Pitch-tipping Hamels wants new glove

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Thumbnail image for hamels_cole_091022.jpgIt seems like every time a pitcher goes through a slump, or has a bad game, someone eventually brings up the idea of pitch-tipping. Welcome to the party, Cole Hamels.

According to the Philadelphia Daily News (via Sporting News), “sources” were concerned that Hamels was giving something away in his poor-but-effective-enough outing against the Dodgers in Game 5 of the NLCS. The solution? Wear a bigger glove.

The sources said the lefthander might have been tipping his pitches by the placement of his wrist. So the plan was to have Hamels use a bigger model of his TPK glove to conceal his wrist.

Daily News writer Paul Hagen writes, “Phillies personnel wouldn’t confirm the switch. ‘But that would make sense,’ one insider allowed with a knowing smile.”

I’m not sure how much sense that makes. Wouldn’t you just hold your wrist differently? If you’re hungry, would you solve the problem by grabbing a bigger napkin?

Personally, I’ve always been skeptical of the old pitch-tipping excuse. It always seems like just that: an excuse.

That being said, the Dodgers did tee off on Hamels at times in Wednesday’s game. And according to this story, some teams do put quite a bit of effort into examining the actions of opposing pitchers. So maybe there is something to this.

I guess we’ll have to wait until the World Series and see how Hamels does with his new glove. I think he’s set to start sometime in February.

In the playoffs, the Yankees’ weakness has become their strength

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Two weeks ago, when the playoffs began, the idea of “bullpenning” once again surfaced, this time with the Yankees as a focus. Because their starting pitching was believed to be a weakness — they had no obvious ace like a Dallas Keuchel or Corey Kluber — and their bullpen was a major strength, the idea of chaining relievers together starting from the first inning gained traction. The likes of Luis Severino, who struggled mightily in the AL Wild Card game, or Masahiro Tanaka (4.79 regular season ERA) couldn’t be relied upon in the postseason, the thought went.

That idea is no longer necessary for the Yankees because the starting rotation has become the club’s greatest strength. Tanaka fired seven shutout innings to help push the Yankees ahead of the Astros in the ALCS, three games to two. They are now one win away from reaching the World Series for the first time since 2009.

It hasn’t just been Tanaka. Since Game 3 of the ALDS, Yankees pitchers have made eight starts spanning 46 1/3 innings. They have allowed 10 runs (nine earned) on 25 hits and 12 walks with 45 strikeouts. That’s a 1.75 ERA with an 8.74 K/9 and 2.33 BB/9. In five of those eight starts, the starter went at least six innings, which has helped preserve the freshness and longevity of the bullpen.

Here’s the full list of performances for Yankee starters this postseason:

Game Starter IP H R ER BB SO HR
AL WC Luis Severino 1/3 4 3 3 1 0 2
ALDS 1 Sonny Gray 3 1/3 3 3 3 4 2 1
ALDS 2 CC Sabathia 5 1/3 3 4 2 3 5 0
ALDS 3 Masahiro Tanaka 7 3 0 0 1 7 0
ALDS 4 Luis Severino 7 4 3 3 1 9 2
ALDS 5 CC Sabathia 4 1/3 5 2 2 0 9 0
ALCS 1 Masahiro Tanaka 6 4 2 2 1 3 0
ALCS 2 Luis Severino 4 2 1 1 2 0 1
ALCS 3 CC Sabathia 6 3 0 0 4 5 0
ALCS 4 Sonny Gray 5 1 2 1 2 4 0
ALCS 5 Masahiro Tanaka 7 3 0 0 1 8 0
TOTAL 55 1/3 35 20 17 20 52 6

In particular, if you hone in on the ALCS starts specifically, Yankee starters have pitched 28 innings, allowing five runs (four earned) on 13 hits and 10 walks with 20 strikeouts. That’s a 1.61 ERA.

While the Yankees’ biggest weakness has become a strength, the Astros’ biggest weakness — the bullpen — has become an even bigger weakness. This is why the Yankees, who won 10 fewer games than the Astros during the regular season, are one win away from reaching the World Series and the Astros are not.