Home Run Villains
The name of the game against the Yankees is going to be pelting them with the long ball. It’s easier said than done, but the long ball doesn’t always have to be a home run. If the Angels can square up some good hits and drive the ball deep that’s they’ll need to be successful.
However, we have seen what happens when the Angels start squaring up he ball, they really start launching it. The home runs may come in bunches throughout this series, but not just for the Angels.
Trevor Cahill is having a career year so far by allowing eight HR’s in 26.1 IP which actually leads the league in HR’s allowed. Last year he allowed 8 HR’s in all of his 110 IP. What’s the deal here? Is it the fact that he’s throwing his fastball about 10% more than he was in 2018?
There is some anomaly going on here in the way that Cahill is pitching this season, he’s adjusted for the worst in 2019. There’s also the fact that Cahill is king at allowing 2 strike HR’s and I’m sure his tendencies to throw 2 strike fastballs instead of breaking balls is what’s harming him here.
I have no doubt that the Angels pitching coaches are somewhat to blame for this. We all know pitching coach Doug White has been reducing the usage of sinkers among his staff as he believes the sinker is becoming obsolete due to launch angle analytics and whatnot.
However, Trevor Cahill has always been a sinker-ball pitcher and to see him lose effectiveness after using the sinker far less this season it becomes apparent he’s not all to blame. 2018 saw Cahill employ the sinker about 40% of the time, the same season where he allowed only 8 HRs to a 3.76 ERA, yet 2019 has seen it drop to almost half the usage.
My biggest wonder is whether Cahill is adjusting to this new pitching philosophy or if he is drowning under it. After seeing how well he did against the Brewers makes one wonder if just he’s going through learning pains in this new system. Maybe he can adjust through and be all the better for it, or maybe his struggles will continue until he eventually reverts back to his standard sinker-baall form.
Aside from Cahill, we’ve seen Matt Harvey abused by the long ball, and to a lesser extent Felix Pena. Pena actually was very solid in his last outing as he finally pitched a full 5 innings of work, though he did allowed 2 HR’s for 3 total runs.
The Angels pitching will have to really get their heads back on their shoulders with this Yankees squad coming in, they may be missing their two best hitters but that doesn’t stop the power show; Aaron Hicks and Brett Gardner are still serious power threats. The Angels are going to have to silence the boom in the Yankees bats and that is a very tall order given the state of these starters.
Our only hope is that the Angels pick up the boom right where they left it off.