Typically, I would say that a series split with any team isn’t really worth any celebration. However, given the Yankees awful results against the Houston Astros last year (and previous ones), I’d say a 2-2 split is pretty darn surprising. Despite the awful execution with runners in scoring position, the offense showed decent life. Although that was immediately negated by the awful series opener against the White Sox, for a second, I thought things might be turning around. Gleyber Torres, Giancarlo Stanton, and DJ LeMahieu have all been significantly better in the last month or so, and each of them showed life at some point in the Astros series. For this installment of the At-Bat of the Week, I’m going to highlight Giancarlo Stanton’s home run against Cristian Javier.
To say Javier has dominated the Yankees is an understatement. His four-seam fastball shape is a nightmare for many hitters, and the Yankees are no different. Since 2021, Stanton has swung at 14 four-seamers from Javier – and get this – he has swung and missed at 9 (64.3%) of them. That is bad! If there was a hitter who you would expect to be able to get on top of a Javier fastball, it would be somebody with a flat approach angle like Giancarlo Stanton. This year, the Astros starter has gone through some struggles due to deterioration in his fastball shape. Initially, it looked like it would be a typical matchup between the two, but things changed quickly. Let’s jump into it.
Pitch 1 (0-0 count, 4-seamer)
I’m sure Stanton knew he would get attacked with a fastball immediately. Javier’s bread and butter is this pitch at the top of the zone. The entire world knows it’s coming. However, it’s one of those invisiball pitches that you expect and still cannot square up. There was nothing but a heavy dose of this coming for the rest of the at-bat. Stanton would just have to decipher exactly what location he could get his barrel on top of.
Pitch 2 (1-0 count, 4-seamer)
Not only has Javier’s fastball shape deteriorated, but his command has as well. His release point has changed due to him not getting as much depth in his hip hinge, and it’s thrown off his understanding of his where his arm is in space. As a result, he is more likely to miss both in and out of the zone.
Pitch 3 (2-0 count, 4-seamer)
You can’t really blame Stanton for attacking this pitch. In this count, you’re assured to see a heater, so you might as well do your best job at cheating ahead to see if you can get a barrel to it. In the next pitch, Stanton needed to check himself to make sure he isn’t leaving the zone, since he can’t get on top of those pitches anyways.
Pitch 4 (2-1 count, 4-seamer)
This was an easy take. Like I said, Javier’s command is a little wonky. He wanted to go right back to where he got Stanton to chase but unfortunately for him he lost his lower body and pulled the pitch a bit too outside. At this point, Stanton has no reason to expect any other pitch. Javier’s plan is clear, and he won’t steer from it.
Pitch 5 (3-1 count, 4-seamer)
This is exactly where Javier wants to live against Stanton. Going into the make-or-break pitch in a 3-2 count, Stanton had to make an adjustment to prove he can make contact with the pitch, let alone get a barrel on it.
Pitch 6 (3-2 count, 4-seamer)
Well, this is what makes superstars, superstars. I don’t care who the pitcher is, if they straight up challenge you with the six fastballs in a row all in similar locations, you have to be good enough to make them pay.
Stanton has struggled doing this against Javier, but by missing slightly lower in the zone, he had his chance to send the pitch to the moon.