Homefield not the priority, as Yanks push back Hughes, CC

4 Comments

The Yankees announced Friday that they’d start Dustin Moseley against the Red Sox on Sunday night and push back Phil Hughes until Wednesday. Also, going unannounced, but essentially confirmed by the big left-hander himself, is that CC Sabathia will make just one start next week, that coming Friday against Boston.
The Sabathia decision was a given, and it’s also no surprise that Hughes will make just one more start this season. The Yankees see a bigger advantage in getting their starters some extra rest and setting up their rotation for the postseason than in receiving an extra game at home during the ALDS and potentially the ALCS.
If the Yankees fail to claim the AL East, then they’d be guaranteed to open each postseason series on the road, even if they have a better record than the AL Central and AL West champs. The NL pennant winner is already guaranteed homefield advantage in the World Series by virtue of the All-Star Game victory.
The AL’s top three Cy Young contenders all pitched Thursday, putting them in position to make starts Tuesday and Sunday of next week if necessary. However, it’s not likely that any will do so. The Rays will likely back off David Price as well. Felix Hernandez is expected to start Tuesday and could go again Sunday, but the Mariners will probably choose to protect their ace instead.
Hughes is up to 169 1/3 innings for the season after beating the Rays on Tuesday. The Yankees have tried to be careful with him throughout the second half, and he’ll finish up having made just four starts during the month of September.

Why Ryan Zimmerman skipped spring training

Getty Images
Leave a comment

All spring training there was at least some mild confusion about Nationals first baseman Ryan Zimmerman. He played in almost no regular big league spring training games, instead, staying on the back fields, playing in simulated and minor league contests. When that usually happens, it’s because a player is rehabbing or even hiding an injury, but the Nats insisted that was not the case with Zimmerman. Not everyone believed it. I, for one, was skeptical.

The skepticism was unwarranted, as Zimmerman answered the bell for Opening Day and has played all season. As Jared Diamond of the Wall Street Journal writes today, it was all by design. He skipped spring training because he doesn’t like it and because he thinks it’ll help him avoid late-season injuries and slowdowns, the likes of which he has suffered over the years.

It’s hard to really judge this now, of course. On the one hand Zimmerman has started really slow this season. What’s more, he has started to show signs of warming up only in the past week, after getting almost as many big league, full-speed plate appearances under his belt as a normal spring training would’ve given him. On the other hand, April is his worst month across his entire 14-year career, so one slow April doesn’t really prove anything and, again, Zimmerman and the Nats will consider this a success if he’s healthy and productive in August and September.

It is sort of a missed opportunity, though. Players hate spring training. They really do. if Zimmerman had made a big deal out of skipping it and came out raking this month, I bet a lot more teams would be amenable to letting a veteran or three take it much more easy next spring. Good ideas can be good ideas even if they don’t produce immediately obvious results, but baseball tends to encourage a copycat culture only when someone can point to a stat line or to standings as justification.

Way to ruin it for everyone, Ryan. 😉