Karpin’s Korner: Matz Should Be Hitter Unfriendly

Steven Matz’ problem is location, location, location. Matz has been getting hammered of late and some think he’s been tipping his pitches. To me, it seems like a combination of tipping and how he works the plate.

Matz reminds me of a former lefthander who pitched for the Yankees in the mid-1980’s. Dennis Rasmussen was a 6’7” lanky southpaw who was not a power pitcher and was not intimidating, but he showed some good off speed stuff and could spot his fastball when needed.

Rasmussen had the same problem that Matz is experiencing. They are both lefthanders who work the plate “outside/in,” instead of “middle/in.” against right handed hitters. What does that mean? That trying to backdoor the right handed hitters but it ends up leaving the ball “floating in the middle of the plate” and the hitters are licking their chops.

Rasmussen’s better games with the Yankees came when he was challenging hitters inside. If you could go back and see the good games that Matz pitched last year, he was challenging the right handed hitters inside. When he’s not doing that, Matz is batting practice.

Matz has to claim the inside part of the plate against right handed hitters while using his fastball inside against the lefties to enable him to attack the outside corner with his good slider and curve ball.

Andres Gimenez has had an impressive beginning to his big league career with the dazzling defensive plays he’s made. Gimenez has been solid with the bat so far, but to proclaim him the everyday shortstop is a bit of a stretch right now. It’s true that Giminez has shown better defensive skills than Amed Rosario and may eventually be the everyday shortstop, but the jury is still out on his offense. Those nice hits he got early on came on pitcher’s mistakes. Gimenez still has to show he can handle good pitchers’ pitches and so far he’s had some trouble with the breaking stuff.

Trout in the Series? Don’t “Banks” on it.

There is no questioning the greatness of Mike Trout. The 29-year old is the best player of this era and is on his way to becoming an all time great, but will he become this era’s Ernie Banks. (BTW: Juan Soto is making a case to take the title away from Trout)

“Mr. Cub” put together a fabulous career that landed him in Cooperstown but he never played in a World Series or any post season game during his 19 years in Chicago. Banks’ career ended after the 1971 season so he had three shots at an expanded playoff with the advent of divisional play and the introduction of the League Championship Series. Before 1969, only the National League pennant winner went right to the World Series to play the American League Champ.

There was a touch of irony with 1969 being the first time Banks had an increased chance to make the post-season. The Cubs had a great team that year but ran into a better one, not to mention a quirk of fate in the 1969 World Champion NY Mets.

Trout has been “off the charts great” since he debuted in 2011. What also debuted a year later was a second wild card team in each league, creating the Wild Card one game showdown and more teams involved down the stretch.

So far in his career, Trout (through no fault of his own) has appeared in three post-season games. In 2014, the Angels were swept by the eventual AL Champion Royals in the ALDS. Trout had a tough time, going 1 for 12 with a HR and an RBI in the three games.

The Angels have had trouble over the years supporting Trout’s greatness, particularly on the mound and table setters in front of him. They hoped Shohei Ohtani would help answer that enigma but injuries have thrown a wrench into those plans.

It’s become a recurring theme. Aaron Judge is headed to the IL once again. Judge has a “mild” calf injury but the Yankees are putting him on the 10-day IL, with the hope that this latest ailment doesn’t turn into a long term deal.

The move is retroactive to last Tuesday so Judge can return a week from tonight and that’s when we’ll know whether this is injury is mild or not. The concern is that Judge has developed a narrative that he can’t stay on the field. If he expects to earn a long term deal, Judge will have to disprove that narrative and that won’t be easy.

Clint Frazier has a narrative that he’s a poor defensive outfielder. I don’t think he’s as bad as he’s shown in the past and can improve. If he can be more consistent at the plate, the Yankees will be a little more patient with Frazier’s defensive deficiencies.

When the playoffs start in October, the ol’ adage, “everyone starts at 0-0” will never be more fitting than in 2020 with the expanded post-season.

The playoffs have always been a “crapshoot,” never more so than this season with the first round being a 2 of 3 series. The higher seeded team will have all the games at home but there will be an upset or two that will render a team’s regular season as meaningless.

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