The State of the Yankee Pitching Staff

Over the last few weeks, many pundits have chimed in to bemoan the state of the Yankees pitching. With the team mired in a long rough patch in which they have played mediocre baseball for over a month now, some have suggested that the team does not have the arms needed to succeed in October. I decided to take a closer look at the pitching numbers since July 29th, when this poor stretch began (28-26 since), simply because I had a sneaking suspicion that the pitching is not close to as poor as the media and some fans would have you believe.

I split the team into two categories. The first contains the 9 “core” playoff pitchers, those arms that are likely to eat all of the high leverage innings in the postseason. The second contains the fringe playoff roster arms and other assorted relievers. The idea was to see how the Yankee pitching over the last 7 weeks or so would look if we removed the pitchers who were seeing time primarily due to the Yankees cushion in the standings or due to injury.… Click here to read the rest

Yankees vs. Blue Jays VI: Oh, it's you again

The Yankees and Blue Jays meet in Toronto for what feels like the 300,000th time this season though in actuality will be the sixth and final match-up between the two. I was already sick of Toronto in the last Series Preview, and I can’t say I’m exactly thrilled to see Mr. Newest-Member-of-the-50-Home-Run-Club yet again. The Blue Jays have been a thorn in the Yankees’ side all season, and at 8-7 (4- 2 at Rogers Centre) are one of only three teams with a winning record against the Yankees this season — the others being the Rays and Phillies. As I’ve written numerous times, it seems like the Jays should be a way better team than their record would indicate, but as we’ve also discussed several times before the team’s biggest issue has been its OBP — while they slug a prodigious amount of home runs, apparently no one’s ever on base.

Assuming the majority of this team will be back next season, Toronto GM Alex Anthopoulos has to go out and sign players that can get on-base at above a league-average rate, which is around .328 this season.… Click here to read the rest

Phil Hughes and the ALDS

Going into last night’s matchup I discussed how important a win for Phil Hughes would be.  Beating Boston last night would drop the magic number down to 1, it would temporarily quench the torrent of criticism rained down on Joe Girardi by guys like ESPNNY writer Andrew Marchand (who called Girardi “incompetent at best, delusional at worst”, an appellation better suited for Marchand himself), and it would also enable the Yankees to clinch in Toronto the following night, thereby alleviating the need for a Sabathia start on Tuesday.  Hughes did not disappoint.  In six innings of work, he allowed only 3 hits and 1 earned run, walking 4 and striking out 4.  This line actually suggests that Hughes was worse than he was, as two of those walks came in the top of the 7th when Hughes was clearly fatigued and lost his command.

Hughes continued his trend of mixing four pitches throughout the night.  The command of the fastball was better than it was in his last outing against Tampa, and he did a much better job driving it to either side of the plate.… Click here to read the rest

A look at some notable historical collapses

Prior to last night’s walk-off walk, the Yankees’ odds of reaching the playoffs were a staggering 98.9%. Considering the team basically already had a playoff berth all but guaranteed, one would probably presume that all was well in the Yankees realm. In actuality, this has not been the case though despite the comforting realities of probability. Truth be told, it doesn’t take much coaxing of any fan that supports an AL East franchise to hear firsthand just how unpredictable the division truly is.

This September, the Yankees have found themselves 11-13 with six games remaining against divisional rivals (one of which technically hasn’t been eliminated from the playoff hunt), and it’s easy to see why many of us were beginning to experience panic-induced ulcers. Up until the final hours of Sunday night, the Yankees were still idling at a Magic Number of 3 during the last game of their last homestand of the season with the dismal prospect of having to obtain some wins in either of the two difficult upcoming away series remaining — one in Toronto and another against the perpetually exhausting Boston Red Sox.… Click here to read the rest

Let’s Talk about David Robertson

Last night, David Robertson came into the game with two on and none out in the top of the seventh. He allowed neither inherited runner to score. After a sac bunt, he got a hard grounder from Bill Hall that didn’t get through a drawn in infield. After that, he did his normal D-Rob thing and struck Lars Anderson out with a low curveball. I want the Yankees–or the Player’s Union, whoever is in charge of this–to make a shirt with Dave’s face on it that says “Chicks Dig the Curveball.” If there was a mention of the high socks, that’d be cool too. Let’s look at the season for Robertson.

April was bad for Robertson. He gave up 10 hits in 5 innings (though he struck out 8 and walked just 1). His month was essentially ruined by two outings–0.1 IP, 4 R vs the Angels on the 13th and 0.1 IP, 2 R vs the Orioles on the 27th.… Click here to read the rest

RIP: Posada’s arm

I spent some time talking about Posada and 2011, his last year under contract:

So what’s going to happen next year when Posada will be another year older? It will be the final year of his 4 year, $52.4 million contract that he signed after Thanksgiving 2007. This contract, namely the 2011 year, is the biggest example of what I am always referring to the Yankees “hometown premium”. There was no reasonable, rational reason for the team to give Posada the fourth year, other than for nostalgia. It was unreasonable to expect Posada to remain at his age 36 (or earlier) performance levels through age 40, as a full time catcher. It was just unrealistic then and it’s even more troublesome now.  This hometown premium will rear its head when Jeter signs his extension and again as ARod ages (he’s signed through age 42, seven years from now).

This team is already aging in the core. Yes, there’s been a noticable trend towards getting younger, but the big guns on this team will need some DH/days off time next year, as they have needed this year. … Click here to read the rest

Hughes, A-Rod, D-Rob all come up huge in much-needed wild 4-3 walk-off win in 10 against BoSox

Think the Yankees were pumped up to win this one? I know I was.

In arguably the most nerve-wracking Yankee game played all season, the Yankees were able to come away with a 4-3 victory in 10 innings over the Red Sox, staving off a rare three-game sweep at home (no one has accomplished that feat against the Yankees at the new Stadium) in a contest that featured incredible starting pitching on both sides as well as blown saves by both Mariano Rivera and Jonathan Papelbon.

The Yankees needed to win this game badly, and they couldn’t have asked for much more out of Phil Hughes, who was brilliant in throwing 6+ innings of one-run ball on three hits in what may have been his most important start in pinstripes. Unfortunately for the Yankees, somewhere along the line Daisuke Matsuzaka apparently completely reinvented himself as a pitcher, trading in the nibbler who finds himself in deep count after deep count and walking the second-most batters per nine innings for a guy who pounded the strike zone with a lively fastball and power sinker and who hardly even got to three balls on any hitter.… Click here to read the rest

Bad night for Closers

Last night was a game that was tightly contested for 8 innings on both sides, featuring a well pitched game by Phil Hughes and an even better showing by Dice-K. Hughes was outstanding before allowing 2 leadoff walks in the 7th (more on that later), giving up just 1 run on a double that was poorly played by Nick Swisher and a legit single to Victor Martinez. Diasuke Matsuzaka was even better than Hughes, dazzling the Yanks all night long and giving up 2 Runs on a bloop single by Tex and a 2-Run HR to Alex that just cleared the auxiliary scoreboard in right field. It wasn’t even a bad pitch, in on the hands about belt high. That’s one where you just tip your cap to Alex, who’s been sizzling hot the past few days.

But by the time the two Closers entered the game, it looked like neither side wanted the win. Mariano Rivera was asleep at the wheel, allowing 4 stolen bases without once throwing a ball to 1B/2B or checking a runner.… Click here to read the rest

Red Sox Series Recap

Ortiz, Mike Lowell and Lowrie started the fourth with back-to-back-to-back singles.  A double by Darnell McDonald and back-to-back singles by Marco Scutaro and J.D. Drew ended Pettitte’s night and put Boston ahead 7-1.  The Yankees got two quick outs to start the top of the fifth, but a walk to Lowell was followed by a single by Lowrie and a Bill Hall homer to give the Red Sox a commanding 10-1 lead.

If there was something positive to be seen in Friday’s game, it was the way in which the Yankees fought back.  Homers by Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez in the bottom of the sixth put the Yankees back 10-3.  The Yankees then put together a big inning of their own in the bottom of the seventh.  With two outs, Derek Jeter worked a walk and Swisher homered to right.  Teixeira then walked and Rodriguez answered with his second homer in as many innings, as the Yankees were back within striking distance. … Click here to read the rest