Thursday, May 1, 2014

AB4AR "Best Of The Month" Awards: April 2014

Just like that, 1 month of baseball in the books.  The Yankees wrapped up April with another rainout last night, and they find themselves sitting atop the AL East mountain as the only team above .500.  Their 15-11 record doesn't match up to their -11 run differential, but it's too early in the season to put any real meaning in run differential.  If anything, that number illustrates how inconsistent the Yankees were in the later part of the month, getting blown out by 10+ runs one day and then winning a 3-2 game the next.  They still don't have their offense clicking and their rotation situation has taken a turn for the worst, so to have a 2-game division lead despite all of that is plenty fine with me.  After the jump, the best of the month that was in Yankeeland.

Thursday Mid-Morning Food For Thought: Rotation Veterans Struh-guh-ling

Saw this tweet from Joel Sherman and it made me do a double take.  I knew he faltered down the stretch last season, but I didn't realize Hirok's ERA was that bad going back that far.  If anything, I would have actually expected CC's to be the worse one and Hirok's to be in the low 5's.

A few weeks ago, this wouldn't have been a huge problem for the Yankees.  Everybody knew there was a chance that CC's major 2013 regression was the start of something permanent and that Hirok could finally be ticketed for some age-related regression of his own.  With 3 young guys there to pick them up and a solid bullpen, the Yanks should have been able to get by without their top 2 starters pitching like top 2 starters.

Now that Nova and Pineda are out, this is quickly becoming a pretty big deal.  Even though his peripherals suggest he's pitched better than his ERA, both CC and Hirok have ERAs over 5.00 in 11 combined starts.  That isn't going to cut it with Nuno and Phelps taking up the back 40% of the rotation.  Whatever's ailing them - command problems, bad luck, the dreaded bad inning - the Yanks need Hirok and CC to start turning things around and re-establish themselves as reliable, consistent presences in the rotation.

Luis Severino Makes FanGraphs' Prospect Watch

FanGraphs' resident prospect guru Marc Hulet does a regular "Prospect Watch" series in which he targets and scouts a few different prospects from around baseball.  Yesterday's edition featured Yankee pitching prospect Luis Severino, who's been making a lot of noise on the  scene thanks to his very good 2013 campaign.

Hulet's assessment of Severino was full of compliments.  He called Severino a potential "scouting coup" based on his tools, and like Keith Law, Hulet was a big fan of Severino's stuff.  He thinks there's room to add a few MPH to Severino's mid-90s fastball and likes the natural break of his curveball and fade of his changeup.  Also like Law, Hulet acknowledged that Severino has a lot of mechanical inconsistencies that need to be ironed out, especially the arm slot and motion repeatability when he throws his offspeed pitches.

Based on these 2 scouting reports, it's clear that Severino is far from a finished product.  That's true for any pitcher at age 20, so Severino has plenty of time to work on smoothing out his mechanics.  That can be taught and coached too.  What can't is stuff and both Law and Hulet recognize that Severino has plenty of that.  It wouldn't be a stretch at all to think that Severino could be the top organizational pitching prospect by the end of this season.

P.S.- I had Severino ranked 16th on this year's AB4AR Top 30 in his first appearance.  Check out the whole list here.