Yankees Daily Briefing 08/14/11

Freddy Garcia was scratched from Sunday's start with a cut on his finger, so the Yankees wil once again ask A.J. Burnett to attempt to get his first win in August as a Yankee. The Yankees will face the Rays' James Shields (11-9, 2.80), who already has eight complete games this season.

Discussion of the Day: Who do you consider to be the Yankees' best under-the-radar signing this season? Sure there's Garcia and Bartolo Colon, but also consider Cory Wade, Luis Ayala, Eric Chavez, Russell Martin and Andruw Jones. Share your thoughts in the comments.

Behind Enemy Lines: B. Woodrum at DRays Bay writes that the Rays should be hitting better than they are. The Rays rank 16th in OPS out of all major league teams; while the adage says that good pitching will always beat good hitting, in this case the Rays' offense (or lack of it) will keep them home in October.

1) Katie Sharp takes a look at statistical oddities for the Yankees over the past week. Of note: David Robertson passing Mariano Rivera for the most consecutive home run-less games (62) in Yankees' history, Ivan Nova the first Yankees' rookie since Tom Morgan in 1951 to win seven consecutive starts, and Rivera's three consecutive appearances without a strikeout for the first time in his (long) career.

2) Doug Glanville reflects on what it's like to face Rivera as a hitter.

Rivera's statistics and accolades are well known, but Glanville's description of Rivera "teleporting" the baseball is striking. As Bill Madden writes, part of the problem when one evaluates Rivera is that he's always compared to himself, and when that happens, one can forget the larger picture -- how much better even a hurt/fatigued/slumping Rivera is than most other relievers. Even if another closer might have a better season than Rivera, it's hard to argue that anyone in the last 16 years has been more consistent, and when that consistency includes "teleporting" a baseball, the question isn't if the Hall of Fame is involved, but how soon.

3) Joel Sherman writes that the recent "flops" for Rivera and CC Sabathia bode poorly for the Yankees in October.

While it's true that the Yankees would be at a significant disadvantage if Sabathia and Rivera don't perform well in the playoffs, it's still hard to get too concerned after one bad stretch in the middle of August. Sabathia still has an ERA under 3.00 and an ERA+ of 143, even after two poor starts (an indicator of how good his season has been up until now); it is likewise similarly hard to find fault with Rivera's season numbers. If Sabathia and Rivera continue to struggle into September, then some caution would certainly be warranted, but even the game's best players will slump during a season, and Rivera and Sabathia are no different. After all, better a slump in August than October.

4) It was a day marked by injuries for the Yankees' farm system.

Triple-A Scranton lost to Syracuse, 4-2.

Jesus Montero came in as a late-inning defensive substitution and did not have a plate appearance.

Double-A Trenton beat Harrisburg, 7-4.

Kei Igawa was activated off the disabled list while Josh Romanski was sent down to Tampa.

High-A Tampa beat Dunedin, 7-2.

Alex Rodriguez had another rehab appearance at DH and was hitless in three at bats. He struck out twice and walked once.

Low-A Charleston beat West Virginia, 8-1.

Gary Sanchez is likely out for the year after breaking his finger.

Short Season Staten Island beat Auburn, 5-0, while the Rookie GCL Yankees beat the GCL Tigers, 4-2.

Ravel Santana (GCL) seriously hurt his ankle.