Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Game Thread NYY @ BAL 5/21

The scrappy Yankees came from behind to win yet another game last night, this time in extra innings, while Mariano Rivera improved his record to a perfect 17 saves in 17 opportunities. These same two teams will face off again tonight as Phil Hughes looks to rebound off of a horrible start last time out. Use this thread to cheer on Philthy or go over and follow us on twitter, @GreedyStripes, where we are always chatting with our readers. 

Here is the Yankees lineup

Brett Gardner CF
Robinson Cano 2B
Vernon Wells RF
Travis Hafner DH
Lyle Overbay 1B
Curtis Granderson LF
David Adams 3B
Jayson Nix SS
Austin Romine C

Yankees Outright Alberto Gonzalez To AAA

The Yankees designated Alberto Gonzalez for assignment last week when they acquired Reid Brignac from the Colorado Rockies for cash. Alberto has cleared waivers and has accepted a minor league assignment and has been outrighted to AAA Scranton. The Yankees hold on to Alberto for minor league and major league depth and insurance so there is always that.

Manchester City & Yankees Team Up For MLS Team

Manchester City and the New York Yankees have teamed up to make a new Major League Soccer team coming to the MLS as soon as 2015. This will be the MLS' 20th team in an ever growing team and with the backing of the New York Yankees it should only grow more and more. The Yankees will own 1/4 of the team on the business side of things while Manchester City Football Club will also have a significant stake in the team fiscally. The team is trying now to get a piece of the Flushing Meadows Corona Park in Queens, New York for the stadium to house the new team but is being met with some obvious opposition. In the mean time it looks like the Yankees may share the new Yankees Stadium for at least the first season of it's existence so if you are a native New Yorker and a soccer fan this has to be an exciting time for you right now.

The Daily Yankees Injury Update

Tons of injury and rehab updates to report from Tampa at our minor league complex.

Joba Chamberlain is scheduled to throw in a rehab assignment tomorrow for the Tampa Yankees and expects to make at least two appearances before the Yankees consider bringing him up. The Yankees are expecting to have Joba back this weekend for the Tampa Bay Rays Series.

Mark Teixeira saw about 40-45 at bats today in four simulated game at bats today vs. live pitching for the second consecutive day. Kevin Youkilis also got three at bats in a simulated game today although the number of pitches he saw was not reported.

Eduardo Nunez is doing tee and toss and so is Chris Stewart. There is no time table for a Nunez return but the Yankees are hoping to have Chris Stewart 100% by this weekend.

Alex Rodriguez took batting practice today.

The Yankees are about to have some serious problems on their hands, albeit good problems to have, when all these guys finally get healthy and they have tough roster decisions to make. How can you send down a Preston Claiborne when Joba comes back after all that he has done? How can you DFA Lyle Overbay who has arguably been better then Mark Teixeira would have been up to this point, not to mention 1000% more clutch. How can you end the David Adams era in New York when Kevin Youkilis and Alex Rodriguez come back? In my eyes you just can't. Good problems are better than bad problems but they are still problems so I do not envy Joe Girardi and Brian Cashman here in about a month.

Phil's Future Is Bright

Although I don't expect Phil Hughes to be a future ace, as many thought he could be while in the minors, I believe he can be a fine starting pitcher.

While people point to outings like his last one against the Mariners (I'm going to refrain from repeating the horrible numbers from that outing, but if you want to see them then click here), I like to remind them that this same guy has also had some brilliant starts (see his May 4th start against Oakland) as well.

Throughout his 6+ year career, opponent's batting average against Phil is .257. Mind you, that's not a number that one should start with in their argument for winning the Cy Young Award, but it's not horrible either. For comparison, so far this season, out of the 62 pitchers in the American League that have thrown 30 or more innings, that .257 BAA would be good for 31st. If you click here you'll see the top 30 pitchers in BAA, and that list is made up of mostly #1 and #2 starters for their respective teams.

The same can be said for Hughes' on-base percentage against for his career, which currently stands at .315. I can imagine some readers yelling at their computer screens, saying "who cares what he did 2009!? What matters now is that opponent's are hitting .314/.355/.533 against Phil in 2013!" Well, I wholeheartedly agree. What a player or team did even a week ago is meaningless to their ability to win, or help their team win, from here on out.

But that's the point.

"Ah ha!"

Not since his sophomore season of 2008 have Phil's opponents hit better than .283, let alone the .314 they are hitting so far this season. Hughes' OPS against is currently .888, which is nearly 100 points higher than any of his seasons since 2008. For those that believe in luck, then you'll be interested to know that his batting average on balls in play so far this year is .357, against a career mark of .292.

Another encouraging statistic with Hughes has to do with the velocity of his fastball. Looking at his four-seam fastball, Phil's thrown it an average of 92.98 mph throughout his career, and this season it's almost exactly that (92.95). This shows us that his strength is still there. As for his slider, which he's using nearly 4x as much in 2013 than he did in 2012 (5.13% in 2012, 19.5% in 2013), the vertical movement is almost exactly the same, while it's moving a bit more horizontally (thanks to Brooks Baseball for the following information). By the way, I'm looking at Phil's 2012 due to his fWAR of 2.3 that season, which was good for 18th among American League starters that season.

Going by the eye test, it's simply a matter of Phil Hughes having better command. He has a line drive percentage of 27% this year, while he's striking out and walking a respectable number of hitters. Phil is just leaving too many pitches up this season, and professional hitters are going to take advantage of that. It's not a matter of him throwing his pitchers harder or better, it's a matter of locating them better. I have faith he can do that.

I've said this a number of times before, but you have to take into account that Phil Hughes is not the "ace" of the Yankee pitching staff. Nor is he even the #2 or #3 starter. As the #4 starter on the team, there is little pressure on him to be "lights out" night in and night out. His role is to basically give his team a chance to win a third of his starts (based on the fact that getting 9 wins a year, out of around 27 starts, from the #4 spot in the rotation is good), as opposed to somebody like CC Sabathia who is expected to give the Yankees a chance to win basically all of his starts.

"That's too much pressure."

If you go by "Quality Starts", which means a pitcher would throw 6 or more innings while giving up 3 or less runs, then Phil more than meets the demands of his role on the team. Especially with a bullpen that's been killing it lately, a "quality" start should certainly be enough to give the Yankees a chance to win. Even if you throw out his Quality Start percentage of 47% in his career, this season it's at 50%. If that's the only statistic I saw, then I'd be very happy with the Yankees' #4 so far this season.

I got into it a bit with somebody on Twitter over Phil being the #4 starter for the Yankees, and whether that fact really means something. I argued that it does, and I stand by that still today. The reason for that is because I'm looking at what Phil can do for the Yankees. If we were simply trying to determine if he was good or not, then his place in the rotation wouldn't matter. Nor would it matter if I was comparing Hughes to another pitcher. But being the best pitcher in baseball, or even being the worst pitcher in baseball, does not matter when it comes to the team's ability to win. After all, a team's ERA, WHIP, Batting Average Against, OPS against, and so on is meaningless. It's all about wins and losses.

Of course, it's much easier for a team with the best pitcher to win, but I digress...

So while Phil Hughes has given the Yankees a chance to win in half of his starts this season, which is more than you can ask for from a bottom of the rotation starter, I fully expect him to get better. And that, my friends, is pretty darn encouraging.

New York Yankees @ Baltimore Orioles 5/21

The New York Yankees and the Baltimore Orioles go head to head again tonight when the Yankees travel to Camden Yards to take on the Flying Schowalters. The Yankees are still in first place of the AL East and are getting healthier by the day and we can only improve our chances by beating the O's tonight. The Yankees will send Phil Hughes to the mound who is coming off of a debacle of a start and will be facing off with Miguel Gonzalez. The game will be televised at 7:05 pm ET on MY9, MLB Network, and on MLB TV.

Game 45 Lineup: Yankees @ Orioles

Lineup vs. Orioles:

Brett Gardner CF
Robinson Cano 2B
Vernon Wells LF
Travis Hafner DH
Lyle Overbay 1B
Curtis Granderson RF
David Adams 3B
Jayson Nix SS
Austin Romine C

Phil Hughes RHP


-- A reminder that tonight's Yankees game is not on YES. The game is on My9 and MLB Network.

-- The Yankees will wear Memorial Day caps on Monday to honor the military. The caps will be camouflage with the interlocking NY while the Yanks are in Queens, New York to take on the Mets.

Former Yankees Update Juan Cedeno

The former Yankees updates just keep on coming don't they. The Yankees released Juan Cedeno way back on May 10th and he has finally latched on with another team. The Atlanta Braves have signed Juan to a minor league deal and have assigned him to their AAA Gwinnett team. Juan should get a real look by the Braves for their bullpen this season with all the arm troubles that they have had this season so good for him and good luck to Mr. Cedeno.

This Day In Yankees History 5/21

On this day in 2004 Alex Rodriguez would take his first at bat against his former club the Texas Rangers, since being traded to the Yankees earlier in the off season. Alex would respond by hitting a home run against his former team in his first at bat to a lour round of boo's.