Aaron Hicks gets a second opinion
After having an MRI a few days ago that showed no ligament damage, Aaron Hicks was still not feeling right. So, Hicks sought out a second opinion from Dr. Neil ElAttrache in California. Per Joel Sherman of the New York Post, Hicks was recommended a few weeks of rest before a re-evaluation, which all but ends his 2019 season. Maybe there’s some slim chance he’ll be available in the playoffs, but don’t count on it. And definitely don’t expect to see him before the regular season ends.
Most jarring about this news is that Tommy John surgery is on the table. Although it wasn’t prescribed now, Sherman notes that it could be required if there are no improvements from rest. Seems odd considering the Yankees said there’s no structural damage, but what do I know.
There are all sorts of ramifications from not having Hicks this year and potentially a chunk of next season should he go under the knife. In the present, it means counting on Brett Gardner in center field the rest of the way. I’m comfortable with that, but the Yankees have no depth at the position thereafter. Mike Tauchman is out for the year too, which basically leaves the Yankees with Cameron Maybin. Of course, Maybin has been banged up of late as well. Hopefully, Gardner can stay on the field because it would be difficult to try much else in center field this season.
James Paxton’s resurgence is not just about his curveball
Over at the Athletic (subs. required), Lindsey Adler wrote about James Paxton has gotten things on track. This has been covered quite a bit over the last few weeks, including on this very blog, but the part I found most interesting in Adler’s piece was this:
But it’s not just the knuckle-curve that’s made Paxton’s fastball find better results toward the end of the season. The knee injury Paxton suffered in May, he said, kept him from driving his delivery toward the plate, but he is not feeling the effects of that now.
“There was a time when I was really struggling with my knee,” Paxton said. “I don’t think I had the life on (the fastball) that I wanted. I wasn’t using my legs the right way, but now I feel I’m able to get into my legs and I have no problem with that knee and I can really drive through the fastball.”
That makes plenty of sense, right? Look, there’s no doubt his refined pitch mix has helped, but health is also something we may have discounted when he was having a hard time. It could have been part of his issue with allowing first inning runs — perhaps getting his knee good and loose took him longer than usual at the expense of his first inning of work.
Luis Medina is poised to climb prospect rankings
Luis Medina Ks from his 7 inning, 2 hit, 1 walk, 10 strikeout shutout last week. pic.twitter.com/A2CX6IRTm6— Lucas Apostoleris (@DBITLefty) August 23, 2019
The Baseball Prospectus prospect staff called out a few breakout candidates next season (subs. required). Pitcher Luis Medina is one of them. Though Medina is still somewhat of an enigma, he finished the season really strong and has an incredible skillset. And, after a slow start to 2019, he closed it out on fire. In his last 8 starts, here’s what Medina did: 45 2/3 innings, 63 strikeouts, 29 hits, 15 walks, and 1 home run allowed. All that was good for a 1.77 ERA. Most promising, though, had to be his reduced walk rate.
Chance Adams and Domingo Germán on their curveballs
If you want to nerd out a little bit on pitch grips, Fangraphs’ David Laurila collected some insights on how Chance Adams and Domingo Germán developed their curveballs. In college, Adams moved from a more traditional curveball grip to a knucklecurve. Germán’s grip is unconventional too, apparently.
One thing that really stood out from the pictures within are just how long Germán’s fingers are. He makes the baseball look like a golf ball, especially in comparison to the photos of Adams’s grip.
Adams has yet to break through in the big leagues just yet, but he does have elite curveball spin going for him (93rd percentile). And, as he notes in Laurila’s post, his breaking ball is a little more slurvy which jibes with the movement numbers. His curve’s horizontal movement is 7.1 inches more than average. That’s a top ten mark in the majors.
Germán’s curveball doesn’t light up Statcast, but it’s gotten some pretty impressive results. His whiff rate on his yakker is near the top of the league.