Red Sox vs. Yankees: Craig Kimbrel continues to have Giancarlo Stanton's number following key strikeout in ALDS Game 4
Giancarlo Stanton made the biggest out of his year-long New York Yankees career during Tuesday’s Game 4 of the American League Divisional Series. Stanton represented the tying run in the ninth inning against Boston Red Sox closer Craig Kimbrel, and could’ve changed the Yankees’ fortune with one powerful swing. Yet he instead struck out on four pitches.
Stanton heard boo birds as he headed back to the dugout, in part because of the low quality of his at-bat. He’d twice expanded his zone to chase Kimbrel’s breaking ball. Hitting is hard and resisting Kimbrel’s breaker is easier typed than done. Still, it’s fair to write that Stanton has been confounded by Kimbrel and his signature pitch throughout his career.
Consider that Stanton entered Tuesday having never so much as hit Kimbrel’s breaking ball into fair territory — yes, really.
According to Baseball Savant, Stanton had seen 21 such pitches from Kimbrel in his career. He’d taken seven for balls and another two for strikes and had fouled one off. He came up empty on his other 11 swings — or on 92 percent of them.
After Tuesday’s at-bat, Stanton is now up to 13 whiffs on 14 swings against the breaker:
Factor in Kimbrel’s fastball, and Stanton has seen 56 pitches from Kimbrel and has swung-and-missed 16 times on 27 tries. That’s about a 59 percent contact rate. For reference, Stanton’s career contact percentage is 66 percent, per Baseball Reference. Conversely, Kimbrel’s career contact rate against is 62 percent.
There’s just something about Kimbrel that Stanton can’t handle — and that “something” is a nasty breaker. As such, maybe Stanton’s strikeout should’ve been expected.