What Will the Yankees Do To Help Junior Fernández?

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Another Pirates reliever has been picked up by the Yankees, and his title is Junior Fernández, proprietor of 54 profession innings pitched in the majors with St. Louis and Pittsburgh. This previous season, he completed with a 5.79 FIP in 18.2 innings; his profession FIP sits at 5.57, so he hasn’t had a lot success in the league to this point. So what precisely do the Yankees see in him?

Like many relievers in the Yankees’ bullpen, Fernández throws high-velocity sinkers and boasts an above-average floor ball charge: 58.9%, a really related clip to Jonathan Loáisiga. That all sounds similar to one other Yankees pickup from the Pirates: Clay Holmes. But Holmes’ sinker is of the turbo ilk that forces its manner down with bowling ball motion; this previous season, the vertical motion on that pitch was 21% above the league common. Fernández’s is rather more vertical impartial. In reality, the comparability to Loáisiga is rather more applicable. The desk under exhibits how Fernández’s sinker specs evaluate to Loáisiga’s:

Sinker Similarities

Name Pitch Measured Spin Axis Extension Vertical Release Horizontal Release wow HAHA
Jonathan Loásiga sinker 1:08 6.5 5.6 -1.8 -5.3 0.1
Junior Fernandez sinker 1:21 6.5 6.1 -1.5 -5.7 0.0

The two pitchers have related extension, launch factors, and motion profiles. The entry into the zone when it comes to horizontal and vertical method angles is not all that far off both. Overall, we’re very related pitches, and Fernández throws his even tougher by a few tick. This alone is an efficient start line to elucidate why the Yankees have been sufficient to scoop him up off waivers.

If the sinker is something near Loáisiga’s, then there’s something to work with. When situated accurately, the pitch is efficient in opposition to each lefties and righties as a result of it’s so tough to get your barrel below the baseball. But that location is not so easy. Finding consistency along with your mechanics and launch level generally is a lengthy course of, and clearly, that is nonetheless a piece in progress for Fernández.

To get a greater thought of ​​why, let’s check out his mechanics. The following three pitches all come from varied video games in the first week of October when Fernández had an opportunity to get constant quantity:

Sinker under the zone (Oct. 1)

Sinker for an arm facet ball (Oct. 3)

Sinker on arm facet nook (Oct. 3)

Each of those three pitches are in numerous areas of the strike zone. Fernández missed low and arm facet but additionally dotted an ideal sinker in the low nook that’s best for getting groundballs in opposition to each lefties and righties. His common inconsistency in and round the strike zone cannot be attributed to 1 particular factor, however simply his mechanics, one thing feels off. He begins off in a closed-crossed physique place however finally ends up with an especially open stride that takes him to the reverse facet of the mound. The result’s 98th-percentile fastball velocity however sporadic sinker location. When he arrives in the Bronx, that must be the focus.

There are some things about Fernández’s supply I’d wish to dive just a little additional into. The first is that his decrease half mechanics are extremely quad dominant. As he descends into his hip hinge, his again knee falls far over his toes. Other pitchers do not discover themselves on this place till later of their supply, or under no circumstances. In reality, on the spectrum of high-velocity throwers, these are extraordinarily quad dominant mechanics. That is not essentially a foul or good factor; should you can throw this tough whereas transferring like this, then it signifies you may have a novel talent. Just Fernández’s legs, you’ll be able to see he has tree trunk quads, so maybe counting on these muscle tissues is not too massive of a deal. But it is necessary to maintain this motion in thoughts when assessing the remainder of his mechanics and understanding his stride course.

With a quad dominant and closed setup, it is shocking to see his stride transfer to the different facet of the mound. The second clip the place Fernández misses the arm facet is an ideal instance of that. He units up closed however instantly removes that side from his supply as quickly as he lifts his leg. His hip course utterly shifts, and he descends down the left half of the mound. This takes some reliance off his quads and places it into his hips, and by the appears of it, it would not seem he has super-mobile hips in both course when it comes to inner and exterior rotation or a deep hip hinge. While it is potential that is extra of a characteristic than a bug, I ponder if it makes it tougher on his physique to remain managed down the mound, and in consequence, prices him slight command of his launch. Right now, his lead leg block is powerful sufficient to soak up all his power and nonetheless throw in the higher 90s, but when he had a barely extra closed stride, it might make it even simpler on his lead leg to regulate his deceleration.

I feel it is dangerous to make any drastic modifications to a participant who throws this tough transferring the manner he does, however the command challenge is sufficient to me that it could be price barely tweaking some facets of the supply so long as there isn’t any important adverse impact on the energy output. He appears sturdy sufficient {that a} change in course should not utterly compromise his velocity. If the Yankees are to get extra out of him, they must do one thing to search out extra consistency so he can enhance his command.

At this level, I have never targeted an excessive amount of on Fernández’s slider or changeup. The slider is of the tremendous gyro variety, yielding -112% horizontal break under common. It is kind of actually as gyro as a gyro ball will get, and he throws it round a 3rd of the time. The changeup is a pitch that intently mirrors his sinker when it comes to HAA and spin axis, which can also be just like how Loáisiga makes use of his changeup. Fernández, nonetheless, used the pitch sparingly in 2022 (10.2%). With Yankees pitching coach Matt Blake referred to as being considerably of a changeup savant, it would not be shocking to see that pitch pattern again up in the combine if Fernández nonetheless has a really feel for it. Overall, these two pitches shall be necessary, however the new Yankee’s success shall be closely depending on the sinker.

While we by no means fairly know precisely what a workforce will do with a reclamation mission, the Yankees have some historic precedents that counsel refining the sinker will come first, and the remainder of the arsenal shall be rebuilt round it. Like I stated earlier, that is rather more of a mission than Holmes was, however not like his case, the workforce may have Fernández for all of spring coaching. It shall be fascinating to see what modifications he instantly makes, and if Blake and his workforce actually do have the particular sauce for fixing high-velocity sinker ballers.

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