Coming into the season, every article written about the Yankees and every talking head on TV mentioned the Yankees rotation as a strength. The Yankees were deep: C.C. Sabathia and Hiroki Kuroda were the top two, with Ivan Nova, Michael Pineda, Phil Hughes, and Freddy Garcia all battling for the final three rotation spots. And then of course Andy Pettitte un-retires and suddenly there will be two odd men out.
And then the season started.
C.C has had his usual early season struggles, but seems to be on the right track now. Ivan Nova has been great and gutsy, showing future ace potential. Kuroda has done his best A.J. Burnett impression (minus the pie throwing) by looking great one game and pitching batting practice the next. Despite a strong spring, Phil Hughes looks like the same Phil we had last season, and Freddy Garcia cant seem to pitch more than two innings before he is completely sweat soaked and panicked. And Michael Pineda? Well, he is still young but don’t be surprised to see his name on a MLB network worst trades of all time show at some point.
Of course Andy Pettitte is still on his way, and unless he proves otherwise I expect to see the same Andy Pettitte we saw before his retirement. And the Yankees certainly need it.
So what will the Rotation look like in August? C.C., Kuroda, and Nova, barring injury, will certainly still be there. Andy Pettitte should be there too. Freddy Garcia has already been relegated to the bullpen.
Phil Hughes is the wild card here. Scouts have said he has the stuff to start, but he has to use his curve-ball more and his fast ball less. But what if David Phelps dominates tonight? And his next start? Does he stay in the rotation when Pettitte makes it back?
Here is what I think: As long as Andy Pettitte is strong, Freddy Garcia will be traded/released, Phil Hughes will head to the ‘pen, and this will be your five man rotation come August:
And lets just hope the Yanks bullpen can keep carrying the pitching staff while this all gets figured out.
As the sun sets on the dusty plains of Arlington, Texas, the shadows of two legends will project onto the ground as the famous sharpshooters prepare to face off. Only these legends are not Texas Cowboys, and they will not be firing their shots from 75 feet. Instead these Japanese pitching legends will be 60 feet six inches from their targets, their ammunition fastballs, sliders, and change-ups fired from their arms and not silver bullets fired from six-shooters.
Hiroki Kuroda and Yu Darvish will face each other for the first time tonight as the Yankees play the Rangers in Arlington. First pitch will be at 8:05 P.M. ET, or 8:05 A.M. in the Far East. Japanese television will show the game live, perhaps causing many Japanese workers to call in sick, or at least show up late.
With the influx of Japanese stars to Major League Baseball over the past 10 years, you would think that Japanese pitchers faced each other often. However, this is only the seventh time in history that it has happened, and probably the most high-profile of all the match-ups thus far. Kuorda has a career earned run average of 3.49 which is the lowest of any Japanese born starting pitcher in MLB history. Darvish comes to the Major Leagues as one of the most highly touted players to ever pitch in the Japanese leagues. He left Japan with a record of 93-38, posting a 1.99 ERA with 1.278 strikeouts. So far this season Kuroda is 1-2 with a 5.00 ERA, while Darvish is 2-0 with a 3.57 ERA. It appears Darvish will have the advantage based on youth and performance so far.
The Rangers and Yankees are number one and two in runs scored in the Majors this season, and are known for their hitting, however tonight it will be the Japanese pitching legends who will be the stars in a classic old-west gun fight.
Who will be the last man standing?
The Yankees beat the Angels 5-0 yesterday behind a strong performance by Hiroki Kuroda, and Alex Rodriguez hit career home run number 630 to tie Ken Griffey Jr. for fifth on the all time home run list. Game two of the series is today with Phil Hughes taking the mound for the Yankees. C.J. Wilson will be pitching for the Angels.
Morning Coffee & Links
Posada locates plate, and maybe one day Hall of Fame
Kuroda spectacular in Bronx début
A-Rod shows impact of positive thinking
Bringing back Yankees legends good for dollars and sense
Cano moves to cleanup as A-Rod bats fourth
A-Rod ties Griffey JR. with home run #630
Here’s to a great day of baseball!
Although the season had been under way for over a week and the Yankees had already played six games, it felt like baseball had truly begun yesterday with the home opener at Yankee Stadium. It was a perfect day for baseball: sunny blue skies, green grass and and Yankee hero back to throw out the first pitch.
It began with the usual ceremonies of the national Anthem , and a fly-over by two F-18 jets. After that, the sound of the Imperial March blared over the loudspeakers as the adversaries for the day, the Los Angeles Angel’s of Anaheim California, USA were announced. And then, the playing of the Throne Room/End Title from Star Wars as the New York Yankees took the field one by one to their introductions. I always get goosebumps hearing this music as the players take the field, and hearing it for the first time of the season was extra special.
Finally, a Yankee hero was welcomed back to throw out the first pitch. It was a special moment as Three generations of Posadas took the field to a standing ovation. Former catcher Jorge Posada climbed the mound and with his son by his side threw out the first pitch to his father. The stadium roared and with that it was time for baseball.
The game itself went right along with the electric feeling of opening day. Hiroki Kuroda was dominant, pitching eight shutout innings giving up only five hits and two walks while striking out six. Kuroda was backed by five runs with Nick Swisher providing a three run double in the first, while both Curtis Granderson and Alex Rodriguez belted solo home runs for the other two scores. David Robertson finished off the Angels in the ninth as the Yankees won 5-0
It was a perfect day for baseball, and the Yankees provided near perfect baseball for the day.
This is how opening day should be.
Is it time to panic yet?
Okay , it is only to games, but it is two games and two losses to the team that most people consider the favorite to challenge the Yankees for the American League East title. There is some concern.
The first concern is that the Yankees number one and two starters were both unable to shut down the Rays. C.C. Sabathia, though mostly ineffective, did his best to keep the Yankees in the game, but four runs to the Rays pitching staff is usually going to be too many. Sabathia was lucky New York’s batters had his back and was still in line for the win before Mariano Rivera blew the save. And Hiroki Kuroda was very disappointing. With six runs given up (four earned) and eight hits the Yankees never had a chance, although once again the bats did their best to pick up the pitching. Kuroda’s fastball looked flat, and with the Rays swinging early in the count to avoid the splitter he was getting teed off on. The Rays knew the fast ball was coming early and were ready for it. Now the Yankees will be looking to Phil Hughes, the Yankees sharpest pitcher in spring training, to stop the bleeding. If Hughes can’t get the job done, the Yankees have some serious problems. The depth of the rotation doesn’t matter if the Yankees top three pitchers struggle.
The second concern for the Yanks is the constant shifting employed by Joe Maddon in the first two games. Now we’ve seen some extreme shifts by many teams in recent years, but for the most part it had been limited to lefty pull hitters – Mark Teixeira, and David Ortiz for example. The Rays however, seemed to have a shift for every batter, and their scouting reports were right on. It didn’t matter if it was a lefty or a righty at the plate, when there was a shift , it seemed the Yankees hitters were hitting right into it. Numerous hits were taken away by the Ray’s scouts in the past two games, and if other teams advanced scouts were paying attention, the Yankees are probably going to see a lot more of it.
There is no doubt the Yankees are going to win a lot of games. Despite the shifts they have still scored 12 runs in two games, and despite the unimpressive pitching they have had a chance to win both games. They will more than likely make the playoffs. The problem is that if they are out-managed and out pitched in the playoffs, they will be looking at an early exit for the third straight year. The hitters need to adjust and the pitchers need to perform. Otherwise, the Yankees will be the ones shifting. Shifting their attention to the golf course in October.
The Yankees lost 7-6 to the Rays yesterday. They will face them again tonight at 7:10 ET. Hiroki Kuroda will take the mound for the Yanks while David Price gets the ball for the Rays.
Morning Coffee & Links
Managers save nothing and neither does Mo
Rays creating memories at Yanks expense
Game 1 looked a lot like game 162
Ibanez makes up for lost spring
First Pitch: Hiroki’s turn
Girardi’s plan not so grand
Here’s to a great day of baseball!
Michael Pineda was placed on the DL with shoulder tendonitis one day after complaining of pain following a dismal outing against the Phillies. It seems the move should finalize the rotation for the Yankees as they head into the last few days of spring training. As it stands here is what the starting five looks like:
Of course once Andy Pettitte is ready to go in early May someone will have to be bumped, and in all likelihood Freddy Sanchez will move into the long relief role. Once Pineda is healthy we will be looking at the rotation once again, with the battle between him, Hughes, and Nova to see who sticks.
So the starting five is set heading into opening day April 6th, but hardly set for the entire season. Should be fun to watch.
Morning Coffee and Links
Pineda needs to change to stay healthy
A big day for Bichette
Too early to bail on Pineda
Pettitte’s legs not on shape
Hopeful lefty Cabral breaks elbow
The next big idea in baseball
Here’s to a great day of baseball!