I do 162 of these a year not counting Spring Training and the postseason. I’m allowed a cheesy headline once in a while.
Anyway, the Yankees will not be facing hard-throwing right-hander Josh Johnson tonight as originally scheduled. The former Marlin has a triceps issue and has been scratched, so former Yankee and slow-tossing left-hander Aaron Laffey will make the start instead. Talking about replacing someone with their polar opposite. The Yankees stink against lefties — last night’s beatdown of Mark Buehrle aside — but I’d much rather see them face Laffey than Johnson. No doubt about it. Here’s the starting lineup…
- CF Brett Gardner
- 3B Jayson Nix
- 2B Robinson Cano
- LF Vernon Wells
- C Frankie Cervelli
- RF Ichiro Suzuki
- SS Eduardo Nunez
- LF Lyle Overbay
- DH Ben Francisco
And on the mound is the man an awful lot on the line, right-hander Ivan Nova. His leash is getting shorter by the start and he absolutely needs to start pitching well if he wants to remain in the rotation. Everyone’s patience is starting to wear thin.
Lovely weather in New York tonight, great for baseball. The game is scheduled to start a little after 7pm ET and can be seen on YES locally and MLB Network nationally. Enjoy.
Mark Teixeira Update: Teixeira (wrist) is still limited to dry swings right now. He has not been cleared to hit off a tee or anything like that.
Ryan Galla at CAA Sports currently projects the 2014 Super Two cutoff at two years and 119 days of service time, which is typically written as 2.119. The Super Two cutoff dropped with the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, so more players will qualify. Super Two players get four years of arbitration-eligibility rather than the usual three. (h/t MLBTR)
According to the service time info at Cot’s, Eduardo Nunez is expected to finish the season at 2.117 if he doesn’t get optioned to the minors at some point, so only two days short of the projected cutoff. Even though he’s been a bench player for most of his big league career, the difference between qualifying and not qualifying as a Super Two is a couple hundred grand in salary next year. It’s not insignificant. The projected Super Two cutoff is not final and can change over the next few months depending on roster movement around the league. · (7) ·
1. YES had an interesting graphic displayed during last night’s game. It showed which teams had the lowest batting averages in the American League versus left-handed pitching. As you may have expected, the Yankees (.199) were number two on this dubious list, trailing only the offensively inept Mariners (.189). What you may not have known, was that among the five worst lefty hitting teams, three teams came from the AL East. Trailing right behind the Yankees are the Red Sox (.215) and the Blue Jays (.220). The White Sox (.243) round out the bottom five.
We knew this would be an issue coming into the season given the configuration of the lineup. However, as is so often the case, we are either unaware of dismissive of the rest of the league’s struggles in relation to our own. Ideally, the Yankees simply would not have such drastic splits. However, seeing as they do, it’s of some comfort to know that some of their divisional rivals are experiencing the same dilemma. Perhaps, to some degree, this makes one of the Yankees more noticeable vulnerabilities a bit less alarming at the moment. Obviously, it’s still a problem the team should look to address as quickly as possible. You know their competition will look to as well.
2. Yesterday was a pretty gratifying win. Hiroki Kuorda didn’t have his best stuff, but he kept the team in the game. We saw some displays of power from both likely and unlikely contributors, and of course we enjoyed the perks of a dominant bullpen. On top of that, the Yankees managed a come-from-behind win (against a lefty no less). Ideally, the Yankees won’t get into the habit of trailing the other team. However, it’s good to know that when they do they can muster up some resilience occasionally. We’ve seen them come from behind several times this year already – a few times against the Diamondbacks and against the Rays if memory serves. These early season wins are especially gratifying while the team is navigating through all the injuries.
3. How about Robinson Cano? Turns out he’s pretty good. He looked lost at the plate against the Red Sox and Tigers in the first two series of the season. Since then, well … he’s been himself. He’s now batting .322/.372/.632 (.424 wOBA, 171 wRC+). He’s tied for fifth in all of baseball in home runs (with seven), and trails only Chris Davis and J.P. Arencibia in the American League (with eight). Not too shabby, especially considering his position. What is interesting though, is that his K% is a few percentage points higher than his career norms in the early goings of the season. That said, I would certainly expect that to normalize as the season progresses a bit further (but we’ll keep an eye on it nevertheless). If the Yankees are going to have any kind of sustained success this season, they’ll need Robinson’s bat to remain hot — especially if some of the other overachievers begin to slow down.
4. Since it’s Friday and I’m feeling frivolous, let’s take a quick pit stop into the world of arbitrary and meaningless observations. Yesterday was my 29th birthday and the Yankees won, which was perfect. I remember telling my wife that it had seemed like forever since the last time the Yankees won on my birthday. Well, as it turns out, that wasn’t too far from the truth. The last time they won on the 25th of April was 2006. Since 1984, they’ve gone 9-16 (there were five off days since that time). So there’s that.
Got six questions this week, so I tried to keep the answers reasonably short. The Submit A Tip box in the sidebar is the way to go to send us questions, comments, links, complaints, whatever.
Brad asks: With the Dodgers recent injury bug to their rotation and the news of Derek Jeter being out until late July at the earliest, would it make sense to swap Ivan Nova to LA for perhaps Mark Ellis and a reliever?
Yes and no. The Dodgers started the year with eight legitimate starters for five spots, but they’ve since traded Aaron Harang and lost Zack Greinke (collarbone), Chris Capuano (calf), and Chad Billingsley (Tommy John surgery) to injury. Behind Clayton Kershaw they have Josh Beckett, Hyun-Jin Ryu, Ted Lilly, and rookie Stephen Fife. I’m sure they’re in the market for a fill-in starter.
I’ve always been open to trading Nova, but Ellis wouldn’t work because he can’t play any position other than second base. Jerry Hairston Jr. would be a better fit, maybe even Luis Cruz if you think he’s better than his -52 wRC+ suggests. Los Angeles has a ton of relievers, good ones too, so there would be a fit there. I don’t like the idea of trading Nova for a utility man and a reliever though, even if it would fill two fringe roster needs. I’d rather use him as the second or third piece in a package for an impact player and instead trade prospects for infield and bullpen help.
Isaac asks: Would the Yanks ever consider extending Brett Gardner before he hits free agency? If so, what kind of deal makes sense? Does Carlos Gomez’s extension with the Brewers work as a baseline?
I think there’s a small possibility they would, but Gardner strikes me as a year-to-year guy because of his injury history. The thing that worries me most is that he’s going to be 30 this summer, and he’s the type of player who will lose his value very quickly once his speed starts to slip. I don’t really want to be on the hook for that decline.
The framework of Gomez’s deal actually works very well. His new four-year pact covers his final arbitration year and three free agent years for $28.3M total, and his $4.3M salary in 2013 should be similar to Gardner’s salary next season. An $8M average value for the following three years is reasonable. Gomez is several years younger with more power (and more raw tools in general), but he hasn’t had the same kind of success as Gardner. The Brewers bought potential. Eight million bucks a year for Brett’s age 31-33 seasons seems fine, I just worry about a quick descent into uselessness if the speed slips.
Tarik asks: Do you think Al Aceves‘ release was motivated by behavioral issues that just weren’t made public, or did Brian Cashman just not think he’d recover well from his injury? (Had to shorten the question, sorry Tarik.)
After seeing how things have played out the last 2+ years, I definitely think Aceves’ nutcase ways played a role in the team’s decision to release him. The back and collarbone problems likely contributed as well, but someone with the Yankees screwed up there. He healed just fine in time for Opening Day after the club’s doctors said he would miss the first few weeks.
I’m guessing the Yankees did a better job of keeping any behavioral incidents under wraps than the Red Sox have, or maybe the veteran clubhouse just did a better job of keeping him in line. Hell, maybe Aceves was on his best behavior with New York because he was a rookie back then. We don’t really know. It’s easier to understand why they released him nowadays, but I still can’t help but wonder if they could have found a trade partner.
I think that’s possible but unlikely. The Yankees love athletes first and foremost, and Flores is a bat first player. A bat first player who has yet to show much power at that. Slade Heathcott and Mason Williams both provide a ton of value in the field, more than they do at the plate really, while Tyler Austin is simply a better hitter. I like Flores a lot — I didn’t rank him fifth on my preseason top 30 prospects list out of boredom — but he’s clearly behind the other guys for me. He’s underrated, but I would hope the team doesn’t value him more than their other outfield prospects.
Mark asks: Are you in favor of bringing up Zoilo Almonte? If we’re going to get zero production from Ben Francisco as an extra outfielder – why not bring someone up who can at least provide defensive and base running value. Shame that Thomas Neal got hurt.
Not particularly, no. Almonte’s off to a really great start this year (125 wRC+) and he’s drawing a ton of walks (20.5%), but the book on him is that his left-handed swing is ahead of his right-handed swing. That’s typical and it’s just a repetition thing because there are way more righty pitchers than lefties. His splits since the start of 2010 — .267/.324/.433 against lefties, .282/.349/.487 against righties — bear that out.
The Yankees should absolutely be looking for a Francisco replacement, though. Neal was probably the best internal candidate, but he just went down with a hamstring injury. Melky Mesa is back to his super high strikeout ways, so he’s not really a big league candidate at the moment. I guess that makes Zoilo the top option by default, especially since Ronnie Mustelier is still sidelined. Mustelier would immediately become the top choice once healthy.
Celebrate! I don’t think the Yankees would dump Chris Stewart in favor of Romine, but I expect them to promote both Sanchez and Murphy at midseason. Romine and Murphy would just have to share catching and DH duties — Murphy can also squeeze in a few games at third base — at the Triple-A level for a few weeks. It’s not ideal but hardly the end of the world.
The Blue Jays have scratched right-hander Josh Johnson from tonight’s start with right triceps tightness. They say it’s precautionary and he will make his next start in five days. Former Yankee Aaron Laffey will be on the bump instead.
Even though the Yankees have positively stunk against southpaws this year (61 wRC+), I’d much rather see them face the soft-tossing Laffey instead of a potential dominator like Johnson. My only real concern is Travis Hafner, who has started just two of the last six and three of the last nine games because of all the left-handers the team has seen of late. With J.A. Happ scheduled to pitch tomorrow it could be three starts in the last eleven games if Joe Girardi sticks to his platoon guns. That’s an awful lot of time off and Hafner has been way too productive (191 wRC+) for the team to risk him losing any rhythm and timing at the plate. · (70) ·
This one had ugly potential and you know exactly what I’m talking about. The starter struggled early and the offense hasn’t done much of late, so for a while it looked like we would all be tuning into the NFL Draft by the middle innings. Instead, the Yankees mounted a comeback and held on to take the series opener from the Blue Jays by the score of 5-3.
What They Do Best
The Yankees were held to five runs and just one extra-base hit during the three games against the Rays earlier this week, but they got back to pounding the ball against left-hander Mark Buehrle in the series opener against the Jays. Vernon Wells continued to pummel both his former team by clubbing a second inning solo homer to straight-away center field and into Monument Park. Frankie Cervelli continued to show surprising power with a solo homer to left in the fourth inning — he fell behind in the count 0-2, worked it full, fouled off two two-strike pitches, then homered — but it was what happened between the solo dingers that made the difference.
The third inning started innocently enough with a Lyle Overbay strikeout, by Jayson Nix got the rally started with an infield single to the shortstop. Brett Gardner followed with another infield-ish single as the ball glanced off the second baseman’s glove and into very shallow center. Ben Francisco flied out harmlessly to left for the second out, which I considered a positive result. Francisco’s been terrible this year and anything that didn’t end the inning (i.e. a double play) was a win for the Yankees.
So, anyway, that brought Robinson Cano to the plate with two outs and two on. He took a first pitch fastball on the inner third for a strike, but then Buehrle fed him three straight … cutters? sliders? junkballs? who knows … down and away that were ruled balls. They were very borderline pitches I thought. Buehrle and catcher J.P. Arencibia talked out the next pitch, which ultimately was the same as the first, a fastball on the inner half. Cano pulled his hands in and yanked the ball deep to right for a three-run homer that turned a two-run deficit into a one-run lead. No-doubter, gone off the bat. Not many hitters can hit that pitch that far and keep it fair, but then again not many hitters are Robinson Cano.
My Kingdom For A Scoreless First Inning
For the 11th time overall and sixth time in the last eight games, the Yankees surrendered runs in the very first inning. Hiroki Kuroda did the honors on Thursday, coughing up a two-run homer to Edwin Encarnacion as part of an ugly inning that included four hits and a walk. Kuroda allowed a solo homer and a double in the second inning before settling down and throwing four more scoreless innings. He retired 13 of the final 14 men he faced, and the one base-runner reached when Overbay booted a routine ground ball at first.
This was a classic grind-it-out start for Kuroda, who threw 65 strikes out of 103 total pitches (63%). More than a few of those pitches were up in the zone or way wide, especially early on. Kuroda’s command wasn’t sharp and his splitter tumbled more than it fell off the table, so this was a tough one. He hung in and gave the team six innings rather than folding after two though, something the Yankees have seen their starters do more than they would like of late. It certainly wasn’t pretty, but three runs in six innings is plenty good considering how ugly things were early on.
The Blue Jays had just two base-runners after the second inning — the Overbay error in the fourth and an infield single off Joba Chamberlain‘s barehand in the seventh. Joba, David Robertson, and Mariano Rivera finished things off in relief of Kuroda and were all pretty dominant. Very excellent job by the bullpen in this one. Joba was fine, by the way.
Nix and Ichiro Suzuki were the only Yankees with multiple hits, and they had two singles a piece. Nix also made two very nice plays at third base on hard-hit balls to his right, ranging before making a strong throw to first. Ichiro stole a base, his first of the season. BGardner made a very nice diving (lunging, really) catch to go with his single and walk. Overbay was the only Yankee who failed to reach base.
The Yankees had runners at first and second with one out in the sixth, seventh, and eighth innings, and not only did they fail to score any tack-on runs, but they didn’t even manage to advance those runners to third base. Nitpicking, I know, but it was still annoying. They do remain undefeated (7-0) when scoring at least five runs this year, so that’s cool.
We saw something in this game we almost never see: the umpires changed their call on a bang-bang play at first base after having a conference. Francisco tried to bunt for a hit and although the throw beat him to first, the umpires felt Edwin Encarnacion bobbled the low throw. First base ump Chad Fairchild must have originally thought he snowconed it. Honestly can’t remember the last time I saw a call on a bang-bang play at first overturned like that. Never happens. So weird.
Cano fouled a pitch off his right foot in the first inning, right off the toes, but he remained in the game after being looked at my trainer Steve Donohue between innings. He was walking gingerly just a bit after that but played the rest of the game without a problem. Bullet dodged.
The Yankees have allowed 87 total runs this season, and 18 of those 87 have come in the first inning (21%). They haven’t allowed more than 13 runs in any other inning. Is it a sample size thing? Will this even out as the season progresses? Do they need to change their game plans the first time through the order? Who knows, but that has to stop. They can’t keep playing from behind every night.
Same two teams will play game two of this four-game set on Friday night, when Ivan Nova gets (yet) another opportunity to prove he belongs in a big league rotation. Right-hander Josh Johnson will be on the bump for the Blue Jays. RAB Tickets is the place to go for last-minute ticket deals.
OF Thomas Neal has been placed on the DL after leaving last night’s game with a hamstring issue according to John Sadak. Neal was a candidate to replace Ben Francisco as the right-handed bench bat, but I don’t think a move was imminent. UTIL Kevin Mahoney has been bumped from Double-A Trenton to Triple-A Scranton to fill the roster spot.
Triple-A Scranton (4-1 loss to Columbus)
- 2B Corban Joseph: 1-5, 2 K — wonder if he’ll see some more action at first base anytime soon
- 3B David Adams: 2-3, 1 BB
- LF Zoilo Almonte: 1-3, 1 BB, 1 K, 1 SB
- C Austin Romine: 1-4, 1 R, 1 HR, 1 RBI — first homer of the year
- CF Melky Mesa: 0-4 — no strikeouts is a moral win
- RHP Chien-Ming Wang: 6.2 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 2 K, 1 WP, 13/4 GB/FB — 51 of 81 pitches were strikes (62%) … he was sitting 87-89 in the first inning and 85-87 in the fifth inning, so there’s still some work to be done in the arm strength department even though he’s never going to get it back to 93+ again
Low-A Charleston (7-0 loss to West Virginia)
- CF Jake Cave: 1-4, 1 HBP
- SS Cito Culver: 2-4, 2 K — five hits in his last 12 at-bats (.417)
- DH Greg Bird: 1-4, 1 HBP
- 3B Dante Bichette Jr.: 0-4, 1 K
- LHP Daniel Camarena: 5 IP, 6 H, 7 R, 5 ER, 0 BB, 7 K, 1 Balk, 4/5 GB/FB — 55 of 74 pitches were strikes (74%) … has allowed at least five earned runs in three of his four starts
Both Double-A Trenton and High-A Tampa had scheduled off-days.
The Yankees just went 3-3 on a six-game road trip that featured six games on turf and in a stadium with a roof. They’re back home in the Bronx to start a ten-game homestand with fresh air and real grass. Outdoor baseball is the best.
Anyway, the Blue Jays are in town for four games and these games are far more important to them than they are to the Yankees. That doesn’t mean they’re insignificant, but Toronto didn’t make all those moves this winter to finish April in the AL East cellar. They need to put some distance between them and New York while the Bombers are dealing with all their injuries. The Yankees, on the other hand, need to generate some offense after getting shut down by the Rays this week. Unfortunately, they’ll have to do that against a left-hander tonight. Here’s the lineup that will face Mark Buehrle…
- CF Brett Gardner
- DH Ben Francisco
- 2B Robinson Cano
- LF Vernon Wells
- C Frankie Cervelli
- RF Ichiro Suzuki
- SS Eduardo Nunez
- 1B Lyle Overbay
- 3B Jayson Nix
And on the mound is the 2004 Olympic bronze medalist, Hiroki Kuroda.
It’s a little chilly but otherwise nice and clear in New York. Great night for baseball. The game is scheduled to start at 7:05pm ET and can be seen on YES locally and MLB Network nationally. Enjoy.
Kevin Youkilis Update: Youkilis (back) is not available at all tonight. He tried to take some swings today but he isn’t ready yet. Joe Girardi said this isn’t a DL situation just yet and they are hoping he can return on Saturday.
Derek Jeter Update: Jeter (ankle) held a press conference today that wasn’t newsworthy, really. He said he’ll be back at some point even though he refused to set a specific target date. He’s disappointed by the setback, yadda yadda yadda.
Via Andy McCullough: Curtis Granderson and his fractured right forearm took approximately 15 swings in the batting cage prior to yesterday’s game. “A couple more days of that and he’ll go out on the field [for regular batting practice],” said Joe Girardi.
Granderson, 32, missed all of Spring Training and estimated he would need approximately 50-75 at-bats during a rehab assignment before being ready to rejoin the team. He could get like ten at-bats per day in Extended Spring Training, but he’ll also need a few regular minor league games just to get back into a routine and build up some stamina. Two weeks strikes me as optimistic, but it sounds like there’s a chance Granderson could return to the lineup sometime in mid-May. · (2) ·
The Blue Jays made all their big offseason moves with an eye on winning the AL East title, and if they’re going to win the division, these are the games they need to win. The Yankees are far from full strength due to injuries and these clubs are scheduled to play ten times through mid-May, which is right about when New York is expected to start getting some of their walking wounded back. If the Jays want to go from pretenders to contenders, these games are borderline must-wins.
What Have They Done Lately?
Well, Toronto is 1-2 so far in those borderline must-win games. The Yankees took two of three up north last weekend, then the Blue Jays lost another two of three to the Orioles in Baltimore this week. The Jays are 9-13 with a -29 run differential overall, and despite yesterday’s win they have lost six or their last nine games.
Manager John Gibbons’ club is averaging 3.9 runs per game so far, which is a bit below-average. They are closer towards the bottom of the league with a team 89 wRC+ and near the top with 26 homers. The Blue Jays lost a legitimate game-changer in SS Jose Reyes two weeks ago, when he suffered a severe ankle sprain sliding into second base. He had a team-leading 182 wRC+ and five steals in ten games before the injury.
The club’s new-look lineup is anchored by two big right-handed bats, RF Jose Bautista (112 wRC+) and 1B Edwin Encarnacion (96 wRC+). They aren’t off to torrid starts, but both guys can hit the ball out of any part of any park in a moment’s notice. Former Yankee LF Melky Cabrera (74 wRC+) is in the middle of the lineup mix as well, ditto the AL homerun leader C J.P. Arencibia (151 wRC+). He’s gone deep eight times … and has a .286 OBP.
Psychopath/3B Brett Lawrie (-3 wRC+) headlines the rest of the lineup, which also features SS Munenori Kawasaki (75 wRC+), CF Colby Rasmus (118 wRC+), DH Adam Lind (110 wRC+), 2B Maicer Izturis (30 wRC+), OF Rajai Davis (93 wRC+), and UTIL Emilio Bonifacio (39 wRC+). UTIL Mark DeRosa (59 wRC+) gives the veteran presents and C Henry Blanco (12 wRC+) is on the roster for one reason and one reason only. We’ll get to that in a bit.
Starting Pitching Matchups
Thursday: RHP Hiroki Kuroda vs. LHP Mark Buehrle
The Yankees will get yet another opportunity to excise their demons against left-handed pitchers in the series opener tonight. The 34-year-old Buehrle struck out seven in seven innings against New York last weekend, allowing three runs and walking one. He owns a 5.87 ERA (4.36 FIP) through four starts, and as always the peripherals are unimpressive: 6.26 K/9 (15.12 K%), 2.35 BB/9 (5.7 BB%), and 40.2% grounders. His ground ball rate has been heading south for a few years now, but Buehrle is a guy who has outpitched his peripherals his entire career. Can’t really evaluate him like we do everyone else. The long-time White Sox ace uses three different mid-80s fastballs — four-seamer, two-seamer, cutter — and an upper-70s changeup to keep hitters off balance. A low-70s curveball will also make an occasional appearance. The veteran New York lineup and veteran Buehrle have seen plenty of each other over the years. There are no surprises to be had.
Friday: RHP Ivan Nova vs. RHP Josh Johnson
Johnson, 29, is three years removed from his last full season as an ace-caliber pitcher, but he isn’t nearly as bad as this year’s 6.86 ERA and 4.59 FIP indicate. The right-hander is missing a ton of bats (8.69 K/9 and 19.4 K%), but his walk (4.12 BB/9 and 9.2 BB%) and ground ball (41.8%) numbers are far off from the elite marks he posted with the Marlins before Tommy John surgery. Johnson’s four-seamer (and seldom used two-seamer) sits in the 91-95 mph range, and his swing-and-miss mid-80s slider is a wipeout pitch he’ll throw to both righties and lefties. A hard upper-80s splitter-changeup hybrid and upper-70s curveball round out his repertoire. The Yankees have seen Johnson just twice before — they hung four runs on him in 5.1 innings last week, and the other start came way back before elbow reconstruction in 2009.
Saturday: LHP CC Sabathia vs. LHP J.A. Happ
A few weeks ago, Happ went from being the guy the Yankees smacked around in the 2009 World Series to the guy who broke Curtis Granderson‘s forearm with an errant pitch in Spring Training. The 30-year-old southpaw has pitched to a 3.68 ERA (3.83 FIP) in his first four starts of the season, posting solid strikeout (7.77 K/9 and 20.7 K%) and walk (3.68 BB/9 and 9.8 BB%) rates to go along with extreme fly ball tendencies (35.5% grounders). Happ uses two- and four-seam fastballs that sit right around 90 mph to set up his low-80s changeup, his primary offspeed pitch. Low-80s sliders and upper-70s curves are his clear fourth and fifth pitches. The Yankees saw Happ twice last summer after was traded to Toronto, and they roughed him up both times.
Sunday: RHP Phil Hughes vs. RHP R.A. Dickey
Dickey, 38, has yet to really get it going this season — 4.66 ERA and 4.26 FIP in five starts — after winning the NL Cy Young Award last year. He struggled last April as well — 4.45 ERA and 5.24 FIP in five starts — so I’m guessing he’ll figure out it and start dominating before long. Dickey is a feel pitcher after all, and the cold early-season months are conducive to, well, a lack of feel. His strikeout (7.45 K/9 and 19.1 K%) rate is fine but the walk (4.34 BB/9 and 11.1 BB%) and ground ball (41.4%) totals leave a lot to be desired at the moment.
Dickey’s trademark knuckleball is actually two knuckleballs — he throws a hard 76-81 mph knuckleball as a put-away pitch when ahead in the count and a softer 68-76 mph knuckleball almost like a get-me-over pitch when behind in the count. I highly recommend this 2010 Amazin’ Avenue post for more on the duel-knuckleball phenomenon. Dickey throws his knuckleball(s) roughly 90% of the time with the other 10% being filled by low-80s fastballs. He doesn’t have a UCL in his elbow, you know. The Yankees did not see Dickey last weekend but they faced him three times from 2011-2012 during the Subway Series. There’s really not much preparation you can do for a knuckleball, it’s the epitome of a see it and hit it pitch. Oh, remember when I said Blanco was on the team for one reason? Well, this is it. Here’s there to catch the knuckleball.
The Orioles did the Yankees a favor and forced the Blue Jays to play eleven innings yesterday, so Toronto’s bullpen is a little taxed coming into the series. Setup men LHP Darren Oliver (3.24 FIP) and RHP Esmil Rogers (2.77 FIP) both pitched yesterday, as did closer RHP Casey Janssen (0.27 FIP). Oliver threw two innings, the other two guys one each. LHP Aaron Loup (3.39 FIP) is the middle innings lefty and he’s pitched in each of the last two games.
Gibbons has two other lefties at his disposal, including one-time Yankees nemesis LHP Brett Cecil (3.02 FIP). He’s no longer a starter though, just a traditional middle reliever who will face both righties and lefties. Former Yankee LHP Aaron Laffey (4.62 FIP) was claimed off waivers from the Mets a few days ago and has yet to appear in a game for the Jays this season. He started on Saturday for the Amazin’s and should be ready to pitch by now. RHP Steve Delabar (2.86 FIP) rounds out the bullpen. The Yankees are in pretty good bullpen shape, but check out the Bullpen Workload page for exact usage details anyway. My preferred Blue Jays blogs are Drunk Jays Fans and Tao of Stieb.