When Freddy Garcia took the hill for the New York Yankees last Tuesday against the Boston Red Sox, it was pretty clear he wasn't fooling anybody. The 35-year-old right-hander didn't make it out of the second inning, while allowing four runs on four hits and three walks. The most glaring statistic of all? Of the 46 pitches he threw on the night, Garcia induced just one swinging strike.
It would be easy to chalk that up to a bad night and say, "He just didn't have his best stuff." The problem is Garcia hasn't been missing many bats this season, nor have any of the other Yankees pitchers not named CC Sabathia. Exhibit B: The next night, in the second game of a three-game sweep at the hands of their bitter rivals, A.J. Burnett induced a whopping four swinging strikes in an 11-6 loss. As a pitching staff, Yankees hurlers have gotten foes to swing and miss just 7.6 percent of the time, which is 26th in baseball. (The San Francisco Giants, at 9.6 percent, are first.)
The question is what does that mean for the Yankees -- as well as any other pitch-to-contact team -- going forward?
To get to the bottom of it, I looked at the swinging strike rate of every playoff team going back to 2002, which is as far back as the data goes. Here are three key takeaways: