Good morning, Pinstripe Alley readers. For those of you who fell asleep before the end of last night's game, I hope you enjoyed taking a look at the standings to see that the Yankees have taken over first place in the AL East. On to your usual morning news.
Sports Illustrated's most recent poll asked who the most overrated players in baseball are, and three Yankees took the top three spots. Alex Rodriguez was the first, Joba Chamberlain was the second, and Derek Jeter was the third. When asked about it, A-Rod and Joba laughed it off, but Jeter did not take kindly to being labeled "overrated" by his peers. When discussing it, Jeter simply stated, "consistency is underrated."
Remember when Curtis Granderson couldn't hit left handers? Or when everyone thought trading Austin Jackson and his 30% K-Rate was a bad idea? Those days seem like a long time ago, especially since Granderson hit his 17th homer last night, and his 9th against left handers this season. But, just how good has Granderson been against lefties this year compared to the rest of baseball?
Plenty of right-handed hitters are known for their ability to mash lefty pitchers — Jose Bautista, Troy Tulowitzki, David Wright — but no one has hit more home runs (nine) against them than Granderson. A year ago at this time, left-handers confounded him. Now he confounds them. His .823 slugging percentage ranks third in baseball, behind another talented left-handed hitter, Jay Bruce, and the right-handed hitting Chris Iannetta. Granderson’s .323 average is best on the team.
Amazing how two great months can change everyone's minds.
When the Yankees come home to face the Red Sox after a 9-game road trip, they will face a shuffled Sox rotation. With their off days, the Red Sox had the ability to change their rotation in order to send out their top pitchers against the Yanks. Now, Jon Lester, Clay Buchholz, and Josh Beckett will take the mound at Yankee stadium for a critical three-game set.
After the Red Sox series, the Yankees will have faced Michael Pineda, Felix Hernandez, Trevor Cahill, Brett Anderson, Gio Gonzalez, Jered Weaver, Dan Haren, Ervin Santana, and the afforementioned Lester, Buchholz, and Beckett in 11 of 12 games. That's an insane stretch of tough pitchers, and I am very interested in seeing how the rest of these games will play out.
According to Chad Jennings, Phil Hughes could be back in the Bronx after the All-Star break. Hughes, currently working his way back from "shoulder inflammation," will throw a bullpen today and could throw live batting practice this weekend. Still, Hughes will have to treat his comeback similarly to Spring Training. He'll need to build arm strength, go on a rehab assignment, and make multiple starts before returning to big league action. Joe Girardi had this to say about Hughes:
Do you need six starts (like in spring training)? I don't know, but you're going to need at least, I would say, four or five. At least. So when you're coming into a game, and you're coming to help us, you're not going three innings and then we got to go to somebody else. You've got to be able to give some distance and then bounce back.
Whatever the case may be, all Yankees fans can hope for is that Hughes finds the velocity he lost during Spring Training and his first few starts of the 2011 season.