Games » New York YankeesMay21
How Felipe Paulino is improving
The Kansas City Star
If you like what Felipe Paulino did in Monday’s game, thank the advanced-metric guys the Royals employ. They’re the ones that alerted Dayton Moore that Paulino had some interesting numbers and might be worth checking out. Turns out they were right.
After the game, pitching coach Dave Eiland said Paulino is still a work in progress, but is learning to read swings (figure out what the next pitch should be based on the hitter’s reaction to the last pitch), throw his secondary pitches behind in the count (throw off-speed when hitters expect fastballs), stay on the attack (no nibbling) and trust his stuff and his defense (believe if he throws strikes, good things will happen).
Last night, Felipe Paulino threw strikes and good things happened.
First inning: Humberto Quindero blocked a slider in the dirt with a runner on third base to save a run. This is a play that goes largely unnoticed by fans — until it’s not made. Yankees catcher Russell Martin failed to make the same play in the 8th inning with Irving Falu on third base and gave the Royals a sixth run.
Giving up a run is bad enough, but failing to make this play can rob the pitcher of the confidence to throw his nastiest pitch when he needs it most. I know I’ve made this point many times before, but it’s a big deal and worth pointing out every time it happens — and Humberto did it again with a runner on third in the third inning.
Third inning: Jarrod Dyson led off the inning with a walk and then stole second base — easily. That put a Royals runner on second base for the first time in the game. (Two runners passed second — Billy Butler and Mike Moustakas after Mike’s home run — but Dyson was the first runner to stop at second.) A runner on second often requires a meeting on the mound. When that happens, it’s usually so the catcher and pitcher can go over the sign system they’re going to use with a runner who can possibly relay signs to the hitter. When this happens to the Royals, you often see Chris Getz join the meeting to make sure he knows what system they’re using so he can pass the signs along to first base.
Immediately after the meeting, Eric Hosmer hit a double to left. When a hitter is struggling, one of the first signs they’re coming out of it might be hitting the ball hard the other way. It means they’re staying back, they’re waiting well and keeping the front side closed. Sunday, Jeff Francoeur was hitting the ball the other way and Alex Gordon picked up two hits to left field in this game. Most of the time, hitting the ball the other way is a good sign.
After Hosmer doubled, Butler was intentionally walked, then Alex Gordon walked and Alcides Escobar came to the plate with two outs and the bases loaded. Esky appeared to expand his zone when he didn’t have to and hit a ground ball to third.
Good hitters know the pitcher is in trouble in this situation and wait for a hittable pitch. Impatient hitters want to come through so badly they chase marginal pitches. Alcides is having an All-Star type year, but this was a situation where he appeared to put too much pressure on himself to succeed.
In the bottom of the third the Yankees had runners on first and second with Curtis Granderson at the plate. Granderson got to a 3-2 count, but Yankees manager Joe Girardi did not put the runners in motion. A lot of managers will not put runners on first and second in motion with nobody out for fear of a line-drive triple play.
Paulino walked Granderson to load the bases, then struck out Alex Rodriguez and Robinson Cano. With Raul Ibanez at the plate, Quintero and Felipe had another meeting on the mound. Felipe covered his face with his glove as they talked. Pitchers do this to prevent lip reading by the opposition.
Fourth inning: Chris Getz singled, took a hard turn and then saw something that made him try for second (no idea what it was). Replays showed Chris probably beat the throw, but was called out. Getz reinjured his ribs and later left the game, replaced by Irving Falu.
The managing rule of thumb is to put offense on the field when you’re behind and defense on the field when you’re ahead. Using Falu over Johnny Giavotella might be an indication of how the Royals continue to view Gio’s defense.
In the bottom of the fourth with Eric Chavez on second, Paulino threw a wild pitch. No way to find out unless The Star decides to fly me to New York, but it looked like a possible cross-up. Quintero did not get his mitt turned the right way for the pitch’s location — down and to his right — which might indicate he expected something else. Either that or he just missed the damn thing.
Fifth inning: Jeff Francoeur pulled two balls foul and then locked up for a called strike out on a pitch low and away. When a hitter pulls a ball way foul, he’s opening up quickly, so something low and away on subsequent pitches is a good bet.
Bottom of the fifth and Derek Jeter lined out to Jarrod Dyson standing in right center. Jeter did the same thing in seventh. Credit outfield coach Doug Sisson for analyzing Jeter’s spray chart correctly and Felipe Paulino for hitting his spot with the pitch.
Sixth inning: Alex Gordon on third, Irving Falu on first, Humberto Quintero hits a grounder to Yankees first baseman, Mark Teixeira. Gordon started home, but did not go, Teixeira took the out at first and Dyson ended the inning by grounding out to third.
Another one of those “no way to know without being there” deals, but this might’ve been a mistake by Alex. With one down and the double play in order, the contact play — break for home on contact — is often on. The thinking goes this way: if the defense throws the runner out at the plate, you still have a runner on second base and the inning isn’t over. If the defense attempts to turn two and fails, you score a run.
The worst of all possible options is for a runner on third to stand there and watch the defense end the inning with a double play, which is what Alex risked by staying at third. Teixeira probably could’ve turned the double play if he’d ignored Alex, but he made a mistake by checking the runner at third before looking to second. With Quintero running, there was a good chance of turning two.
Royals Brayan Pena demonstrates throwing to second with Lee Judge
Kansas City Royals catcher Brayan Pena demonstrates to the Star's Lee Judge how to throw to second base on a steel attempt. 5/17/12 (Video by John Sleezer/The Kansas City Star)