Sunday, July 13, 2014

Shane Greene's Stock Rising As His Sinker Sinks

(Courtesy of Getty Images)

In Spring Training, Shane Greene drew some attention for how well he pitched.  While the overall SSS numbers weren't sparkling (4 ER, 8 H in 7.2 IP), Greene did strike out 10 batters and show the kind of stuff capable of getting Major League hitters out.  Working exclusively in a relief role and then getting shuttled between Triple-A and the Majors early in the regular season in that same role got him off kilter, as did an early injury, and his results once he returned to his regular starting role weren't that impressive.  He was consistently inconsistent at best and mildly disappointing at worst.

Since the middle of June, however, it's been a different story.  Greene allowed only 6 ER over 28 IP in his last 5 Triple-A starts with 23 strikeouts and 10 walks, and after Masahiro Tanaka went on the DL with his UCL tear it was Greene who got the call as his replacement in the Major League rotation.  All he did this past week in his first 2 Major League starts was throw 13.1 innings of 2-run ball with an 11/2 K/BB split and pick up the win in both starts.  Not bad for a guy who wasn't much of a thought as a legitimate organizational prospect before the start of last season.

Sunday Morning Food For Thought: Does Rob Thomson Need To Go?

Fellow IIATMS teammate Katie Sharp tweeted that stat out last night and it absolutely blew me away.  I knew the Yankees had lost a few runs this year by getting thrown out at the plate. It's going to happen more than a few times over the course of the season, but that many?  In a little more than 90 games??  That's incredibly problematic, and suggestive of something more than just bad luck or great defensive plays.

Take the second gun down at the plate last night.  Jacoby Ellsbury had barely reached third base when Adam Jones picked up the single hit to him in the outfield.  Jones has a cannon for an arm, something that's no longer a surprise to anybody in baseball, and yet Rob Thomson chose to send Ellsbury anyway.  Ellsbury was predictably thrown out and the inning was over.

When you struggle to score runs as much as the Yankees do, every run is important.  They can't afford to be giving away runs with careless baserunning and the high number of runs they've given up by getting thrown out at the plate has to fall on Thomson's shoulders.  Firing him now will do little to change the team's overall offensive problems, but after this season maybe it's time for Joe to shake up his coaching staff and bring somebody new in to handle third, somebody who can make better decisions and not run his team out of potential runs by being unnecessarily aggressive.

Game 93 Wrap-Up: NYY 3 BAL 0

(Courtesy of the AP)

These interdivisional games are going to be crucial if the Yankees are going to have even the slightest hope of hanging around in the playoff races while Tanaka is on the shelf.  They blew a golden opportunity to take the opener against the Orioles on Friday when the offense couldn't come through again and wasted a great start by David Phelps.  Rookie Shane Greene was back on the hill yesterday for his second start of the week and he turned in another stellar performance of his own.  The offense didn't do much to help him either, but the bullpen was up to the task of securing the victory and sending the Yanks to a critical rubber match today.

Game Notes:

- The Yanks left 2 men on base in the top of the 2nd, and looked primed to do the same in the 3rd after Jacoby Ellsbury struck out looking.  Mark Teixeira lined a double to right to score 1 run and not totally waste the scoring chance, although Derek Jeter was gunned down at the plate to end the inning.

- Greene retired the first 10 Orioles he faced, using his hard sinker to generate lots of GB outs and set up his slider and curveball.  His first baserunner allowed came on a 1-out walk in the 4th and the Orioles didn't get their first hit until the 5th.

- That hit turned into 2, and Greene had to strike out Nick Hundley to halt that threat.  The O's put 2 more men on in the bottom of the 6th with no outs and once again Greene escaped with a GB double play and another K.

- With the lead intact, the offense came around to give him a little insurance in the top of the 7th.  Kelly Johnson singled, took second on a wild pitch, and scored on a Jeter single, and Ellsbury doubled to right to score Jeter and extend the lead to 3-0.

- Greene pitched into the 8th before giving way to the bullpen.  Shawn Kelley cleaned up David Huff's mess to end the 8th and David Robertson pitched a perfect 9th with 2 more strikeouts to save the win.  Impressive start, impressive finish.