Wednesday, April 14, 2004

Yates to Make Shea Debut 

Five days after blanking the Expos through six innings in San Juan, rookie RHP Tyler Yates is set to make his Shea debut tonight against John Thomson and the Atlanta Braves. Yates was impressive in his first major league start, flying under the radar in front of only 14,739 fans in San Juan's Hiram Bithorn Stadium. Tonight Yates hits the big stage at big Shea. Yates will be looking for his first win in the cold and wet weather in front of 40 plus thousand fans, including several family members who have flown in from Yates' native Hawaii.

If Yates is to have any success he's going to have to stay ahead of the hitters like he did in Puerto Rico where he threw first pitch strikes to 15 of the 22 batters he faced and seemed to be one step in front of the hitters all night long. Yates mainly threw fastballs which set up his hard slider and really only started mixing in a few change-ups the second and third time through the batting order. Yates' change-up is very effective, especially combined with his mid 90s fastball. The Mets might want to think about keeping Braves hitters on their heels early by showcasing the change in conjunction with the fastball early and using that nasty slider as a limited out pitch. Then the second and third time through the batting order mixing in the slider more. Due to a hyperextended elbow he suffered in a collision at first base in San Juan, Mike Piazza sat out Monday but should be back in action tonight and may start this game at first base. Piazza handled the rookie brilliantly five days ago and neither Jason Phillips nor Vance Wilson can even come close to the knowledge and experience Piazza bring to the table with respect to Braves hitters so hopefully he's able to catch tonight. Should be a fun game.
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