Tanaka and A-Rod lead Yankees to 4-1 win over Rays


Source: FanGraphs

It figures that after sitting through those last two losses, I couldn’t watch Friday’s series opening win over the Rays. I was at Citi Field for Julio Urias’ debut and I planned to watch the game on the FOX Sports Go app, but the stupid game was on WPIX, so the app was useless. Blah. I caught a few innings on the radio instead. Here are some thoughts to quasi-recap the 4-1 win.

1. 80 pitches is the new 100. Based on the box score and what I heard on the radio, Masahiro Tanaka was awfully sharp Friday. One single and one double in seven scoreless innings. No walks, four strikeouts, four balls hit out of the infield. Just awesome. And yet, Tanaka was out of the game after only 82 pitches, which is starting to become the norm. Joe Girardi is like a kid on Christmas morning with his bullpen. He’s got all these shiny toys and he can’t wait to play with them. Tanaka was cruising and, as far as I know, there was no reason he couldn’t go out and pitch the eighth. This isn’t the first time a starter was taken out of the game before necessary and I’m guessing it won’t be the last.

2. Narratives: busted. For the last few days we’ve been hearing about Alex Rodriguez and Carlos Beltran being unable to coexist because there is only one DH spot — Beltran’s Golden Sombrero on Thursday didn’t help matters — but they put an end to that Friday. A-Rod smacked a long two-run home in the sixth inning …

… and Beltran hit a solo homer in the eighth as well. Yeah, I think they’ll be just fine. There’s no doubt the defense is worse off with Beltran in right field, but as long as both guys hit, it’ll be worth it. I do love A-Rod’s bat flip too. That is a gentleman’s bat flip.

3. Two quick runners, three quick outs. Jacoby Ellsbury and Brett Gardner started the game with a single and walk, respectively. Chris Archer has struggled overall this season and especially so in the first inning — he came into the game with 12 first inning runs allowed, second most in baseball (Michael Pineda is first with 13) — so it looked like the Yankees were going to put up a crooked number early. Instead, Beltran and Brian McCann popped up and A-Rod grounded out. Ellsbury and Gardner didn’t move after reaching base. Sigh. Ultimately it didn’t matter when the game was over, but you still hate to see early opportunities like that go to waste.

4. Matte helmets? Whaaa? It has come to my attention the Yankees were wearing helmets with a matte finish Friday night. Here’s a photo:

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

That’s the first time we’ve seen those this season and, well, ever. Apparently the Yankees are only going to wear those on the road. They’ll continue to wear the regular glossy helmets at home. I dunno man, the Yankees uniform is a classic. Why the change? Eh, whatever. No big deal. I do wonder what spurred this on though.

5. Save situation. Like I said, Girardi is like a kid on Christmas morning. He went to Aroldis Chapman for a one-out save (!) because Kirby Yates allowed a two-out solo homer in the ninth with a four-run lead. Now Chapman has pitched two straight days, which will affect his availability the rest of the weekend. Andrew Miller pitched the eighth because he needed the work — he hadn’t pitched since Sunday — so why not stick with Tanaka for the eighth and let Miller close out the ninth? I mean, I know the answer (eighth inning guys pitch the eighth inning), but good gravy, not everyone needs to warm up every day. The bullpen is gonna be toast by August. (Update: Chapman didn’t even get a save. Heh.)

Here are the box score, video highlights, and updated standings. Don’t miss our Bullpen Workload and Announcer Standings pages too. The Yankees and Rays will continue this series with the middle game Saturday. That’s a 4pm ET start for whatever reason.

Minor League Update: I don’t have time for a full DotF tonight, sorry. Here are the box scores. Ben Gamel homered, Chad Green tossed seven scoreless innings, Jorge Mateo had a hit and a walk, and Kyle Holder extended his hitting streak. That’s the short version.

Game 47: On The Road Again

Can't sleep, mascot will eat me. (Presswire)
Can’t sleep, mascot will eat me. (Presswire)

The Yankees just got done with a long road trip, didn’t they? They played seven games on the West Coast, played three games at home, and now they’re back out on the road for another ten-game trip. Lame. At least they’re in Tampa this weekend. That’s kinda like home.

Anyway, the Yankees have dropped their last two games and that’s annoying. They were playing well for a good three weeks there before falling short against the Blue Jays. The Rays have lost five of their last six games, so it seems the Yankees are catching them at the right time. Hopefully it translates to a win. Here is the Rays’ lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:

  1. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  2. LF Brett Gardner
  3. RF Carlos Beltran
  4. C Brian McCann
  5. DH Alex Rodriguez
  6. 2B Starlin Castro
  7. SS Didi Gregorius
  8. 3B Chase Headley
  9. 1B Dustin Ackley
    RHP Masahiro Tanaka

It is hot and humid in St. Petersburg and a cool 72 degrees or so inside Tropicana Field. Isn’t air conditioning the best? Tonight’s game will begin at 7:10pm ET and you can watch on WPIX. Enjoy.

Injury Update: Mark Teixeira (neck) is aiming to return to the lineup Sunday. Joe Girardi said he’s looking at Monday. The manager usually wins these battles.

2016 Draft: Baseball America Mock Draft v4.0

T-minus one week and six days until the start of the 2016 amateur draft. Baseball America published their fourth mock draft of the season earlier today, and this time they have the Phillies taking California HS OF Mickey Moniak with the top pick. “Mickey Moniak” is an A+ baseball name. As always, the mock draft is free. It’s not behind the paywall.

As for the Yankees, Baseball America has them selecting Virginia C Matt Thaiss with their first round pick, the 18th overall selection. The 21-year-old lefty hitter owns a .382/.478/.599 batting line with ten homers, 35 walks, and 12 strikeouts this year. Here’s a snippet of MLB.com’s free scouting report:

He has an advanced approach at the plate and solid power, especially on the extra-base front, though he should have some over-the-fence pop at the next level. He’s continued to be very consistent at the plate as a junior, though there are many questions about his ability to stay behind it as a pro. His catching skills are quite raw, with a fringy arm and rough receiving skills … (His) bat alone — and he has played first base at times — should make him a day one selection.

Interestingly, the write-up says reports of the Yankees being in on pitchers is “inaccurate,” and instead “the focus has been on finding a college bat.” Intrigue! This draft is a bit thin on impact college bats beyond likely top five picks Mercer OF Kyle Lewis and Louisville OF Corey Ray. Thaiss, Tennessee 3B Nick Senzel, and Miami C Zack Collins represent the best of the rest.

There is quite a bit of pitching in this draft, both college and high school, and that’s good because the Yankees could use some arms in their farm system. The best strategy may be to take the best available bat in the first round, then take advantage of the pitching depth and load up on arms in the second round and beyond.

5/27 to 5/29 Series Preview: Tampa Bay Rays

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

That quick little three-game homestand is over and the Yankees are back out on the road for a ten-game, four-city road trip. The trip starts with three in Tampa, the Yankees’ home away from home. They took two of three from the Rays at Yankee Stadium last month.

What Have They Done Lately?

The Rays are slumpin’. They just lost two straight at home to the Marlins and they’ve lost five of their last six games overall. Tampa is 21-24 with a +4 run differential on the season. The Yankees are playing the last place team in the AL East for the second straight series. Hopefully they don’t let the Rays climb out of the cellar like they did the Blue Jays.

Offense & Defense

Here’s a fun fact: the Rays lead baseball with 67 home runs as a team. How about that? We’re not used to seeing them hit the ball out of the park like that. They’re averaging 4.18 runs per game with a team 106 wRC+ overall. Tampa is without two of their best players in OF Kevin Kiermaier (109 wRC+) and 2B Logan Forsythe (160 wRC+). Kiermaier broke some bones in his hand making a sliding catch and Forsythe has a small fracture in his shoulder thanks to a Felix Hernandez pitch. Neither is coming back this series.

Guyer. (Sean M. Haffey/Getty)
Guyer. (Sean M. Haffey/Getty)

These days manager Kevin Cash bats OF Brandon Guyer (172 wRC+) leadoff and SS Brad Miller (105 wRC+) second against righties. Miller has hit much better the last few weeks. 3B Evan Longoria (109 wRC+) bats third, IF Steven Pearce (155 wRC+) cleans up, and OF Steven Souza Jr. (125 wRC+) hits fifth. That’s the regular lineup. Pearce plays whatever position needs to be played that day. OF Desmond Jennings (53 wRC+) has taken over in center with Kiermaier out and 1B Logan Morrison (84 wRC+) is the regular first baseman.

Behind the plate C Curt Casali (59 wRC+) and C Hank Conger (0 wRC+) split time. OF Mikie Mahtook (-50 wRC+) and UTIL Tayler Motter (106 wRC+) are right-handed hitters who will see platoon duty. Mahtook is the kid the Rays took with the Yankees’ first round pick after they signed Rafael Soriano. Good times. DH Corey Dickerson (87 wRC+) is the DH and the 12th position player on the roster. The Rays are carrying eight relievers.

The Rays willingly downgraded their defense in an effort to improve their offense. Jennings is very good in center but he’s no Kiermaier. Longoria is still solid at third, and Souza and Guyer are fine in the outfield corners. Aside from them, Tampa has shaky gloves at first (LoMo), second (Pearce lately), short (Miller), and behind the plate. Conger has actually thrown three runners out trying to steal this season. Runners are only 16-for-19 (84%) against him this year after going 42-for-43 (98%) last year.

Pitching Matchups

Friday (7:10pm ET): RHP Masahiro Tanaka (vs. TB) vs. RHP Chris Archer (vs. NYY)
Woof. Rough season for Archer. The 27-year-old has a 5.16 ERA (4.58 FIP) in ten starts and 52.1 innings, and both his walk (10.9%) and homer (1.72 HR/9) rates have shot up big time. He’s still getting a ton of strikeouts (27.3%) and a healthy amount of grounders (45.9%). Archer’s struggles really started last season. He had a 4.87 ERA (3.80 FIP) in his final ten starts of 2015. Thanks to his very improved upper-80s changeup — it’s a real weapon now — Archer has closed up his platoon split. Archer still sits in the mid-90s with his heater and his upper-80s slider is vicious. It might be the best slider in baseball, at least among right-handers. The Yankees did not see Archer when these two teams met last month.

Saturday (4:10pm ET): RHP Michael Pineda (vs. TB) vs. LHP Matt Moore (vs. NYY)
I fell for it. Moore was awful last year after coming back from Tommy John surgery, but he was throwing darts in Spring Training and looked really good for his first few starts of the regular season, so I bought in. He was ready to dominate. The result: a 5.47 ERA (4.52 FIP) in nine starts and 51 innings. He had a 5.43 ERA (4.83 FIP) in 63 innings last year. D’oh. Moore still has good strikeout (21.9%) and walk (7.1%) rates, but he’s not getting grounders (43.3%) and he’s not keeping the ball in the park (1.59 HR/9). Moore, who has historically been better against lefties than righties, works with a four-seam fastball that averages 93 mph and tops out around 97 mph. A hard low-80s curve and a power mid-80s changeup are his two secondary pitches. The Yankees scored four runs in 6.2 innings against Moore when these clubs met in New York a month ago.

(Rob Foldy/Getty)
(Rob Foldy/Getty)

Sunday (1:10pm ET): RHP Nathan Eovaldi (vs. TB) vs. RHP Jake Odorizzi (vs. NYY)
The Rays got Odorizzi in the James Shields/Wil Myers trade a few years back, and he’s turned into a rock solid starter for them. The 26-year-old has a 3.46 ERA (4.22 FIP) with good strikeout (20.1%) and walk (7.1%) rates in ten starts and 54.2 innings so far this season. He has been both fly ball (38.3% grounders) and homer (1.32 HR/9) prone, and righties have hit him much harder than lefties, which is normal. Odorizzi’s had a reverse split throughout his career because his best pitch is a nasty mid-80s splitter. He sets it up with low-90s four-seamers. A low-80s cutter/slider is his third pitch, and he’ll also flip a few low-70s curves per start to mess with hitters. The Yankees did not see Odorizzi in April. I would be remiss if I didn’t point out Brian McCann is 12-for-20 (.600) with three doubles and three homers against him. McCann crushes Odorizzi.

Bullpen Status

The Rays have been without closer RHP Brad Boxberger all season because of core muscle surgery, but they could get him back this series. He’s been on a rehab assignment and he recently pitched back-to-back days, which is usually the last step before being activated. We’ll see. Here is Cash’s bullpen:

Closer: RHP Alex Colome (1.29 ERA/1.61 FIP)
Setup: LHP Xavier Cedeno (3.65/1.95) and RHP Erasmo Ramirez (2.43/3.90)
Middle: LHP Dana Eveland (7.43/5.49), LHP Enny Romero (3.71/4.44), RHP Ryan Webb (3.31/4.01)
Long: RHP Ryan Garton and RHP Tyler Sturdevant

There are a few names in there you might not recognize. Sturdevant and Garton were both called up recently, and they made their MLB debuts earlier this week. Garton (46 pitches), Webb (26), and Eveland (5) all pitched yesterday. Eveland pitched Wednesday too, otherwise the bullpen is in good shape. It’s not the most intimidating bullpen out there, but for the most part they’re rested.

As for the Yankees, head on over to our Bullpen Workload page for the status of Joe Girardi‘s relievers. The starters have gone at least six innings in each of the last eight games, so the bullpen has not been worked too hard of late. That’s good.

Yankeemetrics: Fun while it lasted [May 24-26]

(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Famous Nathan
A cross-country trip and an off-day did little to slow down the Yankees’ momentum as they extended their win streak to six games on Tuesday with a 6-0 blanking of the Blue Jays.

The victory also lifted them to the magical .500 mark for the first time since April 14; that 35-game blip with a sub-.500 record was their longest such stretch since the middle of the 1995 season.

Nathan Eovaldi continued his personal run of excellence with one of his strongest outings of the season. He gave up just two hits in six shutout innings, his second straight start going that deep into the game surrendering no more than two hits, and the third time overall in 2016 he’s done that.

Through Tuesday’s games, the only other pitcher in the majors this season with three games of at least six innings pitched and two or fewer hits allowed was Jake Arrieta. The last Yankee pitcher to compile three such outings within the team’s first 45 games was Bob Shawkey in 1919.

Eovaldi dominated the Toronto lineup with a nasty combo of 98-mph heaters and diving splitters. Of the 87 four-seam fastballs and split-finger fastballs that he threw, the Blue Jays swung at 42 of them and missed 11 times, his second-most combined whiffs on those two pitches in a start this season. Toronto went 0-for-18 in at-bats ending in either a four-seamer or splitter, including five strikeouts, all with the splitter.

Chasen nothing
The Yankees win streak came to a screeching halt on Wednesday after getting pounded by the Blue Jays, 8-4, and once again falling below .500 on the season.

(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Looking at the final score, you hardly could have predicted that this would be a loss for the Yankees. Entering the game, the Yankees were 17-1 when scoring at least four runs (best record in MLB) and the Blue Jays were 0-21 when allowing at least four runs (worst record in MLB).

The game was tight through the middle innings until Chasen Shreve entered in the seventh … and then things quickly got out of hand as the struggling lefty surrendered two homers and a double to the first three batters he faced. That gave him seven longballs allowed in 19 innings pitched this season, a rate of 3.32 per nine innings that would easily be the highest single-season mark by a Yankee pitcher with at least 15 innings pitched.

The last Yankee to give up at least three extra-base hits, including two homers, in an outing of one inning or fewer was … Shreve on August 2, 2015 against the White Sox. The only other player in franchise history to have two such games in their Yankee career was Catfish Hunter (in 1977 and 1978).

The one-man show
The Yankees wasted a stellar outing from CC Sabathia and dropped the rubber game on Thursday afternoon, 3-1. They’ve now lost four straight series at Yankee Stadium to the Blue Jays, their longest home series losing streak in the history of the rivalry.

Sabathia turned in another dazzling performance on the mound, holding Toronto to just two hits and two runs (both unearned) in seven innings. He’s now allowed three-or-fewer runs in each of his first seven starts, matching the longest such streak to begin a season in his career. He also did it in 2006 as a 25-year-old with the Indians.

(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Sabathia has quietly been one of the best pitchers in the entire American League dating back to the final month of last season. His 2.56 ERA since Sept. 1, 2015 is the fourth-lowest among AL pitchers with at least 10 starts in that span.

Carlos Beltran returned to the outfield but couldn’t keep up his scorching-hot production with the bat, going 0-for-4 with four strikeouts. The only other Yankee right fielders in the last 25 seasons to come to the plate at least four times in a game and strike out every time were Paul O’Neill (1997) and Raul Mondesi (2002).

Mailbag: Chapman, Nova, Eovaldi, Teheran, Cole, Sanchez

Big mailbag today. Sixteen questions and 15 answers. I started answering and just didn’t stop. Anyway, use the RABmailbag (at) gmail (dot) com email to send us any questions.

(Stephen Lam/Getty)
(Stephen Lam/Getty)

Daniel asks: I know your preference is to trade Chapman before the deadline regardless of whether the Yankees are in in the hunt for a playoff spot. But what if they ARE in the hunt AND the dominance from the bullpen is just too much to sell away. Is there any chance the Yankees would explore an extension with him so he doesn’t hit free agency? And if so, what would such a deal look like? I just think It’s too much to pass up on, and with the free agent starter field being so thin, why not accentuate that strength for more years to come?

Unless the Yankees pay tippy top dollar, I would be surprised if Aroldis Chapman passed on free agency at this point. He’s so close and he’s in position to set a new record contract for relievers. (Jonathan Papelbon’s four-year, $50M deal is the current record.) Also, I don’t think the Yankees are going to pay top dollar for two relievers, especially since they’re trying to get under the luxury tax threshold.

They could always sign Chapman and trade Andrew Miller, that’s a perfectly viable baseball strategy, but I personally don’t want Aroldis on the team much longer because of the off-the-field stuff. That’s my opinion and you’re welcome to feel differently. When you have a rental reliever this valuable, I say turn him into some future assets, especially when you’re like the Yankees and not a slam dunk World Series contender. If this team was rolling to a division title and an October force to be reckoned with, then keeping him would make more sense. That’s not the case.

Damian asks: Do you think draft picks will ever become a tradeable commodity?

Yes, with restrictions. I don’t think they’ll make every draft pick tradeable — why wouldn’t you ask for, say, a 35th round pick to be kicked into every trade? — so maybe it’ll only be the first two or three rounds. Or maybe the first ten rounds since those are the pick tied to the bonus pool. The 12 Competitive Balance Lottery Picks are tradeable right now and that feels like test case. MLB wants to see it went with those less valuable picks.

I have no idea how teams would value high picks. Is the No. 1 pick equivalent to an elite prospect? I don’t think it should be since the elite prospect is closer to the big leagues and has (presumably) had success in pro ball. There’s less mystery involved with a top prospect. I’m hopeful more draft picks will be made tradeable with the upcoming Collective Bargaining Agreement, but I’m also not going to hold my breath.

Jackson asks: If you’re a GM and I give you a choice of selecting either Moncada off the Sox system or Mateo off the Yankee system, which one do you take and why? Is it a close call, or a no brainer?

Yoan Moncada and it’s a no-brainer for me, sorry. Jorge Mateo has the better speed tool and he’s a better defender at a more premium position, but Moncada has better pure hitting ability and more power potential. Their numbers at the same level (High-A) are actually comparable this year …

Mateo: .312/.372/.518 (165 wRC+) with five homers and 15 steals
Moncada: .312/.442/.484 (165 wRC+) with three homers and 29 steals

… and they were born a month apart, so the numbers tell you they’re similar, but Moncada’s hitting potential is much greater. The Yankees really, really, really screwed up with Moncada. They could have had a star-caliber middle infield prospect for nothing but cash. Yuck. They’re going to regret not pursuing him more aggressively for a long time. The Yankees could have had Moncada and Mateo.

Steve asks: Assuming the qualifying offer is the same as it currently is in the new collective bargaining agreement, do the Yankees make Nova a qualifying offer if he continues to pitch well?

My quick math puts the QO at $17.1M this coming offseason and boy that is a ton of cash. Ivan Nova would have to continue pitching at this level — 2.74 ERA (4.61 FIP) with a 17.4% strikeout rate, a 4.4% walk rate, and a 62.0% ground ball rate — all season for the Yankees to seriously consider making him the QO. Nova won’t get $17M+ annually as a free agent put he’d likely get more total money if he finishes the season the way he finished 2011 and 2013. Let’s check back in a few weeks. Right now the answer is clearly no. That might not be the case comes September.

Stan asks: Would you give Eovaldi the Ian Kennedy contract right now? 5 years 70 mil for a guy who would at least provide 180 IP of 4.20-4.50 era seems to be the going rate.

That’s probably what it would take right now, or thereabouts. Nathan Eovaldi‘s probably going to end up with something like $8M to $10M through arbitration next year, so five years and $70M puts him at $10M in 2017 plus $15M annually for the four free agent years. Eovaldi is six years younger than Kennedy and if he continues to pitch well this summer, his numbers will be better than Kennedy’s were last year. I’d do it. It feels like Eovaldi is only going to get more expensive from here on out.

Teheran. (Rob Carr/Getty)
Teheran. (Rob Carr/Getty)

Nick asks: What is your take on what it would take to get Teheran in a trade? Would it be worth it at all to tap into some of the Yankees middle-IF depth in the system and/or do you think one of the “big” prospects ie Sanchez/Judge/Sev/Bird would need to be included in such a trade?

My policy: never go after young Braves pitchers. They all seem to break down. Kris Medlen, Mike Minor, Jair Jurrjens, Brandon Beachy, Horacio Ramirez, the late Tommy Hanson … they all fell apart a few years into their careers. Alex Wood had some forearm problems earlier this year and just had to have a start pushed back too. Pitchers break. It happens. The rate at which it happens to young Braves pitches is alarming.

Teheran is only 25 and he is signed affordably for another few years, so on paper he’s someone anyone would want to acquire. He struggled last year (4.04 ERA and 4.40 FIP), but his 2016 numbers (2.57 ERA and 3.46 FIP) look like his 2013-14 numbers (3.03 ERA and 3.58 FIP), so that’s encouraging. The Braves got a haul for Shelby Miller and I assume they’ll look to get a haul for Teheran too. Multiple top prospects plus secondary pieces, which means Mateo and Aaron Judge would have to be on the table. I say stay away. Don’t trust those Braves.

Ryan asks: With the Pirates having Glasnow and Taillon almost ready what are the chances they could make Cole available this winter? And what would the Yankees offer for him? Thanks.

This winter is probably too soon, but yes, I think the Pirates will eventually put Gerrit Cole on the trade market. He’s a Scott Boras client and it’s going to take a massive contract to sign him long-term, and Pittsburgh just doesn’t have that kind of money. Cole can’t become a free agent until after the 2019 season, so there’s no rush right now. It’ll probably another two years until the Pirates think about putting him on the trade market, and when that happens, yes the Yankees should be all over him. For now they’ll keep Cole and try to win with him. He’s a huge part of their success (duh).

Sean asks: At the end of the year, who leads the team in HRs?

Carlos Beltran leads the team with ten homers right now and Brian McCann is second with six. Alex Rodriguez getting hurt and Mark Teixeira being awful means the Yankees have been short on power all season. Even though Beltran has a nice head start, I’ll say McCann leads the team in dingers when it’s all said and done. I feel better about him staying healthy and in the lineup all season, plus there’s a non-zero chance Beltran finds himself elsewhere at the trade deadline.

Stephen asks: It seems that with Chapman here games end one of two ways-either all 3 of our studs go 7-8-9th, or they are all in need of rest and we don’t get any. Would it make more sense to split them up a bit-Say Chapman be Closer #1, Miller #2, and Betances in super high leverage 8th innings?

I don’t think the Yankees are good enough to do that. They need all the wins they can get, and if that means using all three guys in one game, so be it. They’re not in position to start planning one or two or three days down the line. They’re not good enough to take their foot off the gas. Ideally, yes, using only two of three each day would be a great idea. The Yankees can’t afford to do that though. Wins are too precious already.

Dan asks: Since defensive shifts seem to hurt LHBs more than RHBs, do you think we’ll eventually see guys who are pull hitters batting right handed only rather than switch hit, or is the platoon advantage too great?

Josh asks: Have you ever heard of a Switch Hitter becoming solely a Righty or Lefty Hitter later in their career? Can you imagine Tex moving to be only a Righty?

Might as well lump these two together. My guess is the platoon advantage is too great to change sides because of the shift. There are way more right-handed pitchers than left-handed pitchers, so switching to right-handed only means you’re getting way more at-bats with the platoon disadvantage. Remember, these guys have been switch-hitting for a long time, so most of them have never faced pro caliber stuff from the same side of the plate. It’s a much different look and it can be a difficult adjustment.

As for the second question, plenty of hitters have dropped switch-hitting later in their careers. Shane Victorino did it two or three years ago — he actually went back to switch-hitting briefly — and I remember Bobby Kielty batting right-handed exclusively at the end of his career. Fun fact: both Eduardo Nunez and Francisco Cervelli were switch-hitters in the minors. It wasn’t working it so they stopped. Switch-hitting is a huge, huge advantage. Guys who drop it usually do it as a last resort to try to stay in the league. Teixeira has been awful this year, but I don’t think he’s at that point, not after the year he had last season.

(Brian Blanco/Getty)
Hill. (Brian Blanco/Getty)

Ruby asks: If the Yankees are buyers, what do you see them pursuing? Rich Hill (with 20+ other teams)? A corner infielder who bats lefty? More bullpen depth? There doesn’t seem like an obvious spot to make a big upgrade.

Hill is going to be the rental pitcher every team goes after. My guess is he winds up on the other side of the bay with the Giants. The Yankees need like three bats. They really do. But where can they put them? Third base, okay, but Chase Headley‘s not going anywhere, so they have to figure out how to make that work. First base is an option if Teixeira’s neck injury lingers. Someone like David Freese could be the solution to provide corner infield depth.

If the Yankees do make a trade to add pieces at the deadline, I think they would prioritize players they could control beyond this year. Every teams needs pitching so of course they could target a starter. What about an outfielder? Beltran will be gone after the season and the Yankees could always clear another spot by trading Brett Gardner. The Yankees won’t admit it but they’re in a holding pattern until their big money deals expire. They didn’t pursue upgrades aggressively in the offseason and I don’t think they’ll do so at the deadline either.

Rob asks: Every season we get a few rants from Michael Kay and company on YES about the need for a team error. Should that be a thing?

I feel like that’s a bit of a cop out. What about half-errors? Say the shortstop bobbles the ball, rushes the throw, and the first baseman fails to make a makeable scoop. Why not give each player a half-error instead of giving one player the error or assigning a team error? Errors are kind of dumb and they’re a bad way to evaluate defense, but players do care about them. Fielders don’t like being charged with them and pitchers wish every hit was an error instead. A team error seems a little silly when most defensive plays involve three players or less.

Travis asks: Could the Yankees move Headley to 1B following Teixeira’s departure and sign Martin Prado for 2-3 years to play 3B? The only 3B prospect close to the show is Andujar and he is 2-3 years away, right?

Eh, I’m not sure spending money on soon-to-be 33-year-old Prado is such a good idea. Does this question even get asked if Prado doesn’t spend eight weeks in pinstripes? Also, moving Headley to first base means taking away pretty much the only thing he’s good at these days (third base defense). The Yankees have to start getting younger. Have to. Signing Prado doesn’t accomplish that. He’s someone you sign if you’re a team on the postseason bubble looking for an extra win or two. I don’t think the Yankees are in that place right now.

Rubaiyat asks: There’s apparently only 6 active players left who played during the 1990s (A-Rod, Beltre, Beltran, Colon, Ortiz and Pierzynski. Plus Joe Nathan is still kicking around). Who do you think lasts the longest among this group?

Adrian Beltre, definitely. Not only did he just sign an extension that runs through 2018, he’s the only one of those guys who still contributes on both sides of the ball. That bodes well for his ability to stick around. I suppose Bartolo Colon could be one of those ageless guys who just keeps playing as long as someone will pay him, but I’d be surprised if he’s still pitching come 2018. Beltre’s the clear choice for me.

Conor asks: With Sanchez on the AAA DL for 2 weeks, is it possible for the Yankees to take him with them on their road trip? If it didn’t break any rules, I’d do it so that he could watch McCann and Romine prepare, talk with Girardi and Pena, and generally get some more experience in the big league ballpark. Might make him a bit more relaxed when he’s called up for good.

They’d have to officially call him up to do that, I believe. The Yankees (and some other teams) used to bring a few top prospects up in September and let them hang around the team without actually adding them to the roster. They’d go through workouts and all that stuff with the rest of the team, but they weren’t allowed to be in the dugout during the game, so they’d go sit in the stands somewhere. MLB and MLBPA agreed to put an end to that. I guess they didn’t want these kids coming up and going through all that without getting the benefits of being on the roster (salary, service time, etc.). Letting Gary Sanchez hang around with the team while on the DL would be pretty great, but I’m pretty sure they don’t allow that kind of stuff.

Yankee offense cannot back up Sabathia in a 3-1 loss to Toronto

The Yankees have not only lost two in a row after a six-game winning streak, but they also dropped a series against Blue Jays today. CC Sabathia turned in a solid start – seven innings of no earned runs (2 unearned) with seven strikeouts – but the offense failed to pick him up against J.A. Happ and Blue Jays relievers.

Al Bello/Getty Images

Sabathia Strong

It seems like CC has figured out how to pitch without a blistering fastball. Gamescore-wise (75), this was his best start since August 3, 2012 (78 in a CG versus the Seattle Mariners). He’s also thrown three consecutive starts with 6 IP or more with 1 ER or less for the first time since 2011. I want to see how long he can keep up this new effectiveness. It would be pretty neat if it’s for real.

The big man threw only 83 pitches in 7 innings, allowed 2 hits, 2 runs (no earned) while striking out 7. He looked like he had good command of all of his pitches and, maybe it’s the hot weather, but his velocity bumped up as well, touching 93 mph in YES Network gun few times.

Looking at CC’s stats, one that may show his different approach is the Infield Fly Ball Percentage. His GB% (45.5) isn’t too different than career norm (45.4%) yet he’s allowing significantly less HR (0.26 per 9 IP). While I don’t think it’ll stay that low at all, it’s pretty encouraging to see that he’s inducing infield pop ups in a quite high rate (17.1% as opposed to 10.2% career rate). What does that mean? It could mean that CC’s new approach is messing with hitters’ timing and effective at inducing harmless pop ups. Or it could be a small size sample fluke based on six starts. It’ll be something I’ll be watching for quite awhile. Sabathia earned his share of meal ticket for today; offense, on the other hand…

Happened but not representative: this picture (Al Bello/Getty Images)

Offense?

The Yankees got the scoring started with a Starlin Castro homer in the second. With two outs, Castro took a 92 mph fastball from Happ and hit it into the Yankee bullpen. Russell Martin set the target in and Happ located it a bit off – in fact, it didn’t look like it was going to be in the strike zone. Nonetheless, Castro reached out and squared it up. 1-0 Yankees. Sadly, this was the only run the Yankees scored all day.

Here are some numbers from today:

Team RISP: 0-for-4

Team LOB: 5

Hitters with hits: Castro, Chase Headley, Didi Gregorius, Jacoby Ellsbury (all of them 1 each)

So the Yankees didn’t really hit much, and when they did, they couldn’t bring’em in. Perfect! That’s how you don’t get the job done. A Ray Searage-fixed J.A. Happ baffled the lineup all game long. The Jays took a gamble on his newfound effectiveness and it’s paid off handsomely so far.

In the eighth, Gavin Floyd came into the game to relieve Happ. Ellsbury pinch-hit for Austin Romine to lead off and reached on an infield single. Brett Gardner grounded out to first to advance Ellsbury to second, setting up a runner in scoring position with one out. However, Aaron Hicks and Castro both failed to score the runner, leaving Yankees trailing 2-1 into the ninth.

Leftovers

Aroldis Chapman came into pitch while the team trailed 2-1 in the ninth inning. He allowed three singles to allow an earned run but also struck out two. That run he gave up though was pretty big – that 2-1 deficit for Yankees looked challenging enough. 3-1 made it pretty much insurmountable.

A-Rod came back to the lineup today and struck out twice in four AB’s. Carlos Beltran didn’t seem comfortable in the box all day and earned a golden sombrero – 0-for-4 with 4 K’s. Ouch.

Box Score, Highlights, WPA, Standings

Here’s today’s box score, video highlights, WPA and updated standings.


Source: FanGraphs


The Yankees are off to Tampa for a three-game series with the Rays. Masahiro Tanaka and Chris Archer will be on the mound Friday night.