Part Deux: Games 37 and 38

Thanks to Mother Nature’s April wrath, the Yankees are in Cleveland for a doubleheader today. The good thing is, it’s a lot of baseball for us to watch. The bad thing is, some guys, namely David Robertson and Mariano Rivera, may not be available for either game. They’ve both pitched a lot in the past five days. But we’ll see what happens, maybe Mo will come out for one of his infamous one-pitch saves. David Phelps is scheduled to pitch the first game and Nuno Vidal is the game two starter. Here’s your game one Yankees lineup: Gardner CF Ichiro Continue reading Part Deux: Games 37 and 38

Games 37 and 38: The doubleheader in Cleveland

Thanks to Mother Nature’s April wrath, the Yankees are in Cleveland for a doubleheader today.

The good thing is, it’s a lot of baseball for us to watch. The bad thing is, some guys, namely David Robertson and Mariano Rivera, may not be available for either game. They’ve both pitched a lot in the past five days.

But we’ll see what happens, maybe Mo will come out for one of his infamous one-pitch saves.

David Phelps is scheduled to pitch the first game and Nuno Vidal is the game two starter.

Here’s your game one Yankees lineup:
Gardner CF
Ichiro LF
Cano 2B
Hafner DH
Boesch RF
Nelson 3B
Joseph 1B
Stewart C
Gonzalez SS

Phelps P

Look at that, Corban Joseph and Alberto Gonzalez are getting the start in the 12:05 game. I’ll more than likely update this post with the Game 2 lineup when it comes out.

Go Yankees!
Continue reading Games 37 and 38: The doubleheader in Cleveland

Are the Yankees winning with “smoke and mirrors?”

I don’t really know why, but this bit of an aside in George King’s Post story on Hiroki Kuroda’s performance yesterday has really been stuck with me since I read it this morning:

Almost halfway through May, the biggest question is how long the Yankees can win with smoke and mirrors.

Wells, a member of the Angels last year when their horrific start put them in a ditch they couldn’t escape, believes the “It’s Early’’ phrase doesn’t apply.

“I learned last year you never say it’s early, good or bad,’’ he said. “You like to be in this situation, but at the same time the game has a funny way of slapping you across the face at any time. We go out and have the same mentality, continue to get great starting pitching and score enough runs to support these guys.’’

Now, the Yankees haven’t seemed particularly smoke-and-mirrors-ish to me, but then a) I tend to think of last year’s Orioles when I think of a team doing that, so maybe I’m grading too tightly, and b) I admittedly haven’t been able to keep quite as close tabs on the Yankees this year as I’ve been doing for the past three or four seasons, so maybe I’m just not seeing it.

But, indeed, the team’s overall statistics more or less match my perception pretty closely. The offense, while certainly not great top to bottom or as prolific as we’re used to seeing it be, ranks smack in the middle of the American League with a 99 wRC+ and, for what it’s worth, Fangraphs’ defensive metric ranks them as the fifth best team in the league at saving runs. The pitching, meanwhile, has been very good, with an overall staff FIP that ranks third in the A.L. at 3.68, a starting rotation with the fourth best FIP in the circuit, and a bullpen that comes in at fourth in FIP and tops the list with a 3.24 xFIP.

What about run differential, you might be saying to yourself right about now? Well the Yankees are three full wins better than their expected win-loss margin of 20-16, but even that number extrapolates to an even 90 wins over 162 games. And just for giggles, if we re-arrange the A.L. East by what their records “should” be, the Bombers would come in right in the middle of the pack, just a game behind Boston and Baltimore.

So to answer the titular question: not really. I mean, there’s plenty of reasons to be skeptical of a team that’s winning in large part because of Vernon Wells, Travis Hafner, and two starting pitchers over the age of 38 years old, but that’s not the same thing as essentially saying that they’re getting lucky. If the Yankees could maintain the production they’ve gotten out of this roster over the course of a full season, they’d stay right in the hunt for October contention. The best thing they have going for them right now is that these wins are already in the books, and that they haven’t dug themselves into a deep hole while waiting for help to arrive from the disabled list. Continue reading Are the Yankees winning with “smoke and mirrors?”

The Farm Report: 5/12/13

The Yankees’ farm system didn’t have such a great day yesterday. Thankfully, Charleston saved them from a sweep across the levels.

Scranton/Wilkes-Barre lost 7-6 to the Gwinnett Braves

The Railriders had a few chances to win the game in the bottom of the ninth but it was not meant to be:

Oh well. You can’t do much when guys keep striking out swinging.

Trenton Thunder were shutout 4-0 by the New Hampshire Fisher Cats

The teams were scoreless until New Hampshire scored three in the fifth inning which was more than enough to win. They added another run in the eighth. The Thunder actually had finished the game with hits than the Fisher Cats (6 to 4) but failed to capitalize on any scoring chances and Slade Heathcott was ejected from the game for arguing a call with the umpire. Oh boy.

Tampa was off.

Charleston RiverDogs beat the Hickory Crawdads 9-8

The Riverdogs now have a three-game winning streak thanks to a 9-8 victory over the Hickory Crawdads.

Charleston starter Evan Rutckyj gave up four runs on four hits in the top of the first inning –  Ryan Rua hit a three-run homer and Jordan Akins hit an RBI double. Despite that, Rutckvl actually made it through five innings.

Still down 4-0 in the bottom of the third, Charleston erupted for seven runs. A lead they wouldn’t relinquish even though the Crawdads tried their hardest to ruin the night for the Riverdogs. They even scored three runs in the top of the ninth to cut the score to 9-8.

Luckily for Charleston, reliever Phil Wetherell got two huge outs with the tying runner at second base to finish the game and preserve the win for RiverDogs. Continue reading The Farm Report: 5/12/13

This week in Yankees baseball

yankeeslogo

Last week, I predicted this little-engine-that-could New York Yankees’ team would go 3-3 and figured that was a reasonable expectation. I was way off base as the team finished the week 5-1 with five straight wins after opening the week with a loss. I also noted that Vernon Wells‘ Cinderella story was turning back into a pumpkin. But somebody kept the clock from reaching midnight as Wells again became the carriage that carried the Yankees this week. He hit two homers in the five games with five ribbies and only struck out once all week. Of course, he did not walk all week either, but why quibble. Wells also made a couple of great plays in the outfield.

Lyle Overbay had a very good week with two doubles and a homer for an OPS in the last five games of .929. And my perennial punching bag, Jayson Nix, had a great week and finished the week with an OPS over one. But the real story this week was the pitching, which featured good outings from the entire rotation except for Phil Hughes and the Yankees still won his game. The Yankees allowed only seven runs in the four non-Hughes games. The bullpen was solid and Mariano Rivera picked up four saves this week. He did not look dominant in doing so, but again, the job got done.

So what happens this week? The Yankees play a troublesome double-header in Cleveland to make up two postponements there. But then they travel home to play Seattle and Toronto for six games at home. At some point this week, Curtis Granderson will be back and that will be a welcomed sight, though it will be interesting to see what Joe Girardi does with his outfield. So, here is a preview of the week to come in Yankees baseball.

(click “view full post” to read more) Continue reading This week in Yankees baseball

The Yankees’ Wild 2013 Ride Keeps Rolling Along

Nix Overbay vs KC

Today should be fun, huh?  After starting off their “8 in 7” road trip with a 2-1 series win in Colorado and a 3-game sweep in KC, the surging Yankees will stop off in Cleveland today on their way back home for a doubleheader to make up for last month’s rainouts.  They were 2-4 when they first came to Cleveland 5 weeks ago and used the first 2 games of that series to kickstart their season, winning both by a combined score of 25-7.  Since then the Yanks have gone 19-9, ascended to the top of the division, and silenced nearly all the critics who said they’d be done after suffering their rash of ST injuries, this extended stretch of success being driven by some of the players most expected to flop as full-time injury replacements.  Now they’ll come back to where the season really started, even more injured and worn down than they were last time, and they’ll do it with a 5-game winning streak in their pocket.

The Yanks will send David Phelps and Vidal Nuno to the mound for today’s starts, not exactly household names when you think of the New York Yankee starting rotation.  They have a combined 13 career starts between them, all of them Phelps’, and would not be in the rotation right now were it not for Ivan Nova.  Phelps took over Nova’s spot in the rotation after Nova hit the disabled list with triceps inflammation a few weeks ago; Nuno gets the start tonight in place of Nova, who felt some tightness in his left side playing catch yesterday and will likely spend a little more time on the DL.  Nuno has made just 1 appearance since being called up and tonight will be his first career Major League start.  Not exactly standard practice for a first career start, but then again, what’s been standard about this season so far?

Backing one or both of them up will be Adam Warren, another Triple-A starter who was forced into bullpen duty because of all the injury problems.  Backing him up will be Brett Marshall, who has zero Major League experience but is scheduled to pitch today and he could be called upon for the second game in a pinch.  If he’s not needed as the doubleheader 26th man, that job will probably go to Corban Joseph, a lefty swinging second base prospect who’s only around because the team’s infield depth is a dead zone.  Jayson Nix and Chris Nelson haven’t been making anybody forget about Jeter and A-Rod, no matter how much Bob Klapisch tries to convince us otherwise, and Eduardo Nunez was placed on the DL this weekend, opening up another roster spot for a Triple-A filler piece in Alberto Gonzalez.  Seriously, Alberto Gonzalez, Chris Nelson, Chris Stewart, Ben Francisco, Adam Warren, Vidal Nuno, and Preston Claiborne are all on the Yankees’ active roster today.  And the team is 10 games over .500.  Think about that.

To add to the entertaining chaos that is this team right now, consider that its 2 best relief pitchers, D-Rob and Mo, come into today’s doubleheader each having pitched in 4 of the last 5 days and may not be available for one or both of the games today.  Or that Vernon Wells, arguably the most criticized of all the offseason additions, is currently second among all AL outfielders in fWAR (1.4) behind only Mike Trout.  Or that they might get Curtis Granderson back sometime this week, as he’s already completed 4 of what was reported to be a 3-4 game rehab assignment in Triple-A.  There’s been no shortage of talking points, concerns, or intrigue surrounding this club in the first 6 weeks of the season.  They aren’t sexy, they haven’t always looked sharp, but they’ve gotten the job done and there’s been something fun and entertaining about the way they’ve done it.  Today’s doubleheader will just be the latest example. Continue reading The Yankees’ Wild 2013 Ride Keeps Rolling Along

Kuroda, Cano and Wells combine to beat Royals 4-2

The Yankees swept the Royals today, winning 4-2 on Mother’s Day. The real star of the game was Hiroki Kuroda. Kuroda didn’t strike a lot of batters out, fanning just one, but he only walked one as well, limiting the Royals to six hits over 7.2 innings. With that kind of control, you don’t need a lot of strike outs. Kuroda was efficient as well, throwing just 98 pitches. He got into some trouble in the eighth inning, and even got into a verbal spat with the home plate umpire, but none of that was enough to undo a solid performance. Continue reading Kuroda, Cano and Wells combine to beat Royals 4-2

Game Thread: Yankees at Royals, Sunday May 12th

Guess who’s in first place? Not the Toronto Blue Jays. Not Tampa Bay either. None other than your New York Yankees. While it is early in the season yet, this is a good sign. It is also evidence of how fickle the baseball media is. Remember just before the season began when the new look Blue Jays were going to be the jewel of the AL East? Me neither. But it was obvious that the Jays weren’t built to last. What was less obvious was how the Rays would start a bit slowly in the division. That said, it’s tight atop the AL East and at least three, and probably four, of the team’s are going to have winning records. That’s a crowded field. Continue reading Game Thread: Yankees at Royals, Sunday May 12th