Our Expectations for Baby Rockets

April twenty-fifth, twenty twelve is no doubt a date which shall live in infamy within the Yankees Universe. Early that afternoon, news broke that Michael Pineda had suffered a labrum tear and would miss the rest of the season. The situation could have been worse – rotator cuff damage has effectively ended careers and Pineda’s rotator cuff is clean – but the prognosis is the nonetheless shaky. Hours later Phil Hughes failed to get out of the third inning against the Texas Rangers, surrendering four earned runs and picking up his third loss of the season. Nearly five years after losing a Continue reading Our Expectations for Baby Rockets

Previewing Yankees Vs. Tigers: Great Expectations

The Tigers’ strength this season will center on Justin Verlander; and Justin Verlander’s success, in many ways, will depend on the Tigers. And that’s just it: Justin Verlander is expected—along with the prodigious offense—to carry the Tigers to a playoff run. He is almost universally regarded as the best pitcher in the game. He won both the MVP and the Cy Young awards—he went from Justin Verlander to Justin freakin’ Verlander. But now, people tend to view Justin freakin’ Verlander as the catalyst to the Tigers’ success, and have placed a great deal on his shoulders: with the addition of Fielder, Verlander is now expected to carry his side to a run away division title.

On the other side we have the Yankees and Ivan Nova. Nobody in his or her right mind thought that Nova would be what he has been so far this season: the Yankees most consistent starter. After his mediocre (and that’s being very kind) Spring Training, Nova seemed locked in a fight with Phil Hughes and Freddy Garcia to see who could get kicked off Rotation Island first. Except, when it actually came time to pitch in a real game, Super Nova was ready: in three starts, Nova is 3-0. Phil and Freddy, not so much.

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PITCHf/x Scouting Report: Justin Verlander

Over the last couple of games, the Yankees have hit an odd patch of offensive trouble, scoring only 3 runs between their last 2 games. Things won’t get much easier Friday evening, as the Tigers send out their starting pitcher Justin Verlander. I consider a handful of starting pitchers in the ace category, and Verlander is certainly close to the top of that list. Not only did the right handed pitcher lead the American Leaguer in ERA, IP, SO, ERA+, WHIP, and H/9, but he swept the Cy Young votes and took the MVP award as a pitcher for the Continue reading PITCHf/x Scouting Report: Justin Verlander

Stronger than Dirt

Wins Probability Added or WPA is a statistic that measures a player’s contribution toward winning a baseball game. That is a rather inept and concise description of the statistic. For a better definition, go here. Just for kicks and giggles, I spent some time at Baseball-reference.com and using the amazing Play Index tool, sought the highest single game WPA scores for pitchers in Yankee history. It was a fascinating exercise. The second highest WPA ever recorded by a Yankee pitcher in a game was recorded by Dick Tidrow.  Tidrow, whose nickname was, “Dirt,” pitched for the Yankees from 1974 to 1979. He was a big part of two championship teams in 1977 and 1978. This is a story of his incredible WPA game that occurred in relief (!) on August 25, 1976.

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Special Series Preview: Five Questions with Alexandra Simon

Tonight, the Detroit Tigers come to town for a three game set against the Yankees in a rematch of the (disappointing 2011 ALDS). To get ready for the series–which has pitching matchups of Justin Verlander v. Ivan Nova; Drew Smyly vs. Freddy Garcia; and Max Scherzer vs. CC Sabathia–I asked a few questions of Alexandra Simon, who writes for the site Cats with Bats and Tweets (excellently) from the handle @catswithbats. Read her responses after the jump.

A bullish prognosis on Pineda

If you’re looking for a little less doom and gloom, Curt Schilling thinks that Michael Pineda will be just fine:

Nearly two decades after suffering a similar injury to his throwing shoulder, Curt Schilling said he thinks Yankees starter Michael Pinedacould return from surgery in less than a year — and that Pineda might be even better.

“He can be back better than he has ever been in 10 months,” said Schilling, now an ESPN baseball analyst. “Maybe less, because he is younger. It is going to be 100 percent on him.”

The Yankees have diagnosed Pineda, 23, with an anterior labral tear. The team says it will take Pineda one year before he will be on a major league mound. Surgery is scheduled for Tuesday.

“I was really surprised to see the 12-month-out thing,” said Schilling, who suffered a superior labral tear in 1995.

Schilling, of course, is a noted blow hard, so I’d take this with a grain of salt (especially since, like all good blow-hards, he assumes he knows more than the medical professionals treating Pineda because he once had a similar injury), but I think we’d all be happy for any sort of prognosis that doesn’t make us want to cry until we claw our eyes out. Continue reading A bullish prognosis on Pineda

The Farm Report: April 26, 2012

While the major league club had the night off, the minor league affiliates all played on Thursday.  Unfortunately, they all came up short as Lexington put a stop to Charleston’s ten-game win streak, Tampa lost in extra innings and Trenton and Empire State both took losses.

Empire State lost to Lehigh Valley 6-4:
Dewayne Wise put the Yankees on the board early, with a solo homer in the bottom of the first.  Kevin Russo and Ramiro Pena started the second with singles.  Russo scored on a groundout from Colin Curtis, and the Yankees had a 2-0 lead.  Lehigh Valley took over in the top of the third, however.  An error by Pena allowed the first runner to reach and Tuffy Gosewisch was hit by a pitch.  A single from Andres Blanco scored Lehigh Valley’s first run of the day.  A one out double by Mike Fontenot brought another runner home and Domonic Brown doubled to left, plating two more runs and giving the Iron Pigs a 4-2 lead.   Erik Kratz hit a two-run homer in the seventh, giving Lehigh Valley a 6-2 lead.  Empire State rallied in the bottom of the eighth.  Brandon Laird singled and scored on a double from Russo.  Doug Bernier singled Russo over to third.  He then scored on a wild pitch, but that was the only threat the Yankees could muster as they took a 6-4 loss.  Dewayne Wise went 3-5 with a homer.  Russo also went 3-5 with two runs scored, a pair of doubles and a RBI.  Ramon Ortiz took the loss, throwing 5.2 innings and giving up four runs (three earned) on ten hits.  He did not walk anyone and struck out three.  Pat Venditte three a scoreless, hitless inning.  He did issue a walk, but struck out two.

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Are these the last weeks of Phil Hughes as starting pitcher?

Last night, Phil Hughes didn’t make it out of the third inning. He got to two outs in the inning, but just couldn’t close it out. After striking out a batter to lead off the Texas half of the frame, Mitch Moreland singled. Ian Kinsler then hit a bloop double to right field. Elvis Andrus followed with a weak grounder that was just weak enough to score Moreland from third. Then it fell apart. Hughes hit Josh Hamilton with a pitch, gave up a hard single to Adrian Beltre, then gave up a stinging double to Michael Young. After Hughes Continue reading Are these the last weeks of Phil Hughes as starting pitcher?