Yankees Daily Briefing 08/21/11

Ivan Nova will look to rebound from a rough start as he takes the mound for New York on Sunday afternoon, while the Yankees attempt to win three of four from the Twins. Minnesota will have Nick Blackburn on the mound for them (7-10, 4.53); Blackburn has not faced the Yankees this season.

Discussion of the Day: What roster move would you make when Freddy Garcia returns from the disabled list? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Behind Enemy Lines: La Velle E. Neal writes that the young players on the Twins are becoming students. Due to a slew of injuries, many on the active Twins roster are young players called up from Triple-A Rochester; the opportunity to play in the majors affords a learning experience for them beyond what they would otherwise have in the minor leagues.

1) Mark Simon writes about Russell Martin's ability to hit off-speed pitches, while Mike Vaccaro writes that Martin is being successful both as a hitter than a catcher.

Despite Martin's two home run game on Friday night, it's probably much easier to make the argument for Martin's defense. While Martin has had a successful August, his season numbers heading into Saturday's game were at .232/.321/.402/.723. Martin also had an OPS+ of 93, indicating below average production, the lowest of any Yankee who has played at least 90 games except Jorge Posada. Still, Martin's production at the plate has been better than both Posada's and that of Francisco Cervelli, and there is little, if any doubt that his defensive value far outpaces what the Yankees would have gotten from either of the other two.

2) Wallace Matthews writes that Phil Hughes is hitting his stride just as the Yankees prepare for the stretch run.

Indeed, Hughes has impressed of late, noticeably improving since his return from the disabled list -- he hasn't given up more than two runs in a start since July 22. The issue, if there is one, is that the offenses Hughes has started against -- Chicago, Minnesota, Seattle and Tampa Bay -- are not particularly potent, and how Hughes will fare against better teams remains an unknown. Still, Hughes is finally pitching effectively enough to secure his spot in the rotation, giving the Yankees breathing room to decide what to do with an underperforming A.J. Burnett or else provide rest for a possibly fatigued Bartolo Colon. For a team that will have to play five games in four days this weekend, it could not possibly come at a better time.

3) It was a mixed day for the farm system.

Triple-A Scranton beat Rochester, 6-4.

Jesus Montero had a hit in four at bats and struck out twice.

Tim Bontemps writes that Andrew Brackman is turning his season around.

Double-A Trenton split a doubleheader with Bowie, winning the first game, 3-2, and losing the second, 5-4.

Austin Romine played the first game and was hitless in three at bats.

High-A Tampa beat Brevard County, 5-2, while Low-A Charleston lost to Augusta, 6-3.

Short Season Staten Island lost to Lowell, 2-1, while the Rookie GCL Yankees lost to the GCL Blue Jays, 5-4.