Yankees Daily Briefing 09/20/11

Ivan Nova hasn’t lost a start since June 3rd, and while the Yankees have lost the last two game he’s started, both losses came in extra innings – at which point Nova had long since left the game. The Yankees will hope that Nova’s loss-less streak continues when he takes the mound on Tuesday, where the Yankees will face the Rays’ Wade Davis (10-9, 4.41).

Discussion of the Day: What is your favorite moment of Mariano Rivera’s career?

Behind Enemy Lines: Jerry Crasnick writes that Jeremy Hellickson is rising to the challenge. Hellickson is a Rookie of the Year candidate.

1) Ian O’Connor writes that Rivera is one of a kind; Wallace Matthews considers Rivera the greatest Yankee of his generation, while Buster Olney argues that Rivera deserves a place on Yankees’ Mt. Rushmore, and Marc Carig denotes the importance of Rivera's origins.

Indeed, Rivera’s career is such that no accolade seems quite fitting; there seems to be no measure by which Rivera is not the greatest closer in baseball history – and his consistent postseason success only furthers the legend. The caveat, however, is that it’s easy to get carried away – sure, one can (and should) argue Rivera is the greatest closer in baseball history, but whether Rivera’s career has been more valuable to the Yankees than, say, that of Derek Jeter is up for debate – after all, the Yankees are almost always already winning any time Rivera comes into a game. Still, it’s unlikely, if not outright impossible, that baseball will ever see another reliever remotely comparable to Rivera – even those who might be briefly successful often have a swift decline, while Rivera seems as if he is always winning the battle with Father Time.

2) Cliff Corcoran writes that an an unintended benefit of Phil Hughes’ back injury may be a chance to see him pitch against better teams.

Hughes pitched well in his last two starts, but Seattle and Baltimore are hardly the cream of the baseball crop, and in his last start against a good team (Boston), Hughes certainly struggled. One can argue that most pitchers would far worse against better teams, and Hughes is certainly no exception, but with questions about the postseason rotation still lingering, seeing how Hughes fares against a potential opponent in Tampa or Boston could certainly be beneficial.

3) Jeff Bradley notes that the matchups over the last week of the season will decide the AL wild card.

Only a few weeks ago it was assumed that the Yankees and Red Sox were both heading to the playoffs, and the only question was which would be division champion and which would be the wild card slot. The Red Sox, however, have faltered and now maintain a marginal lead over the Rays. The magnitude of the Red Sox’s (almost entirely injury-driven) collapse is such that it might heighten the sense of Schadenfreude among Yankees fans, there is also the argument that the Yankees should hope the Red Sox hold out, as they would potentially prove to be a weaker ALCS opponent.