Thanks to Monday’s makeup game against the Mets, the Yankees are about to begin their longest homestand of the season. Eleven games in eleven days. It was originally ten games in eleven days. The Yankees are good on the road (33-26 and +54 run differential) but they’re great at home (38-16 and +81 run differential), so these next eleven days are a good opportunity to go on a nice little run. Anyway, I have some thoughts on the state of the Yankees, so let’s get to ’em.
1. J.A. Happ is coming back from the disabled list tonight and I’m surprised the Yankees aren’t using Chance Adams to give their starters extra rest. They could’ve started Adams on normal rest tonight, then sent him down and activated and started Happ tomorrow. Would’ve given all the starters an extra day right smack in the middle of this 20 games in 20 days stretch. I guess the Yankees didn’t want to start Adams any more than necessary — remember, he was Plan B for last Saturday’s start behind Luis Cessa — and want to get Happ back out there as soon as possible. Adams pitched well enough over the weekend and the Rangers stink. Seemed like a chance to buy the starters that extra day. The Yankees are usually obsessive about that. Adams was sent down following last night’s game, so there’s no going back now. Kinda surprised the Yankees didn’t use him for that extra day. Oh well.
2. So is Lance Lynn this year’s Brandon McCarthy? McCarthy was having a crummy year (5.01 ERA and 3.82 FIP) with the Diamondbacks in 2014, the Yankees picked him up on the cheap, then he pitched well (2.89 ERA and 3.22 FIP) in pinstripes the rest of the season. Lynn was having a crummy year (5.10 ERA and 4.71 FIP) with the Twins, the Yankees picked him up on the cheap, and he’s pitched well (11.2 scoreless innings) in pinstripes so far. The Yankees bet on McCarthy’s track record — and, more importantly, they let him throw his cutter again — and were rewarded. They haven’t tweaked anything with Lynn’s pitch selection yet, though the track record is there, so it’s not like they’re expecting some journeyman fifth starter type to pitch well. Lynn now and McCarthy then have some similarities in that they’re veteran guys who pitched poorly with a non-contender before being thrust back into a postseason race in New York. Sometimes that can energize a player. I’d sign up for Lynn being 2014 McCarthy in an instant and I’m sure the Yankees would as well.
3. Will the stint in the bullpen help Sonny Gray get on track? It’s possible, sure. He certainly wouldn’t be the first guy to find his mojo after a demotion to the bullpen, though I need to see more before buying in. I like Sonny. I was all over him as a trade target last year (the last few years, really) and it just hasn’t worked out. We’ve seen flashes of him turning it around this year and he hasn’t been able to build on it. One step forward, one or two steps back, all season long. Gray was clearly pumped when he closed out that win the other day …
4. The last few days I’ve been thinking about bats the Yankees could potentially add in an August waiver trade, and most of them stink, though I keep coming back to Josh Donaldson. It’s not going to happen for a million different reasons, the luxury tax plan chief among them. Let’s get that out of the way early. But the Yankees could stick Donaldson in a first base/third base/DH rotation and get another impact bat in the lineup. He wouldn’t solve the outfield shortage, though it’s still a lineup upgrade. Shoulder and calf trouble has limited Donaldson to 36 games this season and none since May 28th, and I’m not sure he can play third base full-time at this point. Remember those weak throws against the Yankees earlier this year?
5. We’re approaching the time of year when we’ll start to see articles and hear broadcast conversations about the fairness (or unfairness) of the Wild Card game. I get the sense we’ll hear about it even more this year because the Yankees are on pace for 102 wins and a Wild Card spot. The current system isn’t going away though. The two Wild Card Games generate buzz and draw ratings. They’re a moneymaker. If you don’t want to play in the one-and-done Wild Card Game, then win more games. That’s my stance. In my perfect world, MLB would balance the schedule and send the four best teams in each league to the postseason. That’s all. Not gonna happen though. A best-of-three Wild Card Series would be a logistical headache. A KBO style Wild Card Series (top Wild Card team has to win one game, second Wild Card Team has to win two games) would be fun. Ken Rosenthal (subs. req’d) wrote about reseeding the postseason teams recently, which I never thought much about, but I like the idea. Under this plan the five best teams in each league go to the postseason, with the top three teams advancing to the LDS while the other two play the Wild Card Game. Divisions are irrelevant for reseeding. The Indians currently have the sixth best record in the American League and they’re going to cruise to a division title because the AL Central is so weak. Reseeding the teams based on their regular season records rather than sticking with the divisional alignment would force the Indians to try to win as many games as possible. Instead, they’re going to coast in September and focus on getting their players healthy and their pitching staff lined up for the ALDS. Reseeding would force them to play out the string. That’s a good thing. MLB has given teams too many reasons not to try to win as much as possible. Anything that forces teams to try hard and win games is a plus in my book.
6. The 2018 Arizona Fall League rosters should be announced within the next two or three weeks. Estevan Florial is an obvious AzFL candidate to me given all the time he missed following wrist surgery earlier this year. Good way to let him make up for lost at-bats. Jonathan Loaisiga (shoulder), Domingo Acevedo (biceps), and Albert Abreu (elbow) are all AzFL candidates as well to make up the innings they lost while injured. I guess their health down the stretch and into October will determine whether they head to the desert. Abi Avelino is having a breakout year (.300/.343/.465 at Double-A and Triple-A) and will be a minor league free agent after the season. I could see the Yankees sending him to the AzFL for extra at-bats as they debate whether to add him to the 40-man roster. Would the Yankees send Clarke Schmidt out there to continue his Tommy John surgery rehab? I mean, technically he is done with his rehab. Teams are only allowed to send one player below Double-A and Florial would be that guy, though exceptions have been made for players rehabbing from injuries. Schmidt’s a maybe. The Yankees may prefer to keep him close to the home base in Tampa and not overload him with too much, too soon after surgery. Florial and, if healthy, Loaisiga are obvious AzFL candidates in my opinion. Acevedo and Abreu are secondary pitching options. Avelino strikes me as a “we want more time to evaluate him” AzFL guy. We’ll see about Schmidt.