Yanks hang on for 1-0 win over Mets in Whitley’s first start

DotF: Heathcott returns in Trenton's loss
The River Avenue Blues Podcast: Episode 7

Baseball is weird, man. The Mets destroyed the Yankees and their pitching staff in the first two games of the Subway Series, scoring 21 runs in the two games at Yankee Stadium. Then, naturally, the Yankees shut their crosstown rivals out in the two games at Citi Field. Rookie starter Chase Whitley and three relievers followed Masahiro Tanaka‘s shutout with a combined shutout of their own on Thursday. The final score was 1-0.


One Run? That’s All You’ll Get And You’ll Like It
This game was a pitcher’s duel for the first 6+ innings. Whitley (more on him in a bit) and fellow rookie righty Jacob deGrom traded zeroes for a while, and it wasn’t until there were two outs in the seventh that the Yankees broke through. Mark Teixeira drew a one-out walk but was erased at second on Brian McCann‘s fielder’s choice. He beat out the would-be double play thanks to a poor relay throw from second. Alfonso Soriano made the Mets pay with a double into the left-center field gap, scoring McCann all the way from first base. He was huffing and puffing the whole way.

Aside from that rally, the only other time the Yankees put a runner at third base came in the eighth inning, when Derek Jeter grounded out weakly to short with the infield in. The runner was cut down at the plate. Kelly Johnson and Brett Gardner drew walks earlier in the inning and advanced on a wild pitch. deGrom retired eleven in a row at one point and looked very sharp in the middle innings. The Yankees had their hands full with the rookie hurler. He made basically one mistake pitch in that seventh inning and they pounced.

(Mike Stobe/Getty)
(Mike Stobe/Getty)

Whitley’s Debut
Based on the fact that he picked up his first career hit before allowing his first career hit, Whitley’s big league debut was a success. Throw in the fact that he held the Mets to two singles and two walks in 4.2 scoreless innings and I’d say it was a definite success. Despite his lack of experience as a starter, Whitley didn’t seem nervous on the mound and he filled the strike zone before tiring in the fifth inning. It was only the fourth scoreless MLB debut by a starter in team history and the first since Sam Militello in 1992. Yep.

I’m sure Joe Girardi was very tempted to let Whitley get the final out of that fifth inning, especially since the pitcher’s spot was due to lead off the next half-inning, but I thought he pulled him at just the right time. Whitley was starting to tire in that final inning (back-to-back walks) even though he threw only 74 pitches on the night — his season-high in Triple-A was 88 pitches two weeks ago, his only game over 78 pitches — and the most important thing is always winning the game. The bullpen bailed him out of the second-and-third jam and Whitley can spend the next few days feeling good about his debut.

All told, Whitely struck out four and got eight ground ball outs compared to only two in the air. The only hard hit ball was Lucas Duda’s fly out to the left-center field warning track to end the second inning. That’s it. The two hits were a ground ball through the right side and a bloop to center. Whitley was missing barrels, that’s for sure. Here’s hit pitch breakdown, courtesy of Brooks Baseball (PitchFX data may change overnight):

  • 37 fastballs, 26 strikes, three whiffs, averaged 92.3 mph and topped out at 94.4
  • 23 changeups, 10 strikes, four whiffs, averaged 84.8 and topped out at 87.9
  • 14 sliders, seven strikes, three whiffs, averaged 86.8 and topped out at 88.8

The Yankees’ pitching staff is full of opportunity right now and I have to think Whitley will make another start in five days (six, really, because of an off-day). He’ll remain in the rotation almost by default. Whitley pitched very well though, especially considering he’s been a starting pitcher for basically two and a half months. He gave the Yankees a much needed shot in the arm — this was the first scoreless outing by one of the team’s non-Tanaka starters in four weeks, since Vidal Nuno in Tampa — and it was good to see someone come up from Triple-A and contribute right away for once.


Brilliant Bullpen
Dellin Betances came into this game with a 41.3% strikeout rate (14.85 K/9) and left it with a 44.8% strikeout rate (15.72 K/9). The big man got a ground ball to third to escape Whitley’s jam in the fifth inning, then he tacked on another two scoreless innings. He struck out the side. Both times. Seven batters faced and six strikeouts, all in a row. Betances was overpowering. The Mets had no chance. David Robertson is awesome, but I can’t remember the last time the Yankees had a pitcher this dominant on an inning-by-inning basis. Maybe Mariano Rivera in 1996? Dellin’s awesome.

Adam Warren got the ball to start the eighth inning, and he ran into a little self-inflicted pickle by walking the reanimated corpse of Bobby Abreu with one out. Following an Eric Young Jr. strikeout, Daniel Murphy put runners on the corners with two outs by slapping a soft ground ball single inside the third base foul line. Girardi did what he said he would do a few days ago and went to Robertson for a four-out save, which was absolutely the right move. One-run game, runners on the corners, David Wright at the plate? Get your best reliever in there. Robertson coaxed a ground out from Wright and then tossed a 1-2-3 ninth for his seventh save. Girardi did a great job with the bullpen by going to Betances and Robertson in the biggest spots of the game.


According to the batted ball data at FanGraphs, Jeter hasn’t hit a ball in the air since last Wednesday, the final game of the series in Anaheim. He made four outs in three plate appearances in this game (lined softly back to the pitcher for a double play) and failed to get an insurance run in from third in the seventh inning when the runner was thrown out at home. Jeter was double-switched out of the game when Robertson was brought in, a move that would not have happened had the game been played in an AL. I wouldn’t expect this to be a regular thing. Either way, the Cap’n could probably use a day or two off this weekend.

Yangervis Solarte had really rough day, going 0-for-4 with a strikeout and two double plays. He killed a potential rally in the ninth with a double play and I thought Girardi should have challenged the call at first. It was very close and replays showed he probably out, but in that situation, just use the challenge and see if you get lucky. Maybe the umpire in Midtown sees it differently. I understand wanting to save the challenge for potential call in the bottom of the ninth (you could always “encourage” the umps to review a play in the ninth, as per the rulebook), but chances are you won’t need it and the rally could have been extended. Oh well.

The Yankees only had six hits on the night, including two by Soriano. Jacoby Ellsbury doubled, Teixeira single, McCann singled, and Whitley singled. Gardner drew two walks while Teixeira and Johnson drew one apiece. Zoilo Almonte struck out in his first at-bat of the season, which wasn’t surprising considering he was facing a lefty. He is a switch-hitter, but that doesn’t mean much. He had a .946 OPS against righties in Triple-A compared to a .392 OPS against lefties. Eek.

In addition to his 44.8% strikeout rate, Betances is now down to a 0.82 FIP on the season. The three relievers combined to strike out ten batters in 4.1 innings and they did not allow a ball to leave the infield in the air. Murphy’s single that stayed just fair as it rolled by third base was the only ball they allowed to leave the infield in general.

Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
MLB.com has the box score and video highlights, FanGraphs some other stats, and ESPN the updated standings.

Source: FanGraphs

Up Next
The Yankees continue the Yankee Stadium portion of the homestand with a three-game series against the Pirates this weekend. Edinson Volquez and David Phelps kick that one off on Friday night. Worst pitching matchup of the year? Possibly. RAB Tickets can get you in the door if you want to catch any of the three games.

DotF: Heathcott returns in Trenton's loss
The River Avenue Blues Podcast: Episode 7
  • Jorge Steinbrenner

    Removing a starter before the end of the fifth? Check.
    Going to Betances in a tough spot AND for multiple innings? Check.
    Going to Robertson for four outs? Check.

    I guess he’s not a total dinglebutt in the dugout after all. They’ll still complain.

    Loved Whitley tonight. Had no idea what to expect, but this was at the bottom of my list of possible outcomes. Poised. Attacked the plate. Used his stuff well. Came off as a really nice guy in the post-game interview. See you in five days, kid, and keep up the good work. There’s some real opportunity here.

    • Tom

      If anything, I think Girardi’s moves were applauded in the game thread.

      • Macho Man “Randy Levine”

        At least one person bitched about Girardi removing Whitley so that he couldn’t get a win.

        • http://www.staggeringbeauty.com/ ALZ

          Right. Is not like in a rally and they substitute him for a hitter. They weren’t scoring and it’s tied game, must keep it like that.

      • Jorge Steinbrenner

        The what?

    • Dalek Jeter


    • No 2013 again

      One of Girardi’s finest games this season, if not the best one. Gotta give him credit when it’s due.

      • Mike HC

        Girardi was great. Hopefully this is a trend, and not an aberration, as it comes to his bullpen usage of Betances and Robertson. These guys are a strength of the team, we have to use them this year.

  • WhittakerWalt

    Jeter is really making me sad these days.

    • El Maestro

      I think we should make a Jeter watch about how many AB’s he will need before hitting a ball in the air.

      • WhittakerWalt

        That sounds perfectly morbid.

    • Looser trader droids FotD™

      He looks awful at the plate. Cooked. Most of his hits seem to be dribblers that find holes (heh) rather than sharply hit off the bat. Very sad.

  • Yangeddard Solarte

    1. We’ve found our new 4th starter and it’s Chase Whitley. I thought he was outstanding tonight and leaps and bounds ahead of CC and Nuno.

    2. Delin has found his niche in the pen. He should remain in the fireman role because he’s absolutely unhittable. Starter gets in trouble, in comes Delin to strike people out.

    3. Jeter has to be moved down to 7th or 8th and Solarte inserted into the 2 hole. With the 2nd hitter you need a guy who can get on base and drive in runs. Jeter does neither. Also, Solarte is tougher to match up against late in ballgames because he’s a switch hitter. They can just bring in a tough righty to pitch to Jeter and he has about as much chance as A-Rod did in the playoffs two years ago.

    4. BGDP on the mound tomorrow to stretch the winning streak to 3 games. I think he does it. They need to pound these NL lineups.

    • rbibaseball

      I personally would have Ellsbury bat second he’s the best hitter on the team and more likely be the more reliable batter in the long term.

    • nycsportzfan

      Dellins a stud. I wondered if the Yanks would think about trying him at closer and keeping Robertson in the 8th inning role but that was unlikely, and i’m just happy they are finally giving him important innings. Its clear hes got the best stuff outta the bullpen guys.

    • Mike HC

      I actually basically agree with all of this … although still tentative with point one, but it could easily end up there. Whitley did have a 1.something era in AAA for like 13 starts. This was not exactly out of nowhere.

    • Looser trader droids FotD™


      And I agree with much of it too. Off to shower…

  • pat


    • Dalek Jeter

      …Is this a Lil B reference? Because if it is a few of my coworkers/friends (I guess they’re friends? I’m bad at peopling) would love you.

  • Rolling Doughnut

    “the Cap’n could probably use a day or two off this weekend.” What? He needs to be batting 7th or 8th until or if, he starts to hit. Simple as that. Then there’s the excruciating defense to deal with. It’s really tough to see him go out like this. Hope he turns it around but it does not seem likely.

  • Duzzi

    I was there tonight and Dellin was absolutely untouchable. You could hear McCann’s glove pop from center field. Also Whitley was pretty impressive and his stuff was better than I anticipated. The changeup and slider both looked great and he kept the ball down.

  • cr1

    This is what older fans remember as normal fan life back in the day. We saw the whole arc of a player’s career from the early uncertain delicious hopes through the growing certainty that we had a great player and the later scary hints that he was mortal after all to the sad knowledge that everything was gone except the will.

    Fans rarely experience it in its fullness today because it is rare now for a player to play his whole baseball life out before one set of fans. As Yankees fans we are used to buying the best, and keeping a few of th best from within, and disposing of the rest. Most of us are not prepared to live through the whole cycle, from the days when he was scandalously underpayed for the value he brought to the team to the final days when he is ppaid ‘more than his market value’. Not even for Derek Jeter.

    I am also sad sometimes but mostly I am glad. He had a wonderful run. I had a wonderful run as a fan of his. I am grateful on his behalf and on my own. I wouldn’t have missed it for the world. I am sorry to know that the youngsters who are lighting up the nights now will almost certainly play out only a relatively short part of their baseball lives before us. The world has changed. It keeps on doing that, not always for the better.

    • cr1

      This was meant as a reply to WhitakerWalt above, sorry WW?

      • WhittakerWalt

        I appreciate your thoughts. I thank God we’ve had 20 years of Jeter, even if this last chapter is sad and anticlimactic.

    • Kiko Jones

      Not a Jeter fan but I appreciate what he’s done for my team. And I really enjoyed your comment. You, sir, are a TRUE Yankee fan. God bless.

      • vicki

        maybe not surprisingly, she is a lady.

      • Mike HC

        Not a fan of Jeter? Why not?

        • Yankee Fan 1

          It’s definitely mind boggling when Yankee fans claim to be “not a Jeter fan”. Did you sleep through the past 20 years?

          • WhittakerWalt

            I can understand it a little. The ridiculous amount of overhyping gets wearing. And the praise for things that either don’t exist (intangibles, clutch hitting) or rewards for things he hasn’t earned (Gold Gloves) can get obnoxious. And the fact that he’s a sacred cow who you’re never allowed to say anything bad about, no matter how obvious it might be. That stuff adds up.
            It doesn’t take away from him being MY favorite player, but I get it.

    • Mike HC

      Nice post. Well “said.”

    • Jorge Steinbrenner

      Thank you. What a wonderful read.

  • Yankee$

    Wasn’t Joba pretty dominant that first season…sigh.

    • http://www.staggeringbeauty.com/ ALZ

      Yes he was, was going to mention that. 0.38 era and 12.75 k/9. Dellin is doing way better though. His FIP is way lower and strikouts higher.

  • Chip Rodriguez

    well, I’m glad we wrote off Whitley in the post/thread this morning.

    • Tanuki Tanaka

      Reverse jinx?

    • http://www.staggeringbeauty.com/ ALZ

      I think just people don’t know what to expect from a non top prospect. I was just hoping for 5 innings where he kept us in the game, and he pretty much did that.

      • nycsportzfan

        It happens sometimes. I’m still worried hes gonna get destroyed the next 5times out , now that hes got this one sick outing under his belt. Kinda Aceves esque if you will.

        He was good tonight though.

  • Tanuki Tanaka

    Just noticed there’s a “better than the mets” tag.

  • W.B. Mason Williams

    Between Solarte and Whitley there sure have been some pleasant surprises this season.

  • rogue

    Can Hal buy Citi Field? Not only would the Yankees improve, but it’s a nicer looking park too.

    • BigDavey88

      THIS. I’m a huge Yankee fan, but I think Citi field is light years beyond YS3. One of my best friends is a Mets fan and naturally I go to a lot of games there, mostly to enjoy the park, the opposing team, and duh, baseball.

      IMO, this iteration of Yankee stadium just feels like a soviet bloc era mausoleum clinging to the past. I mean, it’s a nice park, the field looks good, etc., but it’s just so… bleh.

  • http://www.staggeringbeauty.com/ ALZ

    FG has Dellin’s FIP for today’s game as -2.04.

    • Dalek Jeter

      In a perfect world he pitched so well it would have EARNED THE YANKEES RUNS

  • http://www.staggeringbeauty.com/ ALZ

    Happy with Whitley. Wasn’t even expecting that much. I was hoping for 5 innings of keeping us in the ballgame.

  • nycsportzfan

    I was saying a couple wks ago when the AS voting started Dellin Betances was a sleeper to sneak in with Ells and Tanaka, and i’m starting to think hes gonna be a favorite to make it now. Solarte has to seriously be in the mix as well now.

    • W.B. Mason Williams

      My head almost exploded today when they said he was currently the AL batting title leader. 150 PA’s in and he’s sure not hitting like he was early in the season but still, the guy could end up actually grade out as a solid contributor at the plate, and not just for an infielder. He’s still got to prove it for another month or two but the kid is making a great impression.

      And yeah, Betances’ numbers up to this point are disgusting.

      Damn it man, iron out that control and take your place at Robertson’s side, and we can rule the Yankees Universe!

      • Mike HC

        The more we see of Solarte, the more I think he is not a total mirage. Will he OPS over .900 for the year? Hell no. But I think he just might be an above average major league hitter and most probably an above average hitting infielder.

      • nycsportzfan

        Yeah, I kinda had the mind-blown feeling when I noticed Solarte at the top of the batting leader board myself. He seems to be picking it back up again actually. Kinda went on a tear to start the yr, then leveled out just a bit , and recently is starting to trend upwards again, which is the exciting part, as we’ve seen guys have hot streaks outta nowhere before, but to level out and then start hitting again might mean we got something more then a lucky little tear to start the yr.

  • Get Phelps Up

    Haha Rays.

  • nycsportzfan

    Cano’s on pace for 4 HR’s this yr. Hes hitting over 300 and on pace for nearly 100ribbys for the season but only 4 HR’s. I’ve never noticed a lefty leaving Yankee Stadium and having such a drastic change in power numbers. I get its early though, and Cano hits em in bunches but kinda caught me off guard seeing that.

    • WhittakerWalt

      That will change. Cano’s homers were never YS jobs. He crushes his homers. He’s just adapting to a crappy lineup and a big fat contract.

      • Mike HC

        That will surely change, but Seattle is where offense goes to die. So maybe averaging high teens for his time in Seattle is not crazy.

      • Looser trader droids FotD™

        The line up isn’t likely to change much. He doesn’t get too many meatballs because he doesn’t have real protection.

  • vicki

    without taking a thing away from dellin, i submit drob’s 2011.

    • W.B. Mason Williams

      Those are some lofty #s for comparison, but as of this moment Dellin is pretty much smokin’ em.

    • Mike HC

      The only Yankee comparisons that I can think of are a young Mo and young Joba. Robertson is great, but doesn’t really have that visually electrifying fastball that Mo, Joba and Betances had/have.

      • nycsportzfan

        1996 MO is what I like to refer to when thinking of Dellins yr(if continues on this same path).

  • Kosmo

    What can you say about Betances ? 4 called strike 3s. Nasty stuff.

    Whitley displayed a very good changup, good fastball and an OK slider. Good luck to the young man.

    Yankee farm system takes alot of flack but if you look at last night´s game all four Yankee pitchers are homegrown. Betances,Warren and Robertson are all excellent at what they do.

    • Looser trader droids FotD™

      Good points.

    • nycsportzfan

      Agreed. They’ve brought up alot of helpful parts over the past several seasons.

  • JLC 776

    That was a lot of fun watching Whiltey succeed in his debut. Now do it again (and then again, for good measure), so we can see what we have here!

    Now, Betances. Wow. Just enough data now to start getting a little excited. I’m starting to look forward to seeing him come in once in a while.

  • Masahiro Nakamura

    Lineup I want:

    1. Gardner LF
    2. Solarte 3B
    3. Ellsbury CF
    4. Teixiera 1B
    5. McCann C
    6. DH (Spread it out)
    7. Soriano RF (Give him time, he’ll get hitting soon)
    8. Jeter SS
    9. Roberts 2B

  • fred robbins

    It’s delicious fun to watch Betances and see him on the highlights and hear the guys talk about him on Baseball Tonight. And it’s really fun to see a couple of kids on this team again.
    I’ve been a small part of the picking at Jeter crowd, but the heck with it. It’s not gonna change and there is really no special place in the line up where you want a dp machine or an automatic ground out.
    You ever notice how when a fielder is having a bad day at third and they move him to 2nd–the ball finds you– same thing here– I do think it would help if Girardi told him to bunt a few times– just lay one down- move a man over- and let it be….

    I would just as soon see some people like Larry Rothschild (spelling?) be tossed on his ear.. I notice Hughes allowed no walks and 1 run over 7 against Boston- 8 strikeouts no walks– Larry R never has helped a pitcher on this team– they always seem to find a new release point or delivery angle once they get traded to a team with a real pitching coach… same can be said for our dear Kevin Long..
    get rid of those two in bring in some pros…
    I sure hope the kid gets another game to start.

  • cuponoodles

    Dellin now has the lowest FIP and xFIP in the major leagues of any pitcher with at least 10 innings.

  • http://riveravenueblues Mississippi doc

    I really enjoyed your comments cR1. I am old enough to remember when Willie, Duke, and The Mick were young ballplayers and to have suffered through watching The Mick and Willie look like shells of their former selves. Most stars stay too long which is what Jeter is doing. Better to go out like Ted Williams without diminishing the greatness. For true fans, we cherish our greats and the Yankees are a special team with a special meaning. We need the Mets and the Red Sox to be our special rivals. I listen to all the complaints about our farm system, Girardi, and Cashman. I hope the naysayers noticed that that pitching gem last night was done by four products of our farm system, one of whom (Betances) looks like a potential true star and that our best hitter to date, Solarte, also came up from the minors. And we have a potential one or two young star catchers at AAA and AA. Not too bad for a GM everyone wants to fire. And let’s stop trashing Girardi. He has done a great job of keeping his team focused through two years of injuries, the Rodriguez fiasco, the problematic declines of four Yankee greats, and the under performances of highly paid, declining former stars. With all their problems, there are only four AL teams with better winning percentages.

    • Luisergi

      I’m under the impression that Solarte hasn’t played a single game in the minors for the yankees.

  • Yankenstein

    Whitley has a 0.00 era and a 1.000 batting average. You don’t see that too often.

  • fred robbins

    Hey Mississippi.. I agree and can appreciate all. I was a Mantle fan back in 1956 when I was 7… and have seen it all with the Yankees.

    Managers and GM’s can only work with what they have. I think the reason you see a lot of so called bashing on them both is that they have had incredibly more money to work with than almost anyone. The ability to hire the best scouts, best trainers and best of everything.
    So, I believe it is only natural and at times well deserve when you see the moves Cashman makes and the direction the team takes year after year with signing aging and over the hill players and like this time- Beltran to 3 years- I mean- holy crap batman… 3 years–
    How many people now- would like to see the extra 3 years go to Cano for the wasted 30 million on Beltran? With Cano Yankees would be in first by 5 games– in my opinion… and look at how good Hughes looks with a real pitching coach guiding him… 3.67 era after holding down Boston last night-
    I just think there is a very old structure guiding the Yankees and they have a poor coaching staff and philosophy going forward. Now they might be forced to use the young players they should have tried in the first place. A team without the resources would have called up Murphy and a few others and not spent the 85 million on McCann and 30 on Beltran–
    so– just my take– I love seeing the kids play-

  • Looser trader droids FotD™

    Well that was…unexpected.