Thursday, March 20, 2014

2014 Season Preview: What We Know And What We Don't Know (The Bullpen)

(Courtesy of US Presswire)

With a few exceptions here and there, the bullpen has been the stronger part of the Yankee pitching staff for the last few seasons.  That'll happen when the greatest closer in the history of baseball is holding down the fort for the 9th inning.  But it's more than that.  The Yankees, for all their faults in building up the rest of their roster, have been very good at putting together their bullpens through multiple sources.  They've generated some good homegrown relievers, they've signed or traded for guys who have provided above-average pitching production in late-game innings, and they've been masters of finding undervalued assets and getting decent production from them before cutting bait and moving on.  A lot has changed from the last few seasons heading into this one, however, and those changes could have a major impact on the look and overall performance of the bullpen in 2014.

Keep Talking To Me, Ivan

(Courtesy of Jonathan Dyer/USA TODAY Sports)

(Originally published at IIATMS/TYA)

Coming off back-to-back shaky outings in which he was touched up for 17 hits in 9.0 innings pitched, Ivan Nova got back on track yesterday with a brilliant start against the Atlanta Braves.  He worked 6.1 scoreless, effortless innings, giving up only 2 hits, striking out 5, and not walking a batter for the 4th straight outing.  It was a start right out of Nova's 2013 2nd half catalog.  Fastballs located down in the zone, a lot more GB outs than balls in the air, and a big swing-and-miss curveball.  Brian McCann, who said he wanted to play in yesterday's game specifically for the purpose of catching Nova again, was gushing after the game, and any uneasiness people may have been feeling after watching Nova's previous 2 starts was quelled.

Spring Training News And Notes: 3/19/14

The Yanks weren't televised yesterday, so nobody got to see the masterful performance by Ivan Nova in their 7-0 thumping of the Braves.  Shame.

- But yeah, Nova.  He went 6.1 innings, gave up no runs, no walks, 2 hits, and struck out 5.  I'll have more on him later.  Carlos Beltran was the offensive star, going 3-4 with 2 RBI.

- Brendan Ryan went through a full workout yesterday with no limitations and should play in today's game.  Jacoby Ellsbury still hasn't started running on his sore calf, so his timetable remains up in the air.

- Joe confirmed that Vidal Nuno and Adam Warren are officially out of the 5th starter competition when he announced that Nuno would back up David Phelps out of the 'pen today and Warren would do the same for CC tomorrow.

- The experiment with Alfonso Soriano at first base is over.  He'll no longer take grounders there and Kelly Johnson is the backup for Teix right now.

- Warren and Hiroki Kuroda threw bullpens to Cervelli.