The Yankees and their fans needed a game like this. Yes, they’re playing the woeful Detroit Tigers. With the way this season has started, we can’t take anything for granted. But, the pinstripes took care of business. They win the first game of the long homestand by a comfortable score of 10-0. It’s nice to watch a laugher for once, especially after yesterday’s mess of a game. Here are the takeaways.
Aaron Judge Makes The Lineup And Rakes
If you follow Yankees Twitter, you’re well aware of the Aaron Judge chatter. There have been some takes. And there have been some takes. Aaron Judge is the most important position player in the Yankees organization. Aaron Judge transforms the Yankees from a really, really good team into an elite one with his high-level offensive and defensive skill sets. He is easily a top 15 player in the game, and I may be lowballing that ranking. The concerns about durability are valid. However, the recent criticism of Judge and the team is unfair. The current load management strategy is a proactive approach for injury prevention. It isn’t because he’s “soft.” The Yankees want their best player healthy for a full season and playoff run.
Tonight’s game is a fantastic reminder that Judge remains the number one guy on the team. Both he and Giancarlo Stanton can change a game with one swing. Aaron Judge can also change a game with a big catch or a laser throw to home. Judge decided to bring the heavy lumber for this game.
Before we get to the two bombs he hit tonight; I want to point out one of his under the radar performances from the game. We know that Aaron Judge will strike out quite a bit. He will chase pitches low and away from time to time. High fastballs tie him up from time to time. Aaron Judge is far from a hacker, though. He isn’t flailing away at anything near the plate like Rougned Odor. Instead, Judge has tremendous control of the hitting zone. That was on display tonight.
In total, Judge saw 20 pitches at the plate. Of those 20, there were five different types of pitches: four-seamer, cutter, changeup, splitter, and slider. Judge swung at 11 of the 20 pitches. He didn’t swing and miss once. In fact, he only saw two called strikes in three at-bats. This is pretty remarkable for an elite power hitter. Here are the two pitches that led to his two home runs:
Those two pitches led to these two results:
Aaron Judge has 7 home runs in 96 plate appearances. Here are his current 2021 percentile rankings:
I think that works for a guy who apparently isn’t tough enough to play for the dynasty Yankees.
Gerrit Cole Is The Best Pitcher In The AL
It is getting really hard to write about Gerrit Cole. The dude is an absolute monster. However, the discussions surrounding Cole always interest me. When fans and media talk about the Yankees starting rotation, more times than not, people will use some version of the phrase “Cole and everyone else.” This feels dismissive of Gerrit’s brilliance. It takes his presence, talent, and dominance for granted. The Yankees haven’t featured a pitcher like this since CC Sabathia. We all wanted Cole for so long, and now that he’s here, it feels like we skip over him at times.
Gerrit is on an incredible run to start the season. Cole has tied the franchise record of four games with ten strikeouts or more with no walks in a single season. It is April 30th. Sarah Langs from mlb.com takes this one step further:
Again, it is April 30th.
We’re watching the start of a potentially historic season for Gerrit Cole. We haven’t seen this consistently high level of pitching from a Yankees starter in a very long time. Admittedly, I haven’t looked this up, but there aren’t many seasons with this start in the franchise’s history. You can feel free to suggest some in the comments.
This was a dominant start for Cole. Dominant may not serve him justice. He had everything working for him at an elite level. He cruised with 87 pitches and earned 21 swings and misses. His CSW rate was 44%. FORTY-FOUR. He threw 25 curves which had a CSW rate of 52%. The curve averaged 52 inches of vertical break. This plays off a fastball averaging 97mph along with a filthy change. All of this is absurd. You may be able to do this in The Show. You shouldn’t be able to do it in THE SHOW.
If that wasn’t enough, the command was filthy. Cole threw the ball wherever he wanted to, whenever he wanted to do it. Here is his pitch chart:
As many of you know, I’m a filmmaker. I routinely turn to fine art for references in my work. My favorite artist is Caravaggio. I could go on and on about him, but this is a baseball blog, so I’ll save the artsy stuff. I bring the mercurial painter up because this pitch chart is a work of art. It is the command, pitchability, and usage. This illustrates elite pitching. When you’re an artist like Cole, you can easily see his strategy because he executes it so damn well. He also commands all four quadrants of the zone. There aren’t many pitchers who can do this over the course of a start, let alone multiple starts. Cole is on his way to a Cy Young campaign.
We’ll end this section on this thought. A few of us in the Views slack wondered when we start saying Cole is on Jacob deGrom’s level this season. deGrom has been otherworldly. Cole has as well. We have the two best pitchers in baseball in New York City. That is pretty awesome.
One Final Thought
Giancarlo Stanton is the best performing hitter for the Yankees this season. He is currently on an eight-game hitting streak. He’s been destroying baseballs all season. The one thing holding him back from time to time is his negative launch angle. Stanton is beginning to show how valuable he can be for this team over the course of a year. If Judge and Stanton play full seasons, we will see video game numbers that will lead to many wins. Let’s enjoy the performances.
The Yankees and Tigers do it again tomorrow at 1pm. It will be Taillon versus Turnbull. Let’s get another blowout. Have a great night.