Game 65: Rain

(Photo Credit: Flickr user notladj via Creative Commons license)

It’s raining here in the city, though the forecast seems to indicate that there’s enough of a window to gets tonight’s game in at some point. The Yankees waited until the last possible minute to put Derek Jeter on the disabled list, but no such luck with Russell Martin. He’s still active and hobbled while the bench remains a man short. Anyway, here’s the starting lineup…

Brett Gardner, LF
Curtis Granderson, CF
Mark Teixeira, DH
Alex Rodriguez, 3B
Robinson Cano, 2B
Jorge Posada, 1B
Nick Swisher, RF
Eduardo Nunez, SS
Frankie Cervelli, C

CC Sabathia, SP

Whenever the game starts, you’ll be able to watch it on My9. Enjoy.

Start Time Update: The game will begin at 7:40pm ET. Not bad at all.

Calf strain lands Jeter on disabled list

Update (5:57pm): The Yankees announced that Jeter has been placed on the 15-day disabled list with that strained right calf. Pena takes his place on the roster. The Cap’n made a case to remain active, but the Yankees just couldn’t play any more shorthanded than they already are, not with the NL leg of interleague play coming up this weekend.

Original Post (4:27pm): Derek Jeter will miss at least a week with an injured calf, Yankees manager Joe Girardi told reporters this afternoon, but the club will not move to place him on the disabled list until after the short stop meets with doctors at 6 p.m. tonight. No matter what happens with Jeter, the Yanks will recall Ramiro Peña from Triple A Scranton to provide infield depth, but Eduardo Nuñez will receive the majority of the playing time at short during Jeter’s absence.

Jeter left last night’s game in the fifth inning after pulling up lame while running out a routine fly ball, and was seen slamming his helmet as he walked to the clubhouse with assistant trainer Steve Donohue. It’s a shock whenever the Cap’n gets hurt because he’s been remarkably durable during his career. This would be his first DL stint since the infamous dislocated shoulder sidelined him for six weeks at the start of the 2003 season and just his fifth ever. The injury likely guarantees that his string of seven straight seasons with at least 150 games played will end.

For the Yankees, the decision to place Jeter on the disabled list is complicated by the Captain himself. As Jeter admitted, he knows he’s going to be out at least a week with the calf strain, but he is concerned, as Jack Curry noted, that if he is ready to play after a week, he’ll be bored waiting for his DL stint to be over. With the Yanks’ upcoming Interleague swing through NL parks, the club might be better off using the roster flexibility (although Jeter himself begs to differ).

As for Jeter’s pursuit of his 3000th career hits, well that’s going to be on hold for a while. He’s clearly not going to get to 3000 on this homestand. If he goes on the disabled list, he would be eligible to come off on Wednesday, June 29th, the second game of a three game series against the Brewers at home. The Yankees then head out on the road for six games, but it’s worth noting that the first series of that short road trip is against the Mets. Jeter’s six hits away, so it’s still possible that he’ll reach the milestone in New York, just in CitiField. If he misses only a week, he would be able to return to the lineup on the brink of a six-game homestand, and I’m sure the Yankees would prefer to see him reach the milestone in the Bronx.

We’ll update this story once the Yankees announce their moves later this evening.

Cory Wade: Useful or Filler?

(Photo Credit: Flickr user Malingering via Creative Commons license)

Given the state of their bullpen, we shouldn’t write off any pitcher with big league experience that joins the Yankees on a minor league deal over the next few weeks. Randy Flores was the first such move, and apparently he has a mid-June opt-out that is rapidly approaching. The Yankees added lefty Greg Smith and righty Cory Wade yesterday, both of whom are with Triple-A Scranton for the time being. Smith is little more than a fill-in starter for a team with half its rotation in the big league bullpen, but Wade has the potential to be useful in middle relief.

Wade’s story isn’t terribly long or interesting. The 28-year-old was a tenth round pick of the Dodgers out of Kentucky Wesleyan College in 2004, and he reached the show in 2008 after moving to the bullpen full-time in 2007. Wade threw 71.1 IP across 55 appearances (the Joe Torre Plan( following a late-April call-up, posting a rock solid 3.78 FIP. He struck out just 6.43 batters but only walked 1.51 unintentionally per nine innings that year, getting a ground ball 40.8% of the time. Wade struggled (4.40 FIP, 5.53 ERA) in 27.2 IP with the Dodgers in 2009 and was sent back to the minors. He had shoulder surgery in March 2010 and pitched some late in the year, but was non-tendered after the season. The Rays picked Wade up over the winter and stashed him in Triple-A until he informed them that he planned to use his opt-out clause this past weekend, which is why he was available in the first place.

The shoulder surgery was not any kind of major reconstruction, just an arthroscopic procedure that cleaned things up. Wade was never a hard-thrower before, sitting mostly 88-91 with his fastball in the past and his velocity has reportedly returned to similar levels following the surgery. His bread and butter is a mid-70’s curveball with both vertical and horizontal break that he spots well on the outer half of the plate to both righties and lefties. You can see it in this video (first out). He’s also uses an 80 mph or so changeup as well, making him a rare three pitch reliever.

Wade’s strengths are his lack of a significant platoon split (thanks to the changeup and curve) and his ability to limit walks (1.72 uIBB/9 in the bigs, 1.83 in the minors). His weaknesses are that he hasn’t shown much strikeout ability in the big leagues (6.27 K/9 but 8.15 in the minors) and is prone to the long ball (0.91 HR/9 in the bigs, 1.09 in the minors). That tends to happen to fly ball pitchers (just 39.3% grounders) with less than stellar fastball velocity. Wade was his usual self with Tampa’s Triple-A affiliate this year (8.35 K/9, 1.47 BB/9, 0.98 HR/9 in 36.2 IP), so it doesn’t appear as if the surgery had any ill effects.

Those are two nice strengths but also two serious weaknesses, keeping him from being anything more than a middle innings guy at the big league level, particularly in the AL East. That said, Wade is certainly better than the Buddy Carlyles and Amaury Sanits of the world, so he’s a fine pickup that the Yankees can stash in Triple-A and evaluate for a little while before deciding if he’s worth a call-up. With Joba Chamberlain done for the year and Rafael Soriano not yet throwing, the more options the Yankees have available to them, the better. Wade’s about as good as minor league signings get this time of year.

Colon’s Injury: Blessing In Disguise?

Any time a team loses its number two starter, it’s going to hurt. Most teams simply don’t have the depth to replace a pitcher of that caliber, and the same is true of the Yankees. They lost Bartolo Colon for at least two weeks when he strained his hamstring covering first base on Sunday, though it could easily be more given the nature of his injury and his less than ideal physical condition. My hope is that he can start one of the first five games after the All-Star break, though I tend to set expectations low. Now, excuse me as I put on my blind optimism hat for a second, but is it possible that Colon’s stint on the disabled list could actually be a good thing?

Of course it’s going to completely stink in the short term because Bartolo was legitimately pitching like an ace. His 3.34 FIP and 1.6 fWAR puts him in the company of guys like Jamie Shields (3.50 FIP, 1.7 fWAR), Tim Hudson (3.41 FIP, 1.4 fWAR), Chad Billingsley (3.40 FIP, 1.4 fWAR), and Ricky Nolasco (3.55 FIP, 1.4 fWAR), four guys any of us would happily take in the Yankees’ rotation. However, Colon has also thrown 78.1 IP this year, and the only reason it’s that low is because he started the year in the bullpen. Since officially moving into the rotation on April 15th, his 67 IP are right up there with noted workhorses like Mark Buehrle (67.2 IP), Ted Lilly (66.1 IP), and Dan Haren 68.2 IP). Point being, Colon’s thrown a ton of innings lately.

All that work is why this DL stint could be a blessing in disguise for the Yankees. Those 78.1 IP this season are already more than Colon threw in 2010 (0 IP), 2009 (62.1 IP), 2008 (39.1 IP), and 2006 (56.1 IP), and he’s just 21 IP shy of his 2007 total. It’s been a while since Bartolo has endured this kind of workload, and who really knows how that stem cell treated shoulder will hold up. Simply put, a few weeks of rest at this point of the season could be just what this 38-year-old needs to remain healthy and effective down the stretch, when the Yankees are really going to need him.

This isn’t just about Colon either. His absence will afford the Yankees the opportunity to give some of their younger arms a taste of the big leagues, even if it’s just Hector Noesi experiencing life as a Major League starter for the first time. It’s better to let him start that learning process now than in August and September, when the margin for error is smaller just based on the number of games left on schedule. Heck, if Noesi pitches well, it could also boost his trade value and make him that much more desirable to other teams in a midseason trade should the Yankees decide to go that way. The same holds true for David Phelps or Adam Warren.

There’s always a chance that Bartolo comes back from the injury and simply doesn’t pitch as well as he had been. If fact, there’s probably a better chance of that happening than him coming back and dominating again. This level of performance is just so improbable, but he’s been defying the odds all season and I wouldn’t be surprised if he continued to do so after this little vacation. It’s hard to spin injuries into a positive, and if Colon’s bum hamstring has any benefit to the team, keeping him fresh for the stretch drive is it.

After 49-pitch sim game, Hughes to make Sunday rehab start

Via Sweeny Murti and Dawn Klemish, Phil Hughes threw 49 pitches (36 strikes) across 3.2 IP in a simulated game in Tampa today. He struck out six and reportedly hit 91-93 mph consistently, saying afterward that he felt “a lot better.” The next step is a 65-pitch rehab start with Short Season Staten Island on Sunday, officially starting his 30-day rehab clock. That game will be played at gorgeous MCU Park in Coney Island (home of the Brooklyn Cyclones), so it’s a great chance for those of you in the area to catch Hughes on the cheap. Check for tickets right here.