Yankees vs. As: Jameson Taillon vs. Cole Irvin

The Yankees will take on the Athletics once again in the Bronx in what looks to be a beautiful, sunny matinee. Having won the first two games of the series, the Bombers will send Jameson Taillon to the mound this afternoon looking for the three-game sweep and the team’s fourth win in a row overall.

Opposing Taillon will be Oakland’s, Cole Irvin. Irvin, the 28-year-old lefty and four-year veteran, has the kind of stat line that (at a cursory glance) which might make a fan ask, will the real Cole Irvin please stand up?

On one hand, Irvin has made 12 starts in 2022 and posted a good 3.29 ERA and 112 ERA+, while both his FIP and batters allowed per nine innings are right around league average.  On the surface that’s pretty solid…but when we dig a little deeper…

He’s given up a lot of hard contact this season. He ranks in the 5th percentile league-wide in expected SLG, while his expected BA and weighted on-base averages come in at the 12th and 13th percentile league-wide respectively. If you’re thinking (as I was) that maybe it’s a case that batters are just hitting mistakes, you’d be wrong as his strikeout rate is lower than 88 percent of MLB pitchers – he simply hasn’t missed bats and the ball comes off those bats hard.

Let’s remember that half of his starts have been in Oakland which is the second hardest MLB park in which to hit, and the As despite their horrid record, play pretty good defense (7th in MLB in team Defensive Runs Above Average). Could it be that Irvin simply hasn’t pitched well but he’s been helped by pitching in a pitcher-friendly park, backed by good defenders? Let’s see…

Irvin’s 2022 home and road batting average, OBP, and SLG against:

At home: .221/.283/.252
On the road: .290/.329/.573

In home starts, Irvin has faced 127 batters and allowed 3 extra-base hits – two doubles and one triple. On the road, he’s faced 138 batters and allowed 20 extra-base hits – 10 doubles, nine long balls, and one triple.

Reminder: This is why you shouldn’t put too much stock in ERA, kids – there’s just too much involved that has nothing to do with the pitcher.

Irvin throws a four-seam fastball (not very hard), a sinker, change, and curveball. He’s shown the best command with the change and the others, as one would expect, find the middle/middle of the plate pretty frequently.

I know they have to play the game, but if I had tickets in the stands behind the outfield wall in Yankee Stadium today, I might bring a glove.

Conversely, Jameson Taillon has had a very good season for the Yankees regardless of context. That said, he is coming off his worst start of 2022 last Thursday against Houston. Taillon was knocked around by Astros batters to the tune of 6 runs on 10 hits in only 5.2 innings in what would eventually (and remarkably) be a 7-6 Yankees win. He should have an easier go of it this afternoon against the Athletics who own the worst team OPS+ in baseball with 76. (Reminder, OPS+ is adjusted for park factors, so the dead last ranking has nothing to do with the Oakland Colosseum.)

Yankees lineup:

LeMahieu 1B
Judge CF
Donaldson 3B
Stanton DH
Torres 2B
Hicks LF
Kiner-Falefa SS
Gonzalez RF
Higashioka C

First pitch is at 1:05 PM. You can watch the game on YES, stream it on MLB.tv and listen on WFAN 101.9/660. And as always, follow along with me @mybaseballpage1 on Twitter and the “My Baseball Page” on Facebook.

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