Yankees sweep 2010 ALDS

 

"The 24-year-old righty was outstanding in his first playoff start." Photo Credit: Getty Images via Yahoo Sports

 

Last night, behind a dominant Phil Hughes, the Yankees completed a sweep of the Minnesota Twins. The Yankees will now be moving onto the the ALCS and on Friday they will begin playing either the Tampa Bay Rays or the Texas Rangers.

Around baseball

  • The Rangers lead the Rays 2-1 in their ALDS series and will play game 4 this afternoon at 1:00 pm ET.  Wade Davis will go for the Rays while the Rangers will send Tommy Hunter to the hill.
  • The Braves-Giants series is tied at 1 game a piece. They will play game 3 at 4:30 pm ET. Jonathan Sanchez will face Tim Hudson.
  • The Phillies lead the Reds 2-0 and will play tonight at 8:00 pm ET. Cole Hamels will try to lead Philadelphia to a sweep as they face Johnny Cueto.
  • All three games can be found on TBS.

Postseason Links: 10/4/10

The Yankees will begin their postseaon this Wednesday in Minnesota. Today is only Monday. What will we do during this period of no baseball? Don’t worry, the internet should keep us busy. Here’s a few links to check out.

  • Frankie Piliere compiled great scouting reports on each playoff team. Here’s the link for the Twins, and here’s the Yankees.
  • Joe Pawlikowski of River Ave Blues discussed how the Yankees are not the only team stumbling into the playoffs.
  • Chad Jennings gives his take on what he thinks the playoff roster should be for the Yankees. I agree with him.
  • In a surprising move, the Mets let go of both GM Omar Minaya and manager Jerry Manuel.
  • One of the more prominent discussions about the Yankees postseason is over who will start game two. Will it be Andy Pettitte or Phil Hughes? My vote is for Hughes. I could explain my reasons, but Rebecca of This Purist Bleeds Pinstripes did a much better job than I would have done. While you’re there you can also read the rest of her thoughts on the postseason.

I don’t know what to make of this.

Around the Horn: Montero, Aceves, Posada…

As the Yankees prepare to begin a road trip in Texas allow me to sum up some recent stories.

  • Alfredo Aceves, who has been recovering from a back injury, had a setback and will not be returning to the big league team this year. Surgery is not out of the question, and it would surprise me if he did not undergo surgery. Backs are a terribly tricky thing.
  • Yesterday, Joe Girardi said Damaso Marte probably won’t be back this year as well. As we learned earlier, he may need surgery.
  • While we are talking about surgery, Jesus Montero had an unexpected operation performed on his ankle yesterday. He was not in Scranton’s lineup yesterday which led people to believe he may be called up, but the truth was that he had an infection in his ankle. Montero underwent surgery yesterday to have the infection cleaned up. Don’t worry, the surgery seems to have been very minor, and while he will miss the rest of the minor league playoff season, he should be a candidate for a major league job next Spring.
  • Yesterday, we learned that Jorge Posada has been suffering from concussion like symptoms. Fortunately, he underwent some tests and the results were negative. Posada has been cleared to play, but I would expect him to take a few days off in Texas.
  • Coming off some recent struggles, Phil Hughes’ next start will be skipped, Dustin Moseley instead will be pitching this Sunday. Hughes will return to the rotation next Wednesday, and the Yankees say they only skipped him to deal with his innings limit. Still, it should be beneficial to give Phil Hughes a breather since he is not used to throwing this many innings.

Phil Hughes’ Struggles

"Hughes has been struggling as of late." Photo Credit: Getty Images via Yahoo Sports

When Phil Hughes was named the Yankees fifth starter coming out of Spring Training, none of us really knew what to expect. There were some who had unrealistically high expectations for the young pitcher, and others who expected him to struggle and would be more than happy with a decent season. Well, through the begginning of the 2010 season Hughes dominated the majors. Through his first 13 games Hughes put up a 3.17 ERA and averaged close to strikeout per inning, which undoubtedly is the reason he was named an All Star. However, through starts numbers 14 through 17 Hughes has regressed. Since June 29th when he made his 14th start Hughes has put up a 6.85 ERA. Still, I don’t want to make it sound like Hughes’ struggles came out of nowhere. Throughout the season it was clear that hitters were adjusting to him and while he was still putting up good numbers he wasn’t matching his early season production. But, why has Hughes regressed?

Pitch selection? Maybe.

Coming out of Spring Training Hughes received much praise for developing a major league changeup. However, throughout this season we have rarely seen him throw the pitch, in fact out of all his pitches he only has thrown his changeup 1.3% of the time. And the reason for that is simple, he did not need the pitch for the most of the season while he was dominating hitters with his fastball and cutter. However, now that hasn’t quite been getting away with just fastballs he’ll have to mix in more changeups and more curveballs (which he has only thrown 14% of the time this season). Without a doubt the Yankees and Phil Hughes know this. And while Hughes’ outing last night was dreadful he did throw 12 changeups . To contrast that to the rest of his season, as I mentioned above Hughes has thrown his changeup just 1.3% of the time this season, so by throwing 12 changeups last night he threw it about 12% percent of the time in last night start (based on 98 pitches). He also threw 15 curveballs last night. Still, it would be nice to see him throw even more curveballs and changeups. However, Hughes won’t find success right away from throwing off-speed pitches. It will be a while before he develops a feel for them, and that was evident last night because even though he threw 12 changeups he didn’t really have control over them throwing only 4 of them for strikes. Still, Hughes will have to keep throwing curveballs and changeups to get a feel for them.

Hughes rules? Maybe.

As we know, Phil Hughes has an innings limit for this season. To manage this limit the Yankees have and will continue to find him extra rest here and there. However, Hughes may be adversely affected by the extra rest. The two times this season he has pitched on extended rest he has struggled. The first time was on June 29th when he pitched for the first time in 10 days. On that day Hughes allowed 6 earned runs in 5.2 innings to the Seattle Mariners. The second time Hughes pitched on extended rest was last night and he allowed 6 runs in 5.0 innings. Still, while extra rest may be causing Hughes to struggle, there is nothing that can be done except maybe finding a different workout routine between starts. Hughes needs the extra rest every once in a while as his future is much more important than just one year. The Yankees will look to find Hughes more extended rest through August and September but they might have trouble finding it with very few off days. It will be interesting to see how they handle Hughes.

Fatigue? Maybe.

At this point in the season Phil Hughes has thrown 106 innings. He has already surpassed his season highs from 2009 (105.1 innings pitched) and 2008 (69.2 innings pitched) and is about to pass his season high from 2007 (110.1 innings). In 2006, Hughes’ first professional season, he threw 146 innings and is bound to pass that mark eventually this season barring injury. So fatigue could certainly be plaguing Hughes. He is at the point where his body has been used to stopping but this time he will have to go a lot further, and while the way the Yankees are managing him might prevent injury it won’t prevent fatigue.

Conclusion…

In my opinion, I wouldn’t worry about Hughes, the issue is out of our hands and if you told me at the beginning of the season he would put up a 3.99 ERA, a 3.87 FIP, and a K/9 of 7.9 through the month of July, I would be ecstatic. Young pitchers struggle, and Hughes is no different. While it is possible that his struggles continue, it is just as possible he reverts to early season form.

All statistics used can be found on Fangraphs, Baseball Reference, and Brooks Baseball.

Off Day Musings (7/19/10)

State of the Yankees

  • Through their first 91 games the Yankees are 58-33, which is the best record in baseball, and it puts them on pace for about 103 wins.
  • The Yankees are atop the AL East with a 3 game lead on the Tampa Rays after taking 2 out of 3 games from the Rays this past series.

Andy Pettitte’s injury

"Pettitte leans over in pain." Photo Credit: Getty Images via Yahoo Sports

Andy Pettitte had to leave his start prematurely yesterday with what has now been diagnosed as a Grade I left groin strain. Via Erik Boland, GM Brian Cashman expects Pettitte to be out four to five weeks. I’m hoping Brian Cashman is just being conservative considering Pettitte is 38 years old, however, if he is out four to five weeks (in addition to rehab time), the Yankees will have a good number of starts to fill. Cashman told Boland that Sergio Mitre will take Pettitte’s next start on Saturday, but that doesn’t mean they won’t look at further options for following starts. My suggestion would be to give Ivan Nova a shot and if he doesn’t work out, I believe Mitre is a solid option. There is no sense in making a trade unless the Yankees could get someone, without giving up any top prospects, who represents a true upgrade over Mitre . And that probably won’t happen so in my opinion the Yankees should stay internal in replacing Pettitte. Pettitte’s injury is obviously debilitating to the Yankees, but on the bright side his elbow will be kept fresh during the time off and that may prove beneficial come October. In the end, I see no reason to panic. Pettitte will be missed, but Mitre, Nova, or another internal option could be quite valuable. Remember, the 2009 Yankees won the World Series last year and Sergio Mitre made nine starts for that team. Every team, even the best teams, have to deal with injuries to the starting rotation.

Upcoming Angels series

Tuesday

RHP Phil Hughes vs. TBA

  • Scott Kazmir was scratched from the start with shoulder fatigue.
  • Phil Hughes has not pitched since July 9th not counting the All Star Game.
  • The game will be on My9 with a 7:05 p.m. start time. I will be at the game and I’m excited to see Hughes pitch!

Wednesday

RHP Javier Vazquez vs. RHP Joel Pineiro

  • In his two starts against the Yankees this year, Pineiro has had mixed results. On April 14th he dominated the Yankees allowing only one run in seven innings. However, on April 24 he allowed six runs in six innings to the Yankees.
  • Javier Vazquez’s last start came on July 10th when he carried a no-hitter into the sixth against the Mariners. He would go on to throw seven shutout innings while only allowing three hits, but Joba Chamberlain and the Yankees could not get Javy the win.
  • The game will be on YES with a 1:05 p.m. start time.

"Hopefully Hughes mixes in some more changeups and curveballs in his start tomorrow." Photo Credit: Getty Images via Yahoo Sports

Yanks return home; Hughes vs. Lee

The Yankees return to New York tonight for the first time since June 20th when they played the Mets. I don’t know about you, but I feel like they haven’t been home in ages. Anyway, tonight Phil Hughes is set to make his first start since being skipped in the rotation recently. I wouldn’t be surprised if he comes out a little too strong in the first few innings because of the extra rest, but hopefully he can settle in and have a good game. The Yankees will be opposed by Seattle’s Cliff Lee in what appears to be a fabulous pitching match-up. Phil Hughes, my favorite Yankee pitcher, versus Cliff Lee, one of the best starters in the game and also one of my favorite pitchers. I’m excited!

The Yankees are back home!

Off Day Musings (2nd Edition)

It’s been a while…

State of the Yankees

  • Since June 8th, the Yankees have gone 10-5 against the Orioles, Astros, Phillies, Mets, and Diamondbacks.
  • The Yankees are in first place in the AL East with Boston and Tampa Bay tied for second place at 2.5 games behind the Yankees.
  • The Yankees have the best record in baseball at 45-27. That’s a .625 winning percentage and at this rate the Yankees would win about 101 games.

Brackman Rules!

Andrew Brackman, one of the Yankees top prospects, is finally starting to meet expectations. The Yankees drafted Brackman knowing that he would need surgery and he pitched poorly in his first full professional season last year. This year, however, he seems to be improving. He’s been throwing a nasty slider at 87 mph, and has improved his BB/9 from 6.4 in 2009 to 1.4 in 2010. In addition, he has kept up an impressive 8.4 SO/9. According to Joel Sherman, the Yankees plan to promote Brackman from High-A Tampa to AA Trenton before the All-Star Break.

Hughes Rules?

In order to keep Phil Hughes’ innings under control, the Yankees are skipping his next start on June 29th. So far the Yankees have handled Hughes’ innings much better than they handled Joba’s innings. The general feeling is that Hughes is capped at 170-180 innings, so expect for him to be skipped a few more times around.

Albaladejo Reinvented…

You remember Jonathan Albaladejo, don’t you? Well he’s been reinventing and improving his game down in AAA this season and has really become a new and better pitcher. I truly hope the Yankees give him an opportunity to prove himself again at the big league level, it’s not like Chan Ho Park or Boone Logan are blowing the world away. Make sure you check out Mike Axisa of RAB’s post about Albaladejo.

Happy Birthday!

Phil Hughes turns 24 years old today, it’s hard to believe he is still so young.

What’s Next?

The Yankees should be enjoying this off day in Los Angeles and tomorrow they will take on Joe Torre and the Dodgers.  You can bet the media will blow this series way out of proportion. It should be fun!

Game 43: Yankees at Mets

After winning game 1 of the Subway Series last night, the Yankees will take on the Mets once again tonight. Here is the starting lineup the Yankees will send out to face Mike Pelfrey via Rick Carpiniello

SS Derek Jeter

CF Brett Gardner

1B Mark Teixeira

3B Alex Rodriguez

2B Robinson Cano

RF Nick Swisher

C Francisco Cervelli

LF Randy Winn

P Phil Hughes

I am excited yet apprehensive to see Hughes hit tonight. Photo Credit: Getty Images via Yahoo Sports.

Fate of the Empire State Building

According to Sam Borden, the winner of this series will determine what color lights the Empire State Building will display (blue and white for the Yankees, blue and orange for the Mets). As of now the north and south side of the building are Yankee themed while the east and west are Mets themed. I really hope the Yankees win, not only because I’m a Yankee fan, but because the Empire State Building with blue and orange lights would be quite the eyesore.

The state of Javy

Last night Javier Vazquez was one hitting the Mets through six innings. Unfortunately in the top of the seventh Javy got nicked on his right index finger as he fouled a bunt off. Vazquez did lay down a beautiful sacrifice bunt on the next pitch, but he would not go out to pitch another inning. Javy wasn’t in much pain and he didn’t even realize his finger was bleeding until he took off his batting gloves. The Yankees expect to know more tomorrow on whether he can make his next start. Here are some of the things Vazquez had to say after the game.

“I feel so embarrassed because I’ve been doing this so many years in the National League and this has never happened to me.” [When asked about getting hit by the pitch on a bunt].

“I’m pretty sure I’m going to make my next start.”

Jeremy Bleich to undergo surgery

According to Tim Bontemps, Jeremy Bleich is probably going to need shoulder surgery. Bleich is a left-handed pitcher and one of the Yankees top prospects. Let’s just hope the surgery is successful and he comes back true to form because shoulder surgery is a scary thing.

Granderson progressing

Last night Curtis Granderson who is currently on the 15-day DL left the team to join the Scranton Wilkes-Barre Yankees for a rehab assignment. Granderson is expected to play 5-6 games with Scranton and if all goes well he could be back with New York at the end of next week. Great news!

A-Rod and Thames save Yanks from loss

Last night the Yankees defeated the Red Sox in a very exhilarating game. While I don’t want to waste all my time analyzing the entire game, I’ll try to break it down a bit.

This graph really shows how the momentum of the game really changed last night. First it was all Yankees, then all Red Sox, and then obviously back to the Yankees favor.

Pitching

If I had to sum the Yankees pitching last night up in three words, I’d say “not very good.” Fortunately, I’m not limited to three words.

Phil Hughes started last night’s game and only lasted 5 innings while giving up 5 runs and 2 home runs. He simply wasn’t very sharp. Although he threw a lot of strikes, they weren’t necessarily good strikes. In addition, it’s possible he didn’t have his best stuff. In the end, he didn’t pitch well, but he battled and that builds character and perhaps allows a pitcher to mature more than a dominating game does. I wouldn’t worry about Hughes yet, and remember young pitchers struggle.

Boone Logan followed Hughes and in one inning of work he allowed a home run to Victor Martinez. Logan may impress people with his velocity, but upon further look it’s clear his control is awful. There are tons of people who throw hard, but unless they can control the ball they aren’t very valuable. So far, Logan has fallen into that category. In addition, Logan (a lefty) has actually been worse against lefty batters this year than righties (not to say he has been good against righties). In my opinion the Yankees would be better off having Mark Melancon in the bullpen instead of Logan.

Chan Ho Park came in after Logan. Fresh off the DL Park looked good in his first inning of work. However, in the eight inning Park allowed 3 runs on 2 home runs. He looked very fatigued, and this was expected considering he hasn’t pitched multiple innings in over a month. I think in normal circumstances with the bullpen more deep, Girardi wouldn’t have turned to Park for two innings. I wouldn’t worry about this appearance at all, just remember his stamina is low coming of the DL and it certainly showed last night. Once he gets built back up he should return to form.

Damaso Marte took over for Park in the eight and got good results. In 1.2 innings of work Marte allowed no runs on 1 hit and 1 walk.

Javier Vazquez came in to get the last out in the ninth as it appeared Marte was tiring. Javy did the job, and actually picked up the win. Considering he only threw 4 pitches, Javy is still in line for his Friday start.

Offense

The Yankees scored 5 runs of Daisuke Matsuzaka in the first inning of last night’s ballgame, but they cooled down after that. Through the second to eight inning the Yankees only picked up 2 more runs. Going into the ninth inning the Yankees trailed 9-7. Would there be any late inning heroics like there were in 2009? Yes. With a man on and facing Jonathan Papelbon, Alex Rodriguez crushed one to left field to tie up the game. Then with Francisco Cervelli on base, Marcus Thames came up to the plate looking dead red. And he got red and took it deep to left for a walkoff home run. Ballgame over, time for pie! I don’t know about you but I never get tired of these unreal endings.

"A-Rod watches his home run leave the park." Photo Credit: Getty Images via Yahoo Sports.

"The look of pure happiness on Marcus Thames' face last night has to make you smile." Photo Credit: Getty Images via Yahoo Sports.

“Catching up with the blogging world”

Check out Matt Vereb’s exclusive interview with Nick Swisher. You can really see how nice a person Swisher is, plus Matt asks some good questions like “Who’s your best friend on the team?” I won’t spoil the answer, go check it out!

P.S. If there is a game tonight, you’re welcome to use this post to discuss it.

Game 38: Red Sox at Yankees

Tonight, the Boston Red Sox come to town. After making to trips to Boston, the Yankees will now take on Boston at home. However, this is only a two game series. Anyway, here is the starting lineup the Yankees will send out to face Daisuke Matsuzaka via Chad Jennings

SS Derek Jeter

CF Brett Gardner

1B Mark Teixeira

DH Alex Rodriguez

2B Robinson Cano

C Francisco Cervelli

RF Marcus Thames

LF Randy Winn

3B Ramiro Pena

RHP Philip Joseph Hughes

Photo Credit: Getty Images via Yahoo Sports

Johnson to undergo surgery

As I mentioned the other day, there was a chance that Nick Johnson would have to undergo surgery to repair his right wrist. Unfortunately, that chance has become reality. Johnson will most likely have the surgery tomorrow and miss 4-6 weeks. While this is certainly not good news, it is better that the Yankees decided quickly that surgery is necessary rather than waiting it out and further delaying the inevitable. With Johnson out for the foreseeable future the Yankees may look for a more permanent DH while Johnson is out. In my opinion, I’d stick with Juan Miranda in the DH spot and Jorge Posada when he’s not catching or sitting out. If that really seems to not work out, I might look into pursuing Jermaine Dye. Once again, just my opinion.

Why was Javy skipped again?

As you may know, the Yankees have opted to skip Javier Vazquez’s start and push him back to Friday. At first I really questioned the move. He is coming off a very good start and he needs to build on that, so why skip him? Well, Benjamin Kabak of RAB analyzed the situation well. Among his many points, one was that by skipping Vazquez the rotation is lined up well. I recommend reading Ben’s write-up for a good take on the situation.

Curtis is feeling better

As you know Curtis Granderson is on the 15-day DL. Fortunately, it looks like he is making good progress. Yesterday he performed eight 60 yard runs and said he was at about 75%. He also hit balls off a tee. Today he took some fly balls in center field during the Yankees batting practice and in Chad Jennings’ opinion Granderson looked “pretty comfortable” and he moved “better than expected.” Hopefully Granderson can get in some rehab games not far from now, although he went on the DL just 17 days ago it feels like a lot longer.

CHoP Returns

Earlier today the Yankees activated reliever Chan Ho Park off the DL and sent starting pitcher Ivan Nova down to Scranton. I’m really glad that Park is back as he has the ability to create some stability in a somewhat unstable bullpen. As far as Ivan Nova goes, I’m sure there is a less valuable bullpen arm that could have been sent down instead (*cough*cough*Boone Logan*), but in the end this was the smart decision. Why? Simply because Ivan Nova is a starter and he needs to be racking up as many innings as possible, not being used sparingly in the major league bullpen. Sorry Boone, I know my dislike is a bit uncredited.