Friday Night Open Thread

The Yankees are out on the West Coast this weekend, which means they don’t play until much later tonight. I imagine tonight’s game, a 10:40pm ET start (!) on the Friday of a holiday weekend against a nondescript interleague opponent, will be among the least watched games of the season. I wouldn’t blame you at all if you skipped this one.

Anyway, here is the open thread until the regular game thread comes along in a few hours. The Mets are playing the Cubs, and it appears that is the only nationally televised game tonight (MLB Network). There’s some serious rain in the forecast though, so that one might not be played. If it is, talk about that game, this photo of Yulieski Gurriel wearing Yankees gear, or anything else right here.

7/1 to 7/3 Series Preview: San Diego Padres

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

It’s time for a ten-day, ten-game, three-city, three-time zone road trip to close out the first half. The Yankees will play the first three of those ten games this weekend in San Diego, home of the 2016 All-Star Game. Believe it or not, this is only the second third time the Yankees are visiting the Padres during interleague play. They lost two of three in Petco Park back in 2013 and won two of three at Qualcomm Stadium in 2002. Of course, there’s that whole 1998 World Series thing too. The Yankees had some success in San Diego that year. Also, this is Chase Headley‘s first trip back to the Petco Park since being traded to New York.

What Have They Done Lately?

The Padres were playing so poorly earlier this year that executive chairman Ron Fowler called his players “miserable failures.” He also called James Shields an “embarrassment” after a poor start and traded him a few days later, so yeah. Not the best season in San Diego. Anyway, the Padres have lost their lost three games and are 33-46 with a -55 run differential overall. That’s the fifth worst record and sixth worst run differential in baseball.

Offense & Defense

Petco Park is a pretty big ballpark — it still is even after the walls were brought in a few years back — and as a result the Padres always seem to have a below-average offense. They’re scoring 4.29 runs per game with a team 88 wRC+ this season. Rookie skipper Andy Green is without two of his regulars: OF Jon Jay (108 wRC+) is out with a broken forearm and 2B Cory Spangenberg (82 wRC+) has a quad strain. 2B Jemile Weeks (11 wRC+) is out with a hamstring problem too. None are coming back this series.

Yangervis. (Kent Horner/Getty)
Yangervis. (Kent Horner/Getty)

San Diego has a legitimate blossoming star in 1B Wil Myers (137 wRC+), who won the AL Rookie of the Year award with the Rays a few years back. He’s finally healthy after battling wrist problems the last few years, so he’s starting to come into his own as an impact hitter. Myers usually bats second with OF B.J. Melvin Upton Jr. (100 wRC+) leading off and RF Matt Kemp (94 wRC+) hitting third. Ex-Yankee IF Yangervis Solarte (121 wRC+) is the cleanup hitter. What’s Solarte going to hit against the Yankees this weekend, about .750? That sounds about right.

SS Alexei Ramirez (67 wRC+), 3B Brett Wallace (103 wRC+), and C Derek Norris (74 wRC+) are Green’s other regulars. OF Travis Jankowski (91 wRC+) and OF Alex Dickerson (76 wRC+) are filling in while Jay is on the DL. On the bench are C Christian Bethancourt (100 wRC+), UTIL Alexi Amarista (63 wRC+), UTIL Adam Rosales (87 wRC+), and UTIL Ryan Schimpf (45 wRC+). It feels like it’s been forever since the Yankees faced a team with a normal seven-man bullpen and four-man bench. Well, five man bench in this case. Silly NL.

San Diego’s defense is collectively below-average, and in Kemp they have one of the worst defensive outfielders in the game. He’s Carlos Beltran-esque despite being eight years younger than Carlos. Jankowski is a tremendous outfielder and is the team’s best defender by a mile. Upton, Solarte, and Ramirez are average at their positions. Wallace is a first baseman playing third. Myers is better at first than in the outfield but he’s still learning the nuances of the position. Both Norris and Bethancourt can shut down the running game.

Pitching Probables

Friday (10:40pm ET): RHP Nathan Eovaldi (vs. SD) vs. RHP Colin Rea (No vs. NYY)
You know, right before the season I half-jokingly predicted Rea would throw the first no-hitter in Padres history this year. Wouldn’t it be something if he does it against the Yankees tonight? Today’s his 26th birthday too. A birthday no-hitter against the Yankees that some idiot blogger called three months ago? That would be the most 2016 Yankees thing ever. Rea has a 5.05 ERA (4.29 FIP) in 76.2 innings spread across 14 starts and one relief appearance this year. He has an average grounder rate (45.3%) and a better than average homer rate (0.82 HR/9), but his strikeout (17.9%) and walk (9.7%) numbers leave a little something to be desired. Rea has a small platoon split because he’s a true five-pitch pitcher. He sits in the 92-94 mph range with his four-seamer and sinker, and a notch below that with his cutter. An upper-70s curveball is his go-to offspeed pitch. Rea also throws a mid-80s changeup. He throws everything regularly too.

Saturday (10:10pm ET): RHP Ivan Nova (vs. SD) vs. LHP Drew Pomeranz (vs. NYY)
Along with Myers, the 27-year-old Pomeranz has been the brightest spot on an otherwise nondescript Padres team. The fifth overall pick in the 2010 draft — he was drafted by the Indians, traded to the Rockies for Ubaldo Jimenez, traded to the Athletics for Brett Anderson, and traded to the Padres for Yonder Alonso — has a 2.76 ERA (3.36 FIP) in 15 starts and 88 innings this year, and he’s been able to stay healthy, which has not always been the case. He’s had some injury trouble over the years. That always held him back. Pomeranz has a fantastic strikeout rate (28.4%) and good grounder (46.7%) and homer (0.83 HR/9) numbers, though he does walk a few too many (10.9%). The walks are the only real downside. Thanks to his big-breaking upper-70s curveball and upper-80s cutter, Pomeranz actually performs better against righties than lefties. His straight four-seamer sits in the low-90s and his changeup in the mid-80s. The curve is what got Pomeranz drafted so high. He has one heck of a yakker.

Pomeranz. (Denis Poroy/Getty)
Pomeranz. (Denis Poroy/Getty)

Sunday (4:40pm ET): RHP Chad Green (No vs. SD) vs. RHP Andrew Cashner (vs. NYY)
This could very well end up being one of Cashner’s last starts as a Padre. They got him from the Cubs for Anthony Rizzo a few years back (oops), and he’s scheduled to become a free agent after the season, so the rebuilding Padres figure to make Cashner available at the trade deadline. He’s been out with a neck issue and will come off the DL to make this start. Cashner has a 4.75 ERA (4.75 FIP!) in eleven starts and 53 innings around the neck injury this year. His homer (1.02 HR/9) and grounder (50.3%) rates are in line with his career norms, but he’s missing fewer bats (15.3 K%) and issuing more free passes (9.3%) than he has in recent years, and he has a big reverse split, which is the exact opposite of the rest of his career. Cashner still throws really hard, sitting in the mid-90s with his four-seamer and sinker — the four-seamer has topped out at 99.3 mph this season — while using a hard low-90s slider as his primary secondary pitch. He throws a few upper-80s changeups and low-80s curves per start but they aren’t consistently reliable weapons for him.

Bullpen Status

Just yesterday the Padres traded closer RHP Fernando Rodney, who was having a really great year (0.31 ERA and 2.33 FIP), to the Marlins for a RHP Chris Paddack, a quality prospect. His MLB.com scouting report is right here. Miami did other sellers a favor by setting the bar really high for rental relievers.

Anyway, I’m not sure who will replace Rodney as closer. Here is San Diego’s bullpen at the moment:

Setup: LHP Ryan Buchter (2.91 ERA/2.75 FIP)
Middle: RHP Brandon Maurer (5.73/4.33), RHP Kevin Quackenbush (3.55/4.89), LHP Matt Thornton (3.48/2.49)
Long: LHP Brad Hand (3.53/3.40), RHP Carlos Villanueva (4.53/4.52)

It’s probably safe to assume Buchter will go from setup man to closer in the wake of the Rodney trade, but Thornton (an ex-Yankee) has closing experience and Quackenbush spent a few weeks as the team’s closer in 2014. Green may prefer someone with some closing experience in that role. Manager’s do stuff like that all the time. We’ll see.

The Padres will have to call someone up to today to fill Rodney’s roster spot, but they’re then going to have to send someone down Sunday when Cashner comes off the DL, so whoever gets called up might not be around very long. There’s been talk the Padres will go with a six-man rotation once Cashner returns. That doesn’t really matter to the Yankees though. They’ll be out of town by time that decision is made.

San Diego had an off-day yesterday, so their bullpen is relatively fresh. Our Bullpen Workload page shows you the status of the Yankees’ bullpen, so check that out. Joe Girardi has used his big three relievers quite a bit of late. Dellin Betances, Andrew Miller, and Aroldis Chapman all pitched yesterday and have each pitched five times in the last nine days. They’re going to need a break at some point.

Yankeemetrics: Riding the .500 roller coaster [June 27-30]

(Photo credit: Getty Images)
(Photo credit: Getty Images)

Mother Nature 1, Yankees 0
In a season filled with crushing losses, embarrassing performances, horrible blown leads and frustrating games, Monday’s contest against the Rangers just might surpass them all. It will certainly go down in the record books as one of the most surreal games played at Yankee Stadium, and likely one of the most deflating defeats in recent years. Joe Girardi summed it in his postgame comments to reporters:

“It’s hard for me to understand what happened tonight, how it got to this point. But it did, and we lost.”

The two teams played through a rainstorm that got progressively worse during the night, until the umpires finally called for the tarp in the ninth inning with Aroldis Chapman on the mound to protect a 6-5 Yankees advantage.

chapman rain
(Getty)

When the delay finally ended 3 hours and 35 minutes later, the closer was on the bench and Kirby Yates was in to save the game.

Instead, he suffered an unprecedented meltdown on the mound, coughing up the lead as he hit three batters and surrendered three runs before getting the final out of the ninth.

Yates became the first pitcher in more than 100 years to hit at least three batters, pitch no more than one inning and get tagged with the loss. The last guy to do it was Earl Moore of the Buffalo Buffeds in a Federal League game on June 17, 1914 against the Indianapolis Hoosiers.

As unwatchable as the Yankees middle relief has been in the past few years, they’ve still maintained a lockdown back of the bullpen to close out games. So what happens when you’re forced to call upon that dicey non-Big 3 reliever to try and seal a win? You get an incredibly rare loss for the Yankees.

This was the first time the Yankees lost a game when taking a lead into the ninth inning since June 1, 2014 against the Twins. They had won 160 straight games in that situation, including a 34-0 mark this year and an 81-0 mark last season.

The Hangover
The best thing to be said about Tuesday’s lifeless 7-1 defeat was that it only took 2 hours and 37 minutes. Alas, here’s a few more words about the utterly forgettable loss.

CC Sabathia made one mistake in the first inning — a two-run homer to Adrian Beltre — but then retired 18 of 21 batters in the second through seventh innings. The large lefty unraveled in the eighth inning, however, as the first four guys reached base before he was pulled from the game.

It was the first time all season he threw a pitch in the eighth inning, and predictably, things didn’t go well as Sabathia was ultimately charged with six runs in seven innings. He has allowed 11 earned runs in his last two starts (11 1/3 innings), compared four earned runs allowed in his previous seven starts (44 innings).

It appears that Sabathia is experiencing some regression in his fly ball luck. Through his first 11 starts of the season he allowed two homers and had an incredibly low homer-to-flyball ratio of 3.1 percent. He’s now surrendered a homer in each of his last two starts, and while his fly ball rate remained unchanged, his homer-to-flyball ratio shot up to 14.3 percent in that span.

(Photo credit: Getty Images)
(Photo credit: Getty Images)

The Miracle on 161st Street and River Avenue
Buried in the standings and left for dead by much of the New York media, the Yankees pulled off arguably the most stunning win of the season — and perhaps its biggest so far — on Wednesday night, staging an epic comeback for the ages to beat the Rangers 9-7.

Trailing by five runs with five outs to go and three runs with two outs to go, the Yankees capped off a furious ninth inning rally with a pair of dramatic home runs, snatching victory from the jaws of defeat and breathing life into a team on the brink of irrelevance.

The win came with a few notable milestones:

  • it was their largest comeback win of the season
  • it was their first win this season when trailing entering the ninth inning (and it came less than 48 hours after they lost their first game in two years when leading entering the ninth inning!)
  • it was the first time they erased a deficit of at least four runs in the ninth inning or later since Sept. 22, 2012 against Oakland
  • it was their third win when trailing by four or more runs in the seventh inning or later in the past two weeks, after having only two such wins in the previous three seasons combined

The two biggest blows came from the bats of Brian McCann, who tied the game with a towering three-run homer in the final frame, and Didi Gregorius, who won the game with his first career walk-off shot. If that sounds like a rare type of rally … you’d be correct.

It was the first time since at least 1930 that the Yankees hit a game-tying homer when trailing by at least three runs in the ninth inning and then ended the game with a walk-off homer.

McCann became just the fourth Yankee in the past 70 seasons with a game-tying homer when facing a deficit of at least three runs at Yankee Stadium. He joins the illustrious group of Shelley Duncan (Aug. 15, 2007), Tino Martinez (July 2, 1998), and Joe DiMaggio (July 31, 1937 and Aug. 29, 1940).

Didi also put himself in some nice company with his historic blast. Only four other Yankee shortstops have hit a walk-off homer in the past 85 seasons: Derek Jeter (April 5, 2005 and Game 4 of the 2001 World Series), Gene Michael (June 23, 1971), Mickey Mantle (July 22, 1954 in a game he started in center field and then moved to shortstop in the ninth inning) and Phil Rizzuto (April 23, 1941).

(Photo credit: Joseph D. Sullivan)
(Photo credit: Joseph D. Sullivan)

Be Like Mike
What’s better than a walk-off win against the best team in the AL? How about two of them in a row. The Yankees beat the Rangers, 2-1, on Thursday afternoon thanks to a passed ball in the bottom of the ninth that scored Chase Headley from third base.

This was just the second time in the last 50 years that the Yankees enjoyed a walk-off win via a passed ball; the other game was April 27, 2012 versus the Tigers.

It was also their second straight victory in walk-off fashion (duh), third on this nine-game homestand (also June 22 vs. Rockies) and fourth of the season. The last time the Yankees had three walk-off wins in a span of fewer than 10 days was May 15-23, 2009, when they had back-to-back-to-back (!) walk-off wins against the Twins and one six days later against the Phillies.

The uplifting victory wouldn’t have been possible without another stellar performance from Michael Pineda, who finished with 12 strikeouts and one run allowed on two hits. It was the 13th time in last 100 years that a Yankee pitcher struck out at least 12 batters while giving up no more than two hits and one run — but only once before had that pitcher also not been credited with the win, like Pineda. On April 11, 1997, David Cone tossed seven scoreless innings and had 12 strikeouts against the A’s in a game the Yankees lost 3-1.

Pineda capped off an excellent June (2.75 ERA in six starts) with perhaps his two best outings of the season: a two-hit, one-run, eight-strikeout effort on June 25 against the Twins and Thursday’s two-hit, one-run, 12-strikeout masterpiece. He’s the third Yankee in the last century to strike out at least eight batters and allow no more than two hits in back-to-back starts, matching David Cone (1997) and Al Downing (1965).

His stuff was especially nasty when he got into two-strike counts, as he induced a swing-and-miss on strike three for all 12 of his punch outs. Pineda is just the fourth pitcher in baseball this season to record 12 swinging strikeouts in a game, along with Clayton Kershaw (12 on June 10), Vince Velasquez (13 on April 14) and Max Scherzer (14 on May 11). No other Yankee pitcher has done that in a game since at least 2008 (the Pitch f/x era).

Mailbag: Stanton, Webb, Bird, Degano, A-Rod, 1st Rounders

Only nine questions in the mailbag this week — “only” nine, I should say — and that’s because some of the answers are a bit longer than usual. As always, RABmailbag (at) gmail (dot) com is the place to send us anything. Questions, links, comments, whatever.

(Duane Burleson/Getty)
I’m not sure how to feel about Stanton and Barry having an awkward fist bump/high five moment. (Duane Burleson/Getty)

James asks: I heard Harold Reynolds on MLB tonight say the Yankees need to go out and get Stanton. While I don’t think it will ever happen, what do you think it would take to make that happen, and do you think they should do it?

Giancarlo Stanton has come out of his ugly slump — he went into last night’s game on a 16-for-45 (.356) hot streak in his last eleven games, with three homers — but man, that slump had to scare the crap out of the Marlins. He went 12-for-102 (.118) with a 41.7% strikeout rate in 29 games, so it lasted a month. There’s still $314M (!) left on his contract through 2027 (!!!). It’s no sure thing he’ll use that opt-out after 2020.

Stanton is still only 26 years old, so he still has a ton of prime years left. And the guy hit .265/.346/.606 (152 wRC+) with 27 homers in 74 games just last year. In a huge ballpark. The guy missed half the season because of a broken bone in his wrist and he still finished tenth in the NL in homers. You can count the number of players capable of doing this …

… on one hand. I am definitely intrigued by the possibility of buying low on Stanton, assuming the recent slump has soured the Marlins on him so much that they’re willing to trade him for pennies on the dollar just to get out from under the contract. The Yankees have money and almost all their big contracts are coming off the books within the next two years, so it should work financially.

Here’s a fun thought: Jacoby Ellsbury for Stanton. The Marlins would save more than $200M and get a productive two-way player in return. The Yankees get the better and younger player, but absorb all the risk associated with a contract that runs through 2027. There’s always a chance Stanton follows the Mark Reynolds career path and goes from the top young slugger in baseball to a replacement level player who struggles to make contact.

Me? I say what the hell, go for it, even if the trade involves other players. Then again, it isn’t my money. Would you do, say, Aaron Judge for Stanton and his contract? Players like Stanton are rare and special. My guess is the Marlins are not yet willing to trade Giancarlo despite that scary slump the last few weeks. He’s still the face of the franchise.

Michael asks: Now that all top ten picks but Rutherford have signed, if the Yankees used all remaining pool money to sign Rutherford, would that preclude the Yanks from then trying to sign someone like Linginfelter to an overslot bonus to lure him away from college?

First rounder Blake Rutherford has signed since this question was sent in. He received a $3.282M bonus, which is pretty much the most the Yankees could give him while still staying under their bonus pool plus the 5% overage. They have $177 in bonus pool space remaining, as our Draft Tracker shows. The Yankees have maxed out their bonus pool plus the 5% overage every year since the system was put in place.

The Yankees could still sign some late round picks to over-slot bonuses. The bonus pool is not a hard cap. The problem is if they so spend over — specifically, if they give a late rounder more than $100,177 — they have to forfeit next year’s first round pick, and that’s just not worth it. Zach Linginfelter, a potential first rounder who fell to New York in the 16th round due to bonus demands, was always a long shot to sign. It’s not worth signing him now and blowing next year’s draft. Not team has ever surrendered a future first rounder in the draft pool era.

Chris asks: What’s your thoughts on Tyler Webb?  We saw him last night pitching for the Rail Riders and we followed him with the Gamecocks. Would just like to hear your take on him, thanks.

Webb, 25, was a senior sign as a tenth round pick back in 2013, so he was a bonus pool saving pick. The Yankees gave him a $30,000 bonus and saved about $100,000 in pool money, which went to Judge’s over-slot bonus. Webb shot up the ladder in a hurry — he reached Triple-A the year after being drafted — and has performed well all throughout the minors. So far this year he has a 3.35 ERA (2.61 FIP) in 43 innings.

Soon after the draft Webb was labeled a finesse right-hander left-hander and that has unfairly stuck. PitchFX data from the Arizona Fall League last year has him averaging 93.3 mph with his fastball. He also has a slider and a changeup, and these days the changeup is the more reliable pitch. The Yankees have actually started him a few times this year because he has three pitches and throws enough strikes.

Webb is going to be Rule 5 Draft eligible after the season and he’s a lock to get picked as a lefty who throws reasonably hard and has had success in Triple-A. My guess is the Yankees add him to the 40-man roster. I’m not sure Webb will be more than a middle innings lefty because neither the slider nor the changeup are legitimate put-away pitches, but he should be able to carve out a lengthy career for himself. He’s a nice little find in the tenth round.

(Presswire)
Webb and his changeup. (Presswire)

Paul asks: The Sir Didi trade has been wildly successful in my eyes. I’m trying to think of the last time a trade went that well. Swisher? I guess Chapman counts?

Yeah, the Didi Gregorius trade has worked out spectacularly. I was skeptical about his bat at the time of the trade and I was really impressed by Shane Greene‘s half-season in pinstripes, but it’s hard to complain about that deal now. The Yankees would do that trade again all day, every day. It’s worked out so, so well.

The Nick Swisher trade was a total heist and it looked that way from day one. There was some uncertainty with the Didi trade. Not Swisher. That was one of Brian Cashman‘s best trades. Michael Pineda hasn’t been great by any means, but the Yankees came out ahead in that deal. They got him for two sub-replacement level players the Mariners ended up giving away.

The Aroldis Chapman deal was the result of extenuating circumstances, so I have a tough time giving the Yankees credit for “winning” that one. That was the Reds saying “get this guy out of here,” not “this trade makes us better for the future.” It’s been a while since the Yankees were on the wrong end of a lopsided trade. Tyler Clippard jumps to mind. And I guess Mark Melancon for Lance Berkman too.

Jackson asks: Is there much of a history of players who suffered the same injury as Bird, and if so, a.) to what extent were those players able to re-attain their pre injury levels of play, if ever, and b) how long did it take to get back into a ML game fully recovered ? Examples?

Yeah, there’s been a bunch. In fact, Brian McCann had the same injury (a torn labrum) a few years ago. He played through it in 2012, had the worst season of his career, then had the surgery in October. McCann returned to the field in early-May 2013, so it was eight months from date of surgery to return to MLB. Matt Kemp and Adrian Gonzalez had the same injury and returned to the field in seven months. I’m guessing McCann’s rehab was a little longer because he’s a catcher and the injury was to his throwing shoulder.

Bird had surgery in February, so the 7-8 month timetable would put him on track to return in September or October. Chances are the Yankees will play it safe, so I don’t expect to see him in a game this year. (Maybe he’ll go to the Arizona Fall League for at-bats.) These injuries we’re talking about here are to the hitter’s front shoulder, the power shoulder. Both Kemp and Gonzalez saw a noticeable dip in power immediately after the surgery, and it never quite came all the way back. At the same time, McCann has shown no ill-effects at all. Here’s a quick chart I whipped up following Bird’s injury:

McCann Kemp Gonzalez ISO

McCann really is the best case scenario for Bird. He returned following his shoulder surgery the same player he was before getting hurt. No loss in power, didn’t lose anything off his arm, nothing. The same McCann returned.

The timing of the injury could actually be a positive for Bird’s rehab. McCann, Kemp, and Gonzalez all had their surgeries after the season and were racing against the clock trying to get back for Opening Day. Bird got hurt in February and is going to miss the season. Once he’s done rehabbing, he’ll still have an entire offseason to strengthen his shoulder and whatnot.

Dan asks: Is it fair to blame the Yanks indecision on selling on the second wild card?  They’re 3.5 back of Boston for the first Wild Card.  If there was only one wild card, would they already be selling?

I don’t think you can blame the team’s indecision on the second wildcard exclusively. The Royals and Red Sox currently sit in the two wildcard spots and they have identical 42-36 records, so the Yankees are three games back of both. There’s no difference between the first and second wildcard races at the moment. The presence of the second wildcard is surely a factor, but it’s not the factor. The Yankees aren’t selling because their brand is built on winning, and selling really isn’t in their DNA. They’d hold off on selling even with only one wildcard spot.

Anonymous asks: I see that Jeff Degano repeating short season ball (effectively rookie league) at Pulaski this year after pitching at Staten Island last year. This seems like a very cautious approach; the Yankees have been more aggressive with college-tested pitchers in recent years. Your analysis?

I think something might be up with Degano. Last year’s second round pick — for what’s it worth, he was a bonus pool saving pick who signed a well-below-slot bonus, with the savings going to third rounder Drew Finley — had a fine pro debut, pitching to a 3.80 ERA (3.72 FIP) with a 21.8% strikeout rate and a 10.0% walk rate in 23.2 innings with the Rookie GCL Yanks and Short Season Staten Island. As a college guy, even one who missed a season and half due to Tommy John surgery, I figured he was ticketed for Low-A Charleston this year.

Instead, Degano was held back in Extended Spring Training and assigned to Rookie Pulaski this month, which is a step down from Staten Island in terms of competition. He then went out and walked five batters in two innings in his first outing over the weekend. I can’t help but wonder if Degano showed up Spring Training suddenly unable to throw strikes. He wasn’t exactly blessed with top notch control to start with, and it wouldn’t be unheard of for a young pitcher to suddenly lose the zone. We’ll see what happens in Degano’s next few outings. That could have just been one bad game. The fact he was held back in ExST surprised me and could indicate something is up though.

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

Seamus: Is it me, or is A-Rod swinging at more first pitches than he ever has before? Could that be one of the (many) reasons he is struggling this season?

That does seem to be the case, yes. Jeff Sullivan wrote a post yesterday showing how much more aggressive Alex Rodriguez has been at the plate in general this season. Here are his first pitch swing rates over the years, via Baseball Savant:

2016: 30.5%
2015: 31.3%
2014: nope
2013: 28.2%
2012: 32.7%
2011: 28.5%

Well so much for that idea. A-Rod has been swinging at the first pitch this season at generally the same rate as the last few years. I do love it when I think something is happening on the field and the data says I’m totally wrong. It’s good to be humbled once in a while. Your eyes lie like hell. Sullivan showed Alex is swinging at more pitches out of the strike zone in general, which helps explains his lack of production. He’s not swinging at more first pitches though.

Craig asks: Your post on Blake Rutherford as well as the note on Kaprielian makes me wonder – has any other MLB team’s first round picks over the last ten years led to less MLB production to date than those of the Yankees?

I went back to the 2000 draft because the last ten years don’t tell us too much. Lots of those guys are still in the minors working their way to MLB. We need a bigger sample.

Here is the total WAR for every team’s first round pick (first and supplemental first) from 2000-15. This only includes players who actually signed, so the Yankees don’t get credit for Gerrit Cole, the Blue Jays don’t get credit for James Paxton, etc.

2000-15 First Round WARI went into this expecting to see the Giants at the top and the Yankees at the bottom, and hey, I was close. The Giants have hit first round home runs with Matt Cain, Tim Lincecum, Madison Bumgarner, and Buster Posey, so I figured they would be at the top. They’re close though.

The Royals are at the top mostly thanks to Zack Greinke and Alex Gordon. The Phillies are second because of Cole Hamels and Chase Utley. I should note I’m giving teams credit for a player even if they traded him away as a prospect. The Braves get credit for Adam Wainwright, the Cubs get credit for Josh Donaldson, so on and so forth.

The Yankees aren’t dead last but they might as well be. The 5.9 WAR difference between the Yankees and Astros is nothing. This is across 15+ years, remember. Yes, the Yankees always pick late in the draft and that hurts, and yes, they did surrender a ton of draft picks to sign free agents, but still, this is really bad. The Yankees have not gotten much from their first round picks at all this century.

DotF: Scranton wins again as Judge and Austin stay hot

Here are the day’s notes:

  • LHP Dietrich Enns, LHP Jordan Montgomery, C Kyle Higashioka, SS Tyler Wade, and OF Dustin Fowler have all been selected for the Double-A Eastern League All-Star Game, so congrats to them. Here are the Eastern and Western Division rosters.
  • Enns will be bumped up from Double-A Trenton to start Sunday for Triple-A Scranton, reports Shane Hennigan. He’ll replace RHP Chad Green, who is coming up to make a big league spot start.
  • RHP Chance Adams’ latest dominant start earned him a place in today’s Prospect Report, so make sure you check that out. It’s not behind the paywall.

Triple-A Scranton (8-1 win over Buffalo) fifth straight win

  • CF Ben Gamel: 1-4, 1 R, 1 BB, 1 K
  • RF Aaron Judge: 1-2, 1 R, 1 2B, 3 RBI, 1 BB, 2 HBP — he’s been on base 27 times in his last ten games
  • 1B Tyler Austin: 1-3, 1 R, 1 2B, 2 BB, 1 K, 1 E (fielding) — 12-for-30 (.400) with three doubles and four homers in his last seven games
  • DH Ike Davis: 1-5, 1 R, 1 HR, 4 RBI, 2 K — so I guess he decided not to elect free agency … hit a grand slam in his first game with the RailRiders
  • LHP Phil Coke: 6 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 5 K, 7/2 GB/FB — 53 of 85 pitches were strikes (62%)
  • RHP Gio Gallegos: 2 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 4 K, 0/1 GB/FB — 25 of 45 pitches were strikes (56%) … 62/11 K/BB in 44.2 innings
  • RHP Kirby Yates: 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 2/0 GB/FB — ten pitches, eight strikes

[Read more…]

Thursday Night Open Thread

Well that was a fun afternoon. There’s not much better than back-to-back walk-off wins. The Yankees are back at .500 at 39-39, which means they’re about to lose four of five based on the way things have been going this year. Sucks. Smart move winning those games just to remind the Rangers they should trade for the Yankees’ relievers though.

Anyway, here is tonight’s open thread. This afternoon’s win will be replayed on YES at 7pm ET, in case you missed it. The Mets are playing tonight and that’s the only game on national television (MLB Network). Lame. Talk about whatever here.