Thursday, March 3, 2011

MLB Preview, Key to success: New York Yankees

My complete preview for the MLB season is here, today I will continue my team by team analysis of the player that is the most important to watch in the upcoming season. This isn't necessarily the best player, rather someone who's season is important for the team, or their growth as a player.

New York Yankees: Phil Hughes
There is no way a hitter in this lineup is going to make or break the season, they are just too good top to bottom, their pitching on the other hand looks set to be in the bottom half of the American League. Hughes though will be a key to whether the Yankees rotation is able to give the team a chance this year.

He is listed as the number two starter in the rotation, after CC Sabathia, and before A.J. Burnett. While Sabathia is a legit ace atop the rotation, Burnett is coming off a 5.26 era season, and looks as if his age has caught up with him in a hurry. This is why Hughes is such an important player this season.

At just 24 years of age, Hughes is coming off his first full season as a starter, where his pitched decent, finishing with a 4.19 era in 176 innings. Those numbers are what a contender would look for out of their number 3 starter, but would be disappointed if their second best pitcher couldn't post a sub 4 era.

Hughes began last season very strong, posting a 3.65 era before the all-star break. That is what the Yankees expected from him all season long, but then he fell apart. His second half era was 4.90, which is a reason the Yankees stumbled down the stretch.

If Hughes can pitch an entire season like his first half of 2010, the Yankees would have a solid 1-2 punch. He's capable of doing that for stretches, but he may just be better suited for the bullpen.

The Yankees hitting is good enough on its own to help carry the team to a solid season, but they need some pitching help if they want to win a championship. They went after several starters in the off-season, but couldn't get any help from the outside. When a team has guys like Ivan Nova and Sergio Mitre in their rotation, it isn't a good sign.

But what Hughes can do it make sure that the top two win enough games to take some pressure from the bottom 2 starters. If that happens, the Yankees should be alright during the regular season, but I still see no chance of them winning a World Series without pitching help. Which could happen, in the form of Francisco Liriano...

Others considered: Nova/Mitre/Burnett: No one knows what to expect from these three, they have some upside, but the Yankees need them to succeed if they want any sort of a good season...Alex Rodriguez: He has been trending downward the last few seasons, but a down year for A-Rod is still pretty good. Because of the pitching problems, A-Rod will need to have a strong year to carry the team on his back...Robinson Cano: Coming off his best year ever, what will he do as an encore? I am a believer in Cano, he should be able to put even better numbers up this season. The Yankees will need him to be an MVP candidate once again this season.

Just one team today, headed out to the Washington UCLA game in just a bit.

Previous keys to their teams: Diamondbacks and OriolesRed Sox and Braves Chicago White Sox and Chicago Cubs  Cincinnati Reds and Cleveland Indians  Colorado Rockies and Detroit Tigers  Florida Marlins and Kansas City Royals Los Angeles Angels and Kansas City Royals Minnesota Twins and Los Angeles Dodgers


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