Justin Verlander Episode #28 | The Gerrit Cole Era Begins
So if an asteroid hits between now and Thursday, it’s been nice knowing yet so in this episode, it’s gon na be a bit more of a technical show. I’M gon na talk a bit more about things like spin rates, exit, velocities, different types of breaking ball. Different types of swing path – things like that, so there are gon na, be some on screen visual aids. So if you’re listening to this on the podcast app, this might be a good one to turn into YouTube. If you are watching on YouTube, thanks for tuning in the first thing, I’m gon na talk about, is the guy that we’re all watching for this Thursday, Gerrit Cole. He signed that 324 million dollar contract unless sure how much it’s going to be now that part of it has been lost to the coronavirus, prorated, salary situation but I’m sure he’s doing just fine. But I want to talk a bit about why he is so much better than other guys. I mean other guys, throw a hundred plus miles an hour but it’s, Gerrit Cole who’s, getting all this money who’s getting all these strikeouts. So I want to talk about somebody that you all know are most of you know Nathan Ivaldi. He pitched for the Yankees a few years back had Tommy John surgery. Actually two times is that Tommy John surgery.
He is now with the Red Sox, but he’s, a guy who could throw 102 miles an hour at times, and he pretty much sits at like 98 to a hundred miles an hour.
He is absolutely filthy. I think his average velocity, for you know five or six years, was the best in baseball, but for some reason a lot of times. He gets hit like a pinata and then you’ve got guys like Chad green, who throw 95 96 out of the pen. But for some reason guys can’t touch it. Chad green strikes out a ton of hitters on his fastball and the reason is one of the things that you may have heard of in baseball over the last few years, spin rate so there’s a website that I go to it’s called baseball, savant mlb.com and what It does is, it takes all of the stat cast data that’s been collected by those high speed cameras and all the stat cast tools they have, and it represents everything in a visual way and it ranks players based on other players compared in stat cast by their Percentile, so you can see when you look at Nathan, Ivaldi he’s in the 88th percentile of fastball speed of velocity, so that means he throws harder than 87 of the league. His fastball spin, though, is just in the 45th percentile, which means he’s below average. His strikeout percentage is just in the 53rd percentile, which means he’s about middle of the pack same with his wif percentage swing and miss percentage, 56th, 56th percentile, and then his curve spin is just in the 12th percentile.
This goes to show you that there’s a lot more to getting swings and misses than velocity.
It really does come down to spin. Alright, so let’s take a look at Chad, green. You can see that his exit velocity and his hard hit percentage are actually pretty bad and his barrel percentage is pretty bad that’s because he throws pretty much nothing but fast balls and we’re gon na talk about how he’s fixing that. But if you look at his K percentage, his whiffed percentage and his fastball velocity and fastball per spin percentage they’re all tremendous his fastball velocity is in the 91st percentage, 91st percentile, so slightly faster than Nathan Ivaldi. But his spin is in the 90th percentile, whereas Ivaldi was in the 45th percentile, which is why you see his strikeout percentage in the 91st percentile, so better than 90 of the league and his whiff percentage that’s. The amount that people swing and miss is in the 76th percentile, so he’s better than three quarters of Major League Baseball. So let me explain: spin rate and I’m gon na do a little visual demonstration here. This is a baseball, and this is a four seam. Fastball grip, so this is what Chad green throws. You get basically two fingers and they’re touching the seams in four places and when you release the ball, these two fingers come off of the ball like this and they create spin. A two seamer is when you have fingers along both of these longer seams or you can do a sinker which is kind of in between the seams that’s.
How I like to throw mine, because it creates kind of a natural spit ball. If you get any kind of sweat or whatever, because you’re not touching the seam, so it gets kind of slick right there and it can create even more spin. But Chad green throws basically a traditional four seamer and he throws pretty hard. You know 96 97 miles an hour, but the problem is when you throw it low in the zone as he was last year or you don’t have that great spin rate, because your grip is off or your mechanics are off slightly. It can leave the ball right over the middle of the plate. It can make it kind of a meat ball, which is why you saw early in the year. He was getting clobbered and he had to actually go down to triple a and work things out. But if you look at Gerrit Cole he’s, an even better example of you know how you can combine spin rate and velocity to be effective. All right, so let’s take a look at Gerrit, Cole’s, 2019 MLB percentile rankings according to stat cast and baseball savant. The thing that jumps out at me is his K, percentage or strikeout percentage is 99 percent. His wif percentage is 98 percent. He had over 300 strikeouts last year. I think it was 326, so the guy can can miss bats. His fastball velocity is in ninth in the 96th percentile and his fastball spin is in the 95th percentile.
His curveball spin is in the 93rd percentile. So not only does he have great fastball, velocity and spin, but he’s got great curveball spin too, which is why you see his exit velocity in the 75th percentile as opposed to what Chad green had, which was, if you recall, one percentile, first percentile so Chad green Gave up a lot of hard hit balls, Gerrit Cole does not. Where are you going with this counselor? Well, the thing I wanted to bring up is looking at this data really helps. You understand why the Yankees brought in Matt Blake Matt Blake is the Yankees new. Pitching coach and he’s going to try and teach a lot of the guys on this team, along with Gerrit Cole, how to increase their spin rate. You might remember a few years ago, when the Astros traded for Justin Verlander, the Yankees were actually in on Justin Verlander too. They didn’t want to any up the money at that point which, if they did, they probably wouldn’t, been able to get Gerrit Cole. Just like the Astros weren’t able to resize him, but Justin Verlander was having a mediocre season with the Tigers. You know his numbers where he was about a 500 pitcher. He had an e ra over four and then I think he went ten and OH down the stretch and he was dominant and then he beat the Yankees in the postseason and he’s pretty much been dominant. Ever since he won.
The song award last year beat out Gerrit Cole for it he’s aging, so at some point, he’s gon na start to decline, but so far he’s had that rubber arm. He hasn’t had any problems, but one thing that you can attribute that to is that the Astros taught him how to use spin rate now there’s been people like Trevor Bauer, who were saying that you know the the Astros pitchers were putting things on the ball. I don’t buy that I do think they were cheating with the sounds and the videos and all that stuff, but the baseball gets swapped out so much these days that it’s really tough to doctor the baseball. So I think it was. It just comes down to how they’re using spin rate and what Matt Blake has done is he’s worked with Chad green to develop a new slider. Now we saw it a couple times in the inter squad games and it just wasn’t great. Yet he threw a couple of nice ones, but he also threw a couple of hangers, so it’s gon na be basically a lot more reps before he gets used to throwing it. Hopefully he won’t be throwing it in games until he can you do it successfully. Every time, but by next season it should be tremendous and keep in mind. Chad, green is only 29, so he still got a long way to go in his career and he’s already one of the most dominant relievers in baseball.
So I think you’re gon na see a transformation in Chad, green from great reliever to elite reliever. He might even already be an elite reliever, but he might go to that next level if he can pick up that spin rate on the breaking ball and miss a few more bats. Okay. So the next thing I want to talk about is Debbie Garcia. You may have seen the game last night, you may have seen my recap: Debbie Garcia made his Bronx debut and there’s been a lot of hype around Debbie Garcia. He started the futures game last year and he’s just 21 years old he’s been compared to Pedro Martinez, but I got ta say last night I left feeling underwhelmed. I mean he was basically 92 to 93 with the fastball, which is not great. These days I mean he used to be great. His curveball seemed to me to be a bit too loopy a bit too big a bit too slow. He did kind of have a cutter of sorts. It was 82 83, but it didn’t seem to move very much and a cutter is more effective when it’s thrown harder than that. I mean guys who could throw a cutter 89 90. Then you’ve got an effective cutter, but if you throw an 82 83 with a cutter it’s just not hard enough, he also seemed to be working on a changeup which I got to admit. The change up. Look pretty good.
The change up was also about 82 83, but had some sync to it, but he didn’t have great command of it now, that’s, something that comes later on with repetition, so Debbie Garcia is obviously still working on things. It did concern me that his velocity was down now. Maybe that is just a product of over the last few months he hasn’t been able to throw as much keep in mind he’s a minor league pitcher, so he is not rich. Like a lot of these guys, I mean I’m sure he has some bonus money left over, but he’s, not a guy who can have an indoor mound with a personal trainer who can come over and do all the safety precautions and stuff. He was probably throwing against a fence in his backyard or something like that to stay ready, but so maybe the velocity will come back. My buddy Tom who I watched baseball with and who was a college pitcher. He mentioned that he thought that Debbie’s arm was dragging a bit. I can see that he throws across his body a lot. You know he starts on the third base side of the rubber and when he finishes up his left leg, his land Legg is to the right of the rubber. So he throws really across his body and that can cause your arm to drag. It can cause shoulder problems too, so he needs to be careful, but you know Debbie needs some time in the oven to bake a little longer.
So if Masahiro Tanaka has to miss his first start in the rotation and the Yankees do need a fifth starter, then I think you got to go with Clark Schmidt, I think he’s, the man I think, he’s earned it. I think he’s been fantastic, so that would put it at the opening rotation as Gerrit Cole. James Paxton I’d go with Jordan, Montgomery number three because I think he’s been fantastic and then Jay Happ number four and then Clark Schmidt, number, five, so that’s the way. I would go if I were managing the team if this were MLB the show that’s what I would go with, but I think you’ll see Tanaka back in there before too long, and I think you’ll see Clark Schmidt pitch out of the bullpen he’s ready. He is for sure ready. His fastball has been very accurate, mid 90s. His breaking ball is sharp. Its downward he’s gon na miss bats, and he seems to have poise. He seems to have confidence and Gerrit Cole has taking it taking him under his wing. As I mentioned in the previous podcast, so yeah good news for Clark Schmidt, I think he’s going to make a difference this year. I fly ball deep right field there. It goes see, tie game, a pinch hit home run for Mike Ford at it’s, 2. 2. So Mike Ford is for real I’ve been a Mike Ford advocate since last year, and I saw him in person at the Durham Bulls park last year.
He’S. You know he doesn’t look like an athlete he’s thick with two C’s, but this guy hits will a lot of backspin. You know who else hit with a lot of backspin Greg bird now towards the end of his tenure with the Yankees he didn’t. He really hit anything because after he tore his labrum, he couldn’t catch up with a fastball anymore he’s with Texas. Now, and I wish him the best of luck, but he would hit the same kind of home runs. Those long high fly balls Babe Ruth used to do that. Mickey Mantle used to do that. Ted Williams would do that. Lefties, who hit with a certain path, can create a really nice backspin on the ball, which creates long high fly balls to right field. Now it also creates, if you miss a lot of ground balls to the right side, but what Mike Ford does better than a lot of guys is he uses the left side of the field I’ve seen him take balls down the left field line I’ve seen him Hit balls towards left center field and I think that’s something that he may have picked up from Brett Gardner, because Brett Gardner has that nice slice to the opposite field. So you know another instance of a veteran helping a young guy. Mike Ford is going to hit, you know, I don’t know what kind of athlete he’s gon na be long term he’s kind of a bigger guy.
As I mentioned, he doesn’t run real well from what I’ve seen he’s an average defender, but he can hit and in the major leagues if you’re left handed and you can hit or if you can pitch really. Basically, if you can play they’re gon na find a spot for you somewhere now, the Yankees are probably gon na. Keep him on the roster this year, because they’re gon na need. You know somebody there to back up Luke void, he’s coming off of surgery, he’s kind of blocked Mike Ford, but Mike Ford is gon na get a chance and it might not be with the Yankees. They may have to deal him, but he’s such a good hitter. That it wouldn’t surprise me if they’re able to get something substantial for him, even as kind of you know a slow young first baseman, he might have some value just because of the amount of home run that he can hit. Basically, and every team is looking for. Those guys who can bash the ball out of the ballpark. Now, if you go to the baseball savant page for Mike Ford, you’ll, see that his numbers are actually pretty good too. You can see that Mike Ford has a higher barrel percentage that’s the amount of time that you hit the ball off of the barrel of the bat. Then Major League Baseball, so Mike Ford had a nine point. Six barrel percentage compared to six point three in Major League Baseball at large.
His exit velocity was ninety one point nine miles an hour. That’S very good. Majorly average was eighty eight point two another guy I’m excited about that has great exit velocity, Giancarlo Stanton. You know we didn’t get to see him much last year because he was hurt. Pretty much all year saw him a bit in the postseason, then he gets hurt again this year. He gets hurt in this first Spring Training game and everybody is laughing at him. Basically saying you know what is with this guy, but it looks like he’s going to be the D H and you know that should take some pressure off of his legs not having to run around in the outfield and collide with walls, and things like that and You see just by the way he’s making contact in these exhibition games. You know you had the double the other night. Then he hit the massive Stan Tony in blast 448 feet. You know, Stanton looks like he is locked in and so does. Aaron Judge. Aaron judge has been killing the ball. Three home runs in two games: he’s hitting him to left field he’s, hitting him to right field. If you remember last year, he didn’t pull a home run for like the first 50 games, or something like that. Probably because of that oblique problem now, hopefully this means that his oblique is a hundred percent healed. I think it is his upper right rib, his top right rib on his right side is apparently healed.
He had the collapsed lung which has healed. You know so. Aaron judge could be ready to put on a show and it’s a shame that we won’t get to see what his numbers would look like over 162 games this year. But it would not surprise me if he puts up 20 or 25 home runs in 60 games and since I’m making predictions. I just wanted to go through and say, there’s a couple guys that I think are going to be big factors this season, that we didn’t really consider big factors. Last year, one of them is going to be Jordan Montgomery. I talked a bit about him on the game day show either yesterday or the day before I can’t remember, but he has looked dominant to me. He really has, and it would not surprise me if the Yankees get to the postseason. If you see him getting one of the starts, because guys who can make you swing and miss are extremely valuable and he has a higher chase rate than pretty much any pitcher in Major League Baseball. So Jordan, Montgomery is my pick to click as a sleeper pick for the 2020 season and one other guy that, I think, could be a big factor that we’re not really talking about is Jay Happ Jay Happ when he first got to the Yankees, was very very Good down the stretch got off to a bit of a rough start. Last year put it together towards the end of the year, but he’s been sharp in both spring training and the intrasquad game spotting.
His pitches he’s up to 94 95 miles an hour he’s another guy with a high spin rate, which is something the Yankees obviously like to have as a characteristic for their pitchers, so Jay Happ. I think he’s gon na have a bounce back year. That gives the Yankees a very strong rotation with Gerrit Cole, eventually Masahiro Tanaka, and then three left handed pitchers James Paxton, Jordan, Montgomery and Jay Happ. The Yankees are set up.