Yankees Daily Briefing 05/28/11

With a 4-3 record and 4.29 ERA, Ivan Nova has done well enough as the fifth starter for the Yankees. That said, he'll have to perform better than that to give the Yankees a shot on Saturday against the reigning American League Cy Young winner, Felix Hernandez. Hernandez has had career success against the Yankees, and regardless of who the Yankees have on the mound, will still represent a formidable challenge.

1) Every affiliate except High-A Tampa won on Friday night.

Triple-A Scranton beat Louisville 6-2.

Kanekoa Texeira was activated, and P.J. Piliterre was placed on the disabled list, retroactive to May 25.

Jesus Montero had a double in four at bats, walked once and struck out twice. Jorge Vazquez hit his 18th home run of the season while Justin Maxwell hit his 14th of the year.

Double-A Trenton beat Portland 4-2 in a fog-shortened game.

Thunder reliever Brian Anderson was released. Anderson apparently could not come back from a biceps injury.

Dellin Betances made the team photo of this week's Prospect Hot Sheet.

Manny Banuelos pitched five innings of four hit, two run baseball. He walked three and struck out four, and only 47 of 90 pitches were strikes.

Tampa lost to Charlotte 7-3, while Low-A Charleston beat Hickory 6-3.

In Charleston, Slade Heathcott had a triple in five at bats and struck out once. J.R. Murphy was hitless in three at bats with three strikeouts, and walked once.

2) Katie Sharp take a look at the Yankees' statistical oddities and notable occurrences over the past week, including the late-inning contributions from Curtis Granderson and the significance of Andruw Jones' multi-home run game while batting eighth.

That said, perhaps the greatest oddity of the past week was a week ago, when, in the second game of their series versus the Mets, the Yankees didn't leave a single runner on base all game. As a team in 2011, entering Friday's game, the Yankees were batting .247/.332/.436 with runners in scoring position, which makes Saturday's game all the more notable.

3) Michael Salfino writes that Ivan Nova is the most hittable pitcher in baseball. Salfino notes that Nova misses bats on only 3.9% of opposing swings, and while Nova might not be expected to emulate Felix Hernandez, the swing-and-miss rate is still far too low for any long-term comfort.

4) Daniel Barbarisi writes that Luis Ayala has become a key part of the Yankees' bullpen.

Indeed, prior to Friday's game, Ayala had an ERA of 1.50 in 12 innings, and this after having not pitched in the majors in 2010. Ayala has a fairly substantial injury history, and already spent time on the disabled list this season, so his position on the bullpen hierarchy was most likely never going to rival that of David Robertson or Joba Chamberlain, but Ayala's production has (Friday's game excepted) been a boon.

5) Joe Pawlikowski takes a look at the decline of Alex Rodriguez. Pawlikowski notes that Rodriguez has been in decline for a few years now; he's not hit more than 35 home runs since 2007, and the decline is entirely expected given that he's 35 and has had injury issues, more recently than in the past. Whether Rodriguez continues to decline at a fairly steady rate, or whether his last seasons will be similar to that of Jorge Posada's 2011, however, remains to be seen.