Indians

Indians Quiet Yankee Bats: Notes from a Monday Night

On the coattails of AL Cy Young candidate Corey Kluber, the Indians defeated the Yankees in convincing fashion on Monday night, while evincing a few important indicators about the remainder of 2017. Kluber pitched eight innings allowing two runs with seven strikeouts and a walk.  The Indians offense was anchored by two Jose Ramirez solo home runs, a Carlos Santana dong,1 and the speed of Bradley Zimmer. Each of consequence in a 6-2 win.

On Corey Kluber’s Cy Young Candidacy 

Chris Sale: 178.1 IP, 2.88 ERA, 2.07 FIP,  14-6 W-L2
Corey Kluber: 160.2 IP 2.63 ERA, 2.60 FIP, 13-4 W-L3

Corey Kluber has been exquisite. Indeed, it is quite possible that this will be Kluber’s best season in Major League Baseball outshining his Cy Young campaign in 2014. While his ERA and FIP were a touch better in 2014, the run-scoring environment is much more difficult for pitchers in 2017, which makes his performance all the more special. Indeed, Kluber’s ability to raise his strikeout per nine by from 10.27 to 12.04 while his velocity has dropped a tick since then speaks to the brilliance of his 2017 performance.

Yet, all the superlatives above cannot wash away the reality of Chris Sale. Sale is posting a Kershaw-esque season and absolutely dominating hitters. Sale based on peripheral metrics like FIP has been half a run better per nine over a larger number of innings. For this reason, Sale sits at 7.3 fWAR and Kluber 5.5 fWAR. Despite Kluber’s production over the past two months, it would take a monumental alignment of events for him to surpass Sale in terms of quality of season in a neutral environment.4 As Sale and Kluber close in on their final six-to-eight starts, Kluber will need to continue his run while also receiving a bad start or likely two from Sale which is possible but unlikely. Alas, while Kluber’s season has been special Indians fans may need to remember it without the aid of a Cy Young Award.

On Bradley Zimmer’s Importance

Playoff run scoring is different. With teams relying heavily on their three-to-five best pitchers and usually elevating strikeout frequency, strings of hits become more infrequent with large volume scoring mostly occurring as a result of home runs. Plus, tools are magnified in tighter affairs with defense and game-breaking speed elevating in value. Fortunately, for Bradley Zimmer, Gage Will highlighted his defensive skills yesterday in a thoroughly fascinating piece.

However, on Monday night, Zimmer’s game-breaking speed was on display against a tough opponent in what felt like a playoff game.5 Reaching on a base hit, Zimmer stole second base and advanced to third on a mediocre throw from Gary Sanchez. Zimmer then scored on a passed ball just moments later.6

Perhaps as striking as Zimmer’s speed and baseball awareness is Gary Sanchez’ incompetence behind the plate. Digressing, Zimmer’s plus tools being speed and defense have the capacity to alter playoff outcomes which is a sufficient basis to start him in each playoff game. With his raw power, he might just run into a home run as well.

  1. Note: WFNY’s Jeff Nomina is shaking his head. []
  2. With Sale scheduled to pitch this evening the innings pitched gap will likely return to roughly 25 again []
  3. I included W-L because some voters still consider it in the voting process []
  4. Some voters prefer the results-oriented bWAR. Kluber must hope that enough do if he is going to win the AL Cy Young Award as Kluber (6.0 bWAR) outpaces Sale (4.9 bWAR) in that measure. []
  5. Kluber-Severino is exactly the type of matchup you can expect to see in the playoffs. []
  6. The defense of Sanchez should make every Indians’ fan appreciate Yan Gomes and Roberto Perez more. []

  • scripty

    Maybe voters give it to Kluber since Sale is a such a grade A (jerk). I can live with that. Will help his Cooperstown candidacy.

  • MartyDaVille

    Sweet, sweet game.

    Meanwhile, Kansas City got shut out AGAIN last night. The Royals managed two hits and two walks. Their nine-game winning streak a few weeks ago is just a distant memory.

  • Chris

    Carlos Santana August Kool-Aid Watch: .275 / .402 / .600

    Bode, I’ll take that refill.

  • mgbode

    Sure, it’s nice but he hit .325/.413/.613 in July 🙂

    7 HRs in August his most in any month.

  • mgbode

    Only 3 games out of the AL WC because the AL only has 4 teams worth making the playoffs this year (which obviously means whoever the 5th team is will win the AL because baseball).

  • scripty

    Will the Tribe get a 1st round supplemental pick for him?

  • Chris

    The question wasn’t whether or not he would repeat July’s performance, but rather could he avoid returning to the abysmal batting averages from the first three months. I think my arbitrary threshold was .270 while maintaining his typical walk rates.

  • scripty

    YANKEES ARE IN THE FIGHT FOR A PLAYOFF SPOT AND CANT EVEN SELL OUT. WHAT AN AWFUL FAN BASE.
    -that guy

  • scripty

    Hammy called Sanchez’s apathy behind the plate after Zimmers steal. Good listen last night.

  • mgbode

    It was. Of course, maintaining .270 w/ his normal walk rates (and power) makes him a Top 20 hitter in all of MLB. Gladly taking it.

  • Steve

    “elevating strikeout frequency, strings of hits become more infrequent with large volume scoring mostly occurring as a result of home runs”

    “defense and game-breaking speed elevating in value. ”

    The second line doesn’t make sense as a follow-up to the first. If strikeouts and home runs are up, balls in play are down. If balls in play are down, defense and baserunning become less important, not more.

  • Mike Hattery

    Contact only types without significant power depreciate, base runners who can force issues without stringing hits together are important. But I agree in that they were drafted as a dichotomy.

  • mgbode

    I don’t know that Sanchez is apathetic behind the plate. I think he is technically terrible.

    The passed ball Zimmer scored on was pathetic. His head was up as he stabbed his glove to his right w/o even bothering to move his body.

    My son is 11yo, I asked him what he thought of the play. He walked through each technical detail of what went wrong (right knee should have hit dirt, left leg slide through, glove down, head down). He got ice cream w/ sprinkles. Sanchez, notsomuch.

  • Steve

    Contact only types without power had little value to begin with.

    And, while baserunning can be important, I think we overestimate it. Besides, Zimmer might have been out if Castro held on to the ball, and he shouldn’t have advanced to third or scored, except for some pitiful defense. I’m not convinced that Santana wouldn’t have scored in that situation.

    And I would say this argument suggests to me that Zimmer shouldn’t start, but be a baserunner off the bench. Use your better bats throughout the game, and deploy Zimmer exactly when speed is necessary.

  • scripty

    Cool trivia in the PD story

    “Ramirez tied it with another two-out homer ion the sixth. This time he hit a 1-1 pitch into the second deck in right field. Both home runs came off 98 mph fastball. It’s the first time that one player has hit two homers at that high a velocity in the same game since Statcast was founded in 2008.”

  • Chris

    Good, because I only drink Kool-Aid for top 20 hitters

  • Chris

    Sanchez has had plenty of ice cream and sprinkles

  • Chris

    It’s gotta be tough having two teams split that market.

  • scripty

    On verge of 1990s Ruben Sierra from bulking out too much

  • mgbode
  • Chris

    In a sick twist, that would be the ultimate validation for your love affair with ‘Los!

  • mgbode

    I’d rather validation come in the bottom of the 9th in Game 7 of the World Series this year.

  • Chris

    …top of the 9th.

    I mean, unless you think the Cubs are getting by the Dodgers again.

  • mgbode

    I do. We are playing out the 2015 and 2016 Cavs vs Warriors. Lose when short-handed, come back strong and beat them in 7.

    Just wait.

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