Here’s what we learned from the Detroit series: starting pitching is important. The Yanks got three strong starts from Sabathia, Hughes, and Chamberlain and took 2 out of 3. Sabathia went against Verlander, who also pitched well, and took a tough loss. It happens.
Phil Hughes got revenge though, efficiently matching zeros with Edwin Jackson until the Yankees finally crushed the Detroit bullpen. Chamberlain’s start was very similar, except that his opponent, young prospect Rick Porcello, was knocked out much sooner.
– Detroit’s bullpen is awful. The Yankees have been taking a lot of heat over their bullpen (with the usual mediots calling for Joba’s return there) but seriously – who has a dominant bullpen? There is no such thing. Middle relievers are volatile. That’s the nature of being a middle reliever. The Yanks pen has good potential simply due to the number of arms it has to choose from.
– This is worth mentioning, once again: Phil Hughes is about to turn 23. That’s right: 23. How could anyone in their right mind think he’s a bust? Most pitchers, even those who become good starters, are still in the minors at his age.
– What I think was most impressive about Hughes and Chamberlain the past two nights is that they really weren’t pitching with their best stuff. Hughes had trouble commanding his curveball. Last year that would have been it for him, but now with his cutter giving hitters a different look, he can still get people out. Similarly, Joba didn’t really have his top notch fastball, both in command and velocity. Yet he was able to mix in sliders and curves and get the job done. Pete Abe has a great blog post up about Joba’s curveball to strike out Miguel Cabrera.
– There was a brief down period, but fear not: the Swish is back.
– I really don’t know what I think about centerfield. Obviously, I’ve been a proponent of giving Brett Gardner a chance. He’s been pretty painful to watch though. At the same time, he needs time to develop if he’s ever going to be something. Right now Girardi is “playing the hot hand,” which I guess is the best he can do.
– I finally figured out what was wrong with Hideki Matsui: he was on my fantasy team. As soon as I released him, he started killing the ball. I will not be releasing CC Sabathia, however. He’s just going to have to turn it around.
– Speaking of CC, he has a solid game on Monday. The control still isn’t there, but at the same time that was one of the worst balls and strikes umpiring jobs I’ve seen in awhile. CC was consistently getting squeezed. And Verlander? Well, look at this:
Um, yeah, me either. It’s a foot off the plate. But the umpire called it one, striking out Ramiro Pena. The announcers kept raving about how many strikes Verlander was throwing, but the umpire was making his life easy. Don’t get me wrong, Verlander was very strong, which is why he’s pretty much unbeatable with a strike zone like that.
– As for Ramiro Pena, he’s looked pretty decent at the plate and great in the field. I don’t see any reason why Angel Berroa would start a game anytime soon.