Instant replay a winner for Yankees

What is Joe Girardi thinking? (Photo: MLB.com)

What is Joe Girardi thinking? (Photo: MLB.com)

There are very few things that a manager and his coaching staff has total control of during a game.

He can set the lineups, but can’t make a player hit a home run on a curveball off the plate.

He can position the fielders in an optimal arrangement to maximize coverage of the diamond, but can’t make the fielder dive to his left or right to get a groundball in the hole.

He can bring in his best middle reliever in the seventh inning to escape a bases-loaded jam, but can’t make that pitcher execute the perfect sequence of pitches to get the batter out.

However, there is one area where a manager and his coaching staff can make a decision that directly affects the game: the new instant replay/challenge rule.

Notes on the Yankees instant replay challenges
The Yankees don’t have the league’s most productive offense or pitching staff or defense, but they seem to have mastered this new ability to challenge umpire calls via replay.…

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What to Watch For: Yankees vs Rick Porcello

The Yankees tonight begin a crucial three-game series against the Tigers, who are two games ahead of them in the Wild Card standings. Rick Porcello, who lost to the Yankees earlier this month, gets the ball in the series opener for Detroit.

The Tigers have three former Cy Young winners and the reigning league ERA champ in their (healthy) rotation, but that “other starter” – Rick Porcello – might be the most consistent pitcher on their staff this season.

Porcello owns a 3.10 ERA in 2014 and has seen that number drop each month, including a 2.53 ERA in August. He has yet to allow more than three runs in back-to-back starts this season and his three shutouts are tied for the most in baseball.

He held the Yankees to one run over seven innings in his only outing against them this year on August 7, a game the Yankees actually won 1-0 thanks to a more dominant effort by Shane Greene.…

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Tuesday Morning Food For Thought: Jeter’s Playing Time

Jeter vs TB II

Courtesy of Getty Images

Back in November of last year, when the disappointment of the season that was had fully worn off, I started looking ahead to this season and wrote this post discussing the possible playing time split at shortstop.  Derek Jeter was going to be 40, we had no way of knowing what kind of shape his ankle and legs in general would be in after a season in which they were a constant problem, and the Yankees had already re-signed Brendan Ryan as his defensive insurance policy.

In that post, I predicted Jeter would play in 120 games total in 2014 and about 80-100 of those games at shortstop while DH’ing in the others.  Why do I bring this up now?  Because we’re 122 games into this season and Jeter is well on his way to blowing my predictions, and the predictions of most others, out of the water.  He’s already exceeded the number of games at short that I called.  …

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Monday Mid-Morning Food For Thought: The One Positive From The Weekend Series

That was a rather sour finish to the homestand.  To go from taking 3 of 4 from the Tigers and outpitching their rotation of studs in the process to dropping 2 of 3 to the Indians and scoring 1 run in the final 18 innings of the series was the highest highs right back to the lowest lows, another example of this team’s maddening inconsistency.  The Yankees lost ground in the postseason races this past weekend and head into Baltimore for a crucial series needing at least a 2-1 series win to seriously stay in AL East title contention.

If there’s one positive thing to take away from the last 2 days, it’s this.  The Yankees are heading into Baltimore tonight with the big guns in their bullpen well rested.  The way the Cleveland series went down gave Joe the option of scaling back the usage of guys like David Robertson, Dellin Betances, and Adam Warren and it was an option he took.  …

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McCarthy Mixes Fastballs Brilliantly To Tame The Tigers

Last Tuesday was Brandon McCarthy‘s worst start as a Yankee.  Against a weak Texas lineup he didn’t have good command of his stuff and got hit around for 9 hits and 4 ER in 6 innings.  The Yankees eventually won that game, as they’ve won all 5 games he’s started since being acquired.  The 5th win came last night, when McCarthy was back on the hill and back in full command of his entire fastball arsenal.  He featured all 3 in different situations against different hitters and completely held the Detroit Tiger lineup at bay with the way used them.

Before we get to that, just a quick counting stats recap for those who either missed the game or didn’t fully appreciate how good McCarthy was last night.  He threw 116 pitches, his highest pitch count of the year and the 3rd straight start in which he threw 108 or more, and pumped in 81 strikes (69.8%).  He threw first-pitch strikes to 19 of the 25 batters he faced and had 11 swinging strikes (13.6%).  …

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Joe’s Bad Bullpen Decisions Doomed That Series

Joe vs BOS

“What do you think here? Gotta be Huffy, right?” Courtesy of the AP

I’ve been a slow convert to the Joe Girardi management method.  At first I really didn’t like how he did things, and it was only in the last 2 or 3 years that I fully got on board Team Joe when it came to evaluating how he went about his job.  If I’m being honest, and also a bit of a homer, I think the job he’s done since the start of last season, with the teams he’s been given and the injuries he’s had to deal with, has been the best work of his career and arguably the best managing job in all of MLB.  So now that I’ve prefaced this post with that setting of context, let me say that I have absolutely no clue what the hell Joe was doing with his bullpen this weekend.

Saturday night, out for a late dinner with the girlfriend.  …

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Joe Needs To Keep Lengthening The Leash On His Young Starters

Joe-Nuno vs CHW

Courtesy of Getty Images

A funny thing happened this last turn through the rotation.  Joe showed a little more faith in his trio of young replacement starters, allowing all of them to work deeper into the game than they have since taking spots in the rotation, and the world didn’t collapse in on itself.  In fact, the Yankees won 2 of the 3 games pitched by David Phelps, Vidal Nuno, and Chase Whitley, and may have snuck out a win in the other game if Joe had put a competitive lineup on the field.

The Yankees have had a ton of problems in their rotation already this year, almost all of them due to injury.  The latest issue has been not getting enough length from the starters and it was an issue partially perpetuated by Joe and his quick hook with these 3.  He knows who his bullpen aces are and he’s leaned heavily on them to carry the burden of holding leads rather than leave it in the hands of pitchers in which he doesn’t have as much confidence.  …

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Why No Gardner?

Joe Dugout

Really shouldn’t take that much thought. Courtesy of Getty Images

I’ve written this post before, but if you’re not familiar with it, here’s the updated version.

Joe decided to give Brian McCann and Brett Gardner a night off last night and Derek Jeter a half-night off by DHing him against lefty Chris Sale.  That left the middle of his lineup pretty thin and the bottom half of his lineup almost non-existent.  A 6-9 of Brian Roberts, John Ryan Murphy, Brendan Ryan, and Zoilo Almonte wouldn’t be ideal against Chris Hammond let alone the best left-handed pitcher in the American League, but that’s what Joe went with.

Sale predictably shut down that weak lineup over his 6 innings of work.  Made them look terrible.  Took them out back and slapped them around like children.  The only thing that stopped the madness was the pregame pitch count limit Robin Ventura had put on Sale.  Now resting McCann I get.  …

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Maintaining Kuroda’s Workload Restriction In The Face Of A Rotation Depletion

Kuroda vs PIT

Courtesy of the AP

(Syndicated from An A-Blog for A-Rod)

It’s Pitcher Workload Monday Week around here, huh?  That’ll happen when 60% of your Opening Day rotation is on the DL and replaced with 3 guys who struggle to complete 6 innings.  Further complicating matters is the fact that one of the remaining 2 healthy starters, Hiroki Kuroda, entered this season with a workload restriction attached to him.  Similarly to how Joe handled Andy Pettitte last season, the plan for Kuroda was to be a 6-inning/100-pitch pitcher for the most part.  The thought was that by limiting him to those thresholds early, it would help prevent the late-season decline in performance he experienced in 2013.  It’s also a smart “better safe than sorry” strategy to take with a pitcher in his late 30s.

The problem with that strategy is that the substitution of Nuno-Phelps-Whitley for Nova-Pineda-Sabathia has put an extra strain on the bullpen.  One way to help alleviate that strain would be to let Kuroda pitch a little deeper in his outings, something Joe had the opportunity to do that in yesterday’s Sunday’s opening doubleheader game.  …

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