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Andy Pettitte's Cutter

Andy Pettitte is undecided about returning for another season with the Yankees. All indications are that if he does return, this will be his last season.

Andy has been an effective pitcher for the Yankees since his return to the team in 2007. In fact, he was working on one of his best seasons yet before succumbing to injury in July of this year.

For Andy, it's all about the cutter. The success of every outing is almost entirely determined by how well he's throwing his cut fastball, and he's been very proficient at locating the pitch. This is one of the big reasons he's done so well late in his career.

Andy Pettitte's Cutter vs. LHB 2008-10

Andy Pettitte's Cutter vs. RHB 2008-10

Andy Pettitte's Cutter since 2008
vs. LHB 518 167 .151 .233 .169
vs. RHB 1037 293 .223 .385 .299

In 2010, Andy's cutter ranked in the 95th percentile in opponents' AVG, SLG and wOBA, as well as Contact%. One more year of that, or something close to it, would help the Yankees' rotation considerably, and may even be necessary if Lee signs elsewhere.


Missing Bats

Neftali Feliz won the AL Jackie Robinson Rookie of the Year Award Monday.  His effectiveness against left-handed batters helped him take home the trophy.  LHB managed just a .127/.214/.195 slash line against the right-handed Feliz, striking out 40 times in 118 at bats.  Neftali could throw the ball by them in the strike zone:

Neftali Feliz, swing and miss, 2010Throwing in the high 90s will do that.  He could also catch them looking.  Not only did they take pitches on the outside corner, Feliz's movement toward the batter caused them to take pitches over the heart of the plate.

Neftali Feliz, taken strikes, 2010I suspect left handed batters will be looking for ways to adjust to these pitches so they can hit the balls over the middle of the plate rather than watching them go by.


Added Dimensions

Aaron Gleeman notes that Jorge de la Rosa could be the Yankees back up plan if they do not sign Cliff Lee.  Both throw left-handed.  Both showed significant improvement over their career numbers since the start of the 2008 season.  Jorge is two years younger than Cliff.  De la Rosa would come at a lower cost, and the reason can be seen in the movement of his pitches.  Both pitchers see mostly right-handed batters, so the study concentrates on those hitters.

Jorge de la Rosa, pitch movement to RHB, 2008-2010Note that de la Rosa does a good job of mixing up the vertical component of his pitches.  He throws pitches (mostly fastballs) that stay up, and pitches with a big drop.  Almost all his pitches, however, move toward right-handed batters. 

Cliff Lee, pitch movement to RHB, 2008-2010

Lee adds two dimensions to his pitch movment.  His pitches not only stay up and drop, buy move left and right as well.  Lee forces batters to add two more dimensions to their thinking when trying to judge a pitch, and that makes solving the problem of hitting him much more difficult.  .

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