The Yankees start a long west coast road trip on Friday, as they will be in southern California to take on the Angels. Bartolo Colon (8-9, 3.72) will take the ball for the Yankees and try to show the team that the fatigue concerns are a thing of the past. He and the Yankees will face the Angels’ Jered Weaver (16-7, 2.49), who has emerged as one of this season’s potential AL Cy Young candidates along with Justin Verlander and CC Sabathia.
Discussion of the Day: Do you believe teams should use their closers in tie games on the road? Why or why not?
Behind Enemy Lines: Mike DiGiovanna notes that the Angels’ bullpen is feeling increased pressure in the AL West race. The Yankees, for the most part, have the luxury of one of the league’s best bullpens, while the Angels have some more significant concerns.
1) Jerry Crasnick tries to consider how valuable Curtis Granderson really is.
Besides making Granderson’s statistical case (and noting that only Jose Bautista has hit more home runs since last season), Crasnick also notes Granderson’s affable personality and how he endeared himself to Yankees fans so quickly after his arrival in the Bronx. While the latter might not be considered a factor in deciding the 2011 AL MVP, it certainly makes it seem as though Granderson is an even greater asset to the Yankees than just because of his bat.
2) Wallace Matthews bemoans the poor defense of Eduardo Nunez.
In 45 games this season prior to Thursday’s game, Nunez had made 12 official errors – never mind any other sloppy play in the field. While utility infielders are not supposed to be great hitters, Nunez’s bat isn’t good enough to make up for his poor fielding. He might be a better hitter than Ramiro Pena or Brandon Laird, but whether or not his bat is that much better than his fellow utility infielder teammates is up for debate. Still, the Yankees have largely been playing well with Nunez in the lineup, and he is likely going to continue to get playing time as Joe Girardi continues to rest his starters.
3) Larry Koestler at the Yankee Analysts takes a look at the struggles of Phil Hughes.
Koestler notes Hughes’ problems with putting batters away once he reaches an 0-1 or 0-2 count, and while this might not seem like a huge deal, the game-tying home run hit on Tuesday evening came on such a count. Of course, the more pitches Hughes has to throw to strike a batter (or otherwise get a batter) out, the less efficient he becomes, and efficiency has been a problem for him in the past. Koestler wonders about Hughes’ still diminished velocity, but in this instance the bigger culprit might be Hughes’ poor pitch selection in such counts.