Friday, March 9, 2012

Spring Training Storylines: First Time Through The Rotation

Ivan Nova's start yesterday signified the Yankees completing their first cycle through the rotation this spring, and so far so good for the Yankee starters.  The two big themes since last Friday have been changeups and velocity.  Nova, Michael Pineda, and CC were all working on their changeups in their first outing; for Nova and Pineda that pitch will be important for them this year as they attempt to build on their strong rookie campaigns.  Velocity-wise, the big stories were how little Pineda had on Monday (high 80s) and how much Phil Hughes had in his first game action of the year on Tuesday (low 90s, hit 93 more than once), so expect everybody to be watching the gun during their outings this weekend.  First starts of the spring always come with little to no expectations.  Everybody is just working themselves into game shape and finding their stuff and that's what the Yankee starters did this week.

- CC: Allowed 3 hits and a run with one strikeout in 2 innings of work on Tuesday.  Wasn't particularly happy with anything but also didn't mention any glaring problems.  Just ST business as usual for the big man, who takes the mound again on Sunday as part of a split-squad game.

- Kuroda: Sailed smoothly through his first inning of work on Wednesday, throwing only 9 pitches, and then hit a few road bumps in the 2nd as he tried to work on some of his offspeed stuff.  Still needs to find his offspeed command a bit, but don't worry, he's definitely not Kei Igawa.

- Nova: Solid first start of the year last Saturday, save for some command issues and the HR allowed to Hunter Pence.  Different story yesterday, as Nova really struggled with his fastball command and gave up 6 hits and 5 ER in just 2.2 innings of work.  His fastball velocity has been sitting mid 90s, though, so no worries about lingering effects from his forearm injury that knocked him out of last year's ALDS.

- Pineda: Probably had the sharpest outing of anybody, giving up just a solitary hit and no runs in his 2 innings of work on Monday, striking out 2 and walking none.  He received plenty of praise from everybody for his changeup, which already looks like it has the makings of being a useful pitch for him.  All eyes will be on the radar gun during his next start on Saturday.

- Hughes: The man with the most to prove was up and down on Tuesday when he replaced CC, showing rejuvenated life on his fastball but also spotty command.  Hughes threw a lot of pitches, something that will happen when you give up 4 hits, and only made it through 1.1 innings because of his pitch count.  He pitches again on Sunday.

- Garcia: Rough first inning for him last Sunday, as he also gave up a homer to Hunter Pence, but he settled down in the 2nd and picked up a couple of strikeouts as part of a scoreless inning.  Like CC, Freddy was neither really good nor really bad.  For him it's just a matter of whether he'll be the 5th starter or bullpen longman.

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