Tanaka and Pineda Are the Yankees New 1-2 Punch

The new 1-2 punch in the Bronz

The new 1-2 punch in the Bronx (photo courtesy of ESPN NY)

One of the biggest questions entering this season for the Yankees was – Can CC Sabathia and Hiroki Kuroda return to their “ace” form? Well, it appears that may not be completely necessary. Today the Yankees new 1-2 punch, consisting of Mashiro Tanaka and Michael Pineda, led the way throwing a combined 14 shutout innings in a sweep of the Cubs.

When the Yankees signed Tanaka, Brian Cashman tried to downplay expectations, labeling him as a middle of the rotation starter. Yeah, right. We all know the Yankees history of opening up their check book to bring in the game’s top talent, but even the Yankees wouldn’t lay out $155 million to a guy they expect to be at best a #3 starter. As of right now, Tanaka has been as good as advertised, if not better. He has quickly put the league on notice, striking out 28 batters in his first 3 starts. Whether Cashman wants to admit it or not, the Yankees brought him in to be the team’s ace. So far, so good.

Mashiro Tanaka:  2-0 / 2.05 ERA / 28 SO / 0.77 WHIP

Michael Pineda:  2-0 / 1.00 ERA / 15 SO / 0.89 WHIP

CC Sabathia:  1-2 / 6.63 ERA / 21 SO / 1.26 WHIP 

Hiroki Kuroda:  2-1 / 3.86 ERA / 14 SO / 1.13 WHIP 

Ivan Nova:  2-1 / 5.94 ERA / 8 SO / 1.74 WHIP

Pineda might be one of the biggest pitching surprises in all of baseball to start off the year. After not pitching in the majors for the past two seasons due to injury, questions remained as to what exactly the Yankees would be getting, if anything, out of Pineda. Well so far he has picked up right where he left off in 2011 with the Seattle Mariners, and has even exceeded those results. With each and every start Pineda makes, he impresses me more and more. One of the biggest concerns you have with a pitcher returning from major injuries is their ability to find their velocity. Well, that hasn’t been a problem. He has been able to tune it up in the mid-90’s when he needs to. Batters up and down the lineup continue to look off-balance at the plate, which is a good sign, meaning that he’s using all of his pitches effectively.

The emergence of these two has taken some of the attention off of the rest of the starters. Sabathia, is still trying to figure things out, as he adapts to a new style of pitching. Although I wouldn’t expect him to return to his CY Young form, I do think he will turn things around as the season goes on. Kuroda, should really benefit from this. I never thought of him as your traditional front of the rotation starter, despite what his numbers may have been. I think this situation is ideal for him, as he can slot himself into the middle of the rotation and continue to produce with little pressure on his back. Nova, is never going to be a dominant pitcher. He will always give up runs and his ERA will never be impressive. And that’s okay. As long as he is able to keep the Yankees in ballgames and find ways to win, that’s all they are asking of him. 

What the Yankees must be smiling about the most is the youth of their 1-2 punch. Tanaka and Pineda are each only 25-years-old. When was the last time the Yankees had two starters, who looked poised for a bright future, at only 25? For a team whose roster is still incredible old, it’s important to have core players, especially in the rotation, to be building blocks for years to come.

It’s early, okay, it’s REALLY early. But if I’m the Yankees, I’m ecstatic about what I’m seeing from these two. Joe Girardi has a new set of aces on his hands and I believe it’s only a matter of time until the others begin to turn things around. And when they do, the Yankees will have one of the strongest rotations in the AL, leaving them poised for a return to October baseball. 

Simply Put, Keith Hernandez Is The Man

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Simply put, Keith Hernandez is the man.

Although the Mets won in blowout fashion last night and assured themselves of a winning road trip, the best part of the game had nothing to do with what happened on the field. Rather, Keith Hernandez stole the show with his fan commentary that left Gary Cohen speechless.

While most baseball announcers are quite boring and wouldn’t dare say anything risky on air, Hernandez is not one of them. Hernandez has made quite a reputation for himself since joining the Mets broadcasting booth. Whenever a game hits a boring point, it’s not uncommon for him to start talking about his weekend plans or give a shout out to his local watering hole in Sag Harbor. Hernandez might be a baseball icon, but he brings so much more to the booth than his game analysis.

Last night was Hernandez at his finest. While an SNY camera man was showing a couple enjoying an enormous hot dog, Hernandez took it upon himself to focus on two bigger features. The busty woman was clearly the star of this shot, and it’s hard to imagine anyone’s head wasn’t in the same place as Hernandez’s. The only difference, we weren’t expressing our thoughts on national television, Hernandez was. It’s moments like these why we have all grown to love his antics in the booth, as he is able to make any dull game into must see TV.

As Hernandez once said during his memorable appearance on Seinfeld “Come on, I won the MVP in 79′, I can do whatever I want to…I’m Keith Hernandez”  Sure can, Keith. I hope you never change and bring us many more moments like this for years to come.

Watch below:

Remember When The Mets Had Too Many Outfielders? Yeah, About That…

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Juan Lagares left last night’s game with an apparent hamstring injury

The injury bug struck the Mets once again, Juan Lagares is headed to the DL with a hamstring injury. After winning the center field job outright this spring, Lagares was off to a tremendous start to the season. Besides looking like one of the game’s premier defenders, Lagares was producing at the plate, leading the team with a .318 batting average.

On top of Lagares going down, Curtis Granderson was also injured last night. Granderson injured his entire left side while crashing into the right field wall attempting to make a catch. X-Rays have come back negative but I would expect him to be listed as day-to-day for now. Knowing the Mets, that could quickly change to a DL stint any day now. I know I wasn’t alone in feeling I was reliving the nightmare of watching Jason Bay crash into the wall a few years ago. Don’t shake your head, I know it crossed your mind too.

Kirk Nieuwenhuis is the man being tapped by Sandy Alderson to replace Lagares on the roster. Nieuwenhuis, who has spent a fair share of time with the Mets the past few years, is off to a strong start in AAA. So far he is hitting .310 with 2 home runs in his first ten games. Nieuwenhuis has always intrigued me, he is a strong defender who is capable of playing all three outfield positions and has some pop in his bat. He is a hard-nosed player who might have made this roster outright if he could just produce consistently at the plate. 

granderson hurt

Mets fans are sick of seeing Ray Ramirez

More help is on the way with Chris Young due to come off the DL on Friday. Young, who has been on the DL since the second game of the season with a quad strain, has looked good in his rehab assignment games. I haven’t heard anything about his defense, but I know his bat has been hot for a few days now. Assuming he is healthy, Young has already shown in his career what kind of defender he can be and would be a huge help in Lagares’ absence.

When Lagares and Granderson left last night’s game, Collins placed Lucas Duda in left field and Andrew Brown in right field. The only thing that could have made that outfield worse was if Todd Hundley was brought in to play center (remember that experiment?). Duda finally looks comfortable at the plate and has been producing as of late. The last thing I want to see the Mets do is once again mess with his head and give him extended playing time in the outfield, where he is clearly not suited to play.

For the time being, we have to assume Granderson is not heading to the DL and may only not a day or two off, if any. With that in mind, I think we will be seeing Nieuwenhuis in center against right handers and Chris Young, when he returns, in there against lefties. Brown will get a few starts mixed in there as well depending on the pitching match-up. Lagares is a special defender, but the Mets are well suited to replace him in the short-term with the combination of Granderson, Erich Young, Chris Young and Nieuwenhuis in the meantime, as all of them are solid defenders. I didn’t think I would be saying this, but the question is, will any of them be able to replace his bat in the lineup?

Let’s PRAY this is just a precautionary DL stint and Lagares will be fine 15 days from now. It’s always a shame to see players go on the DL, but especially when it’s a young player who was finally making a name for himself. And for God’s Sake, Terry, please keep Lucas Duda away from the outfield. 

The Mets Honor Shea Stadium’s 50th Anniversary With Ticket Promotion

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The Mets recently announced they will be selling tickets to this weekends series against the Braves with rates honoring the 50th anniversary of Shea Stadium opening.

There will be a limited number of tickets available in the upper deck for $3.50, which is what an original box seat cost in 1964. On top of that, select field level seats will be priced at $19.64. Both specials will be available for all three games this weekend, but keep in mind they may go fast at those prices.

I’m glad to see the Mets running such a great promotion, this is something the team has been getting much better at in recently. A lot of that undoubtedly has to do with the team’s performance on the field, as many don’t want to come watch a losing team. But despite struggles the last few years and a mid-level payroll, the team is on the rise and does have some young talent to get excited about. Now it’s time to win their fan base back and remind them how great Citi field is, these type of promotions can help do just that. (more…)

Jeff Francoeur Falls Victim To An Eleborate Prank

In case you weren’t aware, former Major Leaguer Jeff Francoeur is now playing minor league ball for the San Diego Padres’ AAA affiliate in El Paso. As if that wasn’t bad enough, his minor league teammates played a month-long prank on him, talk about kicking a man while he’s down.

Teammates convinced Francoeur that reliever Jorge Reyes is deaf, which he is not. To the disbelief of many, Francoeur fell for this and fell quite hard. To pull a prank off of this magnitude means the cooperation of others is needed. These guys went all out, besides getting the whole roster on board with this story, the coaches joined in, Reyes’ wife helped out for a night and even a waitress was bribed to get in on the action.

Watch below as his teammates put together an in-depth video describing their fantastic prank. Well done guys, well done.

Juan Lagares has a knack for coming through in the clutch

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Juan Lagares has exceeded offensive expectations

Everyone knew what Juan Lagares brought to the table defensively, but the question remained as to what he would bring with his bat. There were grumbling all of spring training in concerns to if Lagares would hit enough to be an everyday player. So far, he has put all of those concerns to rest. It’s not just that he’s hitting, but it’s when he’s doing his damage.

This franchise has lacked players that come through in the clutch for some time now, and in a small sample size, Lagares looks like one of those guys. 

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Michael Pineda caused quite a commotion last night

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What exactly was on Michael Pineda’s hand?

While flipping between the Mets and Yankee game last night, I couldn’t help but do a double take at Michael Pineda’s pitching hand. I froze the TV and snapped a picture (as seen above). My father and I began to look at it with a little bit of a laughter and disbelief that no one was doing anything about this. If you’re going to “cheat,” at least do a better job of hiding it.

By the time I took to twitter to discuss this, the topic was already trending in the NY area. How could such a blatant display of disregard for the rules go unnoticed by the field officials? It felt like everyone was fixated on staring at Pineda’s hand, everyone but the Red Sox and Umpires that is.  (more…)

Once again, one bad pitch prevents Tanaka from a dominant start

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If you compare Mashiro Tanaka’s first two starts, they are nearly identical. Tanaka has struggled in the early innings, but eventually settles down and gives the Yankees a solid outing.

In both of his starts, he has allowed home runs on pitches he left hanging up in the strike zone. Melky Cabrera took him deep in his first start, while yesterday it was Jonathon Schoop who took him yard. I know what you’re thinking, that’s advice that you could give to any pitcher. But it’s true, and is especially important for a pitcher who relies so heavily on a split-finger fastball. Tanaka doesn’t hit 95-98 on the radar gun, he can’t afford to be pitching up in the zone, as he doesn’t throw hard enough to get away with those mistakes. (more…)

How does Bartolo Colon celebrate a great start? By doing the “Truffle Shuffle”

Bartolo Colon is a role model to every beer bellied man around the world. With every start he makes, every fan shakes their head in disbelief that he is a professional athlete. Colon look like a guy that belongs in the PBA, not the MLB. Nonetheless, he continues to prove us all wrong as he continues to succeed.

The best part about watching this 40-year-old beer league lookalike, is his carefree attitude on the mound. He simply stands there and throws his pitch moments after the batter steps in the box. No wasted time here. When a batter steps out to tie his shoe, redo his gloves, take a million practice swings, etc – What does Colon do? He throws the ball up in the ball and plays catch with himself to kill time. Gotta love it. (more…)

Uh-Oh, David Robertson is heading to the DL

David Robertson is heading to the DL

David Robertson is heading to the DL

Shortly after the Yankees 4-2 home opener win against the Orioles, Manager Joe Girardi put a damper on the day. Closer David Robertson has been placed on the 15-day Disabled List with a groin strain.

Robertson is in the midst of his first year as the Yankees closer, after replacing the great Mariano Rivera. He had been off to a strong start, throwing 3 scoreless innings while recording his first two save opportunities. The Yankees bullpen was already full of inexperienced late inning arms, which now leaves the closer role in a bit of turmoil. (more…)

Bobby Parnell to undergo Tommy John surgery…Is anyone really surprised?

(Photo courtesy of ESPN.com)

See ya in 2015, Bobby Parnell (Photo courtesy of ESPN.com)

In the least surprising news of the Mets season so far, it has been decided that Bobby Parnell will undergo Tommy John surgery. (more…)

“Bronx Bombers” FINALLY hit a home run

Well it took 6 games to happen, but the Yankees finally hit a home run. I’m not sure what the bigger surprise was – that is took 6 games to happen or that Brett Garnder was the man to do it. (more…)

Ike Davis Saves The Day And Maybe His Job

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Well, the first baseman discussion certainly got even more interesting this afternoon. A day after Lucas Duda was the hero with 2 home runs, Ike Davis came to the rescue with a walk-off grand slam. (more…)

Tanaka impresses in his MLB debut

Mashiro Tanaka was impressive in his MLB debut (Photo courtesy of CBS)

Mashiro Tanaka was impressive in his MLB debut (Photo courtesy of CBS)

Mashiro Tanaka made his much-anticipated debut last night and didn’t disappoint. Despite a shaky first few innings, Tanaka settled in to throw 7 innings while allowing 3 runs with 8 strikeouts on his way to earning his first win. (more…)

OH MY GOODNESS GRACIOUS, OF ALL THE DRAMATIC THINGS…ROGER CLEMENS IS ON THE FIELD WITH DEREK JETER

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Andy Pettitte, Roger Clemens and Astros owner greet Derek Jeter with farewell gifts before last nights game

I’m not sure how Suzyn Waldman treated last nights pregame ceremony, but Roger Clemens was in the building folks. Clemens was joined by Andy Pettitte and members of the Astros ownership group to present Derek Jeter with his first farewell present. What did they decide to give the Captain? How about a custom pair of cowboys boots. I’d say there is roughly a 0% chance you will ever see Jeter wear these things. (more…)

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