Yankees send Nova to Triple-A, recall Pendleton

The Yankees announced that they have sent Ivan Nova to Triple-A Scranton and recalled Lance Pendleton. That’s a definite precursor to Phil Hughes rejoining the rotation this week (likely Wednesday), Pants Lendleton just gives them an extra bullpen arm in the meantime. It’s not fair, but dems the breaks. Nova will continue to work as a starter and will inevitably be needed later this season, so we’ll see him again.

Four Yankees named to All-Star starting lineup, Teixeira asked to participate in Homerun Derby

Robinson Cano, Derek Jeter, Alex Rodriguez, and Curtis Granderson will start the All-Star Game at their respective positions thanks to the fan voting. Alex Avila surged past Russell Martin in the voting last week, so he’ll (deservingly) start behind the plate. Adrian Gonzalez will start at first, David Ortiz at designated hitter, and Grandy will be flanked in the outfield by Josh Hamilton and Jose Bautista.

Update: Ortiz, captain of the AL Homerun Derby squad, has asked Mark Teixiera will join him on the team. Adrian and Bautista are confirmed as the other two participants, but Tex has yet to accept.

Update Part Deux: Mariano Rivera was named to the All-Star pitching staff but CC Sabathia was not. Felix Hernandez and Justin Verlander made the team but are scheduled to start next Sunday, which would make them ineligible to pitch in the All-Star Game. They’ll be replaced on the roster, though CC is scheduled to pitch that day as well.

Update Part Three: Martin makes it as a reserve. So six total Yankees are heading to the desert in a week. It’s A-Rod‘s 14th All-Star selection, Jeter’s 12th, Mo’s 12th, Cano’s third, Martin’s third, and Granderson’s second. Congrats to all.

Pregame Notes: Rain and a Nunez-less lineup

First things first, no I have no idea if the start of the game will be delayed, but Joel Sherman heard from the Mets that the rain will keep up until 2:30pm ET or so. So yeah, there figures to be some kind of delay at some point. The tarp has been on the field all morning and the players did all their pregame stuff indoors.

Secondly, Eduardo Nunez will not play today because his hamstring tightened up yesterday as he ran out his first double. Joe Girardi doesn’t believe it’s anything serious, especially since he continued to hit the snot out of the ball after first feeling it, and there are no tests scheduled. He just doesn’t want to play him on the wet grass, so Ramiro Pena will get the start at shortstop. There was a late report today, so Girardi’s still waiting to talk to everyone to make sure they’re okay before settling on a lineup. No reason to believe anyone besides Nunez is hurt, just standard operating procedure.

  • Bartolo Colon felt fine after yesterday’s start, so that’s good news. Day-after soreness is always the concern when a guy comes back from an injury. Bart told Girardi he could start today, but not tomorrow. Love him.
  • Girardi did not talk to Derek Jeter last night, but he heard everything went well in his first rehab game with Double-A Trenton. He’ll talk to him today to see how he feels. There’s no plan in place for Jeter should Trenton get rained out today, that’s something they’ll discuss if it comes to it. Girardi said he doesn’t expect to alter Derek’s rest schedule once he does come back, and he has no issue with him playing in the All-Star Game if he’s healthy.
  • There’s still no plan in place for the starting rotation beyond tomorrow’s game, which A.J. Burnett will definitely start. Phil Hughes lines up to pitch tomorrow, but they still haven’t decided if they’ll activate him or have him make one more rehab start. The All-Star break is a consideration in that if they activate him this week, he’ll have to sit for another ten days almost immediately, but Girardi said that’s not necessarily a bad thing because Hughes has been rehabbing pretty hard. They’re likely to get this allsorted out by the end of the day, but no promises.
  • Part of the reason why they’ve waited so long to make the decision is a) these things tend to take care of themselves (i.e. injury), and b) everyone is pitching well. Girardi feels there is no wrong decision to be made for that reason, everyone’s performing well, especially of late.
  • As for Jose Reyes, he is having his MRI this morning and Terry Collins did not have an update during his pregame press conference. They’ll have one soon, but for now Angel Pagan takes over as leadoff hitter. Reyes won’t play again until he’s 100% healthy though, hamstrings are tricky and the last thing they want him to do is re-aggravate the injury and kill his trade value miss more time.

Update: Lance Pendleton just walked into the clubhouse. His name and 25 others are listed on the roster sheet, so there’s a move coming. Also, same lineup as yesterday, just Pena in for Nunez.

Midseason offensive walk and strikeout rates

Over at The Process Report, Chris St. John recently examined a few select offensive statistics for the Tampa Bay Rays. In particular St. John keyed in on strikeout rate, line drive rate, and pitches per plate appearance. He contrasted each player’s current 2011 numbers with their career numbers (and didn’t include the 2011 numbers in the career numbers). This is a worthy exercise as we’re at a point in the season where plenty of statistics find a large enough sample size to stabilize. I’ve followed his lead using two basic plate approach statistics: walk rate and strikeout rate. Like St. John, I’ve excluded the 2011 numbers from career totals. I’ve also calculated strikeout rate using plate appearances, rather than at-bats, as the denominator. Fangraphs uses at-bats, but plate appearances is a more helpful and logical choice. Data is current through Friday morning, and we’ll kick it off with walk rate.

Walk rate

The two big movers up are Granderson and Swisher. Swisher in particular is notable given his slow start. Despite a low BABIP and poor power numbers, particularly from the left side, Swisher is currently posting the best walk rate and on-base percentage of his entire career. As a result, he’s assembled offensive numbers well above league average, albeit in a depressed offensive environment league-wide. This is good to see. Swisher has had a rough go of it this year, a year which in essence represents a contract year, and even though he’s found himself on the short end of the stick luck-wise he’s still been able to maintain his patience at the plate. Plate discipline is both talent and skill, and Nick Swisher has both.

On the down side is Jorge Posada. It’s not terribly hard to read the between the lines on this one. As he gets older and his bat slows down it would seem logical that Posada would find more pitchers challenging him in the zone. His slow start, no matter how much it was founded on ill-fortune, likely did nothing to discourage this. Despite the dip, it’s worthy to note that his walk rate is still above league average.

Strikeout rate

Don’t be confused by the color scheme change. Green is still good, and red is still bad. Here we see Jeter, Teixeira and Swisher lopping off a decent amount of strikeouts against their historical averages. The cynic would argue that Jeter is striking out less because he’s grounding out to second on the first pitch more. Jeter is actually seeing more pitches per plate appearance this year than in years past, but perhaps more work in this area is required to draw conclusions. It’s also nice to see Swisher reduce his strikeout rate. Peripherals-wise he’s having a very respectable year. It’ll be easier to believe it as the results continue to follow.

On the other side, Martin and Cano are striking out more than they have in the past. Granderson is also striking out more, but no one’s complaining about his year whatsoever. Ultimately, these guys are only halfway through their season and have plenty of time to sort things out at the plate. There’s nothing extremely problematic here, aside from the burr in the saddle that is Robinson Cano‘s plate discipline, and in one respect (Nick Swisher) this data is tremendously encouraging. Will this data hold, or regress to career norms? Time will tell.

Colon pitches Yankees to another win in return

The only thing that can stop the Yankees right now is Sergio Mitre. Saturday’s win over the Mets was about as flawless as a win can be in this league … until Mitre issued the first walk of the day (by a Yankees’ pitcher) and ruined the shutout. The Yankees held on for the win anyway, their seventh in a row.

Hung it just enough.

Third Time Through The Order

For the first five innings, the Yankees couldn’t do anything about Dillon Gee. Other than a pair of Eduardo Nunez doubles, anyway. He had the Yankees off balance with his changeup, throwing it for both called strikes and swings and misses out of the zone. The Yankees had struck out seven times already, including all three outs in the fifth. Then it went south for the Mets’ right-hander.

Brett Gardner led off the sixth with a fly out, but Curtis Granderson adjusted to Gee’s changeup and yanked a 1-2 pitch into the Mets’ bullpen for the game’s first run. Wasn’t a horrible pitch, Grandy just sat back on it. Mark Teixeira singled on a first pitch fastball, Alex Rodriguez singled on a 0-2 fastball, then Robinson Cano tripled them both in on a 1-0 changeup. Nick Swisher plated the fourth run with a sacrifice fly to complete the floodgate opening. The third out of the inning came on a great diving stop by Justin Turner on what would have been Nunez’s seventh hit in his last seven plate appearances.

We’ve seen the Yankees do this to pitchers before, numerous times. Alexi Ogando and Juan Nicasio are two recent examples. If you’re going to come at them with the same pitching plan the third time through the order, they’re going to make you pay. Grandy and Cano sat back on the same changeup Gee had been throwing when ahead in the count all day and Tex jumped on a fastball. The kid got a little too predictable, and the Yankees went into attack mode.

Bitch please ... strike three.

Bartolomania Returns

Joe Girardi said he was looking for 80-85 pitches from Bartolo Colon today, and that’s exactly what he got. Twenty-two days after injuring his hamstring, Bartolo returned the mound with six shutout innings, striking out six and walking none on exactly 80 pitches. It wasn’t the nine innings he said he could pitch before the game, but it was more than enough.

Jose Reyes started the game with an infield single (after taking what should have been strike three), but Colon then retired the next 13 men in a row before allowing another infield single, this one to Jason Bay. In between, just four Mets hit the ball out of the infield. Bay’s single was followed by legit singles from Lucas Duda and Josh Thole to load the bases with one out in the fifth, the first real rally of the day.

Thanks to those NL rules, Gee was batter. Given the way he was pitching, there was no way Terry Collins could pinch-hit for him, but for whatever reason they didn’t try to pull off the squeeze play. Colon fell behind in the count 2-0, but recovered to get Gee to ground the ball weakly to third. A-Rod stepped on the base and threw over to first for the inning-ending double play. Love those NL rules. (nope)

Seriously though, it looked like Colon had never gotten hurt in the first place. He had his velocity and the batters were staring at that two-seamer all day long (five of the six strikeouts were looking). It was the same guy we saw in April and May. Welcome back, Bart.

He's earned the smirk.

Everyday Eduardo

Someone doesn’t want to give Derek Jeter his job back next week, eh? One day after going 4-for-4, Nunez went 3-for-4 with two doubles and his third homer of the year, a legit blast over the big wall in left-center. The one out he made was on that great catch by Turner. Eduardo now has one more homer and one fewer extra base hit than Jeter this season despite having 167 fewer plate appearances. Yeah, his defense can be (very) erratic, but overall the kid has done a fine job holding the position down. Well done, Eddie.

Leftovers

Cory Wade threw two fine innings of relief (two hits, no runs) only to be followed by Mitre’s awfulness. Maybe he was … uh … rusty after having not pitched in ten days. Yeah, that must be it. (nope)

The Yankees had a chance to score a run in the second inning after Colon bunted Nunez over to third with one out. Gardner grounded the ball to the right side, but Duda threw home and cut Nunez down trying to score. It was definitely a risky call by Collins since the middle of the order was due up; if that ground ball finds a hole, all of a sudden the Yankees are looking at a big inning.

Aside from the Nunez tack-on homer, all of the Yankees’ offense came in that sixth inning. Brett Gardner took a big fat 0-for-5 from the leadoff spot, but Granderson had the homer and a walk, Tex and Cano each had one hit, A-Rod had two, Nick Swisher and Russell Martin drew walks, and Nunez did his thing. In his last eight plate appearances, Cano has seen a total of 19 pitches, and four of those came as part of an intentional walk. So really it’s 15 pitches in his last seven plate appearances, or 2.14 per. Yikes, Robbie.

Here’s a fun fact courtesy of Kevin Davidoff: 36 of Granderson’s 148 career homeruns have come since he worked with Kevin Long last August. That’s 24.3% of his career homers in 13.1% of his career plate appearances. In-frickin-sane.

For the second straight day the Yankees helped set a new CitiField attendance record. They topped Friday’s mark by 22 fans, so 42,042 were in the house for this one.

The Yankees have officially won all six of their interleague series this year, going 14-4 against the so-called senior circuit with one more to play. They’re on a season-high seven game winning streak and are a season-high 19 games over .500. No team is within 30 runs of their +122 run differential, and they’ve outscored their opponents 32-5 over the last five games. When you’re hot, you’re hot.

WPA Graph & Box Score

This one had all the feel of a classic pitcher’s duel, but then the Yankees had to Yankee. MLB.com has the box score and video, FanGraphs everything else.

Up Next

The Yankees will go for the sweep tomorrow afternoon when Freddy Garcia gives it a go against the knuckleballing R.A. Dickey. That’s a regular old 1pm ET game. RAB Tickets can get still get you there, even on short notice.