Game 44: Let’s Go Streaking

With the ups and downs that this team has suffered thus far, it almost seems unfair to pile on injury news on the heels of their first win in what felt like an eternity … but Austin Romine is out until “at least July” due to an inflamed disk in his back. While it does seem like expectations for Romine have cooled significantly over the last year or so, I feel as though this is a significant blow to the team’s fortunes, considering the lack of production from behind the plate thus far (Russell Martin’s hot week notwithstanding). Here’s hoping Romine can get himself healthy, and Martin can continue to heat up along with the weather.

Also of note on the injury front – Robertson may not be the closer upon his return, per Brian Heyman. Girardi is fond of the Proven Closer™, and I am quite certain that Robertson’s shaky ninth inning adventures (as well as Soriano’s ups and downs outside of the final three outs) did little to deter that mindset.… Click here to read the rest

Buck Has Orioles Flying High, but Can They Rule the Roost? (History Says Yes)

(The following is being syndicated from The Captain’s Blog; follow me on Twitter at@williamnyy23).

It’s been a topsy-turvy year in the A.L. East. After more than a decade of relative stability atop the division, the standings now read as if they were printed up-side down. With stalwarts like the Yankees and Red Sox bringing up the rear, and the Orioles perched above the others, it’s been anything but business as usual. But, how long will this new world order last?

After more than a decade of being kicked around, the Orioles are finally fighting back.

Many Yankees and Red Sox fans, and perhaps members of each organization, have taken solace in the fact that the Baltimore Orioles currently lead the division.  A six game deficit in May would never be cause for panic, but when the team out in front hasn’t had a winning season since 1997, it’s easy to see why the sense of urgency has been racheted down.… Click here to read the rest

For Hughes: Regression, or Improvement?

(Photo by Nick Laham/Getty Images)

Phil Hughes is having a tremendous month of May. The 25-year-old, who left April a weak link in a weakening New York rotation, is 3-2 with a 3.45 ERA in five starts over the past three weeks. Hughes has a 4.1 strikeout to walk rate over the past month and batters are hitting just .230 off the righty, giving him a WHIP of 1.12 since May first. That’s a staggering three quarters of a runner fewer per innings in May than in April. Hughes has pitched well enough to avoid demotion upon the return of Andy Pettitte, and has strung together his five best Game Scores of the season in his last five starts, including a six inning, two run, seven strikeout performance against the Royals last night at home.

Despite a strong spring training, and all the optimism in the world heading into the regular season, Hughes’ has gotten off to a rough start.… Click here to read the rest

Analyzing Hughes’ May Turnaround

In the month of April, Phil Hughes posted a miserable 7.88 ERA, a 6.40 FIP, and allowed a .329/.395/.658 slash. For the impatient fans, the 25 year old’s career as a starter was over despite a gaudy 9.56 K/9. Since then, Hughes has gone 31.1 innings in May with a 3.45 ERA, a 4.37 FIP, a .230/.277/.434 slash, an 8.33 K/9, and a 2.01 BB/9. The immediate focus is on how his ERA has fallen into the 4’s, but even more interesting is how he’s achieved his May turnaround.

He called it a reliever’s mentality in early May, and it’s included more four-seam fastballs challenging hitters, more curveballs, and showcasing the changeup to left handed hitters. For the most part, Hughes has also dissolved the cutter from his repertoire, refraining from a single one in last night’s start against the Royals.

Pitch Type Selection (4/8 – 4/25) Selection (5/1 – 5/22)
Four-seam 60.9% 65.9%
Curveball 14.5% 20.7%
Cutter 12.7% 11.3%
Changeup 11.8% 2.0%

One personal issue I had with Hughes’ month of April was his selection with 2 strikes.… Click here to read the rest

Alex Rodriguez – middle-of-the-road player

In fact, despite his lack of power this season, he is currently tied for sixth among ranking third baseman. That is hardly middle-of-the-road. And last year, in only 99 games, A-Rod was the fourth most valuable third baseman in baseball. I wouldn’t call that middle-of-the-road. Put him down around the fifteenth best, and we could talk. His current wOBA is only twelve points behind Miguel Cabrera. In other words, A-Rod is holding his own and he has not gotten hot yet or started to hit for power. And who is to say he won’t?

Look, I understand that A-Rod will never earn his current contract. So that is not even worth talking about. That was a Yankees’ mistake, not A-Rods. All of us would have signed that puppy. And I also understand that many will never give A-Rod any kind thoughts because of the PED thing. And there is little doubt that until the last couple of years, A-Rod was a bit of a misanthrope.… Click here to read the rest

Who is Will Smith and why is he pitching tonight?

For one thing, Luis Mendoza is the kind of pitcher that drives the Yankees’ batters nuts. He is a ground ball machine with a 2.42 ground ball to fly ball ratio. In other words, he pitches like Derek Jeter hits. As a right-handed pitcher against lefty hitters the Yankees have that like to yank the ball to the right side, Mendoza had a far better shot at succeeding than Will Smith with those ground ball rates. William Michael “Will” Smith is a 22 year old kid from Newnan, Georgia, the Angels signed right out of high school back in 2007. The Angels selected him in the 40th Round of the draft. So it’s not like he was this prized prospect. He is a big guy at six foot, five inches and he weighs 240 pounds. He will have quite a presence on the mound. But is he any good?

Smith has had success in the minors for the Angels and Royals with a .594 winning percentage in five years in the minors for those teams.… Click here to read the rest

2012 looking like 2010 for Swisher, excepting the results

In 2010, Nick Swisher came into the year with a narrative in tow. After struggling in the 2009 playoffs, where he hit just .128/.255/.234/.489 with one home run, Swisher decided a new approach was needed. He started swinging at more pitches and going more for contact. Sure enough, the plan worked. He posted a career best batting average of .288 and still managed to have a solid Iso of .223. The overall product, a .377 wOBA, was not much different than the product in 2009 was (.375 wOBA) when Swisher did his usual thing at the plate (low average, high power, lots of walks). 2010 did feature, though, a single digits walk rate and a higher-than-normal O-Swing% for Swisher, proof that he did change his approach a bit. The change in approach led to a high BABIP of .335, just the second time (2007, .301) that Swisher had been above a .300 BABIP. In terms of peripherals, 2012 is looking a like 2010 for Nick, though the results haven’t come yet.… Click here to read the rest

Offense still thin but Hughes, bullpen win it for Yankees

The offense still remained toothless for the Yankees and the tone was set early. Hochevar has taken his share of lumps from the Yankees over the years and the first inning has been his trouble spot all season. He quickly fell behind Derek Jeter, who led off the bottom of the first, 3-0 and was not close with any of the pitches. But then Hochevar threw three perfect sinkers on the outside corner at the knees to strike Jeter out. Thus, the first batter of the game for the Yankees raises the question of whether the Yankees simply cannot hit or are facing an extraordinary run by the pitchers they face. Jeter’s strikeout was a microcosm of that debate. Hochevar could not have thrown three better pitches.

Hughes had an easy time of it through the first two innings, retiring the side in order in both frames. But he ran into trouble in the top of the third. Irving Falu led off the inning with a single.… Click here to read the rest