Whitley impresses again, Yanks finish off sweep of Mariners with 6-3 win

The River Avenue Blues Podcast: Episode 13
Update: Jacoby Ellsbury leaves game with right hip tightness

Source: FanGraphs

That was a fun series. The Mariners came into the Bronx and swept the Yankees earlier this year, and this week the Yankees returned the favor with a sweep of their own in Seattle. Thursday night’s 6-3 win clinched it. Let’s recap the club’s third straight win:

  • Ace Whitley: Chase freakin’ Whitley, man. What a beast. As I noted on Twitter, he is basically pitching like Michael Pineda, only with way more ground balls. Whitley held the Mariners to two runs in 7.2 innings on Thursday, striking out six and walking zero. I know he’s a recently converted reliever and all that, but I don’t get why he was lifted at only 82 pitches. He threw 87 last time out. Don’t you have to get him up to 95 or so? Especially since the Yankees had a four-run lead with the bases empty and two outs in the inning? Whatever. Whitley’s a damn stud. What a story.
  • Two At a Time: The last time lefty Roenis Elias started against the Yankees, Jacoby Ellsbury took him deep for a leadoff homer. Ellsbury took him deep again on Thursday, this time with Derek Jeter on base for a two-run jack in the first. I love early runs. Two innings later, Alfonso Soriano‘s bat rose from the dead and drove in two with a double into the left-center field gap. Jeter and Ellsbury scored. An inning after that, Jeter sliced a single to right to plate two more runs. Roberts and John Ryan Murphy scored on that hit. The six runs are the most the Yankees have scored since the final game of the Cardinals series two and a half weeks ago. Geez.
  • Bullpeners: Matt Thornton came on in relief Whitley to face Robinson Cano and, of course, he walked him. Kyle Seager followed that with a fly out to end the inning. Lefties have a .342 OBP against Thornton this year, which is entirely too high for a guy whose only job is to get lefties out. Shawn Kelley faced three batters in the ninth, allowed two doubles, then gave way to David Robertson. It was Kelley’s first appearance since coming off the disabled list. Robertson struck out two to close out the win.
  • Leftovers: Ellsbury’s homer extended his hitting streak to 16 games. He later left the game with tightness in his hip … Jeter had three hits and a walk. He went 7-for-12 (.583) with two walks in the series … everyone in the lineup reached base at least once except Brett Gardner and Yangervis Solarte … Ellsbury, Gardner, and Ichiro Suzuki all made nice jumping catches at the wall to take away extra-base hits … the Yankees swept a three-game series for the first time this season.

MLB.com has the box score, FanGraphs the nerd score, and ESPN the updated standings. The Yankees are now heading south to Oakland for a three-game weekend series against the Athletics. David Phelps and Sonny Gray will be the pitching matchup for Friday’s opener.

The River Avenue Blues Podcast: Episode 13
Update: Jacoby Ellsbury leaves game with right hip tightness
  • deathstroke Heathcott

    Dat outfield defense

    • Art Vandelay

      Ich and Gardner both with those catches and loooks “ohhh, you thought that was a HR, nahhh I caught it.”

  • Nuke Guy

    Everybody has been talking about Betances’ K rates, but Robertson has 41 strikeouts in 22.2 innings. Outside of that one 5-run outing, he has been fucking awesome.

    • http://www.riveraveblues.com Mike Axisa

      23 of his last 29 outs have been strikeouts.

      • Nuke Guy

        That’s awesome. Doesn’t surprise me that much either.

      • Looser trader droids FotD™

        That’s crazy.

    • Dropped Third

      I don’t know if there could be a harder thing to do in baseball than fill Mo’s shoe’s in the Bronx, but D-Rob certainly has done that so far. Need to lock this guy up.

  • MartinRanger

    Whitley has been so impressive. He’s learning how to pitch like a starter but his stuff is (surprisingly) good enough? And his command is a lot better than say Phelps, so he can get away with a subpar fastball. His changeup and slider are solid offerings and I think he’s getting better as using them. And his ground ball rate is terrific.

    He looks like a solid back-end starter at least. They could really use that going forward with the uncertainty surrounding Nova and Kuroda and Sabathia’s ages.

    • New Guy

      I’ll admit I’ve only see him pitch probably 2.5 times. But doesn’t he sit 91-93? That’s really not subpar if its true. You don’t have to throw 95 to have a good fastball.

    • Darren

      If Whitley continues to pitch like this, he’s more than just a back-end guy, he’s really a #2 or #3 at worst.

  • mustang

    ” He threw 87 last time out. Don’t you have to get him up to 95 or so? Especially since the Yankees had a four-run lead”

    Agree, but I also could see Joe wanting to get some work in for Thornton and Kelly and there were a few loud outs by Whitley near the end.

    Not a big deal at all.

  • Brandon

    82 pitches thru 7.2 and Girardi still manages to use three relievers to get four outs. WTF

    • jjyank

      Some people will just never be happy. Lets bitch after a win! Yaaaay.

      • New Guy

        I agree that bitching after our first sweep is a little annoying, but I kind of agree with him. You can get too smart sometimes, and taking a pitcher out who is cruising (assumed, I didn’t see the game because I have to wake up at 5:30 haha)just to get your LOOGY work is getting too smart. Let him finish the 8th, and start the 9th. If he runs into trouble then take him out. Give the dude a shot, there will PLENTY of opportunities for Dumb Face Matt Thornton (DFMT?) to walk a lefty he has no business facing. :)

        • jjyank

          Meh. Wins have been hard to come by lately and he’s a converted reliever. Hardly something I consider worthy bitching about.

        • Looser trader droids FotD™

          Especially when in the grand scheme of things it’s best to continue to get the guy stretched out. He was ridiculously efficient thanks to his control. But he should’ve been left in longer IMO.

      • Bo Knows

        Just because the Yankees win doesn’t mean Girardi didn’t do something stupid. Whitley deserved to at least finish the 8th inning, heck he deserved a shot at finishing the game.

        • jjyank

          See my reply above. I don’t think you can categorize that as “stupid.” And the constant negativity around here is so freaking annoying. There’s a reason I went from regular commenter to commenting like, once a month. It’s because people complain about the smallest crap after a series sweep. Really?

    • Evan3457

      25-man roster.

      Thornton hadn’t pitched in 9 days. If you can’t give him a lefty batter who can’t be pinch-hit for, with two outs, nobody on, up by 4 in the 8th, when can he be used? You either have to use him there or cut him. Since they’re not anywhere close to being willing to cut him, you use him.

      Kelly had been recalled on Tuesday. Letting him start the 9th with a 4 run lead in his 1st game back is fairly obvious. He didn’t have his slider, or command, and got into trouble, so Robertson.

      Case closed. 25-man roster.

    • Wayne

      Read it and weep folks chase whitley is getting traded At the deadline for Jeff Samardzija or jason Hammel which is even worse!!!!!
      Chase Whitley, José Ramírez and Rafael DePaula plus Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez for Jeff Samardzija .
      Yankees future down the toilette !!!!
      Oh well!!!!

      • Jim Is A (Bored) Peckerhead

        Suddenly we’re french?

      • Dropped Third

        !!!!!! omg!!! no way !!!! !!!!!!!!!!!!!

      • jjyank

        Your schtick is so old.

      • Evan3457

        When you take that many exclamation points, you’re supposed to leave some for the next guy!!!!!!!

  • Ivans

    How can you argue against what turned out to be a good move in bringing in a lefty to face two lefties with two outs? 82 pitches sound low but over the course of 7+ ip, it’s still a long game for Whitley. I wouldn’t want him to face cano then either. I know Thornton sucks but you go with what you have.

    • Brandon

      But he walked Cano.

      • Bo Knows

        And Whitley’s best pitch is a changeup, which makes him the Lefty’s natural enemy. Also it can’t be stated that Thornton sucks ass.

        • jjyank

          The stats don’t back up your statement. So far in 2014, LHB are hitting .271/.304/.420 off of Whitley. RHB are hitting .203/.242/.259.

          He’s been pretty good against both, but it’s a stretch to call him “Lefty’s natural enemy” when he’s been better against righties.

    • Looser trader droids FotD™

      Confusing outcome with process.

      Thornton sucks. He should be cut frankly. And Whitley was cruising, even with some loud outs.

  • W.B. Mason Williams

    It seems selfish with all the big name FAs that have come through the team in the past decade, but having Solarte and Whitley appear almost out of thin air has been a ton of fun.

    • sevrox

      And when was the last time the Yanks had a starter like Tanaka? There are bright spots – to go along with the meager 3.5 games in back of first in the ALbloodyEast.

      • Looser trader droids FotD™

        Can’t recall anyone with his level of dominance but for sheer joy to watchness I’d say El Duque, and for craftiness, multiple arm angles, pitching smarts, pitches, etc I’d say Cone. Loved watching those guys at their best.

    • nycsportzfan

      Yes it is. Just as much fun as it was watching David Robertson vault his way through the bullpen ranks not to long ago. And how fun is it watching Betances become as good a strikeout artist outta the pen as anyone in the league? Haven’t even mentioned Warren.

      Lots of fun guys to follow. And probably more on the horizon. Lindgren anyone?

  • nycsportzfan

    How about that Cappy? Hitting 400BA over last 7days. Look at the rest of the AL SS’s, and suddenly you shouldent have much to say about Derek and what hes done to this point this yr for the Yanks.

    • I’m One

      SSS and arbitrary end points (well, not so arbitrary end point, since it’s his most recent game), but yeah, I’ll take it. Hoping he can still pull his season line up closer to .290 before all is said and done, but the team needs him to carry some weight, so anything he can do offensively is appreciated.

      • Looser trader droids FotD™

        Yeah. An OPS north of .700 would be a win.

  • YankeeFan

    The thing with Whitley is that though he has just an average fastball, he has the great equalizer for lefties with that fading changeup that has made some lefties look silly flailing at. If he continues to improve that changeup, don’t think there is any reason why he cannot be a successful starter in the big leagues long-term. Great control of his fastball, his slider is above-average, and the changeup is continuing to improve for opposite side batters.

    If you check Fangraphs, he mixes all 3 pitches great (Fastball: 45%, Slider: 31%, and Change: 24%). Is he continue to be as dominant? Doubtful but there is plenty of starter potential here. Even his xFIP is a fantastic 3.81 despite giving up only 1 home run in 34 innings.

  • mt

    Scoring runs in three separate innings for the first time in weeks is also a relief.

    This team would be so much better if Soriano even occasionally came up with a big hit, like he did last night.

    Where would we be without Solarte (nothwitstanding his bad series at plate) and Whitley? Of course Whitley only got used because of injuries but I will take it. Add Murphy to the mix – who it sounds will be going down to AAA when Cervelli returns soon – and we have three unexpected contributions from young (for the Yankees) players. I definitley think Whitley has passsed Phelps as a starter.

    Facing Gray, Kazmir and Chavez all with low ERAs should be a challenge although, strangely enough, given our lack of home run power it may be better for Yanks to face A’s in Oakland as opposed to YS3 (their main power hitters Moss, Donaldson, and Cespedes had good games in the Bronx.)

    I hope this Ellsbury hip soreness does not become a “thing” that is ongoing.

    Toronto also has all of a sudden stopped scoring in bunches – three recent shutouts to Miller/Wainwright/Hughes. Other Minnesota starters and O’s Gausman last night also held them down.

    • mt

      Make that Miller/J Garcia/Correia (!) and Hughes with shut-out starts (Blue jays scored off bullpen afetr Hughes shut them out for seven).

    • nycsportzfan

      Yanks are huge Dogs tonight. +180ML. Still with Phelps, you never know. If he has hit location, he can go deep into games, but if he don’t, he gets hammered. He dosen’t have the stuff to lack accuracy.

  • Wayne

    We end up using Robertson when he and the bullpen could Have gotten another complete day of rest.
    Whitley could Have thrown a complete game!!!!

  • Tyrone Sharpton

    You don’t think Whitley’s a younger version of Aaron Small? Never saw any projection on him being anything special

    • Jim Is A (Bored) Peckerhead

      I’m going to keep repeating this ad nauseum. We had no real meaningful sample to project him as being anything special or not special.

      His stats we’re always fine and every scouting report I read said his stuff was fine, although not great.

      People made their own predictions based on a tiny sample size. Do so at your own risk.

      Also, he has better stuff than Aaron Small, and his peripherals are matching his performance so far; something Aaron Small never did.

      • nycsportzfan

        Drob, Phelps, Warren, Whitley, Claiborne, Khanle, Kontos, Montgomery, all college kids yanks have drafted in the not so early rds. Are scouts are remarkable at finding college talent in the not so early rds.

  • nycsportzfan

    That changeup had M’s hitters pissed.lol