Offense struggles again in 4-2 loss to Blue Jays


Source: FanGraphs

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

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

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

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

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

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

[Read more…]

Game 50: Memorial Day

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Dustin Ackley injury

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

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

What Have They Done Lately?

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

Offense & Defense

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

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

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

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

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

Pitching Matchups

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

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

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

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

Bullpen Status

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

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

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

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

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

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

Yankeemetrics: A Ray of Hope [May 27-29]

(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Super Hiro
A couple veteran sluggers made sure that the Yankees wouldn’t waste another pitching gem in Friday night’s series opener at Tampa Bay. Alex Rodriguez and Carlos Beltran both homered in support of another brilliant performance by Masahiro Tanaka, leading the Bronx Bombers to a 4-1 win over the Rays.

Tanaka took a perfect game into the fifth inning, allowing just two hits and no walks over seven scoreless innings. He is now 3-0 in 10 starts this season, the first Yankee pitcher with a double-digit streak of unbeaten starts to begin a season since Orlando Hernandez in 2004.

Tanaka continued his dominance away from Yankee Stadium, delivering his third straight road outing of at least seven innings, one run or fewer and no more than five hits allowed. The last Yankee with a streak like that was Mike Mussina in August 2003. He lowered his road ERA to 1.34, the best in the American League through Friday’s games (min. 15 IP).

The 27-year-old right-hander was brilliant in finishing off hitters, as the Rays went 0-for-11 in two-strike counts with four strikeouts. Tampa Bay’s left-handed bats were also held in check by Tanaka, going 0-for-10 and hit just one ball out of the infield (a fly out by Corey Dickerson in the fifth inning).

A-Rod and Beltran supplied the offensive fireworks needed for the win, becoming the first set of Yankee teammates age 39 or older to homer in the same game, and the 21st pair overall to achieve that feat. The most recent guys to do it were Frank Thomas and Matt Stairs for the Blue Jays on June 23, 2007, and the first guys were Ty Cobb and Zack Wheat for the Philadelphia A’s on July 15, 1927.

The 6-foot-7 elephant in the room
Saturday’s game went pretty much as predicted given that Michael Pineda was listed as the starting pitcher for the Yankees. The big righty gave up a bunch of first-inning runs and was hit hard all afternoon, adding another ugly pitching line to his ledger, and the Yankees lost to the Rays.

(Getty  Images)
(Getty Images)

Pineda added three more runs and four hits to his league-leading totals in the first inning, which now stand at 16 runs and 26 hits. His 14.40 first-inning ERA would easily be the highest single-season mark by any Yankee that started more than five games.

It was also his fourth game with at least six earned runs allowed this season, the most by any pitcher in the majors through Saturday’s slate. The only other Yankee in the last 60 seasons to have four such games this early into the schedule (through 48 team games) was Terry Mulholland in 1994.

On a more positive note … Beltran reached another significant statistical milestone in this game, hitting his 12th homer of the season in the fourth inning for his 2,500th career hit. He’s the 99th player all-time and the 10th switch-hitter with that many hits, but also joined an even more exclusive club when looking at his rare combo of speed, power and on-base skills.

Just three other players in major-league history, along with Beltran, have compiled at least 2,500 hits, 400 homers, 300 stolen bases and 1,000 walks: Barry Bonds, Willie Mays and Alex Rodriguez.

One is enough
One swing changed everything for the Yankees on Sunday afternoon. With Starlin Castro‘s two-run homer in the seventh inning, they avoided becoming a historical footnote in baseball history and instead added another rare win to their franchise record books. The go-ahead blast ended Jake Odorizzi’s no-hit bid in emphatic fashion and delivered one of the most unusual victories ever recorded by a Yankee team.

It was the first time since at least 1913 that the Yankees won a game of nine or more innings while recording just one hit or fewer. The only other instance of this happening in a contest of any length was July 10, 1914 against the Indians, the second game of a doubleheader that lasted only six innings. The next day, on July 11, a 19-year-old named Babe Ruth made his major-league debut for the Boston Red Sox.

(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

This was also the first time since at least 1913 that the Yankees were held to one hit or fewer and scored more than one run in a game, regardless of the length or outcome.

Just three other times in the Live Ball Era (since 1920) have the Yankees played a game where their only hit was a home run: Sept. 10, 1999 vs. the Red Sox (Pedro’s 17-strikeout one-hitter); June 1, 1960 vs. the Orioles; Aug. 11, 1943 vs. the Browns.

Lost in the statistical madness was another fantastic outing by Nathan Eovaldi. He threw six innings of one-run ball, winning his fifth straight start and improving to 6-0 with a 2.72 ERA in his last seven starts. Nasty Nate now has a streak of back-to-back-to-back starts of at least six innings and no more than one run allowed for the first time in his career.

Fan Confidence Poll: May 30th, 2016

Record Last Week: 3-3 (22 RS, 22 RA)
Season Record: 24-25 (190 RS, 209 RA, 22-27 pythag. record)
Opponents This Week: @ Blue Jays (three games, Mon. to Weds.), @ Tigers (one game, Thurs.), @ Orioles (three games, Fri. to Sun.)

Top stories from last week:

Please take a second to answer the poll below and give us an idea of how confident you are in the team. You can view the interactive Fan Confidence Graph anytime via the Features tab in the nav bar above, or by clicking here. Thanks in advance for voting.

Given the team's current roster construction, farm system, management, etc., how confident are you in the Yankees' overall future?