERA. So 40% of his projection includes data that is most likely to regress, and he STILL projects about as well as anyone.
He will eventually reach the point where he’s not an asset. But all the evidence we have says that’s not going to happen in 2011.
I think observation confirms the statistics in this case, as Mo looked as effective this season as he has been since he entered the league. He continues to exhibit excellent command and control, and rarely allows hard contact. The post makes some interesting comparisons and discusses Mariano’s ability to induce weak contact, and I recommend that you go to RLYW and read the full post.
The second article comes from Beyond the Boxscore, and confirms a troubling observation that some have made regarding Joba Chamberlain. Over the last two seasons, many have noticed that Joba’s slider seems to be flatter, tumbling rather than diving out of the strike zone. Considering that he has largely ditched his curveball and changeup, diminished effectiveness from the slider is a major problem for Chamberlain. Lucas Apostoleris used Pitch f/x to examine whether this observation is accurate, and his results are a bit unsettling:
The slider has both lost break and gained velocity, and the change has been particularly noticeable since September 2009. There was a higher percentage of hanging sliders in 2009 and 2010 than there was in 2008. The difference may appear slight, but as the saying goes, baseball is a game of inches. All in all, while the slider may not be filthy as it was in the old days, it’s still pretty great.
Joba’s slider is resulting in fewer swinging strikes, likely because it has gotten worse in many different ways. The pitch is being located higher in the zone, it has less vertical “drop” to it, and it has increased in speed (meaning there is less of a gap between the slider and fastball). While it remains a very good pitch, Joba likely needs it to be dominant now that he only has 2 pitches and the fastball has diminished in velocity. If he is truly to be the heir to Mariano, he needs to figure out how to harness his slider.