DiCaro: Cubs focusing on Eovaldi for possible trade

(Ronald Martinez/Getty)
(Ronald Martinez/Getty)

According to Julie DiCaro, the Cubs are focusing on Nathan Eovaldi — among other pitchers — as a possible trade target before the deadline. Nothing is imminent and it’s unclear if the two teams have even talked about a deal at this point. Chicago could be interested in Eovaldi the same way the other 28 teams would be interested in Eovaldi.

Rotation help doesn’t seem like a priority for the Cubs — their starters have the lowest ERA (2.60) and second lowest FIP (3.33) in baseball — but they lack depth and seem to be concerned about the way Kyle Hendricks and Jason Hammel wore down late last season. Hammel left yesterday’s start with a hamstring injury too. Adam Warren is their sixth starter and there’s not much behind him at all. Here are some thoughts about Eovaldi and the Cubs.

1. The Yankees match up very well with the Cubs. The Cubs are baseball’s best team by almost every objective measure. They have the best record (35-14) and run differential (+133) in the game, and they seem to do everything well. Hit, pitch, defend, run the bases, you name it. They’re as good as any team we’ve seen since the 1998 Yankees. No doubt about it.

The Cubbies are not perfect though. No team ever is. They lack rotation depth as I mentioned. They’re also short a shutdown left-handed reliever, someone who can neutralize Bryce Harper or Adrian Gonzalez or Brandon Belt in the postseason. They could use a left fielder too with Kyle Schwarber hurt and Jorge Soler not doing a whole lot. (They’ve played Kris Bryant in left and Tommy La Stella at third on occasion.)

The Yankees can offer the Cubs rotation depth (Eovaldi, Ivan Nova, Michael Pineda), a shutdown lefty reliever (Andrew Miller, Aroldis Chapman), and a replacement left fielder (Brett Gardner). Heck, the Cubbies need a center fielder going forward with Dexter Fowler set to become a free agent again, so Gardner would fit in long-term. The Cubs have some needs and the Yankees have some pretty nice options to address those needs.

2. Do the Cubs match up with the Yankees? Here’s where it gets tricky. The Yankees have what the Cubs need, but what can the Cubs offer in return? Their farm system isn’t all that great at the moment — Baseball America ranked their system 20th before the season — and I doubt they’ll be willing to tear up their big league roster. They want to add to their roster, not subtract from it.

Javier Baez, the former top prospect, isn’t hitting much again (72 wRC+) as the club’s backup infielder. He’s extremely talented but remains a high risk project. I’m certain the Cubs will be willing to deal current top prospect Gleyber Torres, a 19-year-old shortstop having a nice season in High Class-A (110 wRC+), but probably not No. 2 prospect Willson Contreras, a catcher. They’re set at short long-term with Addison Russell but not behind the plate.

Here is MLB.com’s top 30 Cubs prospects list. Double-A third baseman Jeimer Candelario, Triple-A righties Pierce Johnson and Ryan Williams, and Triple-A first baseman/DH Dan Vogelbach stand out to me as possible trade fits for New York. Then again, when it comes to trading someone like Eovaldi (or Miller or Gardner, etc.), the goal should be acquiring the best possible talent regardless of position. Not filling specific needs.

3. Eovaldi seems like a keeper, doesn’t he? The Yankees are kinda sorta rebuilding. They don’t seem to want to admit it, but they’re in a holding pattern until most of the big money contracts come off the books the next two years, so in the meantime they’ve been trying to add youth wherever possible. That is the Yankees version of a rebuild, like it or not.

(Norm Hall/Getty)
(Norm Hall/Getty)

Eovaldi is one of the young pieces the Yankees have added and he’s made legitimate improvement since the start of last season. The splitter has been a total game-changer. He’s got an out pitch now and it has helped his fastball play up too. From Opening Day 2014 through June 20th of last season, the last game before he switched from the forkball grip to the splitter grip, opponents hit .320 with a .138 ISO against Eovaldi’s heater. It’s .255 and .089 since.

The Eovaldi the Yankees have right now looks totally different than the Eovaldi they acquired last year. He’s got a new and highly effective offspeed pitch, he’s giving up way fewer hits — remember how he led the NL in hits allowed in 2014? he’s allowed only 56 hits in 60.2 innings this year in the tougher league — and he seems to be pitching with much more confidence too. How can you not be impressed with the improvement he’s made with the Yankees?

You’re welcome to disagree, but Eovaldi strikes me as the type of player the Yankees should keep and build around. He’s only 26, he throws 100 mph on the regular, and the splitter is a tangible explanation for his improvement. It’s no wonder the Cubs have interest in him, right? The Yankees should look into signing Eovaldi to a long-term extension before considering trading him. He’s a potential building block for a team short on controllable pitching.

4. It doesn’t hurt to listen. Obvious caveat is obvious. There’s no reason not to listen to offers for Eovaldi from the Cubs or any other team. Someone just might make an offer that is too good to pass up. The upcoming free agent pitching class is really awful. The trade market is going to be a seller’s market, and the Yankees might be able to benefit from that.

The Yankees know Eovaldi better than anyone, and it could be they don’t like something they see in his medicals. Or maybe they’ve already approached his agent about an extension and found their demands outrageous. Who knows? Brian Cashman is no idiot. He’s going to listen to offers. Eovaldi is part of the solution, not part of the problem, so the asking price should be high.

Ackley’s injury makes first base even more of a problem area for the Yankees

(Brian Blanco/Getty)
(Brian Blanco/Getty)

Last season the Yankees were able to qualify for the postseason largely due to the tremendous production they received from their first basemen. Led primary by Mark Teixeira and Greg Bird, New York’s first sackers hit .248/.336/.516 (114 OPS+) with 43 homers. Only the Orioles got more dingers from their first basemen (44) thanks mostly to Chris Davis.

So far this season the lack of production from first base is a huge reason why the Yankees have been unable to keep their head above .500. Teixeira is hitting .195/.291/.286 (62 wRC+) with three homers and Dustin Ackley, his primary backup, owns a .143/.248/.143 (11 wRC+) line. All together, New York’s first basemen are hitting .168/.261/.246 (36 OPS+) with three homers this season. They rank dead last in homers and OPS+ at the position.

Teixeira returned to the starting lineup last night after missing five games with a nagging neck issue that also kept him on the bench for a few games last month. During Teixeira’s absence Ackley managed to suffer what is likely a season-ending injury when he dove back into first base on a pickoff throw and tore his labrum. Ouch. The team’s backup first baseman for the time being is backup catcher Austin Romine, and that is hardly ideal.

As we’ve learned in recent years, replacing a backup first baseman ain’t all that easy. The days of carrying a pure backup first baseman are over. James Loney? He made no sense. He provides no power, no speed, no versatility, and these days iffy defense as well. Either the primary first baseman or the backup first baseman has to be able to play somewhere else in the world of four (and sometimes three) man benches, and since Teixeira can’t, the backup has to for the Yankees.

Ackley wasn’t hitting at all. That doesn’t mean replacing him on the roster will be easy. The Yankees need to come up with a backup first baseman who can handle another position or two and hopefully be more than a zero at the plate. What option do they have at this point of the season? A few and none are great. Let’s look.

Stick With Romine

First base is obviously not Romine’s primary position, but it’s not completely foreign to him either. He started ten games at first base in Triple-A last year once Gary Sanchez was promoted, for example. All told Romine has 206 career regular season innings at first between MLB and the minors, plus whatever he did in Spring Training, which is better than nothing.

Using your backup catcher as your backup first baseman really limits flexibility though. You can’t pinch-hit or pinch-run for either when they both start the same game because that means someone has to play out of position at first. Well, I mean you could pinch-hit or pinch-run, but most managers won’t. They seem to be collectively terrified of not having a second catcher available in case of injury. Romine as the backup first baseman figures to be a temporary measure.

Torreyes Or Headley?

Ronald Torreyes has never played first base as a professional, so forget about him. He might be too short for the position too. I’m being serious! The guy is about 5-foot-8, so he doesn’t present much of a target over there. Chase Headley‘s played some first base in his career but not much (58 innings). His best position is third base. “I think I would be more inclined to put Headley at first and Torreyes at third,” said Girardi to Chad Jennings yesterday. It doesn’t seem like Headley (or Brian McCann, for that matter) is much of a consideration at first, which is the right move in my opinion. He’s an emergency option only.

What About Refsnyder?

It would behoove Rob Refsnyder to pick up a first baseman’s mitt and start working out at the position. Take grounders, start to learn the footwork, that sort of thing. Refsnyder has to give the Yankees a reason to keep him on the roster and learning first base would be a big help. I’m not saying it’ll be easy, but if he wants to make himself as valuable as possible, trying to become a viable option at first would go a long way. Unless the Yankees explicitly tell Refsnyder to not work out at first — Girardi said he’s thought about, but the team hasn’t talked about it yet — he should put in some extra work there. That’s his best way to stay on the roster, and he just might be the team’s best option at the position.

(Photo via @swbrailriders)
(Photo via Scranton/Wilkes-Barre RailRiders)

Swisher Or Parmelee?

Bird had his shoulder surgery in early-February, which didn’t give the Yankees a whole lot of time to find a replacement depth option. The timing really sucked. First the team picked up Chris Parmelee as a minor league free agent, then, a few weeks later, they added Nick Swisher after the Braves cut him loose. Here are their Triple-A numbers to date:

Swisher: .244/.263/.366 (77 wRC+) with four homers in 137 plate appearances
Parmelee: .246/.333/.435 (125 wRC+) with six homers in 159 plate appearances

I get whey everyone asks about Swisher, but he’s not hitting in Triple-A, he didn’t hit in the big leagues the last two years, and his knees are pretty shot. It’s pretty obvious his days as a productive player are behind him. About the only thing he offers over Parmelee at this point is experience and the ability to switch-hit, and what good is the latter if his bat has lost its punch?

Parmelee, on the other hand, has put up decent numbers in Triple-A this season and he does have quite a bit of outfield experience in his career. More than I realized. He’s played over 300 games in right field in the minors plus another 127 in the show. It adds up over to 3,600 total innings at the position. Yankee Stadium in right field is tiny. The Yankees could hide Parmelee out there for a few innings if necessary. (He’s also played some left field too.)

No one wants to hear it, but between Swisher and Parmelee, Parmelee is the better bet at this point. He’s younger (28) and he’s healthier, and he’s putting up better numbers at the same level as Swisher. I love Swisher. He was awesome from 2009-12. It is now 2016. He is no longer awesome. Getting old (in baseball years) sucks.

The Trade Market

The only trades going down at this point of the season are really small. Loney for cash. Brian Matusz (and a draft pick) for salary relief. That sort of thing. Maybe the Marlins will give up Chris Johnson for cash or a player to be named. He seems like a realistic trade candidate. That type of player. Triple-A options around the league include, uh, Casey McGehee? Is he any better than Parmelee? The Yankees aren’t going to want to give up much for a new 25th man on the roster nor should they. I wouldn’t hold my breath for a meaningful trade. A trade like the Ackley trade represents the best case scenario. Young-ish and versatile players are hard to get.

Free Agenchahahah

Here is the list of current free agent first basemen, via MLBTR:

Jeff Baker (35)
Corey Hart (34)
Justin Morneau (35)
Mike Morse (34)

Hart’s knees are shot and he hasn’t faced live pitching since last June. Morneau had elbow surgery in the offseason and won’t be able to swing a bat until next month, according to LaVelle E. Neal. Baker hasn’t hit much the last few seasons and he literally handed out clown noses in the clubhouse to make fun of the Marlins front office last year. Good luck getting a job after that.

Then there’s Morse, who went 0-for-8 with the Pirates last month before being released. He was traded from the Marlins to the Dodgers to the Pirates last year, so I’m not sure who is paying what percentage of his $8.5M salary, but it doesn’t really matter. Because he was released, the Yankees (or any other team) can sign him for the pro-rated portion of the league minimum. Someone else is paying the rest of that $8.5M.

Morse did not hit last year (83 wRC+), not even against lefties (93 wRC+), and he’s 34 and only getting older. That said, he can play first base and handle right field in an emergency. He’s not the best free agent option. He’s the only free agent option. Oh, and by the way, he hasn’t faced live pitching in nearly two months now, so yeah. Morse is not exactly game ready. Free agency doesn’t offer much help.

* * *

Swisher reportedly has an opt-out date in his contract sometime in June and that could very well play a role in the team’s decision. Would the Yankees call up Parmelee knowing they could lose Swisher in a few weeks? That would leave them with no true Triple-A first baseman. Parmelee is likely the better player right now, but he might be the least roster and depth friendly option too.

My guess is the Yankees are going to roll with Romine as the backup first baseman for a few weeks and hope Teixeira’s neck doesn’t act up. Refsnyder will probably start working out at first too because, really, what do the Yankees have to lose? Taking grounders and throws before games only makes sense. Swisher could force the Yankees to make a decision with his opt-out, though his production doesn’t scream “call me up!”

Make no mistake, the Yankees aren’t going anywhere unless Teixeira starts hitting and soon. If they have to turn to their backup first baseman regularly at any point from here on out, they’re in big trouble. That was true even if Ackley stayed healthy. Expect them to scour the waiver wire these coming weeks for a potential backup at first. Chance are the best possible solution is already in-house.

Offense struggles again in 4-2 loss to Blue Jays


Source: FanGraphs

The 4-2 final score makes Monday’s series opening loss seem closer than it really was. The Yankees mustered very little offense most of the night before making noise against some bad Blue Jays relievers in the ninth. They actually brought the tying run to the plate, but alas. The Yankees have lost four of their last six games and they were one-hit in one of the wins, so yeah. Not great. It’s a holiday, so let’s recap with bullet points:

  • Two Token Runs: On a night Toronto’s bullpen was way thin due to their recent workload, the Yankees let Marco Estrada complete eight innings on 108 total pitches. It wasn’t until the eighth that he threw more than 16 pitches in an inning. Good job, good effort. Estrada held the Yankees to three hits (Jacoby Ellsbury, Carlos Beltran, Aaron Hicks) and three walks (Ellsbury, Starlin Castro twice). At one point from Saturday to Monday the Yankees had four hits in the span of 18 innings.
  • Nope-va: Ivan Nova was bound to have a subpar outing at some point, and I guess it’s good it came on a night the offense mustered little. Two birds, one stone. The Blue Jays tagged Nova for four runs on eight hits (five extra-base hits!) and a walk in six innings. He managed to give up a loud double and an opposite field homer to Ryan Goins, which is terrible and sums up the state of the Yankees. Toronto’s light-hitting No. 9 hitter nearly out-produced the entire New York offense. Ivan’s been pretty good since moving back into the rotation. Duds happen. You’re excused.
  • Late Rally: A Brian McCann two-run homer got the Yankees on the board in the ninth. It snapped his career long tying 0-for-21 streak. Mark Teixeira followed with a loud double to right, so that’s cool. He wasn’t hitting the ball very hard before this recent neck issue. Castro (fly out) and Chase Headley (strikeout) batted as the tying run following Teixeira’s double and failed to reach. I guess this means the O’Neill Theory is in effect Tuesday? The Yankees better hope so.
  • Leftovers: Nick Goody retired Jose Bautista (strikeout), Josh Donaldson (pop-up), and Edwin Encarnacion (strikeout) … Richard Bleier made his MLB debut and retired the two batters he faced. Bleier’s no kid. He’s 29. Congrats to him … Castro drawing two walks is pretty rare. This was his 940th career game and only his 11th (!) with two unintentional walks. Crazy.

Here’s the box score, video highlights, and updated standings. Don’t miss our Bullpen Workload and Announcer Standings pages either. Lefties CC Sabathia and J.A. Happ will be on the mound in the second game of the series Tuesday night. Will the offense give Sabathia any support? Probably not, but maybe they’ll surprise me.

DotF: Holder’s hitting streak snapped in Charleston’s loss

Triple-A Scranton (5-3 loss to Durham)

  • CF Ben Gamel: 0-4, 1 BB, 1 K
  • RF Aaron Judge: 0-5, 2 K — he’s 7-for-49 (.143) with a 30.9% strikeout rate in his last 13 games
  • DH Nick Swisher: 2-5, 1 2B, 1 K — think he heard Dustin Ackley‘s going to miss an extended period of time?
  • 1B Chris Parmelee: 2-3, 1 R, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 BB — I repeat: think he heard Dustin Ackley’s going to miss an extended period of time?
  • RHP Brady Lail: 6 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 4 K, 5/3 GB/FB — 58 of 97 pitches were strikes (60%)
  • LHP Neal Cotts: 0.2 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 0 K, 1 HB, 0/2 GB/FB — ten of 16 pitches were strikes (63%)
  • RHP Johnny Barbato: 1 IP, 1 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 2 K, 0/1 GB/FB — 17 of 28 pitches were strikes (61%)

[Read more…]

Game 50: Memorial Day

(Photo Credit: Flickr user Global Voyager)
(Photo Credit: Flickr user Global Voyager)

I don’t know about you, but a night game on Memorial Day just feels wrong. Blame Canada, I guess. The Yankees are in Toronto for three games this week, the first of which they’ll play tonight. The Blue Jays won two of three in the first two series of the season between these clubs. It would be nice if the Yankees could reverse that this time around. Here’s the Jays’ lineup and here’s the Yanks’ lineup:

  1. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  2. LF Brett Gardner
  3. DH Carlos Beltran
  4. C Brian McCann
  5. 1B Mark Teixeira
  6. 2B Starlin Castro
  7. 3B Chase Headley
  8. SS Didi Gregorius
  9. RF Aaron Hicks
    RHP Ivan Nova

It’s warm and sunny in Toronto, so the Rogers Centre roof figures to open. Imagine playing a night game in Canada with the roof closed on Memorial Day. How un-American. Anyway, tonight’s game will begin a little after 7pm ET and you can watch on YES locally and MLB Network nationally. Enjoy.

Yankees send Severino to Triple-A, place Ackley on DL

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

5:21pm: Joe Girardi told reporters this afternoon Ackley has a torn labrum in his shoulder and may need surgery. Ouch. Here’s the play where Ackley got hurt:

Dustin Ackley injury

The labrum tear likely ends his season, right? This definitely won’t be a short-term injury. If it does end his season, it figures to end his Yankees career too. Ackley was a prime non-tender candidate this coming offseason. Expect the Yankees to look for a backup first baseman in the coming weeks.

2:21pm: The Yankees have placed utility player Dustin Ackley on the 15-day DL with a dislocated right shoulder, the team announced today. Rob Refsnyder has been recalled to fill the roster spot. Also, the Yankees activated Luis Severino off the DL and optioned him to Triple-A Scranton.

The Severino move is far more notable. He made his first minor league rehab start last night, throwing three scoreless innings with High-A Tampa. Rather than keep him on rehab, the Yankees activated Severino and sent him to Triple-A, meaning he won’t accrue service time. By my unofficial count, 72 days in minors will delay his free agency a year.

Needless to say, the Yankees hope they don’t need to keep Severino in the minors for 72 days. They want him healthy and effective and in their big league rotation. He’s healthy. They wouldn’t have activated him if he weren’t. But effective? Who knows. Severino had a 7.46 ERA (5.48 FIP) in seven starts and 35 innings before the triceps injury. His command in particular was awful.

Aside from Michael Pineda, the Yankees have been getting good to great work from their rotation the last few weeks. Chad Green and Luis Cessa are available as depth options, so they don’t need to rush Severino back, which is good. He’s extremely important to the franchise going forward and they have to get him right. I’m on board with the Triple-A stint. It was time.

As for Ackley, he hurt himself diving back into first base on a pickoff throw yesterday. Mason Williams separated his shoulder the same way last year. (Williams eventually needed surgery.) With Ackley out and Refsnyder up, Austin Romine takes over as the backup first baseman by default. Mark Teixeira is expected to return to the starting lineup tonight after missing a few games with a neck problem.

5/30 to 6/1 Series Preview: Toronto Blue Jays

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

The Blue Jays again? The Blue Jays again. These two teams met in New York last week and now they’ll play three games in Toronto. This is their third series of the season overall and their second at Rogers Centre. The Yankees won the first game and dropped the next two in each of the first two series against the Blue Jays this year. Stop that. Win this series, please.

What Have They Done Lately?

While the Yankees were winning two of three in Tampa, the Blue Jays took two of three from the Red Sox at home. They did drop the series finale yesterday though. The Blue Jays have won seven of their last ten games overall and are 26-26 on the season with a +3 run differential. They’re in third place and the Yankees are a half-game back despite having one fewer loss.

Offense & Defense

Toronto is getting hot, folks. It was bound to happen eventually. They’ve scored 31 runs in their last five games, raising their season averages to 4.17 runs per game and a team 97 wRC+. SS Troy Tulowitzki (81 wRC+) is on the DL with a quad strain he suffered at Yankee Stadium last week, so he won’t be back this series. 1B Chris Colabello is out too. He’s still serving his performance-enhancing drug suspension.

(Tom Szczerbowski/Getty)
(Tom Szczerbowski/Getty)

As we saw last week, the Blue Jays have rearranged their lineup in an effort to generate more offense. RF Jose Bautista (138 wRC+) now bats leadoff with 3B Josh Donaldson (141 wRC+) and DH Edwin Encarnacion (105 wRC+) right behind them. They don’t wait around. They throw the thunder right at you. No sense in forcing a speedy leadoff hitter when you don’t have one, right? Right. LF Michael Saunders (148 wRC+) and 1B Justin Smoak (122 wRC+) back up the big bats as the No. 4 and 5 hitters.

2B Devon Travis (56 wRC+) came off the DL in New York last week and effectively replaces Tulowitzki in the lineup. IF Ryan Goins (15 wRC+) slid over from second to short. C Russell Martin (43 wRC+) is having a poor season despite those two homers he hit in the Bronx last week. CF Kevin Pillar (67 wRC+) is the other regular. C Josh Thole (24 wRC+), IF Darwin Barney (122 wRC+), OF Ezequiel Carrera (159 wRC+), and UTIL Jimmy Paredes (141 wRC+) are the bench players.

Even with Tulowitzki out, the Blue Jays have a strong team defense, with top notch defenders at third (Donaldson), short (Goins), center (Pillar), and catcher (Martin). Smoak, Travis, and Saunders are solid glovemen as well. Bautista is the weak link in the field and he’s not exactly Carlos Beltran out there. His arm his strong but his range is a little limited. Overall, this team can really catch the ol’ baseball.

Pitching Matchups

Monday (7pm ET): RHP Ivan Nova (vs. TOR) vs. RHP Marco Estrada (vs. NYY)
The 32-year-old Estrada is one of the most unconventionally effective pitchers in the game. He has a 2.76 ERA (3.85 FIP) in nine starts and 58.2 innings despite sitting around 88 mph with his fastball. Estrada disrupts timing expertly with an upper-70s changeup that he throws with the same arm action as his heater. By time you’re able to tell the two pitches apart, it’s too late. You’ve started your swing already. Estrada has a good strikeout rate (22.0%) and not so good walk (9.8%) and grounder (37.6%) rates. Most of his fly balls are weak pop-ups though, which is why his homer rate (0.92 HR/9) is roughly league average. Estrada will throw some upper-80s cutters and mid-70s curves per start, and he’s typically more effective against righties than lefties. Last week he held the Yankees to three runs in seven innings.

Tuesday (7pm ET): LHP CC Sabathia (vs. TOR) vs. LHP J.A. Happ (vs. NYY)
There is growing evidence that when Pirates pitching coach Ray Searage fixes a pitcher, he stays fixed. Francisco Liriano and Edinson Volquez were dynamite under his watch — Volquez left the Pirates and he’s still very good — and last year Happ was outstanding following a midseason trade to Pittsburgh. He’s continued to be outstanding with the Blue Jays this year. Happ, 33, had a 3.20 ERA (4.29 FIP) in ten starts and 64.2 innings this season despite middling peripherals: 16.3% strikeouts, 7.8% walks, 44.4% grounders, and 0.97 HR/9. He’s been better against lefties than righties, as expected. Happ throws low-90s four-seamers, low-90s sinkers, mid-80s changeups, and upper-70s curves. Last week the Yankees scored just one run in seven innings against the veteran southpaw.

(Hannah Foslien/Getty)
(Hannah Foslien/Getty)

Wednesday (7pm ET): RHP Masahiro Tanaka (vs. TOR) vs. RHP Aaron Sanchez (vs. NYY)
The 23-year-old Sanchez is starting to get the hang of this starting pitcher thing. He has a 3.29 ERA (3.24 FIP) in ten starts and 65.2 innings this season, and he’s done it by combining strikeouts (21.5%) and grounders (59.7%). His walk rate (8.5%) is okay and he keeps the ball in the park (0.55 HR/9). Sanchez lives off his mid-90s sinker and he backs it up with an upper-70s curveball and an improving upper-80s changeup. The changeup is still a work in progress, but it is getting better. Lefties still give him trouble when he can’t keep the change down. Sanchez held New York to two runs (one earned) in six innings back in April. He did not face them in the Bronx last week.

Bullpen Status

The Red Sox did the Yankees a real solid this weekend by taxing Toronto’s bullpen. They played eleven innings yesterday and manager John Gibbons had to get 11.2 total innings out of his bullpen in the three games, and most of them were high-leverage innings. Here is the status of their relief crew and the number of pitches they threw against the BoSox:

Role ERA FIP Sunday Saturday Friday
RHP Roberto Osuna Closer 1.17 2.20 19 0 13
RHP Gavin Floyd Setup 3.91 4.46 18 15 0
RHP Jesse Chavez Middle 3.36 5.42 24 9 0
RHP Drew Storen Middle 7.02 4.97 14 17 0
LHP Aaron Loup LOOGY 0.00 -2.89 0 9 0
LHP Chad Girodo LOOGY 4.82 7.91 7 0 0
RHP Joe Biagini Long 0.91 2.51 26 0 20

(Don’t read to much into Loup’s stats. He recently came off the DL and has thrown two-thirds of an inning this season.)

Osuna has pitched four times in the last five days. This is a 21-year-old kid we’re talking about. I can’t imagine he will be available tonight. The Blue Jays want to protect his arm and sending him out there five times in the span of six days is just … no. No. Not happening. Biagini has pitched four times in the last six days as well.

Estrada is mighty good, but, given the status of Toronto’s bullpen, the Yankees have to be patient tonight and get Estrada’s pitch count up. Gibbons’ only two fresh relievers are lefty specialists. Getting to the bullpen as early as possible will help the Yankees tonight and over the rest of the series as well. This bullpen is capital-T Taxed. I wouldn’t be surprised if they made a roster move to add a fresh long man before tonight’s game.

As for the Yankees, their bullpen is in pretty good shape. Joe Girardi should have his three big end-game arms tonight if necessary. Head on over to our Bullpen Workload page to see how many pitches each of New York’s relievers have thrown over the last ten days.