Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Will Buehrle's Changeup Fool Yankee Batters?

35 year old Mark Buehrle (10-3, 2.28 ERA) takes the hill for the Blue Jays in Yankee Stadium tonight, attempting to get his resurgent season back on track. Until Masahiro Tanaka beat Toronto last night, Buehrle was somehow the league leader in victories. That said, there was some cause for concern when the veteran was smacked around for 4 runs on 8 hits duiring last start in Baltimore. Could this be the wheels falling off, or just a bump in the road?

Well, it seems that the way Buehrle is throwing the ball these days, it's only a matter of time before his dominant numbers level off, regression to the mean, really. His average fastball velocity has plummeted to just 83.6 MPH in 2014. That's generally the equivalent to a middle-of-the-road high school starter. So how is he avoiding the bats? 

For one, the former White Sox star is great at changing speeds. He only throws his fastball 47.3% of the time. 22.5% of the time however, the batters' hands are sped up by his changeup, which comes in at 77.7 MPH on average. In theory, it's not about absolute velocity, as long as hitters stay off-balance. This is how the 4x All-Star can give up just 0.38 home runs per 9 innings, despite only striking out 5.23 batters per 9.

Watch for Buehrle to pound the low and outside corner to avoid the short porches in Yankee Stadium. These Bronx Bombers may be struggling with the bat, but they know that if there's an 83 MPH fastball in their wheelhouse, it will fly in a hurry. The outcome of this start could dictate how the rest of Buehrle's season goes.

Coverage starts at 7:00pm EST on SnapCall. Don't be late!

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