The Indians get their first look at Yankees standout rookie Aaron Judge tonight, so let’s take a look at his scouting report and give some advice to our pitching staff.
Since Judge will face three righties (Kluber, Bauer, Salazar) all of the stats we’ll look at will be from the perspective of Judge versus right-handed pitchers.
Be careful with the fastball
Judge is batting .336 against fastballs and absolutely crushing everything up in the zone. This will be difficult for the Tribe starters to deal with, as all three like to throw fastballs up in the zone and have the ability to throw it past hitters.
Incredibly, Judge is also excellent at taking fastballs that aren’t in his zone—his chase rate is just 19 percent.
His patience, coupled with his ability to make you pay dearly for mistakes, almost makes it not worth throwing fastballs at all. Obviously pitchers have to mix it in, but he should probably get a heavy dose of breaking balls, especially from Kluber, who can locate his breaking balls consistently.
Make him chase breaking balls
Judge’s heat map against breaking balls is similar—he crushes mistakes in the zone. But he can be fooled by pitches low and away.
Unfortunately, he chases sliders at a much higher rate than he chases curves, which puts the Tribe staff at a disadvantage. Kluber and Bauer don’t have sliders. And Salazar rarely uses his.
Get ahead in the count
Judge has the eighth lowest chase rate in a pitcher’s count this season—an incredible feat for a rookie. So getting ahead doesn’t necessarily give you a huge advantage. But if you fall behind, Judge has already won.
In a hitter’s count, Judge will simply wait for you to put it where he wants it. And then he will crush it. He’s batting .511 against righties in hitters’ counts this season, almost 150 points above the league average.
It is imperative that Tribe pitchers get ahead in the count and force Judge to swing at less-than-ideal pitches.