By Sweeny Murti
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Some notes and thoughts in the midst of this three-city West Coast trip, and the recently completed amateur draft:
— CC Sabathia is the type of pitcher who gets on a roll after putting a couple starts in a row like he did against Boston and Cleveland. That’s why it was a surprise to see him get lit up again against Oakland.
“Disappointing” is how Sabathia described it, and that’s certainly the case. It would be a lot more alarming if the last two starts didn’t happen at all. Sabathia handled two very good offenses quite well, racking 19 strikeouts in those two games.
Still, 6-5, 4.07 ERA is not what you’re used to seeing from Sabathia this deep into the season. His next two starts come against the Angels and (GULP!) the Rays, who have knocked Sabathia around twice already this season.
— One of the strangest things about Robinson Cano’s month-long slump is watching him struggle against left-handed pitching. In 2011 Cano hit .314 vs. LHP, down to .239 last season, and only .200 this season. Cano has been one of the most dangerous hitters in the league because of his ability to hit lefties, and that advantage has disappeared recently.
Hitting coach Kevin Long told me that Cano — who is an excellent off-speed hitter — has actually struggled with his timing of fastballs against the lefties. So Cano has been working on being a little quicker to pull the fastballs that have been giving him more trouble than they should.
The Yankees have had success in beating many left-handers this year, but they are so heavily loaded with lefties in their lineup that getting Cano productive again in those spots will be of great importance.
— Brett Gardner has been very hot, but has anybody noticed Jayson Nix? Nix was batting .281 with a .365 OBP in the last month since Eduardo Nunez went on the DL and Nix became the everyday shortstop. The Yankees did not expect to go this far into the season without Derek Jeter, and they didn’t know Nunez was going to miss this much time either. Essentially the third string shortstop then, Nix has excelled over the last month in an everyday role, something that is a bit of a surprise.
As a utility man Nix has been viewed as a useful player in short bursts of playing time, but now he is the everyday shortstop. He’s made 27 starts at short, almost all of them since Nunez got hurt. Before this season Nix hadn’t played more than 20 games at shortstop in any season since 2001, his first year in the minors. With Nunez slow to recover from every injury, and Jeter still weeks (months?) away, the Yankees are fortunate to have gotten so much productivity from Nix, but as I mentioned to Mike Francesa on Tuesday, the Yankees might have to at least consider looking for an upgrade as they get closer to the July 31st trading deadline, especially if Jeter has another setback.