Mailbag: Sanchez, McMahon, Eovaldi, Cano, CC, Rutherford

Small mailbag this week. Only ten questions. Back in the day ten questions equaled a huge mailbag. Times have changed, huh? As always, the best way to send us questions is the RABmailbag (at) gmail (dot) com email address. Fire away.

The moment Al passed Face of the Franchise status over to Gary. (Jim McIsaac/Getty)
The moment Al passed Face of the Franchise status over to Gary. (Getty)

Many asked: Can Gary Sanchez win Rookie of the Year?

Yes he can and no he won’t. The late call-up doesn’t mean Sanchez is ineligible to receive Rookie of the Year votes or anything like that. It just means he’s going to have way fewer at-bats than other top Rookie of the Year candidates. If Sanchez plays every single game from now through the end of the season, he’ll finish with 55 games played. The fewest games played by a Rookie of the Year position player is 52 by Willie McCovey, who hit .354/.429/.656 (188 OPS+) with the 1959 Giants.

The next fewest? Eighty-eight by Ryan Howard. Sanchez winning Rookie of the Year with only 55 games played would not be completely unprecedented, but there is a reason it has only happened once. Usually there are very qualified Rookie of the Year candidates who have played a full season or at least close to one. Sanchez will get some down ballot Rookie of the Year votes if he continues at this pace, I have no doubt. Michael Fulmer and Tyler Naquin have also had incredible seasons and will finish with nearly three times as much MLB time as Sanchez. That matters.

Michael asks: Took a look at the SP market this winter. First of all, woof. Second of all…Nova might be, uh, maybe the best option, given age and injury risk (looking at you, Rich Hill and Andrew Cashner). What kind of coin does he collect, and should the Yankees consider a reunion?

Yeah, the upcoming free agent pitching class is really bad. Hill is probably the best starter on a rate basis, but there’s no reason to think he can give you 180 innings next season. Looking over at the list of free agents, Ivan Nova seems like the best reclamation project available, but because the market is so thin, I think he’s going to wind up getting paid sure thing money. Three years and $36M? The J.A. Happ deal? It wouldn’t surprise me. Nova had his first real good start with the Pirates the other day and if he can pitch to a 3.75-ish ERA the rest of the way, he’s going to get a nice contract. And no, I don’t think the Yankees should consider a reunion. Been there, done that. Onward and upward, not backward.

Andrew asks: Are the Yankees following the Cubs’ rebuild strategy? Seems like the Yanks are stacking as many young bats as they can, while the pitching is kinda light at the moment. Seems the Cubs beefed up their pitching through free agency and trades when the young guys were ready with Lester, Lackey, Arrieta, etc. Do you see the Yankees deploying the same strategy?

I think it’s just a coincidence. The Yankees did use their top draft pick in both 2014 (Jacob Lindgren) and 2015 (James Kaprielian) on pitchers, remember. (The Cubs haven’t picked a pitcher in the first round since 2010, the year before the Theo Epstein regime came in.) Plus they spent all last offseason trying to land a young controllable starter. It just so happens that right now they have a bunch of bats coming, and when they made their deadline trades, the best available players were hitters. The Cubs had no top pitching prospects to trade for Aroldis Chapman and the Indians had way more bats than arms to deal for Andrew Miller.

Building around young bats is a way better strategy than building around young arms in my opinion. Pitchers get hurt all the time. You need pitchers, sure, but they’re risky as hell. What’s the last truly great rotation three or foursome that stayed together for an extended period of time? Tim Hudson, Mark Mulder, and Barry Zito with the Athletics? Look at the Mets. Pitchers break down. It’s what they do. Add in the fact offense is down relative to where it was 5-10 years ago, and hoarding bats makes sense. The Yankees have all those young position players either in MLB or on the cusp of MLB. They’re probably going to have to go outside the organization for arms.

Chris asks (short version): What about buying low on Rockies third base prospect Ryan McMahon?

McMahon, 21, has been a top 100 prospect for a few years now — Baseball America ranked him No. 43 prior to this season — because he has huge power and it plays in games. He came into this season as a career .295/.374/.521 (140 wRC+) hitter with 48 homers in 327 pro games, all at High-A and below.  This year McMahon is hitting a weak .239/.327/.387 (99 wRC+) with ten homers in 121 Double-A games, however.

McMahon. (Chet Strange/Hartford Courant)
McMahon. (Chet Strange/Hartford Courant)

There are two ways to look at this. One, McMahon’s struggles are the result of the Hartford Yard Goats’ stadium situation. They don’t have one. The team has been on the road all season a la the 2012 Scranton Yankees. Scranton was on the road because the ballpark was being renovated. Hartford is on the road because of political and legal issues with their currently under construction ballpark. (Actually, construction has stopped for the time being.) Playing on the road all the time stinks.

And two, McMahon is getting exposed by advanced pitchers. He’s had swing-and-miss issues throughout his career — his strikeout rate by level: 23.5% (rookie), 25.9% (Low-A), 27.5% (High-A), and 30.3% (Double-A) — and there’s some length to his swing. McMahon has big time power and he has the tools to be a good third baseman, though there are definite red flags here. The ballpark situation is a convenient excuse, but is it the right excuse?

The Rockies are pretty darn good at developing position players, and while being open to trading McMahon could raise an eyebrow (what do they know that we don’t?), we have to remember Nolan Arenado is going nowhere at third base. McMahon is blocked — the Rockies have introduced him to first base this season, for what it’s worth — and trading him would make complete sense. I don’t know what a fair trade would be, but if the Rockies do put McMahon out there, the Yankees should look into it. His lefty pop is legit. He’s not without risk though.

Michael asks: Eovaldi – would you offer Eovaldi a 2 year deal similar to Jon Lieber i believe for (2003-2004). Pay him the minimum for 2017 with an incentive if he’s able to pitch in September. then a reasonable low base salary for 2018 with more incentives?

Yes, though I don’t think the league minimum is going to cut it at this point. The Royals have set the market for really injured pitchers the last two offseasons. Two years ago they signed Kris Medlen to a two-year, $8.5M deal as he rehabbed from his second Tommy John surgery. This past offseason they signed Mike Minor to a two-year, $7.5M deal as he rehabbed from shoulder surgery. Eovaldi is probably looking at similar money.

Of course, Medlen and Minor are cautionary tales. Medlen has been pretty bad since coming back from his second elbow reconstruction (5.12 ERA and 4.44 FIP) and Minor is getting knocked around on his rehab assignment. The second Tommy John surgery is much riskier than the first. I don’t think there’s any way you could expect Eovaldi to pitch next season. Pushing him back that quickly would be dangerous. Whoever signs him will do so hoping he’s ready to go come Spring Training 2018. I’d be cool with giving him two years and $8M or so with the understanding you’ll get nothing in 2017.

Carl asks: Given that Cano was never a top 100 prospect, are there any prospects in the system that could be very underrated right now?

Robinson Cano should have been a top 100 prospect in 2005. He was the top prospect in the organization at the time, and a near-MLB ready middle infielder who can hit to all fields should be a top 100 guy. Alas. Anyway, I’m sticking with Tyler Wade as my underrated prospect even though I’ve ranked him pretty high recently. He’s not going to hit for power. That’s just not his game. But Wade has the bat control and plate discipline to hit leadoff, plus he’s a really good defensive shortstop. He’s almost like the shortstop version of Brett Gardner, or at least the Brett Gardner who came up through the system. (Gardner has exceeded all expectations as a big leaguer.) Wade’s a bit of a boring answer but I really believe in him. He’s going to start for someone for a long time.

Michael asks: With Gary Sanchez wearing #24 it got me thinking, does Robinson Cano ever go into Monument Park? Despite leaving for more money, Cano’s peak year were the best second baseman seasons in Yankee history and he won a championship here.

I think he should. Cano is no worse than the fourth best second baseman in franchise history behind Willie Randolph, Tony Lazzeri, and Joe Gordon. Lazzeri and Gordon are in the Hall of Fame but not Monument Park. Randolph is in Monument Park but not the Hall of Fame. Go figure. Cano is the best hitting second baseman in team history in terms of batting average (.309), homers (204), OPS (.860), OPS+ (126), and wRC+ (126), and he was the Yankees’ best player from 2010-13. He has the World Series ring plus five All-Star Game appearances and four top six finishes in the MVP voting. So he left as a free agent. Who cares? Cano is arguably the best second baseman in franchise history and that makes him Monument Park worthy in my book. Will he get in? My guess right now is no.

Robbie. (Jim McIsaac/Getty)
Robbie. (Jim McIsaac/Getty)

Michael asks: What’s a manager worth if you could value you them by WAR? I’m sure it’s tough to put a value on a manager and I think that there are numerous ways with which measure a teams performance but is there a way to measure the day in and day out impact on the team and individual players and come up with a true value?

I’ve long believed that a bad manager can cause more losses than a good manager can create more wins. It’s not just bad lineup decisions and pitching changes. Bad managers typically have unhappy clubhouses, and when the players aren’t happy, they don’t perform. We’ve seen it countless times over the years. A good manager keeps his players happy and motivated in addition to making smart strategic moves. My guess — and this is a total guess — is a good manager can be worth something like 3-4 wins over the season while a bad manager could cost the team upwards of 7-8 wins. That sound reasonable?

Adam asks: Has CC’s 2017 option officially vested now that there are officially less than 45 days left in the season? ( the stipulation was spend more than 45 days on the DL for there to be a buyout, i believe) Thanks

No because only one of the three conditions of CC Sabathia‘s vesting option has to be met, not all three. Here are the the conditions of the option. As soon as one happens, the vesting option becomes a club option, which the Yankees can buy out for $5M (they can’t buy out the option if it vests):

  1. Sabathia does not end 2016 on the DL with a shoulder injury.
  2. Sabathia does not spend more than 45 days on the DL with a shoulder injury.
  3. Sabathia does not make more than six relief appearances due to a shoulder injury.

As Adam said, the second condition is no longer a possibility. There are 37 days left in the regular season and Sabathia has not been on the DL with a shoulder issue at all. He could still finish the season on the DL with a shoulder injury though, which would void the option. Ditto the six relief appearances thing.

Teams typically do not place players on the DL in September because there’s no need with expanded rosters. If Sabathia does hurt his shoulder and it’s minor, say inflammation or something like that, would they put him on the DL to prevent the option from vesting? The MLBPA wouldn’t like that. I think it would have to be something serious like a tear. Something serious enough to put Sabathia on the 60-day DL so they could clear a 40-man roster spot for another player.

Marc asks: Blake Rutherford. Is he the prospect with the highest ceiling and could he be a fast riser in the system? He seems like he may be the best bat in the system since Nick Johnson.

Rutherford’s in the conversation for sure. Guys like Clint Frazier and Gleyber Torres and Jorge Mateo have crazy high ceilings as well though, and they are closer to the show than Rutherford, which is why I have them ranked higher at the moment. The kid can really hit and I do think he’ll be a fast riser relative to other high school draftees. I could see Rutherford blowing through Low-A and High-A next season, then starting 2018 as a 20-year-old in Double-A. He might be my favorite prospect in the system right now.

DotF: Montgomery dominates again in Scranton’s win

Got some notes and links to pass along:

  • RHP Bryan Mitchell (toe) was activated off the 60-day DL and optioned to Triple-A Scranton, the Yankees announced. They had an open 40-man roster spot, so no other move was required. Assuming Mitchell comes up when rosters expand on September 1st, he won’t spent 20 days on an optional assignment this year and won’t burn an option. He’ll have one left for next season.
  • Make sure you check out Josh Norris’ piece on all the talented teenagers the Yankees have playing in Pulaski. They’re all far away from the big leagues, yes, but they all offer premium tools as well. The Yankees brought in a ton of talent during their 2014-15 international signing spree.
  • OF Clint Frazier told Brendan Kuty he’s been pressing since coming over from the Indians in the Andrew Miller trade because he wanted to impress his new organization. “I’m feeling good, though. I’m in a good place. I’m in a good environment,” he said.

Triple-A Scranton (4-0 win over Syracuse) they have the best record in all of Triple-A at 83-49 … no other Triple-A team has more than 78 wins … Scranton’s magic number to clinch a postseason spot is three, so chances are it’ll happen this weekend

  • CF Mason Williams: 1-4, 1 RBI, 1 K
  • 3B Rob Refsnyder: 1-3, 1 K, 1 HBP, 1 E (throwing) — he’s played third base eight times in 13 games since being sent down … he’s also 21-for-47 (.447) in those 13 games
  • DH Ben Gamel: 1-4, 1 R, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 K
  • 1B Chris Parmelee: 1-4, 1 R, 2 K — back from his back spasms
  • LF Clint Frazier: 1-4, 1 R, 1 3B, 1 E (fielding) — back-to-back games with a triple
  • RF Jake Cave: 1-3, 1 R, 1 RBI, 1 BB
  • LHP Jordan Montgomery: 5.2 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 8 K, 5/3 GB/FB — 60 of 94 pitches were strikes (64%) … fourth straight scoreless outing … he’s allowed two runs in 31 Triple-A innings (0.58 ERA) … he now has a 2.09 ERA in 131 total innings this season … decent
  • LHP James Pazos: 1.1 IP, zeroes, 2 K — 12 of 16 pitches were strikes
  • RHP Nick Goody: 2 IP, zeroes, 2 K, 2/0 GB/FB — 18 of 26 pitches were strikes (69%) … 32/1 K/BB in 23.1 innings with Scranton

[Read more…]

Thursday Night Open Thread

The Yankees have an off-day today and will open a pretty important three-game series with the Orioles tomorrow. They play them again next weekend too. This is a chance to gain some ground in the wildcard race. Anyway, make sure you check out Wally Matthews’ story on outfield positioning. Yankees outfielders literally keep positioning notes under their hats and look at them prior to each at-bat. Neat stuff.

Here is tonight’s open thread. The Mets are playing, MLB Network is showing a regional game, and there are some NFL preseason games on too. Talk about that stuff or anything else right here. Go nuts.

Yankeemetrics: Babe Sanchez does it again [Aug. 22-24]

(AP)
(AP)

Gary is Good
Despite the superhuman feats of a scorching-hot Gary Sanchez, not to mention a two-dinger night from the streaky Starlin Castro, the Yankees still managed to lose the opener in Seattle, 7-5. It snapped their eight-game winning streak at Safeco Field, which was tied with the White Sox (2011-12) for the longest by any opponent at the ballpark.

Sanchez added yet another chapter to his Baby Bomber tale, crushing two more home runs to bring his total to eight in 19 career games. He is the first Yankee to hit at least eight homers before playing in his 20th big-league game, and just the fourth American League player in the last 100 seasons to do it. The others? Carlos Delgado (Blue Jays), Alvin Davis (Mariners) and George Scott (Red Sox).

The right-handed hitting Dominican also added a single, giving him 54 total bases since his debut in the bigs. Only one other Yankee has compiled at least 50 total bases this early into his major-league career (first 19 games), and you might have heard of him before: Joe DiMaggio.

Starlin Castro was Sanchez’s co-star on Monday night, going deep twice for his first multi-homer game in pinstripes. Castro and Sanchez became the first Yankees age 26 or younger to each hit at least two homers in the same game since September 23, 1973, when Ron Blomberg and Otto Velez did it in a 9-1 rout against the Indians.

Castro and Sanchez’s numbers became a mere footnote in history and not part of a winning effort when Anthony Swarzak served up a hanging slider to Mike Zunino, who deposited the pitch into the right-field seats to give the Mariners a 6-5 lead.

In his postgame press conference, Girardi said that he went to Swarzak “because of his slider,” an interesting comment given these stats:

  • Eight of the 10 homers that Swarzak has allowed this season have come off his slider
  • Opponents are slugging .682 (!) off Swarzak’s slider, the highest mark among the 150-plus pitchers that have thrown at least 200 sliders this year
(USA Today)
(USA Today)

An old guy steals the spotlight
On a day when the lineup’s young superstar was mortal, the Yankees got masterful performance from the rotation’s elder statesman, CC Sabathia, and beat the Mariners, 5-1, to even the series at a game apiece.

Sabathia, mired in a miserable 11-game stretch during which he posted a 6.78 ERA, was brilliant as he delivered a vintage performance to help stop the Yankees two-game losing streak. He fired seven innings of one-run ball, allowing just three hits and a walk with seven strikeouts in what was his best outing since mid-June.

While Sabathia’s dominant effort might have been surprising given his recent struggles, it shouldn’t have been given his history of pitching extremely well in the Pacific Northwest. Overall, he’s 9-1 with a 2.09 ERA in 13 career starts at Safeco Field, the second-best ERA among the 51 pitchers than have made at least 10 starts at the ballpark.

He’s also a perfect 5-0 with a 1.27 ERA and 0.961 WHIP in six starts at Safeco as Yankee. Going back 100 years, that ERA is the second-lowest mark any Yankee pitcher has posted at any ballpark where he’s made at least five starts. The guy atop the list is Mel Stottlemyre, who had a 1.25 ERA in nine starts at Anaheim Stadium from 1966-73.

Sanchez didn’t go yard in this game but he still maintained a near-record-breaking pace to start his career by going 1-for-4 with a walk. His 26 hits as a major-leaguer are tied with Bob Meusel for the third-most by any Yankee (since at least 1913) in his first 20 MLB games. The only others with more are Joe DiMaggio (37!!) and Oscar Azocar (28).

(AP)
(AP)

The Gary and Tanaka Show
The Yankees shut out the Mariners, 5-0, in the rubber game of this series thanks to the amazing and unprecedented — yet somehow predictable — performances by Gary Sanchez and Masahiro Tanaka.

The Yankees’ underrated ace spun another gem, tossing seven scoreless innings with five strikeouts while lowering his ERA to 3.11. The only “blemish” was a third-inning walk to Seth Smith, the first free pass he’d issued since July 27.

That snapped a streak of four straight starts with at least 25 batters faced and zero walks, the longest by a Yankee since David Wells in 2003. Tanaka also saw his fantastic run of three straight games with at least eight punch outs and no walks come to an end, which was tied for a major-league record.

Tanaka is now up to five starts of at least seven scoreless innings pitched, the most among all American League pitchers. Entering Thursday, Tanaka was third among AL starters in strikeout-to-walk ratio, third in FIP, sixth in innings pitched, sixth in WHIP and seventh in ERA. He is the only AL pitcher ranked in the top-7 in each of those categories this season. And, oh yeah, he’s tied with Corey Kluber for the league lead in fWAR (Fangraphs version of Wins Above Replacement).

Sanchez wasted little time in continuing his homer barrage as he crushed a mammoth 420-foot shot into the left-center field seats on the first pitch he saw, his franchise-record ninth home run in 21 career games. His light-tower power is crazy: He’s now hit more 400-foot homers (seven) than every other Yankee this season except for Starlin Castro (11), and remember, Sanchez has only been a full-time player since August 3.

Gary added another double in the fifth inning, giving him 15 extra-base hits as a major-leaguer. The only Yankee to reach 15 career extra-base hits faster (in terms of games) than Sanchez was that DiMaggio dude again.

The Mariners soon learned their lesson — DO NOT PITCH TO THE KRAKEN — and intentionally walked him in each of his final two plate appearances.

The last Yankee to receive multiple intentional walks in a game within his first 21 career games was Joe Gordon in 1938. Sanchez is also youngest Yankee with at least two intentional walks and two hits in a game since a 23-year-old Yogi Berra on July 22, 1947.

And lastly, just for fun, Sanchez is the first Yankee catcher to be intentionally walked twice in a game since John Flaherty on June 15, 2004. Yes, Flash was batting eighth in an Interleague game in Arizona. The manager was not drunk.

Thoughts following the West Coast trip

More like Gary Slamchez. (Otto Greule Jr/Getty)
More like Gary SLAMchez. (Otto Greule Jr/Getty)

The Yankees just wrapped up a successful six-game West Coast trip that still somehow feels like a bit of a letdown. I guess because the two losses were close games that were very winnable. The Yankees are five games back of the Orioles for the second wildcard spot, and wouldn’t you know it, six of their next nine games are against Baltimore. This upcoming stretch is: crucial. I have some thoughts.

1. I’m a bit surprised the Yankees didn’t shuffle their rotation to ensure Masahiro Tanaka faces the O’s in these next two series. They would have needed to use a sixth starter at some point during the road trip, and again at some point during the series in Kansas City next week. Then again, the Yankees have an off-day today and again next Thursday, which really would have spaced out Tanaka’s starts. He’s been better on extra rest this year, no doubt about it, but there is such a thing as too much rest too. I don’t blame them for starting Tanaka as often as possible. They need all the wins they can get. It just seemed lining him up against the O’s would have been a good idea. Right now he’s not scheduled to face them at all.

2. Beyond all the dingers, I’ve been really impressed by Gary Sanchez‘s overall approach at the plate. All the scouting reports through the years said he has a good approach, and for whatever reason “good approach” has become synonymous with “high walk rate.” That’s never been Sanchez though. He had a 7.9% walk rate in the minors and he’s drawn six unintentional walks in 80 big league plate appearances this year. We have seen that good approach though. Sanchez seems to do a good job laying off breaking balls in the dirt and getting himself into hitter’s counts. In fact, he’s gotten into a hitter friendly 2-0 or 3-1 count 32 times in his 80 plate appearances this year, or 40%, which is about league average. (That’s not counting the intentional walks). This is a kid who’s been an everyday player for less than a month, remember. Small sample size warnings and all that apply, obviously. It just seems like Sanchez really knows what he’s doing at the plate. The power is a product of that approach.

3. Brian McCann caught Tuesday night and that kinda throws a wrench into this theory, though I still wonder if his sudden move to DH is at least somewhat health related. Yes, of course the Yankees want to get Sanchez behind the plate, but before Tuesday night, Austin Romine had caught Sanchez’s previous two off-days. McCann is a warrior. We’ve seen the guy play through all sorts of injuries since he arrived in New York — earlier this season he had toe and elbow issues, and last year he had a knee problem so severe that he altered his batting stance — and maybe now he’s nursing something a little more serious than the typical day-to-day catcher stuff. Perhaps there’s some concern about a concussion? Either way, the Yankees are definitely saving some wear-and-tear on their veteran catcher by giving him so much time at DH. McCann probably hasn’t felt this good physically in late-August in a long time.

4. Aaron Judge‘s recent struggles — he’s in a 3-for-26 (.115) slump with 13 strikeouts — don’t concern me at all. Not yet. It’s way too soon for that. Do I wish he was mashing like Sanchez? Of course. But it’s not terribly surprising a guy his size is having some trouble in his first exposure to big league pitching. Judge had similar problems when he first got to Triple-A last year. This is why the Yankees called him up two weeks ago, to begin the adjustment period. It might take some time too. A few hundred plate appearances or so. We’ve already seen all the tools that make Judge such an impressive prospect. The huge power, the rocket arm, the surprising athleticism, all of that. He just needs to figure out how pitchers are approaching him and how to overcome his massive frame at the highest level. That’s hard!

Cessa. (Stephen Dunn/Getty)
Cessa. (Stephen Dunn/Getty)

5. So how about Luis Cessa and Chad Green? It looks like the Yankees might have something with those two. Even if they’re ultimately nothing more than relievers, that’s still a pretty nice haul for a good but not great reliever like Justin Wilson. I think Cessa has a better chance to start long-term than Green because he has more pitches and seems more willing to pitch inside, though I have no way to prove that last point. Point is, these two very clearly have big league caliber arms. They’re going to be in the Yankees’ plans going forward in some capacity, either starter or reliever. Getting two starters — even fourth of fifth starters, which is what these two profile as — out of that trade would be phenomenal. Guys like that are getting $10M a year as free agents. Given the state of the organization and their current needs, that trade looks better and better by the day.

6. Aaron Hicks in August: .303/.333/.455. It’s only 69 plate appearances, so let’s not go retiring his number yet, but I don’t think it’s a coincidence he picked up the pace offensively as soon as he started playing regularly. Hicks has been abysmal most of the season. Unforgivably awful. The Yankees very clearly believe in his talent though and they’re sticking with him. When you’re a rebuilding transitioning team, the last thing you do is give up on high-end athletes with loud tools after 200-something plate appearances in your uniform. The Twins are a disaster and they have a history of giving up on players only to watch them find success elsewhere. (Carlos Gomez, Danny Valencia, Wilson Ramos, and even Francisco Liriano jump to mind.) They deserve zero benefit of the doubt when it comes to evaluating talent. The Yankees, meanwhile, have been getting better at developing young players the last year or two. Hicks is without a doubt worth a longer look in my opinion. If nothing else, he’s playing himself into some more trade value for the offseason.

7. Two recent non-Yankee roster moves I didn’t like: Aaron Sanchez and Ryan Buchter being optioned to the minors. The Blue Jays sent Sanchez down to limit his innings and free up a roster spot for a few days. He’s expected to be called back up as soon as his ten days are up. The Padres said they sent Buchter down due to fatigue and used his declining spin rate (!) as evidence. Both guys were sent down for non-performance reasons and I hate that. Sanchez is going to get Cy Young votes! He deserves to be in the big leagues. Buchter has a 3.00 ERA (2.96 FIP) and has been San Diego’s best reliever all season. If he’s fatigued, he’s supposed to go on the DL, not Triple-A. The rules say the Blue Jays and Padres have the right to make those moves, but man, what an awful message to send. Two productive players who deserve to be in the show are losing service time and big league pay because it’s convenient to the team. There’s something to be said for rewarding performance and maintaining a positive relationship with your players. I’m glad the Yankees have never seemed overly concerned with service time. Regardless of the motives, sending Sanchez and Buchter down looks real bad.

Tanaka dominates, Sanchez homers again in 5-0 win over Mariners


Source: FanGraphs

Gosh, that was so close to being a perfect West Coast trip. The Yankees went 4-2 in the six games, and they allowed only two runs in one loss and held a two-run lead in the other loss. Blah. They beat the Mariners in Wednesday afternoon’s series finale by the score of 5-0. Good game. Would watch again. I’m still out of town, so let’s bullet point this recap one more time:

  • Normal Rest? No Problem: More brilliance from Masahiro Tanaka. Yawn. He allowed one walk, one double, and five singles in seven scoreless innings Wednesday while striking out five and getting ten outs on the ground. Tanaka now has a 3.11 ERA and a 3.23 FIP in 168 total innings this season. As of this writing, he’s fourth among all pitchers in fWAR. Tanaka is somehow elite and underrated despite being a Yankee. What a world.
  • Yo Soy Gary: This Gary Sanchez stuff is getting a little crazy. This is “video game on rookie” stuff. Sanchez hit another home run, his eighth in the last ten games, to give the Yankees a 1-0 lead in the first. In the later innings the Mariners intentionally walked him twice. Sanchez is the first player to be intentionally walked twice in a game within the first 21 games of his career since … Brian McCann. Spooky. He’s the first Yankees to be intentionally walked twice in a game since Robinson Cano in 2013.
  • Chip Away: The Yankees built their 5-0 lead by scoring one run in five separate innings. Tyler Austin and Mark Teixeira drove in runs with singles, and Brett Gardner and Starlin Castro drove in runs with sac flies. The Yankees had nine hits and five walks in their nine offensive innings. Sanchez (homer, double, two walks) reached base four times. Gardner, Teixeira, and Aaron Hicks each reached base twice.
  • Leftovers: Tyler Clippard (two outs) and Dellin Betances (four outs) closed out the game after Tanaka … Ronald Torreyes went 1-for-4 in the game and 9-for-16 on the trip. He had two hard-hit balls turn into outs Wednesday too … Aaron Judge went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts in the game and 1-for-18 with nine strikeouts on the road trip. No surprise the 6-foor-7 dude needs a little adjustment period … and finally, congrats to Joe Girardi. This was his 800th win as Yankees manager.

Here are the box score, video highlights, and updated standings. Check out our Bullpen Workload and Announcer Standings pages too. The West Coast trip is over and the Yankees have an off-day Thursday. They’ll then have a quick three-game weekend homestand with the Orioles. Right now both pitchers are listed as TBA for Friday night’s opener. Luis Cessa and Yovani Gallardo line up to pitch that day, for what it’s worth.

Minor League Update: Since I’m still out of town, I’m going to take the easy way out tonight. Here are the box scores and here’s the short version: Mason Williams and Jake Cave each had three hits, Ben Gamel and Clint Frazier had two hits, Luis Severino allowed four runs in 5.2 innings, Dustin Fowler had two hits, Chance Adams struck out ten in 4.1 innings, Yefrey Ramirez struck out eight in eight one-hit innings, and the trio of Blake Rutherford, Dermis Garcia, and Isiah Gilliam went deep.

Game 126: End of the Road Trip

(Otto Greule Jr/Getty)
(Otto Greule Jr/Getty)

This was only a six-game West Coast trip but it sure felt a lot longer, didn’t it? A lot happened. Gary Sanchez mashed, the offense vanished for a game in Anaheim, Anthony Swarzak barfed all over a close game Monday night, CC Sabathia dominated yesterday … lots to unpack with this trip.

The West Coast swing ends this afternoon with the third of three against the Mariners. The Yankees really do need to win this game to have any shot at the postseason. Monday’s loss was a killer. It really was. The Mariners are one of the teams ahead of them in the standings and the Yankees need to win as many of these head-to-head games as possible.

I’m not going to have time to add the lineups to the post, so I’ll instead direct you to @YankeesPR on Twitter. They should have the lineup posted there. The internet tells me it’s been sunny all day in Seattle, so the Safeco Field roof should be open. Today’s game will begin at 3:40pm ET and you can watch on YES. Enjoy the game.