Yankees Daily Briefing 09/06/11

Phil Hughes, who has allowed six runs in two consecutive starts, will get one more chance to prove he belongs in the rotation when he takes the ball for the Yankees on Tuesday. The Yankees will face the Orioles' Tommy Hunter (3-2, 5.26), who beat the Yankees not too long ago.

Discussion of the Day: Which home run(s) impressed you more on Monday, and why: Robinson Cano's grand slam, or Jesus Montero's two home runs to right center?

Behind Enemy Lines: Daniel Moroz notes that the home run has been an important part of J.J. Hardy's renaissance. 2011 is, as Moroz states, turning into the best offensive season of Hardy's career.

1) Andrew Marchand writes that Montero made the hype seem justified on Monday.

Indeed, after going hitless in his first game, Montero has improved in every game, capping it off with two home runs -- both no-doubters to right center -- on Monday. Montero hasn't even been in the majors for a week yet, so it's far too soon to draw any sort of conclusion, but what's clear is that on Labor Day he showed the type of power that had so many scouts and fans excited about his bat. New York, of course, is a far different environment than Scranton or Trenton (or almost any other major league city as well), but if Montero can handle the pressure -- and there's no reason to believe otherwise -- he might very well end up the Yankees' most important home-grown player of the next decade.

2) Brien Jackson notes that Mariano Rivera is encroaching on Trevor Hoffman's saves record, and doing so with relatively little fanfare.

Of course, with Rivera, everything seems to be understated, so it's perhaps not surprising that the fact that the Yankees' closer is only three saves away from 600 has taken a backseat to questions about the rotation and the debut of Montero. This season hasn't been Rivera's best, but even a somewhat pedestrian season for him is remarkable, and indeed heading into today's game Rivera had 51 strikeouts to just seven walks. While 2011 might ultimately be remembered as a breakout season for David Robertson, Rivera has remained just as important to the team's success, and the question of who will ultimately succeed him is one that no fan wants to have to answer just yet.

3) Jeff Bradley argues that the end of the 2011 regular season is proving fairly undramatic.

Aside from the actual seeding in the postseason, it seems pretty likely that the American League playoff teams will be Texas, Detroit, Boston and New York, barring an historic collapse by one of them. For the Yankees themselves, the biggest question revolves around the starting rotation, and while that issue is not insignificant, that the team does not have significant lineup or bullpen concerns is a luxury most other playoff teams do not have. The Yankees haven't clinched a playoff spot yet, but the later they get into the season, the less likely it seems the team will fade down the stretch, and with the sizable lead they have, Joe Girardi can afford to rest players down the stretch -- making the team all that more potent in October.

4). It was the last day of the minor league regular season.

Triple-A Scranton beat Buffalo, 5-1.

Austin Romine had one hit in three at bats.

Double-A Trenton beat New Britain, 5-3 in 11 innings.

Low-A Charleston beat Asheville, 5-0, and still finished last in the entire South Atlantic League.