Mo to Be All Star No Show

07 07 10 sweeny img Mo to Be All Star No ShowMariano Rivera pitching hurt is still better than nearly anyone else healthy. That said, Rivera’s injuries bear watching very closely because there is no more valuable piece to the Yankee puzzle than The Great Mariano.

On the positive side, it’s not a disabling injury, not yet anyway. He’s continued to pitch through both ailments. The oblique injury that Rivera was nursing in early May, he says hasn’t really gotten better. However, Rivera recently ran off an 18-inning scoreless streak between May 25th and July 2nd. While it may bother him, the oblique problem is on his left side, not his arm side…and that appears to be something he can manage.

The right knee issue is a different story. Rivera says it first bothered him while shagging in the outfield in Los Angeles two weeks ago. The sample size is not that big since then, but he threw 2 innings against the Dodgers in the Sunday night finale of that series and has pitched 4 times since then, giving up 1 run in a blown save last Sunday vs. Toronto. He came back Monday night and picked up an easy save on 10 pitches.

It is important to note here that Joe Girardi said Tuesday night that at no time during this period of nagging injury has Rivera been left unavailable for a game. That would tend to play down the seriousness of any ailment.

But if Rivera’s push-off knee is affected on every pitch, how long before this becomes more serious? Can one wrong move cause a tear that puts him out for the season? That would be the Yanks undoing, because we have all seen that Joba Chamberlain is not yet ready to be “the next Mariano.” Frankly, who is?

This is a very uncomfortable feeling if you’re a Yankee fan. No sugar coating this—the unknown nature of this injury to Rivera is as scary as it can get for the Yankees. And how he responds over the next two weeks will have a great impact on what the Yankees do by the July 31st trading deadline. Rivera could come through this just fine. But if he doesn’t the Yanks will be hanging on the edge of their seats in the 9th inning just like every other team in baseball. And that’s not a good feeling.

Let’s be clear about this…the Yankees aren’t sending Rivera out there recklessly endangering his health and their playoff hopes. The fact that he’s out there pitching tells you something. They must be confident beyond a reasonable doubt that he’s okay to pitch.

But stay tuned…this might turn into a very scary ride.

*Javier Vazquez has quietly become the pitcher the Yankees thought they were getting. In his last 9 starts beginning on May 21st against the Mets at Citi Field through Monday night in Oakland, Vazquez is 6-3, 3.12 ERA, opponents batting .189.

The season is the season, and you don’t throw away the first month because it all counts. But for those who thought Vazquez was dead weight on this team, he’s proven you wrong. His record is an even 7-7 now, and three of his losses have been games in which the Yankees were shut out.

There are plenty of people out there who won’t give Vazquez his due until he wins a game in October, and I get that. But Vazquez has been every bit as good as CC Sabathia and Andy Pettitte for nearly two months now and it shouldn’t go unnoticed.

*Phil Hughes has struggled recently. Thanks to consistently high run support, the Yanks have won 4 of his last 5 starts, despite Hughes carrying a 6.53 ERA and a .311 opponent’s batting average over that stretch.

No doubt Hughes was due for a little rut after his spectacular start to the season. Poor location has caused him to cough up 7 HR in his last four starts, after giving up only 4 HR in his first eleven starts. This is something he will bounce back from, of that I’m confident. But here’s the part that does concern me…

The last time Hughes was a healthy full-time starter was 2006 when he threw 146 innings between A-Tampa and AA-Trenton. But as Hughes breezed through the season his innings were piling up and he was limited in many of his starts during the second half to only 5 innings, including a few times when he hadn’t even given up a hit.

What concerns me here is not that Hughes will start to reach an innings limit, but that Hughes has not pitched 6 or 7 innings of quality baseball in August or September of a pennant race at any point in his career. Hughes will be totaling innings he’s never seen, but more importantly for me he’ll be asked to pitch deeper into games, deeper into a season for the first time.

Hughes is a big strong kid and is proving to be worth the gamble the Yankees took in not trading him away earlier in his career. He’s been very fun to watch pitch and his development has been one of the first-half highlights for the Yankees.

But I’m curious to see if Hughes hits a wall in the second half and how well he bounces back.

Sweeny Murti


One Comment

  1. Young_Matt says:

    On a side note, and please excuse me for the long blog, and by no means do I want to jinx Pettitte and Yanks (he's pitching great now that he's again utilizing his change-up more), but I'd like to present several reasons why it would be great for Pettitte to continue past this year. I get the feeling this really might be his last year, and it's quite understandable why he wants to get home to his family. However……Reasons to play at least 1 and perhaps 2 more years:1. His Family –From what I understand is his family was completely behind him pitching this year. There are lots of potential events (I'll get to them in list) that might take place as a Yankee the next 1-2 years including him increasing his Hall resume like winning number 250, 260….. I can imagine that his kids and family would love to be part of such history.2. His Yankee Family –Next year Jeter should become the first Yankee to ever reach 3000 career hits, Mariano could reach his 600th save, and Jorge will catch his 1600th game (only 22 catchers have done so). Wouldn't it be great to be in uniform for this?3. Championships4. His Hall resume –a) for more traditional voters, IMHO him reaching 260+ wins puts him in the likely category of getting in (he's at 240 now), especially if he passes the 20 playoff win mark. He would pass the likes of Hubbell, Gibson and perhaps Feller in career wins and separate himself from non-hall guys such as Martinez, Tanana and perhaps Morris (could still get in).b) For more sabermetric voters his WAR (wins above replacement) would move up in the 55+ range and his WPA (wins probability added) in the 27+ range –again, assuming he can at least have an average year for at least one more year. These numbers would boost his resume across the spectrum.5. The legacy of the core-four and the chances of all 4 getting in the Hall. Jeter and Mo are locks, but Pettitte and Jorge are there starting to knock on the door.6. The dollar doesn't hurt –getting paid nicely for a year or two doesn't hurt –and, if he gets in the Hall, the dollar won't hurt then too.Reasons to play two more years:The SAME AS ABOVE, but getting to near 280 wins makes him nearly a lock at Hall–additionally, Jorge could be knocking on the door to catching the most games ever as a Yankee (Dickey has 1708, Berra has 1699 and Jorge needs about 175; he's at around 1540 now) –I can see Jorge perhaps catching 55-60 games as a back up each of the next two seasons assuming he catches another 55 games this season…and Jorge could also be approaching career 300th homer.The possibility of retiring WITH Jorge and Mo because I can't see either one of them playing more than 2 more years when Mo will be nearly 43 and Jorge 41…and Andy 40. Wouldn't it be great to retire with Mo as the all-time saves leader, Jorge the all-time leader in games caught by a Yankee, and Andy retiring as the all-time winningest Yankee pitcher of all time. He's at 203 as a Yankee and needs 33 more wins. Jeter would also have several records as a Yankee.Yes, HGH is a bit of a wild card, but he's the only one that dealt with it head-on and this could work to his advantage. I'm sure Andy knows what the next two years could hold. Either way, it's been a great ride!

Comments are closed.

More From CBS New York

Get Our Morning Briefs

Watch & Listen LIVE