Joe Girardi faces big test in Miller’s DL stint

Having two good – if not great – bullpen options makes being a manager look easy.

There’s not a great formula needed when you have Dellin Betances and Andrew Miller pitching in the eighth and ninth innings, respectively. Pitch them both in either inning, it hasn’t really mattered.

But things got curious over the last couple of days with Joe Girardi’s decisions. First, he said Betances off on Wednesday, and promised he didn’t plan on using him even though the Yankees were off on Thursday. Betances threw 14 pitches the night before.

Sure, there is a long stretch of games coming up, but Betances is not going to be needed in every game in this stretch.

Then, it was announced after yesterday’s game that Andrew Miller was headed to the deal with a forearm muscle strain. There goes the closer, but the Yankees have Betances sliding into his spot in the ninth.

Yet, the worrisome part is that Miller stated to reporters after yesterday’s game that his issue didn’t occur suddenly.… Click here to read the rest

Let’s forget about a closer for a little while

Yankees manager Joe Girardi has yet to name a closer for this season.

Hopefully, it stays that way.

Andrew Miller and Dellin Betances are the two big arms for the back end of the Yankees bullpen and Wednesday was a glimpse in how they should be used this season. Girardi brought in Betances, a righty, to face the Toronto Blue Jays’ big right-handed bats in the heart of their order in the eighth inning: Russell Martin, Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion. Miller, a lefty, finished the ninth in order.

Betances didn’t pitch a clean inning, giving up two walks, but he was brought in when New York was down 2-1 in the eighth to keep the Yankees within striking distance. Even though an unearned was given up on Brian McCann’s throwing error, the Yankees still had life, and they took advantage of it the next inning by scoring three runs.

The key is that Betances and Miller knew their roles heading into the game based on the lineup.… Click here to read the rest

Optimism For Betances

What ever happened to the Killer B’s? Just two years ago, Manny Banuelos, Dellin Betances, and Andrew Brackman were three of the top 5 or 6 prospects in the Yankee system. Obviously Brackman was cut loose because of control issues, and Banuelos is now in the process of recovering from Tommy John surgery. (Though he’s already in Tampa for some reason) Betances has faced his own set of issues. His fastball and breaking pitches are as strong as ever, but control has eluded the 24 year old.  I’ve seen a few top Yankee prospect rankings that still kept Banuelos in the top 10, but good luck finding Betances on any of them.

The tall right-handed pitcher was awful last year, pitching to a 6.44 ERA between Scranton and Trenton. He maintained a decent 19.6 K% through that time, but his walk rates skyrocketed. In Scranton, Betances was nearly striking out as many hitters as he was walking (19.0%), but did fair better in the demotion to Trenton.… Click here to read the rest

Betances Discusses Simplifying His Mechanics

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Chad Jennings at LoHud provided us with some quotes about Ivan Nova‘s new arm motion earlier this week, and now we have some quotes from Dellin Betances on simplifying his mechanics. As I pointed out on Tuesday, Betances has done some major tinkering to his mechanics since 2011. Among them, he’s maintained the position of his hands to his chest at the beginning of his delivery, and cut down on the movement of his back leg on the follow-through. He’s made some other changes as well, which I couldn’t catch from the video comparison.

I’m trying to be quicker, trying to get my arm up quicker. Sometimes I drift and my arm doesn’t catch up, and that’s when I (struggle). When I get it out quick, I feel like I’m good.”

It’s hard to see a difference in arm quickness in the image above, but if you watch Betances pitch, you’ll see that one of his biggest problems is repeating his delivery.… Click here to read the rest

How Young Yankee Pitchers Have Altered Their Mechanics (GIF’s Included)

Ivan Nova
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There’s been a lot of talk about the slider that Nova added in the middle of the 2011 season, but few talk about his changed mechanics. His hand position is the biggest difference.

In 2011, Nova brought his hands above his head during the windup. Sometime in 2012, he changed this by keeping his hands level to his chest. This does a number of things, but most importantly it allows him to keep his head steady and maintain eye contact with the catcher. When he had his hands over his head, Nova was forced to drop his head, thus causing him to lose focus of home plate and slouch prior to his stride.

Since 2010, Nova’s BB% has dropped from 9.2%, to 8.1%, to 7.5%. Keeping his hands to his chest may be one factor in his improved walk rates.

David Phelps
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David Phelps made the same adjustment as Nova. Although he does keep his hands slightly higher, Phelps drastically improved his posture at the beginning of his windup, and his head stays remarkably level.… Click here to read the rest

The Shallow Depths

Though the season hasn’t even started, the Yankees have already had their depth tested in two positions. Curtis Granderson‘s injury has opened up a spot in the outfield, and the catching situation has been much maligned since the Yankees declined to re-sign Russell Martin and passed on signing A.J. Pierzynski. And with Derek Jeter‘s ankle injury, we’ll see the infield depth tested as Eduardo Nunez and/or Jayson Nix get some time at short to spell the Captain.  On the other hand, the pitching seems to be fairly deep.

The bullpen is well-stocked and some pitchers (think Clay Rapada and Cody Eppley) will not last the year on the 25-man roster. Likewise, though not quite as widely, the starting rotation is considered to be an area of strength. It’s certainly a talented rotation featuring CC Sabathia, Andy Pettitte, and Hiroki Kuroda. But is it as deep as we think?

Phil Hughes has already suffered an injury.… Click here to read the rest

It’s Time To Call Up Dellin Betances

Get the kid back in pinstripes. Courtesy of Michael L. Stein/US Presswire

(The following is being syndicated from An A-Blog for A-Rod)

On paper, Dellin Betances is everything you would want in a pitching prospect.  He’s a big, hulking kid with top shelf electric stuff.  With that combination, saying his ceiling is a right-handed Randy Johnson is not outside the realm of possibilities, and Betances is the most decorated prospect currently in the Yankee system.  He’s appeared on more organizational top 15, top 10, and top 5 lists than anybody, and has been on Baseball America’s Top 100 Prospects 3 times, including each of the last 2 editions.  He’s also having arguably the worst year in his 6-year Minor League career this year, and at age 24 he’s rapidly approaching make-or-break territory.  That being the case, I think now is the time to pull the trigger and bring Betances up to the show and stick him in the bullpen.

And it’s not because I don’t think he can eventually become a good, possibly great starting pitcher in the future. … Click here to read the rest

Nightly Links: Hughes, Ibanez, Betances

  • Phil Hughes continued his impressive spring today by going 6 .0 innings, giving up two runs and six hits. During the minor league game he was sitting 91-92 mph with his fastball and topped out at 94. His curveball and changeup looked impressive as he struck out 4 through the day. Almost two weeks ago I posted about Freddy Garcia‘s injury and Phil Hughes’ strong spring narrowing down the pitching competition, and Mark Feinsand has a source that says Phil Hughes has “all but wrapped up a spot in the rotation.”
  • Gabe Lezra at It’s About the Money wants you to stop analyzing Michael Pineda‘s velocity problems as if he’s Phil Hughes. The reason this is such a big issue comes from Hughes’ problems last year, but Pineda has been successful despite the drop. I won’t worry until April 6th.
Click here to read the rest

Nightly Links: Kuroda, Betances, Banuelos

  • Pinstripe Alley has a piece on whats called the Yankee hype machine. Looking through Baseball America’s top organizational prospect lists since 2005, Rob Steingall concludes that there is no evidence for Yankee bias. I tend to believe any big market team has hype issues, and while that might promote a singular prospect’s worth, it also causes us fans to miss prospects that go under the radar.
  • From their Positional Power Rankings series, Fan Graphs released their relief pitchers version and the Yankees ranked on top.
Click here to read the rest