Bullpen stellar as bats down ChiSox 8-3


Welcome to the Year of Joba. The Yankees have a good, young pitcher on an innings limit, and as the team hasn’t seen one of those since innings limits became all the rage, every start — nay, every pitch — brings it with intense scrutiny and fan overreaction.

Today, the Yanks’ plan for Joba resembled something out of the Spring Training manual. With a few weeks left in the regular season and 30 innings remaining for Joba, the Yanks will keep their youngster on normal rest but control his innings. Today, he was set for 3 innings or 50 pitches, whichever came first. With Joba and his 17.3 pitches per inning, you never know.

Well, with the anemic White Sox offense on tap, Joba made it through three innings well before he reached 50 pitches. In fact, Joba needed an economical 35 pitches to record nine outs. He threw 23 of them for strikes and gave way to Al Aceves and the bullpen as the Yanks’ bats led the way to a weekend sweep against the reeling White Sox.

There was but one problem with Joba’s 35 pitches: They weren’t that good. The game started off with a Scott Podsednik triple, and he scored on a Gordon Beckham ground out. While the Yanks tied the game in the first on a Derek Jeter double and a Mark Teixeira sacrifice fly — the first of Mark’s four RBIs on the day — the White Sox grabbed the lead in the third on back-to-back-to-back singles with a stolen base in there for good measure. Joba ended strong with a strike out of A.J. Pierzynski, but he would head to the showers with a so-so line: 3 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 1 K.

For Joba, the problem seemed to be one of velocity. While he was throwing more strikes, he averaged below 92 with his fastball and peaked at around 94.4. His changeup, slider and curve were all working nicely, but I still wonder, as I have many times this season, where Joba’s 97 mph fastball went. He threw it last year regularly as a starter but only occasionally this year.

Anyway, with Joba out, the Yankees’ bullpen and bats went to town. Johnny Damon gave the team a lead with a two-run shot in the third. That blast was his 24th of the season, and Damon is now tied for his career high in home runs. The Yanks’ left fielder later left the game with cramps in both of his calves and is day-to-day.

For the next four innings, the game was a tense affair. Al Aceves, coming off of a few rough August outings, held the White Sox to just two hits and no runs in three masterful innings of work. He struck out one and grabbed his ninth win of the season. In the 7th, Aceves gave way to Damaso Marte who retired Jim Thome on four pitches. With a few righties up, Joe Girardi went to David Robertson. The Yanks’ K specialist nailed the second out of the inning and had Mark Kotsay down to his final strike, but a pair of singles prolonged the inning.

Out went Robertson, in came Phil Hughes, and there went the White Sox’s chances. Hughes retired Jayson Nix on a fly ball to Eric Hinske, and the Yanks’ bats took over. Melky and Jerry Hairston, Jr. each contributed RBIs on a double and sac fly, respectively, and then Mark Teixeira put this one out of reach with a towering blast into right field. It was his 32nd home run of the season, and as he touched the plate, his RBI total reached 101. He leads the AL in that category.

With an 8-2 lead in their pockets, the Yanks let Hughes pitch a 1-2-3 8th, and while Phil Coke gave up a two-out home run to Jermaine Dye in the 9th, it mattered for little. There would be no 9th inning comeback, and the Yanks would head down to Baltimore with their 82nd win. As the Blue Jays lost to Boston, the magic number drops only by one game to 27, and October is inching ever closer.

Categories : Game Stories


  1. Jordan says:

    Why is it Johnny Damon is known as one of the best Yankees to interview, yet he acts like a deer in the headlights every time he is interviewed?

    I’ve never seen a person who seems more unsure of his words before he says them before Damon.

  2. JMK says:

    Of course no one can be sure, but it seems that Joba’s velocity has been off since his injury last year at Texas (it was early August, I think). That, combined with more innings than ever, fatigue, and possibly mechanical issues, could be the reason the velocity has dropped.

  3. JMK says:

    Aceves looks like a Mexican Vin Diesel.

    Too Fasterer, Too Furiouser

  4. King of Fruitless Hypotheticals says:

    Fatigue+life+new ground=slight performance drop

    he could really be fantastic next year if they don’t break him…

  5. Dillon says:

    One things for sure. If he’s throwin 91mph, he’s a #2 starter at best. If he’s throwing 94mph on average he’s got ace potential like he showed more last year. Not to mention, a better fastball usually translates to more movement on secondary pitches. His slider has been rolled up there a ton this year.

    Where’d your fastball go Joba?!?!?!?

    • Mike Axisa says:

      Roy Halladay doesn’t throw 94.

      • Salty Buggah says:

        And Cole Hamels has averaged 90 for his career.

      • Jersey says:

        You’d think, one season removed from watching a guy win 20 games with a sub-90 fastball, people would learn not to become overly obsessed with velocity.

        • Chris H. says:

          You don’t have to throw heat to be an ace but Joba does, that is how his whole game is set up… He isn’t throwing great location and back door pitches knicking the edges over and over he throws a 96 or 97 MPH fastball and then throws a slider that you have no choice but to wing over because your looking for 96 If he is throwing 91 and he throws a slider you have more time to sit back read the pitch and not swing, and then you end up working a 3-2 count where he has no choice but tot throw a 92 MPG fastball and it gets hit… Joba is a pure power pitcher and even throwing all of his pitches well he needs his power fastball to be effective.

    • pat says:

      One things for sure; you don’t know what you’re talking about.

    • JMK says:

      Speed doesn’t necessarily designate a pitcher to an assigned rotation spot. Greg Maddux didn’t throw 100 mph. Was he at best a #2 pitcher?

      We’d all be thrilled if he keeps his fastball at 94+, but to say that he cannot succeed in a top spot without the plus-plus-plus fastball is simply untrue. His slider is excellent, he has a very good curve, and a developing changeup. He’s not done developing, though we can all agree he’d have the potential to be even better with a mind-blowing fastball.

    • Dela G says:

      you dont have to throw 94mph

      david price was throwing 91 and 92 at times yesterday and did just fine

    • pat says:

      Daniel Cabrera.

    • Hold on now… I don’t necessarily agree with Dillon, but I think some of these reactions are unfair. He’s not saying NO pitcher can be an ace throwing 91-92 MPH fastballs, I think it’s pretty clear he’s talking about Joba’s performance in particular. And I don’t know that that’s such a crazy thing to say. We’ve discussed Joba’s velocity and its affect on his level of success many times around here. (For example, see: ). We’ve seen Joba look dominant as a starter in the minors and in MLB when he was sitting at a higher velocity, and now we’ve seen him be a little less dominant and less consistent while throwing at a slightly diminished velocity. What Dillon’s saying might not be right, but it’s not crazy and it’s not as stupid as most of these responses are making it out to be.

  6. Randy Choade says:

    When the Yankees first signed AJ Burnett we were smashed in the face with dozens of articles about how Burnett had matured over the years and realized that he didn’t have to try and throw the ball through a wall every time he pitched. Sports writers and analysts told us how that new attitude and pitching approach has caused him to be more durable and valuable. Could it be that maybe Joba is trying the same approach? Would that be such a bad thing? But then again, I have very little faith in the Yankees ever being honest about shoulder issues with their pitchers (see the way they dicked Wang around in arbitration — they knew his shoulder was going to fall apart soon).

    • JMK says:

      Point by point:

      Sports writers and analysts told us that new attitude and approach has caused him to be more durable and valuable.

      Sports writers rarely seem to know anything. It’s my estimation that they only get things right on occasion by virtue of the law of probability. If the new attitude and approach is true, yes, pitching with command is more effective than simply throwing a ball at the speed of light. You’d rather have a guy who can be a healthy, innings-eating winner over many years than a guy who can throw 100 and be on the DL for long lengths of time.

      Could Joba be trying the same approach?

      It’s certainly possible, but it doesn’t seem likely. As Jersey and I listed before (and more prominently, in Ben’s July post), the decrease in velocity comes after his shoulder injury in 2008. He’s also approaching his innings high in his first full-season starting in the MLB, so fatigue is likely. He can dial it up to 95, but he can’t get it much higher than that regularly. There’s no reason to think that if he can get it up to 99 for a pitch or two, he wouldn’t.


      Wang had no leverage in arbitration. They didn’t have to pay him, and there was no reason for them to. If they really knew his shoulder were going to fall apart, don’t you think they would have cut the cord far earlier? Why keep sending out a guy with an ERA near the metric system and continue to string along Hughes, Aceves, etc.?

    • MikeD says:

      I don’t think the Yankees would be sending Joba out on the mound for the entire season if something was wrong with his arm. They are pretty careful with their young pitchers, and injuries in general with all players, taking a very conservative approach.

      It is possible that Joba does have some physical issue that perhaps only rest will address, but is not believed will get worse, or threaten his long-term health by pitching. It could also be mechanics, or fatigue, etc. He certainly wouldn’t be the first young pitcher to lose some velocity, and rediscover it in following seasons.

      He can certainly be a #3 or a #2, with he has now. If he can get back the mid-90s heat on a consistent basis, it would set up the rest of his pitches and he can be the #1 the Yankees envisioned.

      BTW The other part of Joba’s game that’s missing is his control. He does not have control of his fastball to the same level he had in the past. That makes me wonder if this is a mechanics issue.

    • Johan Iz My Brohan says:

      I do remember Joba saying something like that he learned from CC and AJ that you don’t have to try to throw the ball too hard every pitch. (I think I read this during ST)

  7. Dela G says:

    anyone else notice that, with the bullpen combo put out today, this is the best bullpen in the AL?

    i really do think its better than boston’s

    The other bullpen pieces we saw (mitre, maybe bruney, etc, etc) aren’t really what we will put in if the game is on the line in october. I loved what i saw today from the pen, and am really stoked to see what happens

  8. Tony says:

    I wish Girardi would use Marte for more than one batter…

  9. MikeD says:

    Anyone care to guess when Jeter will set the new Yankee hit record? He ties in eleven, and his twelth sets a new record, one which he’ll break and set another 700 or 1,000 or so times (we hope) in coming seasons.

    I’m picking next Monday, September 7th, Labor Day at YSIII.

    I did a few quick calculations. The Yankees road trip is seven games. If he maintains his current seasonal hit pace based on games played, he’ll bang out 9.8 hits over the next seven. Okay, that’s ten, brining him back home with a chance to both tie and break the record next Monday.

    Ahh, but you’re thinking he’s been on fire and has been delivering more hits per game of late. You’re right, so let’s take a look at what he’s done over the last seven games. Well, he “only” has eleven hits over those seven games, so if he does the same over the next seven, he’ll still set the record next Monday.

    Last, Girardi could elect to give him a day of rest if he really gets hot in Baltimore, something that totally possible considering the pitching staff and Jeter has always hit well there. Girardi says he won’t manipulate Jeter’s games played just so he can set the record at home, but I don’t believe him.

    Next Monday.

  10. Jersey says:

    Meanwhile, Greinke is three outs away from pitching a 1-hitter. What a beast that guy is.

  11. kel says:

    On the subject of Aceves. I don’t know how many of you watched the game on TBS today, but I did since I don’t live in NY area. Anyway, during the 7th inning they showed a highlight video montage in which you could see a close up of Aceves touch the side of his cap with his two pitching fingers. Not particularly unusual except it looked like there was a shiny substance on the side of his cap. The announcers made no mention of it, and I had never noticed it before but I wonder if he might be throwing spit balls or something. He was already out of the game when they showed the video clip so it was too late for me to start paying close attention.

    • MikeD says:

      Could be. I never noticed it, but I’ll see if I notice it the next time he’s pitching. Another possibility is simply wear on the cap. If he has a habit of touching his hat in the same spot on every pitch, that would wear the cap in that spot, making it appear more shiny.

    • It was very clear on the YES broadcast, too. It didn’t look natural, like a sweat spot, at all, it was closer to the front corner of the bill of his cap (i.e. not adjacent to his head), and he clearly went to the bill of his cap between pitches and touched it. I was surprised nobody mentioned it on the YES broadcast and I’m surprised about the TBS broadcast as well, it looked very strange.

    • Salty Buggah says:

      Didnt an ump once call him out for that?

    • Tom Zig says:

      Actually Aceves has a lot of writing under the bill of his cap. I don’t know why. Its in silver ink so that explains the shiny substance. The announcers made note of it one of the last times he made an appearance.

      • The spot in question wasn’t on the bottom of the bill of his cap, it was on the top. It wasn’t the writing down there, I’ve seen that before and I saw the spot in question today. Totally different.

        • Tom Zig says:

          I do remember him touching his cap, but i don’t recall seeing anything shiny…hmmm

          • I’m sure I’m overreacting and I’ll check the YES re-broadcast tonight and be like “yikes, I was wrong about that one, huh,” but check it out for yourself if you can. I definitely thought I saw the same thing Kel thought he/she saw, and when I was watching it, it looked pretty clear to me.

            • Tom Zig says:

              I tried watching the highlight replays (Not very helpful). I didn’t get to see very many close ups. But the umpire did approach him after he took the liner off his arm and he didn’t seem to notice.

  12. Jake H says:

    Great game by the pitching staff. The O did what it needed to win and then also to put the game away.

  13. The Artist says:

    Just in case anyone missed it (can’t imagine why) make sure you catch the latest edition of Yankees on deck. They replay the show every 5 minutes, so you should be able to find it.

    It features AJ Burnett and Brian Bruney doing their best unintentional Beavis and Butthead at a Monster Truck rally. There were a zillion funny moments, but this was my fave-

    BB-”Wow, that’s a lot of dirt. Where ya think they get all that dirt? Do they bring it with them?”

    AJ-”I bet they carry it in suitcases”

  14. pat says:

    Ugh, Winfield is SOOOO BAD.

    “hey that melky cabrera was in a race with another young man for the position, now he’s just won it outright”

    Professional analysis.

  15. pat says:


  16. My only question regarding Joba’s new routine on the mound, is what happens in October?

    If I remember correctly, the Yanks are going to use a “all hands on deck” approach in the postseason. While that sounds good, how can we really expect Joba to go from throwing 3 innings per start to a high leverage appearance in October?

    How can he reamp back to throwing at least 5-6 innings as the 4th starter in the ALDS or ALCS? Just not sure how he goes back into regular start mode after doing this for a month.

    • Accent Shallow says:

      I believe they’re going to ramp up his innings/pitch count as October approaches, so he’ll be good for 7+ innings and 100+ pitches if necessary in the playoffs.

      Will he be gassed long before that? I have no idea.

  17. Joebrah says:

    There seems to be a lot wrong with this Joba approach. Still nobody knows whether this actually helps or not, long term. If you ask Nolan Ryan, he says it hurts pitchers. And the things he’s done in Texas with that pitching staff are absolutely note-worthy.

    So, every 5 games, the bullpen is going to have to do considerable work? Am I wrong in assuming this? The organization is a little bit of a bitch to begin with when it comes to pitchers and their work load, in my opinion. You’re going to empty the tank of the bullpen every 5 starts? Then what, for the rest of the week? Just going to have to hope CC, AJ, Andy and Mitre eat up 7 innings a piece?

    And what does that say to those pitchers? I originally thought about the hybriders, like Mitre and Ace. How do these specialized rules to further promote Joba’s career not make these pitchers feel less than? But really, the entire pitching staff is going to have to step up their games in order for these rules to not affect the Yankees ability to win baseball games.

    I’m really disgusted by this whole thing. I think it’s a terrible idea that will come back to bite them in the ass. And it couldn’t come at a worse time. Why do you wanna drain the bullpen’s tank right before the end of the season/(hopefully) post-season?

    A.) I really hope Texas beats the Red Sox in the wild-card race.

    B.) If the Yankees do, in fact, kick their own ass with this set-up, I can only dream that Texas delivers the blow in the playoffs, and then goes on to win it all, just to show that Nolan Ryan’s approach to young pitchers is far superior to the Yankees babying.

    • Steve H says:

      Rosters are expanding in two days. And with regards to Nolan Ryan’s approach, it hasn’t even been a full season. Remember when Mark Prior looked like a HOF. Yeah, that was the Nolan Ryan approach.

      • Joebrah says:

        Well, he takes over as Prez, sets his standard and they go from being the worst pitching team in MLB in 08, to the 7th best in 09 thus far.

        • Steve H says:

          Like I stated, it’s been less than 1 year, and you’re willing to declare the Ryan method as great. So when Prior was 18-6 were you declaring the Dusty Baker method as great?

  18. DaveinMD says:

    I wonder if Joba needs to get in better shape physically. Maybe he should go to the trainer that Phil Hughes uses.

  19. [...] Joba’s fastball does not rule August 31, 2009, 12:26 pm Here’s Ben over at RAB on Joba’s latest start: For Joba, the problem seemed to be one of velocity. While he was [...]

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