Just a few things as the Yankees begin this off day before a crucial 10-game home stand… Don’t forget, we’re doing a chat today at noon. Hope you all can stop by for a while. Plenty to talk about, as always.
• The most obviously observation you’ll read today: Hiroki Kuroda’s recent performance is a real problem for the Yankees. Even if the Yankees do make a run and get into the playoffs, what kind of postseason run can they put together if Ivan Nova is their best starting pitcher? CC Sabathia is having a down year, and the one thing that’s partially made up for that has been Kuroda’s terrific year as a replacement ace. If Kuroda’s month of August is an indication of what to expect in September, the Yankees might not have the pitching to do anything.
• Clearly a bad send by Rob Thomson last night, but if Alex Rodriguez were moving with any sort of speed, he probably would have scored on that play. There’s clearly some power back in his legs, but it’s not translating to any sort of foot speed. Rodriguez has been a huge upgrade for the Yankees, but he’s a long way from a five-tool player at this point. I realize that’s been the case for a while, but it really stood out on that scoring attempt.
• A lot of people still calling for Vernon Wells to be released (or worse) but that’s a bit short-sighted. Since he’s moved into a platoon role, Wells has actually been pretty productive. Since July 1 he’s hitting .295/.356/.390. Obviously he’s not hitting for much power at all, but he is hitting. That’s a perfectly useful bat.
• A lot of people also down on Lyle Overbay, and there’s a stronger argument there. After an 0-for-4 last night, Overbay is 0-for-15 in the past week and a half. Granted, he had a couple of three-hit games in the week before that — and he’s generally been pretty good against right-handers this season — but Mark Reynolds has been pretty solid and brings considerable power potential. Not at all suggesting he shouldn’t play at all, but it might be worth giving Reynolds a few turns against some right-handers when the matchup doesn’t look good for Overbay.
• Plenty of negative has been written about Joba Chamberlain this year, and he certainly hasn’t been good this season, but this is his pitching line for his past seven outings: 6.1 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 4 BB, 5 K. Obviously he’s not a trusted reliever at this point, but he’s at least been a little bit better lately. In the past week, he’s had two outings of two hitless innings. I still think he’ll be behind Preston Claiborne in the pecking order when Claiborne returns next week.
• Speaking of September call-ups, aside from Claiborne, is anyone coming up to play a significant role? Austin Romine’s getting a little more playing time lately, but it’s hard to imagine Joe Girardi suddenly trusting a young kid like J.R. Murphy in a pennant race. Dellin Betances has been terrific in Triple-A, but it’s not going to jump ahead of Claiborne, Kelley, Robertson or Rivera for key relief situations. David Adams. Brett Marshall. Melky Mesa. These guys just don’t seem to have big roles to play assuming they’re added to the roster.
• Last night was Chris Stewart’s eighth passed ball of the season. That’s the same number he allowed last season in a part-time role. Stewart has allowed eight passed balls in 708.1 innings caught. Austin Romine has allowed four in 344 innings. In terms of passed balls, they’re basically on the exact same pace, Stewart a little better. Is eight passed balls a lot? It’s the fifth-most in the American League. There are nine A.L. catchers with at least seven.
• Seven Yankees are hitting at least .280 in the month of August: Robinson Cano (.355), Austin Romine (.310), Jayson Nix (.304), Vernon Wells (.300), Eduardo Nunez (.286), Alex Rodriguez (.282) and Curtis Granderson (.280). Kind of a strange collection of players, no? Nunez actually has the third-most RBI this month, and Granderson has kind of quietly played pretty well since coming back.
• Beyond the possibility of him starting in place of Phil Hughes down the stretch, does David Huff have a chance to pitch his way into a role for next season? Boone Logan is heading toward free agency, and Huff could be an interesting choice as a lefty/long reliever. Even if it’s as a second lefty who can give distance when necessary, there could be a spot for a guy like that. Depends on whether the Yankees think they’ve legitimately fixed a flaw since he got into their system.
• If today’s Eduardo Nunez MRI reveals substantial damage in his knee, the Yankees will have little choice but to add someone like Alberto Gonzalez to the roster for September. Can’t have only one shortstop on the roster, and that shortstop certainly can’t be a guy who’s been on the disabled list three times this season. That said, can you imagine the Yankees coming down the stretch in a series of must-win games and having to start Alberto Gonzalez at shortstop one night?
• If Robinson Cano’s hand becomes an actual problem going forward, forget it. Can’t imagine a way to make up for that kind of loss.
Associated Press photos