Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Brien Gordon Is F*cking Ready!!!

(Photo Courtesy of The AP)


Seriously, forget "Eye of The Tiger." Gordon has the "Eye of the Vein-Popping Burrito Dump" down pat!  How did it take so long for this guy to make it to The Show with a look like that?  I'm not even in the same state and I'm scared to death right now.

I feel bad for the Cincinnati lineup tonight.  They better hope it keeps raining there.

Looking At The Newest Version Of The Bullpen

About a month ago, I went and addressed the state of the bullpen after Sourpuss Soriano hit the DL, and all signs were pointing to the bullpen still being in good shape.  Since then, the Yanks have lost Joba for the next year + and had Soriano moved to the 60-day DL, signifying a decreased likelihood of us seeing him in pinstripes again this year.  There has been some juggling and re-juggling of the 'pen over the last couple weeks and now there's some new faces and new roles that we need to familiarize ourselves with.  As we live and breath right now, the Yankee bullpen is:

- Mo
- D-Rob
- Luis Ayala
- Boone Logan
- Hector Noesi
- Cory Wade
- Jeff Marquez

Mo is Mo.  No need to discuss anything about him other than the fact that Joe still needs to be mindful of not overworking him and his 41-year-old arm.  And D-Rob, who has now assumed the setup role for Mo, is what he is.  He's a damn good relief pitcher with big balls and good stuff.  His walk rate is frightening to look at, but I can live with it if and when he continues to strand guys and strike out 15 batters per 9.

Ayala is an interesting and a much more important part of the bullpen puzzle right now because he's been very good so far.  He's pitched to a 1.59/3.27/3.70 tripleslash in 22.2 innings with a 7.15 K/9 and has been rewarded with more high-leverage innings recently.  His walk rate is a bit of a concern and we still haven't seen what he can do in true high-leverage situations, but he has earned some of Joe's confidence.

Also seeing more high-leverage work thrown his way lately is Hector Noesi, who, despite being overlooked for the Bartolo Colon replacement position, has continued to pitch well out of the bullpen.  His K rate also isn't great, and his higher FIP numbers indicate that his ERA isn't the truest depiction of how good he's been, but he has good stuff, has not appeared rattled by any of the situations he's been thrown into, and gets swings and misses when he needs them.  Between him and Ayala, Joe has 2 guys he can use for the 7th-inning role, since he's so in love with predetermined roles.  And that covers the solid holdovers.

A Super Night For Nova

Just when we think he's out of the rotation, he keeps pulling himself back in.

Last night was a masterful performance by Ivan Nova.  There's really no other way to say it.  He passed the eye test from anybody who watched the game, throwing all 4 pitches for strikes, and working brilliantly off of his changeup and that cutter/slider hybrid thing that we haven't seen much of lately.  And he certainly passed the stat test, putting up an 8 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 7 K line on 105 pitches (70 for strikes), with a 15/3 GB/FB ratio, 10 swinging strikes (a 9.52%), and a first strike thrown to 18 of the 28 batters he faced.  Last night was easily Nova's best start of his career from any and every possible angle and once again solidified his spot in the rotation and reaffirmed the Yankees' and Nova supporters' (like myself) belief that he can be a productive pitcher at the Major League level.

The fact that Nova set up the heart of the Reds' order with his offspeed stuff the first time through the lineup helped him actually be stronger the 2nd and 3rd times through because he hadn't shown them the fastball yet, something that bucked what has been the trend and biggest issue with Nova this year.  He pitched with the kind of intelligence and attacking style that we haven't always seen from him, but when he does he's always been successful.  They aren't all world beaters, but Nova throws 4 pitches and when he's mixing them all in and throwing them for strikes, he's tough.  And yeah, it was a National League team, but it was one of the better teams in the NL and a team that features the defending NL MVP and a few other above average-to-very good Major League hitters, so last night was no fluke.

And don't look now, but Nova has a 4.13/4.14/4.23 tripleslash and has a high WAR than A.J. Burnett.  I'm more than happy to take that from the 5th starter.  For a night, Ivan was The SuperNova again.  And now I get to break out this Photoshop that hasn't been used in a while.