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 no-hit bid to injury in Dallas, Hughes is a shell of his “Baby Rocket” self. David Phelps came on in relief and promptly surrendered three earned runs in two and a third innings, marking the worst outing of his short career.

In short, things went to hell on Wednesday, and they haven’t gotten any better since. Hughes’ time as a starting pitcher may be nearing an end.… Click here to read the rest

Previewing Yankees Vs. Tigers: Great Expectations

Verlander, of course, is the Tigers’ undisputed ace: during the offseason, the Tigers acquired the rights to Prince Fielder, paying him a giant dump truck load of cash (I hear that he asked to be paid uniquely by dump trucks dropping cash onto his lawn, and that the base unit of currency in his contract is the “dump truck”—he’s making about 50 dump trucks a year for ten years). Prince Fielder can hit. But he really can’t play anywhere except first base; which is a problem, because the Tigers already had a first baseman, 2010 AL MVP Miguel Cabrera (who’s also pretty good at hitting).… Click here to read the rest

PITCHf/x Scouting Report: Justin Verlander

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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 first time since 1992. We usually use this scouting report to analyze the opposing pitcher for the upcoming game and understand their strengths and weakness, but a lot of what Verlander does should be taken as precedent for good pitching. As you’ll see, he does very little wrong, and if you want to understand what makes good break, selection, and location, this is your guy.… Click here to read the rest

Stronger than Dirt

Tidrow came to the Yankees via one of the best trades in the team’s history. The trade happened on April 26, 1974, 38 years ago from this very date! In the deal, the Yankees got Tidrow, Chris Chambliss and Cecil Upshaw from the Cleveland Indians for Steve Kline, Fred Beene, Fritz Peterson and Tom Buskey. Peterson was the only “name” the Yanks traded in the deal and he was pretty well broken down by then. Tidrow’s first year with the team was mostly as a starter. The next three seasons, he was mostly a relief pitcher. He would be mostly a starter again in 1978. The Yankees would trade Tidrow to the Cubs for Ray Burriss. That was a bad trade as Burriss didn’t do anything for the Yankees. In 1976, Tidrow pitched for the Yankees mostly from the bullpen. He made only two spot starts during the season and pitched seven innings both times and only allowed two runs in each.… Click here to read the rest

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.… Click here to read the rest

The Farm Report: April 26, 2012

Trenton lost to Erie 9-2:
Erie leapt out to a huge lead before a Thunder player even touched a bat.  Niuman Romero singled and Craig Heyer hit the next batter with a pitch.  Back-to-back walks loaded the bases and pushed in the first run of the game.  A force out gave the Thunder their second out of the inning, but allowed the second run to score.  Two doubles and a pair of singles kept the runs coming for Erie, who held a 7-0 lead after the top of the first.  Yadil Mujica singled in the third and scored on a double from Abraham Almonte, but Trenton continued to struggle to put together a rally.  Erie added runs in the eighth and ninth, but in the end Trenton was unable to put together much offense, taking a 9-2 loss.  Heyer calmed down after his horrible first inning.  He went five innings and allowed seven runs on eight hits, four walks and a hit by pitch.  … Click here to read the rest

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 hit Nelson Cruz, he was lifted for Clay Rapada. In his four starts this year, Phil Hughes has pitched a grand total of 16 innings. As has been said by broadcaster and fan alike, his velocity is pretty much there, but the location is absolutely gone. With Andy Pettitte scheduled to make at least two more starts in the minors, Hughes has some time, but the clock is ticking.… Click here to read the rest