Crack has made Otis Nixon look old. Really, really old.
How huge was the New York Yankees’ 4-1 win over the Boston Red Sox Friday?
For starters, the Yanks had lost a season-high five straight games, so desperately needed any win. But to start a series against their arch rivals with a victory to pull within a game of the lead in the AL East is massive.
The fact that CC Sabathia – who has struggled against the Red Sox over the years – was light outs was an even better sign. The big man was reaching 94 mph on the gun (a fantastic turn of events considering how much his velocity is down this season) and wound up tossing 7 1/3 IP of one-run ball for his best start since early April.
Sabathia matched a season-high with 10 strikeouts and did not walk a batter in earning his fifth win of the season – but just his first of May. He had gone five starts without earning a W, which is just one off his worst drought ever.
Back in mid-November we had worries about how Sabathia would hold up this season from a health perspective, and while he’s taken the ball every time it’s been his turn and has already amassed 80 IP (putting him on pace for his biggest workload since 2008), the decrease in his average fastball speed from 92.3 to 90 mph is worrisome – especially since Sabathia is using his heater more than last year.
His K rate is down this season, so now might be an ideal time to consider selling high on Sabathia. There have to be lingering questions about how much the offseason elbow surgery is affected him, but after Friday’s gem, float his name out and see what comes back.
- We haven’t had an opportunity to cover former big leaguer Otis Nixon’s latest setback. No homer-robbing catch was going to save him this time. Last month, the 54-year-old was stopped after his vehicle was allegedly weaving on a Georgia highway and he was reportedly found with a bag of crack, several rocks of crack and a pair of crack pipes. That earned him an arrest. Nixon has long battled drug and alcohol issues, but he claimed to have defeated his issues just three years ago. Earlier this year, Nixon was implicated in a scam trying to bilk inmates’ families out of money by promising early parole. Hey, what do you expect from a guy who made his living stealing?
- Jon Lester’s comeback season continues to go off the rails as he struggled for a third straight start Friday. A season removed from earning consideration as the 2013 RotoRob Fantasy Baseball Dud of the Year, Lester was really putting last year’s nightmare behind him. He went 4-0, 3.11 in April with a .220 BAA and continued the party with a trio of quality starts to begin May, including a brilliant one-hit shutout on May 10. However, after struggling with his command against the Yanks Friday (four walks and five strikeouts in six innings), Lester has now given up 23 hits, 14 runs (13 earned) and eight walks in 19 1/3 IP over his last three starts, suffering his first two losses during this stretch. He hasn’t been awful, but says a combination of bad pitches, falling behind in the count and a lack of command has hurt him lately. For instance, Lester needed 48 pitches just to get through the first two innings Friday. Clearly, he’s not going to stick around in his starts with that kind of inefficiency. Lester is on pace for a career high 229 innings this season and currently leads the bigs in pitches thrown; could that be a factor in his recent struggles? Keep an eye on Boston’s top starter closely over his next few starts, specifically his command. If it keeps degrading, consider selling him after his next quality outing or two. Yes, Lester is a workhorse, but even workhorses get tired – and potentially hurt.
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