Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Growing Pains For The Top Outfield Prospects

(Some early struggles for Mr. Austin.  Courtesy of Beverly Schaefer)

The Yankees entered this season with what appeared to be very good prospect depth in the outfield.  At best, 4 of their top 10 organizational prospects were outfielders, with 3 of them showing up in almost every respectable top 5 list.  Anticipation and expectations were high for this group based on what they did in 2012, and it was starting to look like the outfield was going to be one spot where the team would have good options for the future if they were planning on committing to a reduced payroll.  Almost 2 months into the MiL season, it appears as though the first potholes in this group's development have been hit.

Bullpen Getting Big Contributions From Unexpected Sources (Again)

(Alright, guy.  You're better than I thought.  Courtesy of Getty Images)

Anybody who's read AB4AR for at least a year knows I'm an unabashed sucker for relievers coming out of nowhere and performing well in the Yankee bullpen.  It's been a staple of their overall bullpen success for at least the last 5 seasons running and last year it reached new levels of surprising success when Clay Rapada and Cody Eppley teamed up to provide a major boost to a bullpen in need.  That familiar story is being written again this season by a new group of unheralded, unexpected pitchers, many of them part of that large group of rookies who've made their debuts in 2013.  Unsung bullpen heroes AND they're homegrown?  You betcha.

Dirty Dave

(Courtesy of Texas Leaguers.  Click to embiggen)

Do you see that?  That's David Robertson's pitch breakdown from his 9th inning appearance last night.  Do see you those percentages?  Do you know what that means?  The term "unhittable" gets thrown around a lot these days anytime a pitcher has a good outing and sometimes it gets used improperly.  Last night was not one of those cases.  D-Rob threw 10 strikes out of 15 pitches last night. All them were swinging and 8 of the 10 were swung at and missed.  Not a single ball got put in play, only 2 had contact made, and D-Rob struck out the side.  Robertson was pretty much unhittable last night, truly unhittable.

I made the comparison to Mo last week and last night was one of those outings that was very reminiscent of Mo at his best.  D-Rob was out there throwing whatever he wanted and the other team was absolutely helpless against him.  It's been a while since Robertson has held down the fireman role, but he was in top form last night.  The inning could have started with the bases loaded and the Orioles still wouldn't have had a chance.  For old time's sake, somebody hit the music!

Game 45 Wrap-Up: BAL 3 NYY 2

("Am I wrong, Dude?  Am I wrong?"  Courtesy of Getty Images)

Phil Hughes has been all or nothing this season.  8 starts, 4 of them excellent and 4 of them atrocious.  He talked about needing to command his fastball better and have better mechanics before last night's start, and somehow it always seems like it comes back to one of those things when Phil starts to run astray.  It's why he's never reached what was once thought to be ace potential and it's why he might not be back in pinstripes after this year.  He took his first stab at correcting his issues last night in Baltimore, and did a pretty good job of it.  It just wasn't enough to get a win in another close, low-scoring affair.

Game Notes:

- Brett Gardner got things off to a great start against Miguel Gonzalez, doubling to lead off the game and scoring on a 2-out RBI single by Travis Hafner.  That's how that should work.

- Hughes was fastball-heavy in the 1st inning and in the 3rd when he gave up a solo HR to former Yankee C-Dick.  Other than that, he was pretty effective through 4 innings, allowing only that run and showing a willingness to throw offspeed early in the count.

- Hafner and The D both put on repeat performances of their efforts, Hafner with another ribbie single in the 4th and Dickerson with another solo HR to lead off the 5th, and the game was tied at 2.

- Strong finish for Hughes after the second Dickerson homer, working around a walk and an error to escape the 5th without former damage and retiring the 6th in order.  Hughes struck out 3 of the final 5 batters he faced.

- You want a definition of "dirty"?  How about David Robertson striking out the 3-4-5 hitters in the Baltimore lineup in order, all swinging on curveballs, on 15 pitches?  Of the 10 strikes he threw, 8 of them were swinging and 7 of those 8 were the hook.  That's dirty.

- Just like last night, the extra innings were singular.  After Preston Clairborne worked a scoreless 9th, Joe went to Vidal Nuno to start the inning against Nate McLouth.  McLouth hit the third pitch he saw for the game-winning walk-off HR.  Sucks.