Some thoughts on this weekend's Yankee-Red Sox series...
- Another Boston-New York series!? I know I know, it's getting to be a tiring affair.
- The Sox are playing good baseball right now....but the Yankees are playing better. Prior to yesterday's day-off, the Yankees played sixteen consecutive games, and won thirteen of them.
- The starting-pitching match-ups for this weekend's series would seem to portend a 2-1 advantage for the Yankees, but this also has the feeling of one of those trap-series'. While the Yankees are flying-high, and should be cruising to the playoffs (barring a disaster), the Sox are in a hot Wild Card battle. In other words, this series is much more important to the Red Sox than the Yankees. Furthermore, Boston's record when playing at home (38-18) is second in the majors (behind only, of course, the Yankees). It's no secret that the Sox are adept at taking advantage of Fenway's unique contours.
- Since the start of May, the Yankees are 16-5 in the three games following a day-off. While that certainly should give Yankees fans a sense of relief, not everyone spent last night relaxing. Johnny Damon and a few others spent the night taking in a Creed concert in Hartford....on second thought, it's safe to assume that everyone got plenty of sleep last night.
- Like it or not, these Rules are here to stay. Joba Chamberlain will get six more starts over the next six weeks, because the Yankees are dead-set on keeping his innings-pitched total down. To baseball purists, it seems like the Yankees and other teams who set innings-limits for their young talent are coddling their players, but there is solid evidence that a light workload for young guns is an integral investment-protection strategy. Sports Illustrated's Tom Verducci writes often about his "Year-After Effect" theory. The premise of this theory is simple: the year after a young pitcher (defined as 25-and-under) has his workload increased by at least thirty innings, he is significantly more likely to get injured.
- While it's nice to know that the Yankees are thinking about the long-time health of their young arms, they are not quite following Verducci's guidelines. Chamberlain pitched 100 innings last year, and will throw 160 this year (plus as much as necessary during the playoffs). Does that mean he'll get injured or regress next year? Maybe not, but Verducci would argue that he'll be at an increased risk.
Just for fun, check out this video of the Yankees' ambidextrous minor-league pitching prospect. Pat Venditte throws both righty and lefty, switching from batter to batter.