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Yankees Daily Briefing 08/19/11

Phil Hughes has been steadily improving since returning from the disabled list, it's a trend that he'll look to continue on Friday night as he takes the mound for the Yankees in the second game of four against the Twins. Kevin Slowey (0-0, 4.91) will make the start for the Twins.

Discussion of the Day: Are you concerned with Bartolo Colon's declining statistics? Why or why not?

Behind Enemy Lines: Nick Nelson at Nick's Twins Blog pays tribute to Jim Thome, who recently hit his 600th home run. Thome is, for many, an obvious Hall of Famer, and often gets press as one of the "nicest guys in the game."

1) Wallace Matthews wonders if Colon will be able to finish out the season while Larry Koestler at The Yankee Analysts takes a look at the pitchFX data since Colon's return from the disabled list.

Colon, who was only signed to a minor league deal in the offseason, was never supposed to be the mainstay in the rotation he has become. Still, the decline in numbers since his return from a hamstring injury might be concerning, even if it is not wholly unpredictable. Before the injury, Colon was 5-3 with a 3.10 ERA and struck out 72 in almost as many innings pitched. Since then, he is 3-4 with a 4.27 ERA and has a lowered strike out rate, with 35 in 46.1 innings pitched. That Colon might fade shouldn't be at all unpredictable for a 37 year old pitcher who has not thrown this many innings since 2005; the Yankees will have to hope that with the time bought by the current incantation of a six man rotation, the added rest might do Colon some good.

2) Johnette Howard that Alex Rodriguez will probably face Derek Jeter-like scrutiny upon his return from the disabled list.

Rodriguez, of course, is no stranger to controversy, both on the field and off of it. He has, one can argue, been under the microscope for his entire tenure with the Yankees, and it's something that is unlikely to change, especially as he gets older and his statistics start to decline. Still, Rodriguez is a player who was so good in his prime that even a declining Rodriguez is among one of the most valuable third basemen in the majors.

3) Matt Imbrogno takes a look at Nick Swisher.

The trade that brought Nick Swisher to the Yankees may very well be one of the best of Brian Cashman's tenure. For the cost of Wilson Betemit and two, at the time, minor league pitchers (one of whom is now back in the Yankees' system, the Yankees have gotten a productive and consistent outfielder, who made his first All-Star team in 2010, and has otherwise mostly stayed healthy. The Yankees have a team option on Swisher next season, and, as Imbrogno argues, there is no reason, whether due to Swisher's production or the lack of other available talent, the Yankees should not pick it up.

4) One of the Yankees' top prospects made his Triple-A debut on Thursday evening.

Triple-A Scranton lost to Durham, 5-1.

Dellin Betances allowed three runs on seven hits in six innings of work; he struck out eight and didn't walk a batter, while sitting 94-95 mph.

Jesus Montero was hitless in three at bats, walked once and struck out twice.

Andrew Brackman allowed two runs on one hit in two innings of work. He walked one and struck out three.

Double-A Trenton beat Erie, 5-2.

Austin Romine had one hit in three at bats, walked once and struck out once.

High-A Tampa beat Lakeland 7-2 in game one of a scheduled doubleheader; game two was postponed due to rain.

Low-A Charleston lost to Augusta, 9-6.

Short Season Staten Island lost to Connecticut, 1-0, while the Rookie GCL Yankees swept a doubleheader with the GCL Braves, winning the first game 7-5, and the second, 4-3.