With the Yankees trailing the Astros two games to one in the ALCS, New York’s mindset has shifted to Game Four. Because of the rain that hit the Bronx on Wednesday, both teams are able to skip their bullpen days and put their traditional starters on the mound. Tonight it will be a rematch between Masahiro Tanaka and Zack Greinke.
The Astros couldn’t touch Tanaka, as he was near-unhittable. On the flip side, the Yankees were able to crack Greinke for three runs, including two homers. So what should the Bombers’ offensive approach be in Game Four? Well, basically what it was in Game One.
Hit the ball hard
The Yankees were able to make solid contact on Greinke’s pitches; the Bombers smashed seven balls over 102 mph off of him in Game One. All but two of those went for a hit.
For instance, Giancarlo Stanton recorded three of those seven balls over 102 mph. His first hit was an infield single that was clocked at 107.1 mph off the bat, which made the play for Carlos Correa at short extremely difficult. Unfortunately, we later found out that was the play where he injured his quad, which makes his injury carry even more weight for every game he misses because of how hard he makes contact.
One of the reasons Gerrit Cole was able to have so much success in Game Three was because the average exit velocity against him was 89.6 mph. The Yankees put 18 balls in play against Greinke in Game One. The average exit velocity on each of those was 93.7 mph. Hitting the ball at an average clip that high makes it so difficult for every defender, infielders especially, to make plays.
Work the count
This one is pretty cliché, but it’s something the Yanks should do. Driving his pitch count higher and higher and having quality at-bats will make things easier for the Bombers. A perfect example of this came in Game Three when Gerrit Cole logged 112 pitches through seven innings. He even walked a season-high five batters because (some) Yankee batters were grinding their at-bats. Although the Yanks couldn’t scratch a run off of Cole, they were able to get on the board once Houston went to the bullpen. The earlier they get Greinke out of the game, the better off they’ll be.
Crush his fastball
The Yankees hit 10 balls in play off of Greinke’s fastball to an average of 97.5 mph off the bat. With that, he threw his four-seamer 47% of the time. When a pitcher is throwing one pitch almost half the time, batters should be sitting on it, especially since the Yanks demolished fastballs all season long. They continued their dominance of that pitch in Game One, giving them a .312 xBA against his fastball.
Get on the board first
This is simple and almost necessary. In each game this series, the team that scored first went on to win. When Jose Altuve went yard in the first inning against Luis Severino in the Bronx, the crowd was out of it. If the Yanks are able to score first, the Bronx will be buzzin’ and the players will respond to that. Keeping the home crowd on their feet should bode well for the Bombers.