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Morning Bits: Nova looks for answers, Story on Yankee Prospect Bichette Jr. & more

Good morning all.  Three out of 4 ain’t bad.  Especially against a team like Texas.   The bullpen really had a rough go at it yesterday afternoon.   Joba didn’t look good at all.  Today the Red Sox come into town which is always a good series no matter what the records of both teams are.  On the mound tonight is Morales vs Hughes.  Game time is set for 7:05PM EST.

Enjoy the weekend.

Now for some links….

Matt Ehalt of ESPN NY writes that Nova is looking for answers after Yank’s loss.

Bill Ballew of MLB.com has a nice write up of Yankee prospect Dante Bichette Jr.

Roger Rubin of The Daily News writes that Boston visits Yankees with improbable dream to earn AL wild card spot.

Mike Vander Woude has the recap of SWB Yanks (AAA) three run 7th inning to win last 5-4.

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Morning Bits: Ichiro’s big night, Nova on the mound and more

Good morning a great win for the Bombers last night as the hits were a plenty.  Ichiro had his biggest game as a Yankee.  Ichiro had 2 hits and 5 Rbi’s.   Others with 2 Hits last night were: Jeter, Cano & Swisher.   Today’s game is set for a 1:07 EST first pitch.  On the mound will be Nova vs Laffey.   Can Nova shake off his latest funk?  Tune in and find out.

Now for some links…

Wallace Matthews of ESPN NY has his take on Nova.

Matthews has an article about Ichiro fitting in well with the Bombers.

Chris Toman of MLB.com has some tidbits about the Yanks including: Girardi hopes Feliciano will be in the pen next month, Phleps happy to get chances in big spots and more.

Nova Reaches Rock Bottom

Ivan Nova has been one of the biggest disappointments on the Yankees this season. Nova finished 2010 16-4 ,with a 3.70 ERA and the Yankees were looking forward to a home-grown pitcher possibly becoming a #2 starter for them. Some of these expectations were unreasonable for this season, but Nova has completely imploded to the point where you have a lot more questions than answers moving forward.

Nova is 10-6 on the season, with a 4.81 ERA and leads MLB with 71 extra base hits allowed. Nova is only 15 extra base hits given up away from Andy Hawkins’ 1989 franchise record. My biggest concern about Nova coming into this season that he had gotten a little bit lucky last season. His FIP was 4.36 compared to his 3.70 ERA.  A pitcher who only has 5.57 K/9 compared to 3.64 BB/9 generally does not have the success that Nova had.  However, this season Nova has turned that around completely by having 8.07 K/9 and 2.80 BB/9, yet has been awful.

What we have figured out about Nova this year is that less is more. Nova has actually been throwing harder and has better stuff last year, but has been brutal. Nova’s bread and butter last year was inducing ground balls off his sinking fastball. This year his GB% is down to 46.4% from 52.7% last year. Nova is also throwing his slider and curveball about 4% more each and his fastball % is down 54.1% from 61.5% last season. Throwing more curves and sliders has allowed Nova to get more strikeouts, but when he misses with those pitches, especially his slider, he gets tattooed. Nova’s walks are down this year but he has been very wild in the zone, which has caused him to give up all th extra base hits that he has.

Nova has got to get his fastball back down in the zone where he can induce more ground balls. He cannot live up in the zone like Phil Hughes can because he does not have the deceptive delivery that Hughes does and it even gets Hughes in trouble at times. Nova is still young and has the tools to be a solid #3 starter in the future. He seems to have maturity issues that he needs to overcome as well. In many ways his season this year has resembled AJ Burnett in his Yankee seasons. While Burnett walked more people than Nova has, he gave up the extra base hits that Nova, was wild in the zone, and had some maturity issues. One thing Nova can learn from Burnett was how he took the heat after every loss. As bad as Burnett was he deserves credit for taking responsibility and the blame. That was something Nova refused to do after his embarrassing start against the Orioles last week.

There is not much the Yankees can do with Nova at this juncture. Their only viable replacement is David Phelps and he is not stretched out to be a starter. The Yankees will probably have to ride Nova out and if he continues to pitch like this it will be very hard to keep winning streaks. It is may be more important for the Yankees to get Nova right for the long term rather than the short term. Between CC Sabathia, hopefully Andy Pettitte, Hiroki Kuroda, and Phil Hughes the Yankees have enough pitching to win in the playoffs without Nova. Nova is a big part of the developing young and cheap pitchers plan this year. Between his and Dellin Betances’ struggles and injuries to Michael Pineda, Manny Banuelos and Jose Campos that plan has gone awful this year.

Yankees Report Card: July

It’s that time of the month again where we decide which Yankees were at the top of their class and which Yankees just didn’t make the grade in July’s Yankees Report Card. After a stellar June, the Yankees had a so-so July but some Yankees players that were struggling really improved their game and earned a higher grade. If you don’t agree with the grade that any Yankee gets, put the grade that you believe they deserve in the comment section below. Now, onto grading those Yankees!

Derek Jeter (A): Derek Jeter was on fire in the month of July, hitting a .346 average with 37 hits and 7 doubles. Jeter doesn’t hit for power (he only has 1 HR in July) but he has been able to get on base so his fellow teammates can make some damage. Maybe Jeter can continue his hot-streak in August. I know one thing–Derek Jeter is not too old to play baseball.

Curtis Granderson (B+): Curtis Granderson only had a .245 average this month, but he has been the one that has helped pick up this team with 5 HR’s, 10 RBI’s, 2 doubles and 2 triples. Granderson is now required to pair up with Robinson Cano to supply power since A-Rod is currently on the disabled list but if there is anyone that can do it, it’s Curtis Granderson (also, he might be interested in hitting a HR whenever he can since he gets rewarded with ice pops.)

Mark Teixeira (A+): Mark Teixeira had his best month in the month of July with a .298 average. He also had 7 HR’s, 14 RBI’s, 12 walks, 5 doubles and a triple. Teixeira would have normally have gotten an A, but after hitting a HR off Vicente Padilla during the Yankees/Red Sox series, Teixeira deserved a higher mark for 2 reasons. One, he was the bigger man in their rivalry and two, what other way can you say don’t mess with me by hitting a 2 run homer that temporarily tied the game?

Alex Rodriguez (A): The month of July was A-Rod’s best month average wise with a .314 average. His HR and RBI numbers had slightly decreased from June since he only had 2 HR’s, 9 RBI’s, 5 doubles, 1 triple and 1 walk. It seemed as if A-Rod was getting everything together–until Felix Hernandez took that all away with one pitch that hit him in the wrist, thus forcing him to go on the DL for 6-8 weeks. Yankees may not see A-Rod until the end of September, but the Yankees were able to add depth by trading Chad Qualls for Casey McGhee. Let’s see how A-Rod returns: will he be the one that the Yankees can rely on, or will he get into his early season funk once again.

Robinson Cano (A): Robbie Cano has been the one that had carried the Yankees to first place, he had been the one that carried them when they were struggling (even when he was struggling himself) and Robbie Cano continues to carry this team with a .314 average. Cano had 4 HR’s, 14 RBI’s, 5 walks and 6 doubles which proves that even when Robbie gets base hits, a lot of them count for something. Let’s hope Robbie can continue his streak in August (we know he will, he’s Robbie Cano!)

Nick Swisher (B-): Nick Swisher didn’t hit for average in the month of July, only hitting .222 but he could have done more if he wasn’t injured with a strained muscle near his hip. Swisher hit 2 HR’s, 8 RBI’s, and hit 3 doubles all in 63 at-bats. When Nick Swisher is healthy, he is able to change his team. When he’s not healthy, then–the team somewhat misses him. But with Ichiro Suzuki possibly vying for a right field spot next season and this being Swisher’s walk year, he might want to consider getting on a gigantic hot streak. But–Swisher’s smile and personality might win his teammates, the fans and the front office over.

Raul Ibanez (B): One of the best acquisitions of the 2012 season has to have been Raul Ibanez and he continues to prove that he is an important piece to the Yankees bench. In the month of July, Ibanez hit .279 which is his second best month (May was .288). Ibanez has 3 HR’s, 10 RBI’s, 5 walks, and 4 doubles. The one flaw this month from Ibanez was that he struck out 17 times which was the most he struck out in a month this season. As long as Ibanez hit’s HR’s for power, then I don’t care.

Russell Martin (D): Russell Martin continues to struggle at the plate which is making the Yankees scratch their heads. Martin hit .183 in the month of July which means his average is still below the Mendoza line. Martins’ best month? May with a .203 average. I know the Yankees aren’t expecting much out of Russell Martin, but the least he could do is hit! Is it too much to ask? Hopefully August he’ll turn it around?

Andruw Jones (B-): Andruw Jones didn’t hit for average this month, but he played an important part for the Yankees in July. While Jones only hit .218 in the month of May, he did have 5 HR’s, 11 RBI’s, 2 walks and 2 doubles. Jones is an important part to the Yankees when he plays and although his average doesn’t say much, he is always doing something to help his team win.

Chris Stewart (B-): Chris Stewart has been a delightful surprise for the Yankees due to his catching skills and his ability to call a ballgame. Although his bat is nothing to ‘ahh’ over, he has done everything the Yankees wanted (and he has a higher batting average than the primary catcher Russell Martin). Yep, I think that Chris Stewart is going to fit in quite nicely around here.

Jayson Nix (B): Jayson Nix is another pleasant surprise for the Yankees, since he is doing exactly what the Yankees wanted. He plays great defense, he gets base hits when they matter and in July, Nix has shown power. Nix hit 2 HR’s and has 6 RBI’s in the month of July which means when it’s up to him, ‘Nix Knocks’.

Eric Chavez (B+): Chavez continues to prove just how important he is to the Yankees bench and once again, he has done what he has to do. In July he hit a .264 average with 4 HR’s, 9 RBI’s and 7 walks. Chavez is another Yankee that proves that age isn’t anything but a number. Let’s keep it up Chavez, shall we?

CC Sabathia (B-): For the ace of the Yankees, this wasn’t exactly the month that CC Sabathia was hoping for. After being on the disabled list in late June-early July, CC hasn’t exactly came back into form yet. For the month of July he holds a 4.26 ERA and a 1-0 record (he has 2 no decisions). In good news he only gave up 9 runs this month which was his low point during the year. The Yankees expect to see their ace back in August–and we are sure CC expects to see himself return to form as well.

Hiroki Kuroda (B-): Hiroki Kuroda has had worst months in the past, so looking at his numbers here it was pretty good. In the month of July, Kuroda has a 2-0 record and a 3.60 ERA. The good news is that he’s 2-0. The bad? In the month of July he gave up 15 runs (14 of them were earned, but they all count in the game). Kuroda isn’t supposed to be lights out, but he has to get better at stranding runners when there is an error.

Ivan Nova (D): Ivan Nova is usually one of the Yankees youngest and brightest stars on this team, which is why I don’t understand how he could have a 5.97 ERA in the month of July. Nova had seemed to have been getting it together last month, but this month makes everyone question what’s wrong with Nova. Is something wrong with his mechanics? Is he not hitting spots because he’s concerend that the might get hit hard? And why did he give up 27 runs (23 earned)? Nova has to do better in August because if he doesn’t then he could quickly find himself back at Scranton. Remember–he has options.

Freddy Garcia (B-): Now, we aren’t expecting Freddy Garcia to throw shut-outs in each and every game. It’s not going to happen. But the month of July has been a solid month for Garcia after having a 2-3 record and a 4.00 ERA. I know what you’re thinking, a 2-3 record is not solid. It should be if this team is the Yankees. In the 3 starts that he lost, he had given up no more than 4 runs. After going from the bullpen to the starting rotation, Garcia has done okay, but he’s doing well enough to stay in the rotation.

Phil Hughes (B): Phil Hughes has easily been the Yankees best starter in the month of July with a 2-2 record and a 3.09 ERA. Although Hughes’s issue is the home run ball (He gave up 6), he really has done a fantastic job for the Yankees and is definetely looking like the Phil Hughes of 2010. Also, his ERA as a whole is 3.96 which is much better than where he started the season at.

Cody Eppley (B+): In the beginning of the year, it would have been very easy to send Cody Eppley back to Triple A because the Yankees knew they could, but that isn’t the case now. In the month of July, Eppley has a 2.53 ERA while only giving up 4 runs (3 earned) in 10.2 innings pitched. Eppley has become such an important part of the bullpen and is trusted in preserving leads and getting out of situations with his right handed sidearm motion. As we all know, Eppley has been doing his job and he’s fantastic at it.

Clay Rapada (B): We can’t really grade Clay Rapada since he only pitched 4.2 innings in the month of July (the Yankees haven’t really needed him) but only giving up 2 runs isn’t all that bad. Rapada is still an excellent complementary pitcher to Cody Eppley (Rapada has a left handed sidearm motion), and without him the Yankees would only have 1 lefty in the bullpen (Mr. Boone Logan).

David Phelps (A+): The incredible David Phelps has done so much for the Yankees since he came back from Triple-A to get more work in. Phelps in July was known as the pitcher to give the Yankees some length when one of the starters only made it 5-6 innings, and he has stopped the Yankees opponents stone cold. In 13.1 IP, he has a 0.68 ERA while giving up 1 run on 4 hits with 21 strikeouts. Now, I don’t know who the other David Phelps with a 7.36 ERA in June is, but this is more like the David Phelps that we all know.

Boone Logan (D): Boone Logan is easily one of my favorite Yankees (we share the same birthday, so what’s not to like) but no matter how much I like him, I don’t like his numbers for the month of July. In July he has a 9.95 ERA which means in 6.1 IP he gave up 7 runs on 8 hits. That sounds like the starts that some of the starting pitchers have been having, and it’s not pretty. Hopefully Logan can get it together this month and if he can’t–then he’ll just be the lefty that no one can count on, and we don’t want that now do we?

David Robertson (A): David Robertson is once again back into form for the Yankees in the month of July after what seemed like he struggled after coming off the disabled list. Robertson in the month of July had a 1.54 ERA which easily means that Robertson is the pitcher the Yankees can count on before giving the ball to Rafael Soriano. We expect great things from you in August Mr. Robertson but please, can we ease up on the Houdini tricks? They are bound to give someone a heart attack.

Rafael Soriano (A): This hasn’t been Rafael Soriano’s best month but it certaintly wasn’t his worst. He was 9/10 for saves and even the great Mariano Rivera isn’t perfect when it comes to save situations. Soriano has been the most consistent in the bullpen which is why he is the best go-to person for the Yankees. Also, when he complete’s saves I really enjoy when he untucks his shirt to celebrate a Yankees win, and I’m sure a lot of Yankees fans enjoy it as well.

Morning Bits: Playoff roster, Nova, Hughes & more

Good morning all. The Yankees have now lost 7 out of 10. The season is full of peaks and valleys and this by far is one of the valley’s. The Yankees have had many peaks in the season though as they are still up 5.5 games on Baltimore. The Yankees could use a win this afternoon with Hughes on the mound facing Britton. Game time is for 1:05PM EST.

Enjoy the day and the game.  Now for some links….

Mike Mazzeo of ESPN NY looks into the Yankees playoff roster.

Andrew Marchand of ESPN NY has a piece on how Girardi & Nova disagree on last night’s outing.

Justin Albers of mlb.com has today’s pregame story has Hughes looks to play the role of stopper.

Zach Schonburn of the NY Times writes with no trade help for the rotation, Nova has his worst start.

John Harper of The Daily News has an article about how Cashman made the right move by passing on Dempster.

– The Tampa Yankees won 6-4 Yesterday click the link to read the recap.

– The Trenton Thunder was 2-1 as Zolio Almonte homered.

Nix carries Yankees to series win with 5-2 victory over Mariners

For the first 7 innings, the Yankees were looking at a 1-6 roadtrip after getting swept by the Athletics and almost giving the Mariners a series win. Then came Jayson Nix as the Yankees were able to claw their way back to the game with a 5-2 victory over the Mariners.

It was a tight ball game for the Yankees as they had a 2-1 deficit. The only run the Yankees scored at that point was a home run by Derek Jeter, but when the Yankees got to the 8th inning, everything changed. Derek Jeter was hit by pitch to start the rally and at the end of the rally was Jayson Nix. The bases were loaded for the Yankees when Nix pinch hit for Raul Ibanez and delievered a 3 run double to give the Yankees a 4-2 lead. Russell Martin scored the 5th and final run after Eric Chavez was intentionally walked.

Ivan Nova wasn’t as sharp as usual but he lasted to the 6th inning giving up 2 runs on 2 hits.

Tomorrow is a Yankees off-day and on Friday, the Yankees will take on the Boston Red Sox for the weekend series.

Martin’s 2 errors costs Yanks as they fall to Rays 7-4

Yesterday it was Mark Teixeira’s error that cost the game. Tonight it was Russell Martin and his 2 errors that cost the Yankees the game as they fell to the Rays 7-4.

Ivan Nova started the game for the Yankees, but he wasn’t at his sharpest giving up 6 runs (3 were earned) in 6 innings plus. 3 of the runs should not have scored but Russell Martin botched a throw home by Dewayne Wise in the 3rd which helped the Rays tie the game. Later in the 7th inning, Martin threw a ball into center field which allowed another run to score. Not only has Martin been dismal at the plate but his defense was off tonight as well.

Chad Qualls allowed a run of his own to score in the 7th inning which led to the Yankees falling behind to the Rays. The Yankees originally had given Nova a 3 run lead after the first two innings on Curtis Granderson and Robinson Cano RBI doubles and a Dewayne Wise HR. The 4th run scored on an Eric Chavez double.

Tomorrow the Yankees play an afternoon game at 3:10pm where it’s the battle of the David’s. David Price will go for the Tampa Bay Rays and David Phelps will go for the Yankees in hopes to prevent the Rays from sweeping the Yankees.

Yankees Report Card: June

Here’s a new monthly article I like to call the Yankees Report Card. Every month based on the Yankees performances (pitchers included), I will give them a letter grade from A-F and explain why they got the grade they deserved. If there is a grade that you might not agree with, place the grade that you would have given a player down in the comment section below. All stats are as of June 26. 

Derek Jeter (B): Derek Jeter’s bat hasn’t been as hot as it was in April & May since his average is .240 in the month of June. However, Jeter hit 2 home runs in the month of June (He’s not a HR hitter so it’s remarkable) and he has 7 RBI’s.  It also helps that he kept his average over .300 for the past 3 months. A downside as to why Jeter didn’t get a higher grade? He struck out 17 times.

Curtis Granderson (B-): Curtis Granderson’s average for June is .211, but of course we all know Curtis Granderson isn’t hitting for average. In the month of June, Granderson hit 5 home runs, drove in 14 RBI’s and walked 13 times in the month of June. Granderson’s strikeouts are however a little outrageous. He struck out 29 times in June which brings his total for the season so far to 86.

Mark Teixeira (B): Again, it looks as if Mark Teixeira isn’t hitting for average since he’s batting .241 in the month of June. Instead Tex is hitting for power and RBI’s. Although he’s only hit 3 HR’s, he’s driven in 13 runs and walked 13 times. He also doesn’t struck out a lot since he’s only done it 14 times. Teixeira also has been hitting with RISP lately which was why I bumped his average from a B- (which was his original grade) to a B.

Alex Rodriguez (B): Alex Rodriguez hit only .225 in the month of June, but he hit 6 HR’s, drove in 15 runs and walked 11 times. Although A-Rod is looking a little hotter at the plate, June wasn’t his best month. May was. If he keeps hitting home runs that help win games then he’ll continue to pass on his report card.

Robinson Cano (A): Robinson Cano’s bat in the month of June is “muy caliente”. After a slow start to the season, Cano is batting .325 in the month of June while also hitting 9 HR’s, driving in 16 RBI’s and walking 12 times. It seems to me with the 9 HR’s that Cano is hitting, he’s practicing for the Home Run Derby. Well then by all means, you don’t need the practice, but keep hitting them anyway Robbie. Chicks dig the long ball.

Nick Swisher (A): June has been Nick Swisher’s best month by far with a .338 average. Swisher hit 4 HR’s, drove in 14 RBI’s and walked 10 times. Not only that, but Swisher has been making great plays in the outfield. Swisher makes watching him play in right field fun, and not only that but you can’t help but get a smile on your face just by watching Swisher play with a smile on his face.

Raul Ibanez (C-): In the month of June, Raul Ibanez has seemed to have faltered a bit after having a good April and May. In June, Ibanez is hitting .169 with 2 HR’s & 7 RBI’s. He also has only walked once. The good we can take away from this is that he only struck out 8 times. That’s something, right?

Russell Martin (D+): Well, June has been Martin’s best month so far–but the numbers are still pretty bad. Martin’s batting .217 in June with 4 HR’s & 9 RBI’s. The only reason he doesn’t get lower than a D+ is because he knows how to call games, but hitting the baseball is just as important as calling a game Russell. Maybe July will be your month?

Andruw Jones (D+): Andruw Jones hasn’t played a lot in June–but that’s no excuse for doing almost absolutely nothing at the plate. Jones only hit 2 HR’s & drove in 4 runs in 34 at-bats. His average is also at .206. He doesn’t get an F however because he does do well in the outfield when he’s in there but seriously Andruw, where’s the power?

Chris Stewart (B): Chris Stewart has 8 at-bats less than Andruw Jones and he has been able to do more with his at-bats. Stewart is batting .306 in June and has driven in 4 RBI’s but don’t expect the ball to go out of the park with him. He also is known for calling great games and his defense is good (I know he made a mistake in the Mets series finale game but come on, everyone makes mistakes). Stewart always does something when he plays which is probably why Cashman and Girardi thought it made most sense to go to him as a backup catcher. Well, wherever you got him from, don’t return him. He’s awesome.

Jayson Nix (B-): Nix hasn’t gotten a lot of at-bats in the month of June, but he has been able to get on base with a .263 average in June. Nix has no homers or RBI’s but he’s a bench player so it’s understandable. Whatever you’re doing to get on base Nix, don’t stop.

Eric Chavez (B): Eric Chavez is another one of those bench guys that is always doing something amazing (when he’s not injured). Chavez has a .294 average in June with 2 HR’s & 4 RBI’s but what really makes him deserve a B is that he’s a great defender at third base when Alex Rodriguez is out of the lineup. Of course did you expect anything less from Chavez? Chavez is a 6 time Gold Glover after all.

Dewayne Wise (B-): June has been Dewayne Wise’s best month so far with a .286 average. It also helps that he got his first home run of the season in the month of June–and how it was a 3 run homer.

CC Sabathia (B+): CC Sabathia is the Yankees ace but he has looked like he doesn’t have great command of his pitches. In 5 starts he’s 3-1 with a 3.03 ERA with 36 strikeouts. It however amazes me when CC doesn’t have his best stuff and then he ends up going into the 7th inning or so which gives the bullpen a break.

Hiroki Kuroda (A-): Hiroki Kuroda in the month of June has been flat out terrific. He’s 3-1 with a 2.38 ERA with 32 strikeouts. It’s also Kuroda’s first winning month of the season. Kuroda was 2-3 in both April and in May. Impressive, huh?

Ivan Nova (A+): Ivan Nova in the month of June has been flat-out dominant. He’s 3-0 with a 1.27 ERA  with 22 strikeouts. He’s also 9-2 on the season which is very impressive. Who said that Nova was going to have a Sophmore slump?

Andy Pettitte (B+): Andy has sure been good in the month of June, which is why his record is 1-1 with a 3.08 ERA. Both of Pettitte’s starts were good, even the loss (if you take out the 5 run 1st inning from the Mets). Andy, are you sure you’re 40, because you’re pitching like an All-Star.

Phil Hughes (B+): Phil Hughes has been great for the Yankees in June going 4-1 with a 2.67 ERA. The only thing that stopped him from getting an A-? He’s given up 7 HR’s in the month of June. Other than that, he looks like the Phil Hughes of 2010!

Cody Eppley (B+): Cody Eppley has been one of the biggest surprises in the Yankees bullpen only giving up 5 earned runs in 18 innings which results in a 2.50 ERA. He’s also held opponents to a .234 average against him. It helps to have a right handed side armer, doesn’t it?

Clay Rapada (A+): Clay Rapada has emerged from the Yankees bullpen and has became one of my favorite pitchers to watch. He is 1-0 with a 1.00 ERA and holds batters to a .071 average against him! I had been rooting for Rapada to make the team since Spring Training so it makes me glad that he has a chance to show Joe (Girardi) what he can do.

Freddy Garcia (A): Ever since being placed in the Yankees bullpen, Freddy Garcia has been dominant. He’s 1-0 with a 1.59 ERA and holds batters to a .190 average. I’m still a little iffy about Garcia though since I don’t fully trust him, but he’s been doing well so I tip my cap to him.

Boone Logan (A):  Boone Logan is in Clay Rapada territory meaning that he has one of the lowest numbers in the bullpen. He’s 2-0 with a 2.00 ERA while holding batters to a .107 ERA. This bullpen just gets better and better, doesn’t it?

David Robertson (A-): David Robertson was on the DL for a bit but when he came back he was a little rusty in his first outing which explains the 2.45 ERA in June, but since then he’s been Houdini. Stranding batters and striking them is all apart of Robertson’s description. Girardi has been cautious of Robertson since he is just coming back from an oblique injury, but he’s having another great year.

Rafael Soriano (A+): Can anyone say ‘lights out’? Soriano is having a ridiculous month with a 0.96 ERA in the closer role. It makes the Mariano Rivera season ending injury a little less painful when you have someone who is already a closer in the bullpen. Soriano, keep it up.

Cory Wade (F): Cory Wade in June is very baffling. The guy has an 11.05 ERA and seems to be having trouble straightening himself out. Well, Wade better get it together soon or he might be wearing a new uniform in the Yankees organization. Maybe a Scranton Wilkes-Barre uniform?

Morning Bits: Nova, RISP, Chamberlain

Good morning everyone! Well, aside from the first inning Andy Pettitte pitched well last night. Unfortunately the Yankees still cannot hit with RISP and are home run happy. Hopefully tonight’s game is better. Onto the morning links! 

– Ivan Nova is slated to pitch tonight for the Yankees…but after blowing a game last year and then being sent to Triple AAA the next day, Nova “no like the Mets no more”. Those are his words–not mine.

 – The New York Yankees are of course a great team but of course there is one obvious problem–they can’t  hit with runners in scoring position!

– Joba Chamberlain was in a minor traffic accident but he wasn’t hurt. Chamberlain was on the way to the Tampa complex to work out when his car was hit from behind. Good news is Chamberlain is throwing live BP on Monday, the first time since recovering from Tommy John Surgery & an ankle injury.

What would help this team at trading deadline?

What will Cashman look to add?

Baseball officials often say they like to break the season down into one- thirds. The first third is to evaluate your team’s strengths and weaknesses. The middle third is to look for solutions to your problems and to make changes – and the final third is to make a push with the new/improved team you’ve assembled. The Yankees are in that middle phase now and have gone through a lot in the season so far. They struggled for the first 42 games and had a .500 record on May 21st. They then went on an amazing 20-4 run that just ended with back to back losses to Atlanta. Now that we’ve seen their worst and their best baseball, I think it’s a good time to evaluate what this team needs to make a push for their 28th Championship.

Bullpen

The pen has been their strong point all season. Even after surviving the loss of 2 All-Stars in Mariano Rivera and David Robertson they still have kept it together. They are 3rd in MLB in bullpen ERA with a 2.73 mark and have blown a league-low 4 saves in 24 opportunities. With Rafael Soriano looking comfortable in the Closer’s role and Robertson returning healthy, the Yankee bullpen is set. Boone Logan & Clay Rapada have been absolutely excellent vs LH hitters and Cody Eppley and Cory Wade are serviceable in their roles. There may even be a chance that Joba and/or David Aardsma come back at some point this year so there is no need for them to look outside of the organization for relief help.

Rotation

The starters have been pitching tremendously in June and on the season they are 5th in the A.L. with a 4.14 ERA. The one disturbing trend is that they lead all of baseball in HRs allowed with 65 and are 27th overall in opposing hitters OPS at .780.  However, all the starters are pitching better as of late and right now the top 3 of C.C., Andy Pettitte & Ivan Nova look pretty strong.  Kuroda is solid as a #4 and Hughes is OK as the #5 man. So the question is, can anyone out there help them? Read the rest of this entry

Yanks on Cloud 9 as they sweep the Nationals 4-1

Ivan Nova pitched 1 run ball in 7.2 innings as the Yankees won their 9th straight against the Nationals

Coming into this afternoon’s game the Yankees were 8 in a row and were going for the series sweep with Ivan Nova in tow. In the end, Ivan Nova got the job done and the Yankees swept another series by the score of 4-1. 

The Yankees were the first ones to strike when Mark Teixeira hit a SAC fly to plate Derek Jeter against the Nationals starter Edwin Jackson. Curtis Granderson added to the barrage by hitting a solo shot in the 5th inning, his 21st of the season. Robinson Cano added to that with his 12th HR of the season in the 7th inning and Mark Teixeira scored on a wild pitch which capped the offense for the first place Yankees.

Ivan Nova continues to be on a hot streak by pitching 7.2 IP giving up 1 run on 7 hits with 4 strikeouts while allowing one HR. Boone Logan pitched the final out of the 8th inning and Rafael Soriano got his 13th save of the season by pitching a scoreless inning. 

The Yankees come home and take on the Atlanta Braves at Yankee Stadium. CC Sabathia is slated to pitch tomorrow (and Russell Martin is slated to catch CC since Chris Stewart caught Ivan Nova today). 

Say No To Garza

Now that the MLB Draft is over teams will really start to focus on their plans for the trade deadline. The first major rumor for the Yankees this year was that they are interested in Chicago Cubs pitcher Matt Garza. Garza is a familiar name after pitching 3 years for the Rays. Garza had a breakout season last year, but has struggled this season going 2-4, with a 3.99 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, and 8.4 K/9.  Garza may be the best pitcher on the market this year, but may be one the Yankees would be wise to avoid.

It may too early to write this article since a lot can happen between now and the trading deadline. You do not know who will be pitching well or who will be injured. However, if the deadline was today I would avoid Garza and probably would avoid him on the real trade deadline as well. The recent surge of the Yankees has been led by the starting pitching. C.C. Sabathia has not been quite as dominant as he usually is, but he is nobody to worry about. Andy Pettitte has been the ultimate stabilizing force for the rotation. Even the most optimistic Yankees fan could not have predicted how dominant he has been. Hiroki Kuroda has not gotten enough credit for the job he has done. Kuroda is 5-6 on the year, with a 3.46 ERA, and a 1.25 WHIP. Also, he has allowed 3 runs or less in 9 out of his 12 starts. Kuroda is a solid #3 starter even in the AL East. Phil Hughes and Ivan Nova are wild cards, but have shown signs that they are ready to pitch to their talent level. Hughes has allowed 2 runs or less in 4 of his last 5 starts. Nova showed what he can do last season and fired a gem Wednesday against the Rays, so maybe that will get him back on track. The 2009 Yankees won the World Series with C.C. Sabathia and Andy Pettitte as their 2 best pitchers, so they proved that they can win with that combo already. I am confident that Kuroda, Hughes, or Nova are all capable of being a solid # 3 pitcher and that one of them will step up.

Matt Garza is not an ace pitcher, but Theo Epstein may try to sell him as one. The Cubs are in desperate need of young players and will try to get a haul for Garza. They overpaid for Garza to begin with and will want to recoup that talent. Garza was outstanding last season going 10-10, with a 3.32 ERA, a 2.25 WHIP, a 2.95 FIP, and 9.0 K/9. However, that season is an anomaly when you compare it to his career stats and it’s not a coincidence that his breakout season came in his first season in the NL. Garza was a nice #3 pitcher for the Rays in the AL East, but was never a #1 or 2, as he averaged a 3.85 ERA over his 3 years in Tampa. Garza also struck out less people in Tampa than in Chicago, as he struck only 7.01 batters per 9 innings. In addition to that Garza’s FIP was only 4.24 in Tampa. Another warning sign to me is that this would be the third time in his career that Garza would be traded. The Twins, Rays, and now perhaps the Cubs felt he was expendable so why should the Yankees pay a big package for him? Very few great players get traded 3 times in a career. Maybe it was because he was with two small market teams who wanted to get something for him, but it may not be a coincidence that the Twins and Rays traded him.

A lot of the improvements Garza made last season have not been there this season. This combined with only 1 stellar season in the NL leads me to believe he is only a #3 pitcher in the AL East.  The Yankees may need to trade for a starter at the deadline and Garza may very well be the best one available, but that does not mean they should target him. Trading is about value and I have a feeling Theo Epstein wants a lot more than what Garza is worth. The Yankees could probably trade for somebody for less who would do almost as well, or just stick with what they have. I don’t think Kuroda is much worse than Garza if he is worse at all. The Yankees farm system has taken a slight hit this year so they really can’t afford to give away any big pieces in the wrong deal. The Yankees should not be buying Matt Garza as a pitcher who will put them over the top.

Rotation jelling at the right time

Andy’s perfect balance & mechanics have been a big boost

Things have certainly changed for this Yankees team over the last 2 weeks.  On May 21st, they had just been shutout by the lowly Kansas City Royals 6-0 to drop them to 21-21 and into a tie for the basement in the AL East – 5.5 games out of 1st.  The team had just gone 1-6 over their last 7 and the bats were failing at a miserable rate, having scored 2 runs or less in 5 of those 7.  But since then, the team has picked things up.  Thanks to 5 straight wins over KC and the Oakland Triple A’s, they have found their stride and have won 10 of their last 13 to put them a half game behind Baltimore for 1st place.

So what has changed  in the last 13 games to propel this team?  Well the offense has picked it up scoring 5.4 runs per game but it has been the pitching staff that has done the heavy lifting.  They have an American League-best 3.06 ERA with 10 Quality Starts.  Except for Phil Hughes’ clunker in L.A., the starters have pitched at least 6 innings of every game which is a huge lift to a bullpen that has lost its top 2 arms.

Below are the numbers for the starters over that period and it seems everyone is pitching well at the same time.  I believe Pettitte has been a big stabilizing factor for this team and the rest of the staff.  It seems both Nova and Hughes have begun to work faster, be more aggressive and concentrate more from pitch to pitch in their last few outings – all Pettitte trademarks. It could be just a coincidence but I think Andy’s presence and value to the team goes beyond taking the mound every 5th day.

With the rotation throwing well, if some of the bats start to heat up this team can go on one of their typical hot summers and begin to build a lead in the division that no one seems able to run away with.  The rotation and pen seem strong and if Cashman wants to make a deal, he may look to add something to the offense.  A lot will be learned in the near future with David Robertson & Brett Gardner attempting comebacks.  If Brett has another setback, this team will definitely need another OF.  What do you all think of this team?  Is the turnabout in the last 13 games for real and what would you add at the trade deadline, if anything?

W-L

ERA

IP

H

ER

HR

BB

K

Kuroda

1-0

1.20

15

11

2

1

2

7

Pettitte

2-1

3.00

21.1

18

7

4

3

21

Sabathia

2-0

3.21

14

15

5

2

4

9

Nova

3-0

3.74

21.2

18

9

3

5

11

Hughes

2-1

4.43

20.1

20

10

3

5

18

10-2

3.22

92.1

82

33

13

19

66

Pettitte K’s 10 as Yanks blank Rays 7-0

Coming into tonight’s game, the Yankees and the Rays plan to compete for one thing. That one thing is the lead for the AL East. The Yankees turned to Andy Pettitte to close the gap between third and first place and sure enough, Pettitte delivered as the Yanks blanked the Rays 7-0.

Andy Pettitte was his usual self going 7 1/3 innings giving up 0 runs, 2 hits and 10K’s, the most strikeouts Pettitte had since throwing 10K’s on July 6, 2003 vs. the Boston Red Sox.  Freddy Garcia (who hasn’t pitched in exactly 2 weeks) went 1 2/3 giving up 0 runs on 2 hits and 1 K.

The Yankees were aided by 3 Tampa Bay errors which led to 2 of the 7 runs. Russell Martin hit a grand slam as apart of his 3 hit day which was just enough to seal the win.

Tomorrow Ivan Nova goes to the mound vs. Alex Cobb for the Rays. The game is on YES and first pitch is at 7:05pm.

NOTE: With the Tampa Bay loss and the Baltimore Orioles win, the Yankees are only a half game back behind both teams for first place. Let’s see what the Yankees do tomorrow.

Morning Bits: Igarashi, Swisher, Hughes

Good morning everyone. Andy Pettitte was unable to win his first game on the road last night. The Yankees look to avoid the sweep tonight with Ivan Nova on the mound. Here are your morning links…

— The Yankees have claimed former Mets’ reliever Ryota Igarashi off waivers from the Toronto Blue Jays.

Marc Carig discusses Nick Swisher’s unluckiness in last night’s game, along with some other miscellaneous items.

— Via the NY Daily News, Joe Girardi is unwilling to give up on Phil Hughes as a starter in the Yanks’ rotation.

Have a nice day!

Nova K’s 12 but Yanks fall short in 6-5 loss to Reds

If you didn’t watch today’s Yankees game, you might want to find a way to watch it again. Yes, the Yankees didn’t win, but today’s game was one of the oddest game of the year. Why I mention that? Ivan Nova gave up 5 runs, but still managed to strike out 12 of the Reds hitters.

The big blow came in the 5th inning when Joey Votto hit a 3 run homer off of Nova. The Yankees tried to rally in the 9th after Raul Ibanez hit a double, Nick Swisher doubled to bring him home and Jayson Nix brought Swisher home. The game ended with the same problem that the Yankees have had all season: not being able to hit with runners in scoring position. Curtis Granderson grounded out with a runner at third base.

WHAT’S NEXT: CC Sabathia will take the mound for the Yankees in the series finale of interleague play. Johnny Cuerto is slated to pitch for the Reds.  First pitch at 1:05pm on YES Network.
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