Why players don’t care about Michael Pineda’s “dirt”

Bk6idBvIAAEsBRAMichael Pineda threw with the type of gusto through Thursday he had three years ago when the Yankees traded for him from Seattle.

His slider made batters look foolish. His fastball set up off-speed pitches. And he mixed in a cutter and changeup to keep the Boston Red Sox off-balance.

However, on Friday morning, no one seemed to be talking about Pineda’s pitching performance. Instead, it was about the substance on Pineda’s pitching hand. Television stills showed a brown substance on the base of the palm of his hand.

Pineda called it dirt. Others called it pine tar.

Yankees manager Joe Girardi said he didn’t know anything about it.

The Red Sox players said it didn’t matter.

There are reasons that it doesn’t matter to Boston – or most players asked around the league.

1. No one wants to be the team to point it out. If a manager does, he will set up his own team for the same kind of scrutiny.… Click here to read the rest

Game Thread: Yankees at Red Sox, September 15th

A colleague of mine and I agreed on Friday that this was the most important series of the Yankee season. The Bombers had clawed their way to within one game of a Wild Card berth and they were taking their hot play into Fenway, to face the first place Red Sox, a team that has owned just about the entire American League in 2013. Two of three wins were essential, we agreed. We meant two of three wins for the Yankees. That’s not how things have turned out. The Yankee beatings at the hands of the Red Sox have continued, while Tampa Bay has righted the ship against the Twins. The Yankees now sit three games out of the playoffs, with time moving against them. There are must wins, and then there are must wins, the ones that aren’t vapid comments but true difference making games. This is the later. The Yankees can’t afford to fall much more than three games behind the Rays at this point in the season.… Click here to read the rest

Nova’s Curveball Key To Third Win

As the Highlanders squared off against the Red Sox this afternoon, Ivan Nova did his best impression of Smoky Joe Wood. His final line was 6.0 innings, 7 hits, 2 runs, and 5 strikeouts. Out of 3 starts, he has now won 3 games, thanks to a continuous barrage of run support for the pitcher. Let’s take a look at the PITCHF/x numbers to see how he went about one of the most potent offenses in baseball.

Nova threw the four-seamer, two-seamer, changeup, slider, and curveball tonight. The four-seamer sat at the new standard 92.6 mph, and topped out at 95.6. Compared to the last start against the Angels, Nova’s fastball was right around the same speed, but it had more than 2 inches of less horizontal movement in to right handed batters and about an inch more “rising” action. In the last PITCHF/x piece on Ivan Nova, I wrote about how he has regained strength from last year, and throwing the ball harder but with some ridiculously high “rise”.… Click here to read the rest

PITCHF/x Scouting Report: Clay Buchholz

Hopefully he doesn't put up that many zeroes.

This afternoon the Yankees will make the trip to Fenway to celebrate 100 years of the historical stadium. The Red Sox will send right handed pitcher Clay Buchholz to the mound. Aside from his health, Buchholz has always been somewhat “lucky”, showing mediocre advanced stats, but an impressive ERA. In 2009 he posted a 4.21 ERA behind a 4.69 FIP, .279 BABIP, and 76.7% LOB in 92.0 innings. In 2010 the numbers were particularly glaring, a 2.33 ERA in 173.2 innings with a 3.61 FIP, .261 BABIP, 79.0% LOB, and 5.6 HR/FB%. Last year was all too similar, a 3.48 ERA behind a 4.34 FIP behind similar BABIP and LOB numbers. As much as Red Sox fans may want the pitcher to keep up his unbelievable ERA, it looks like statistical karma is bound to catch up with him. Thus far he has a 9.82 ERA behind a 4.46 FIP and his LOB is certainly turning on him at 43%.… Click here to read the rest

Offensive malaise continues as Yanks drop third straight

(photo c/o Getty)

For the second straight game the Yankees were kept hitless for the first three innings, setting the tone for a masterful start by Clay Buchholz, who threw seven strong innings, striking out seven, walking just one and giving up two runs as Boston took the first game if this three-game set, 5-4.

Adrian Gonzalez paced Boston’s offensive attack (speaking of offensive attacks, it must be delightful when your team actually has one), blasting a solo shot to put the Sox up 1-0 in the 4th and also adding the go-ahead sac fly in the 7th, breaking a 2-2 tie. For his part, Bartolo Colon threw another solid game, going six-plus and only giving up two earned runs, but the painfully slumping Yankee offense — along with still more defensive miscues and a shaky Joba Chamberlain, who gave up a key two-run bomb to Kevin Youkilis that wound up being the decisive blow — were too much for the team to overcome.… Click here to read the rest

Do the Yankees need to rethink their organizational philosophy regarding developing starting pitchers?

Hughes & Joba, forever intertwined

In the wake of Boston extending Clay Buchholz, I couldn’t help but think about the healthy number of young, good-to-excellent starting pitchers across baseball that have seen their teams jump to extend them prior to hitting free agency these last few years, and that the Yankees have remained noticeably absent from this practice.

The Yankees’ AL East rivals in particular have been quite active in this arena, with the Sox wisely extending Jon Lester back in 2009; the Blue Jays locking up Ricky Romero; and three-fifths of the Rays’ rotation — James Shields, Wade Davis and Jeff Niemann — having signed assorted team-friendly deals buying out their arb years that also contain a slew of club options. Other notable young hurlers signed early and removed from potential free agency in recent years include Josh Johnson, Felix Hernandez and Justin Verlander, not coincidentally arguably among the top five righthanded pitchers in the game.… Click here to read the rest

Martin's two blasts pace home run barrage as Yanks dump Sox 9-4

Martin rounding the bases after his three-run bomb (photo c/o Getty)

What looked to be yet another classic Fenway Park lead-exchanging back-and-forth turned into a no-doubter thanks to the bottom third of the Yankee lineup and the bullpen, as Curtis Granderson, Eric Chavez and Russell Martin combined to go 6-12 with two walks, three home runs — two by Martin, the first time a non-Jorge Posada Yankee catcher went yard twice in the same game since John Flaherty in 2003 — and seven RBI, and David Robertson, Joba Chamberlain and Luis Ayala tossed 4 2/3 innings of scoreless relief, as the Yankees topped the Red Sox 9-4 in the FOX Saturday Afternoon Game of Death.

For the second straight day neither team got much from its staring pitcher, as Ivan Nova went 4 1/3, giving up four runs on seven hits (three walks and three strikeouts), while Clay Buchholz only lasted 3 2/3, giving up four earned runs on eight hits (three walks and two strikeouts).… Click here to read the rest

Series Preview | Yankees vs. Red Sox I: Another April, another series at Fenway

A-Rod doing work at Fenway

It seems like the Yankees have to make the trek up to Fenway Park in April every season, and indeed, the Bombers have had a tilt at Fenway in April during six of the last eight years. This is rather unfortunate, as for whatever reason they have a tendency to play some of their worst baseball when forced to go to Boston during the first month of the season, having tallied a 5-14 record at the Fens in April since 2003.

As you’ll recall, the Bombers began their 2010 season up in Boston, and after losing the first game of the year I assumed they’d suffer their regularly scheduled beating; however, the Yankees made me eat my words, taking the next two games and winning a series at Fenway Park in April for the first time since 1975.

Today marks the rivals’ first meeting of the 2011 season, and it will undoubtedly be an interesting weekend.… Click here to read the rest

Players to Watch: A.L. East

NL West-AL Central can be found here

At long last, I’ll be done with this series of posts. And, fittingly, we end it with the Yankees’ division: The American League East. Without question, this is the best division in baseball. The Yankees, Rays, and Red Sox are three of the top teams in either league. The Blue Jays would appear much better if they weren’t in this hellacious division, and I’m sure rebuilding would’ve been easier for the Orioles. Anyway, let’s get to it.

Tampa Bay Rays: Jeremy Hellickson. Rated the #18 prospect before 2010, Hellickson has put together a great minor league career and had a successful cup of coffee with the big club in 2010. He’ll be a big part of Tampa’s rotation this year and we could have a budding pitching star on our hands. Good luck in your Major League career, dude. I hope you kick ass against everyone else (especially Boston) and suck against the Yankees.… Click here to read the rest