About Susan Lulgjuraj

Susan Lulgjuraj has been a sports reporter for more than 10 years, covering the Super Bowl, the Philadelphia Phillies, Little league and everything in between. Susan also grew up a New York Yankees fan and sat with the Bleacher Creatures for many years.

What should the Yankees do with Tanaka?

As long as he is healthy, I vote start Tanaka over the weekend. Having him start on Saturday or Sunday will give him a chance to test his leg, but also give Yankees flexibility needed if they want to hold him off for the end of the season – if New York has managed to climb its back to the top spot in the AL East – or save him for the Wild Card Game. Continue reading What should the Yankees do with Tanaka?

Daily News layoffs could affect how sports fans get their information

The New York Daily News was one of my go-to news sources for several years when it came to reading about the Yankees. I would check the game recap, read quotes, consider columnists’ concerns and opinions. It would provide fodder for my conversations whether we were praising and downplaying the article in question.

Now with the likes of Mike Lupica, Teri Thompson and others from Daily News gone, I wonder how that is going to affect coverage of the Yankees. The day-to-day stuff will be there, but it’s the peripheral articles and columns that are going to change. Continue reading Daily News layoffs could affect how sports fans get their information

Series preview: Four-game set with the Indians starts tonight

[caption id="attachment_77821" align="aligncenter" width="550"]Yanks vs CLE Here’s hoping this series goes better than the last. Courtesy of Getty Images[/caption]

The Yankees current winning ways started in Cleveland last week. New York has won six of its last seven, and hope to keep adding numbers to that ‘W’ column when the Indians start a four-game series at Yankee Stadium today.

Here’s a glance at each game in the series:

Thursday, August 20: RHP Ivan Nova vs. RHP Josh Tomlin

Nova has shown signs of improvement recently, having one real tough outing in his last five. For many of the Indians batters, this is their first look at Nova. The only Cleveland player with any amount of significant at-bats against him is Mike Aviles, and he has only had eight appearances against Nova.

Tomlin is making just his second start of the season. He’s gone through a series of injuries and rehab assignments in the last couple of years.

Matchup to watch:
Ryan Raburn vs. Nova: 3-for-5, 1.200 OPS.
Mark Teixeira (if he can play) vs. Tomlin: 4-for-13 with two home runs.

Friday, August 21: RHP Masahiro Tanaka vs. RHP Carlos Carrasco

Tanaka’s arm did not fall off this season despite what the doctors at the local papers were telling you. In fact, Tanaka is having a fine season and is coming off his best performance of the year having thrown a complete game and striking out eight against the Blue Jays on August 15.

Carrasco has pitched very well as of late. He has a 1.36 ERA in his last four games with 29 strikeouts in 33 innings. Continue reading Series preview: Four-game set with the Indians starts tonight

Mark Teixeira is the bat the Yankees have needed

[caption id="attachment_77065" align="aligncenter" width="300"]Getty Images / Jim McIsaac Getty Images / Jim McIsaac[/caption]

I used to be down on Mark Teixeira. I felt bad for him because of the injuries, but at the same time, the injuries drove me crazy.

The Yankees paid a lot of money for him and he couldn’t stay healthy over the last several years. I wondered if Teixeira would actually be good again – or come close to what he did in New York in 2009. That year, he was great: 122 RBI, 39 HR, .292 BA, .948 OPS, and finished second in the MVP voting.

This year, my feelings for Teixeira have been different. I love all the extra base hits, but it actually looks like Teixeira is having fun. I see a lot of smiles out there and he genuinely looks like he is enjoying baseball. This hasn’t been the case for the last couple of years.

But even greater than my feelings – because, really, it doesn’t matter what I feel about him – is that New York needs this. Teixeira needs to be a powerful bat in the middle of that order and the Yankees have needed him to be a threat rather than a pop-up machine.

Batting average isn’t everything, but from 2010 to Wednesday, his BA was .244 with an OBP of .341. From 2003-08, his average was .290 with an OBP of .378. When he comes in batting close to .300 – and .308 in 2008, there is a certain expectation. After the 2010, he didn’t live up to them.

It’s great to see Teixeira having a healthy season. Even though his batting average is not great, Teixeira is making the most of his at-bats. The 2015 All-Star has 24 home runs with 65 RBI, and more than half of his hits been of the extra-base variety.

These are legitimately Teixeira’s best numbers in about four years. A good Teixeira, plus a good ARod and great bullpen has the Yankees sitting in first place in the AL East. Continue reading Mark Teixeira is the bat the Yankees have needed

This could be an interesting week for the Yankees

I feel like we have been here before. The last couple of the seasons the Yankees had a solid start with different players coming through in the clutch.

And, then, things fell apart – or more that it just stays even.

New York has lost 7 of its last 8, and won just two games on its recent nine-game road trip. These two days off this week may very well be needed as it starts a six-game home stand followed by a seven-game West Coast road trip tomorrow. Their next day off is not until June 4.

This coming week could be an important one in the Yankees season. Two months in, and things start to potentially show how the Yankees are going to play for the rest of the season.

In 2013, the Yankees were 30-18 on May 31. Starting on June 1, they finished the season 54-53, a mediocre team.

Last season, New York was just average the entire time with a few moments where it looked better than just OK. But they still finished 84-78, and played to a 55-52 record starting on June 1.

This seems to be the juncture – based on the last two seasons – where the Yankees will either be a mediocre team or a playoff contender.

Reasons to be optimistic
– Masahiro Tanaka is closer to coming back. While there still have been concerns about his pitching this year, if he comes back healthy from the DL, he can still be an effective pitcher.
– The Yankees bullpen has been solid, minus recent hiccups. Every team goes through a tough patch, and the bullpen should be able to rebound.
– The Yankees still have a positive run differential of +12

Reasons to worry
– Jacoby Ellsbury going on the DL is a major concern, especially depending on how long he is out.
– Starting pitching continues to be frustrating.
– Yankees have been one of the worst defensive teams this season with a team fielding percentage of .981, toward the bottom half of the league. Continue reading This could be an interesting week for the Yankees