Game 47: End of the Homestand

Holliday cracks a smile during Saturday's win. (Al Bello/Getty)
Holliday cracks a smile during Saturday’s win. (Al Bello/Getty)

Rain has turned this seven-game homestand into a six-game homestand, and this afternoon’s series finale with the Athletics will determine whether this is a good 4-2 homestand or a disappointing 3-3 homestand. Disappointing given the competition (the A’s and Royals are a combined 43-53) and the starting pitching (1.56 ERA on the homestand). The offense is ruining all the fun.

On the mound this afternoon is Michael Pineda, who, oddly enough, has been the Yankees’ most consistent starting pitcher this season. Who saw that coming? Given the way they’ve been swinging the bats over the last week or so, the Yankees will need Pineda to be sharp once again. Runs figure to be at a premium this afternoon. (Now watch the two teams combine for 27 runs and 39 hits.) Here is the A’s lineup and here is the Yanks’ lineup:

  1. LF Brett Gardner
  2. C Gary Sanchez
  3. DH Matt Holliday
  4. 2B Starlin Castro
  5. RF Aaron Judge
  6. SS Didi Gregorius
  7. CF Aaron Hicks
  8. 1B Chris Carter
  9. 3B Ronald Torreyes
    RHP Michael Pineda

It is cloudy and cool in New York this afternoon, and there’s no rain in the forecast. Not the prettiest baseball weather, but it’ll do. Today’s game is scheduled to begin shortly after 1pm ET. YES will have the broadcast. Enjoy the game.

Grounded for the Month of May

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

On Friday night, with the game tied at 0, Chase Headley came to the plate with one out and two runners on–first and second. To say that my faith in Headley was low would be a bit of an understatement. Tragically for Masahiro Tanaka and the rest of the Yankees, Headley proved my lack of faith right by grounding into a double play, ending the inning. He didn’t even have the common freakin’ courtesy to just strike out or hit into the infield fly rule. Until now, I didn’t quite realize just how indicative of his descent into dumpster fire at the plate that play was.

We all know Headley started out the year on fire, tearing up the league, topping leaderboards for a few weeks in April. Since then, though, it’s been a steady decline to where he sits right now: a career low 82 wRC+ thanks to a .292 wOBA and a .228/.299/.367 batting line. Consider, folks, that he ended April with a .388 wOBA and a 148 wRC+; that’s one hell of a drop. And as his performance has dropped, so have the balls he’s been hitting, quite literally.

Per FanGraphs, Headley was quite adept at hitting the ball in the air for the first month of the season. In April, he sported a robust line drive percentage of 30.2% and hit fly balls 33.3% of the time. He generally avoided weak contact, evidenced by his low 4.8% infield fly ball rate. That script has flipped for the month of May.

Gone is the high line drive rate, down to 21.7%. Gone is the low ground ball rate, up to 54.3%. Gone is the high fly ball rate, down to 23.9%. Gone is the low IFFB rate, up to 18.4%. Thanks to TexasLeaguers, we can see the results of these drastic changes.

Here’s Headley’s April spray chart. Nine outs in the field, ten if we count that one behind the plate.

headleyapril

Now May:

headleymay

17 in the infield, including the foul balls. Also, there’s a huge cluster in right field that wasn’t really there during April, indicating that Headley’s hitting his grounders–at least as a lefty batter–right into the shift.

A trip–well, two trips to Brooks will show us just what’s going on here. In April, Chase was getting pretty decent lift on pretty much everything. Now in May, something is making him play right into the pitcher’s hands. Like they’d want him to, he’s hitting almost 56% grounders on sinkers, almost 77% (!) on change ups, 75% on curves and 100% on cutters.

The other alarming note on Brooks is the big uptick in whiffs/swing on fastballs, going from 13% and change to almost 23%; from April to May, Headley’s strikeout rate has climbed from about 20% to about 35%. Not so coincidentally, Headley’s walk rate has plummeted; he’s walked just once in May–and has been hit by one pitch. Also not so coincidentally, Headley’s been chasing the ball more in May than he did in April. The league average o-swing rate is a touch over 29%. While he’s been under that for the year, May has seen a spike. In April, there are four locations on the chart showing Headley swung at balls at a higher-than-league-average pace. Fast forward to May and the number goes up to eight.

Beating the ball into the ground–especially in this day and age of the fly ball–and chasing balls out of the zone are not a good combination for success. So, Chase, if you’re reading this, get on that, huh? I like you, I really do, but it’s getting hard to watch at this point.

DotF: McKinney and Andujar lead Trenton to a blowout win

Got a couple quick notes to pass along:

  • IF Donovan Solano (calf) was activated off the Triple-A Scranton disabled list, reports Donnie Collins. With Solano healthy and SS Gleyber Torres recently promoted, the RailRiders are heavy on infielders at the moment.
  • RHP Domingo Acevedo placed second on this week’s Prospect Hot Sheet. He allowed seven hits and two walks in 13.2 scoreless innings in his first two Double-A starts. Acevedo struck out 14.

Triple-A Scranton (5-1 win over Toledo)

  • 2B Tyler Wade: 0-3, 1 RBI, 1 HBP — got picked off first
  • LF Dustin Fowler: 4-5, 2 R, 1 2B, 1 SB — 22-for-65 (.338) with six doubles, two triples, and four homers in his last 14 games
  • SS Gleyber Torres: 1-5, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 2 K — 4-for-14 (.286) in four games since the promotion … first game at shortstop at Triple-A
  • 1B Tyler Austin: 1-3, 1 RBI, 1 K — his rehab has been moved up here, obviously … played seven innings tonight and is 7-for-17 (.412) with one double and two triples in six rehab games so far
  • RF Clint Frazier: 1-5, 1 K — snaps his three-game homer streak
  • CF Mason Williams: 0-3, 1 R, 1 BB, 2 K, 1 SB
  • LHP Caleb Smith: 6 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 9 K, 5/4 GB/FB — 67 of 92 pitches were strikes (73%) … 45/14 K/BB in 48.2 innings after spending last season as (primarily) a reliever in Double-A the last two years

[Read more…]

Offense breaks out for two hits, Yankees beat A’s 3-2


Source: FanGraphs

Good pitching and juuust enough hitting gave the Yankees to a 3-2 win over the Athletics on Saturday afternoon. The offense, man. I really hope these last two games are rock bottom. It’s Saturday, so let’s recap this game with bullet points:

  • Two Hits: The Yankees had two hits Saturday and they came from back-to-back batters. Matt Holliday cranked a two-run home run in the sixth inning and Starlin Castro followed with a single that didn’t lead to anything. Jharel Cotton, who came up from Triple-A to start, took a no-hitter into the sixth even though he was all over the place. The Yankees scored a first inning run on a walk, a hit batsmen, a wild pitch, and a sacrifice fly. Two hits, five walks, three runs. It worked.
  • Si Si: Phew, good thing the Yankees didn’t release CC Sabathia three weeks ago when he was so obviously done, huh? The big man held the A’s to two runs in 6.1 innings, and the first run probably wouldn’t have scored had Didi Gregorius‘ relay throw to the plate been on-line. It got there in plenty of time, but Gary Sanchez was pulled way off the plate. Sabathia struck out nine and allowed the two runs on six hits and three walks. He has allowed two earned runs or fewer in six of his ten starts this season. That’ll do.
  • Not A Closer: Two bailout jobs by the bullpen. First, Adam Warren inherited the tying run at second with one out from the Sabathia in the seventh, and he escaped with a ground ball and a strikeout. Then, in the eighth, Dellin Betances entered with one out after Tyler Clippard put the tying run at third and the go-ahead run at second. He escaped with two strikeouts, then sat down the side in order in the ninth. Dellin is one hell of a closer, huh? Randy Levine should be getting astronaut lessons right about now.
  • Leftovers: The 5-6-7-8-9 hitters went a combined 0-for-13 with two strikeouts … Sanchez had a no contact day at the plate with two walks and two strikeouts … Gardner was caught stealing in the third inning. It was his first steal attempt since April 10th. I hadn’t realized he’d gone that long without running. Then again, Gardner has been hitting all those glorious dingers, so I guess he hasn’t had time to try to steal … and finally, Sabathia has now started more games with the Yankees (238) than the Indians (237). Crazy.

Here are the box score, video highlights, and updated standings. Don’t miss our Bullpen Workload page either. The Yankees and A’s will wrap up this series Sunday afternoon with a 1pm ET start. Michael Pineda and Andrew Triggs are the scheduled starting pitchers. RAB Tickets can get you in the door for that game, the homestand finale.

Saturday Open Thread

Here is an open thread for the rest of the day. The Mets are playing tonight and MLB Network will have a regional game later on. That’s pretty much it. There are no NBA or NHL playoff games today. Talk about those games, this afternoon’s win, or anything else here.

Game 46: My Kingdom For Some Runs

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

Over the last five games, dating back to Masahiro Tanaka‘s blowup in Tampa, Yankees starters have allowed six runs (five earned) total in 33.1 innings. None of the five starters allowed more than two runs in their starts. And yet, the Yankees went only (“only”) 3-2 in those five games because the offense is slumping so hard. The Yankees scored only 13 runs in those five games, and they’ve scored only 23 runs in their last eight games. Geez.

Things could turn around in an instant, of course. Tanaka threw literally the two worst starts of his MLB career back-to-back, then bam, he dominated and struck out a career high 13 last night. The offense has scored 13 runs in their last five games and they’re perfectly capable of putting up 13 runs in five innings this afternoon. I hope it happens. Few things in baseball are less enjoyable than a lack of offense. Here is the A’s lineup and here is the Yanks’ lineup:

  1. LF Brett Gardner
  2. C Gary Sanchez
  3. DH Matt Holliday
  4. 2B Starlin Castro
  5. RF Aaron Judge
  6. SS Didi Gregorius
  7. CF Aaron Hicks
  8. 1B Chris Carter
  9. 3B Ronald Torreyes
    LHP CC Sabathia

Not a bad afternoon for baseball in the Bronx. It is cloudy out, but it’s a pleasant 72 degrees and there’s no rain in the forecast. Today’s game will begin a little after 1pm ET. You can watch on YES locally and MLB Network nationally. Try to enjoy.

Injury Updates: Aroldis Chapman (shoulder) played catch today for the first time since going on the disabled list. He reported no issues … Greg Bird (ankle) is still on track to head to Tampa tomorrow and begin playing in minor league rehab games. His rehab work has gone well the last few days … Jacoby Ellsbury (concussion) is following the concussion protocol and there’s not much he can do right now. He’s shut down until the doctors say he can resume baseball activities.

Offense wastes Tanaka’s gem, Yankees drop series opener 4-1 to Athletics


Source: FanGraphs

I miss offense. I miss the days when the Yankees were putting up like seven runs a night and smacking dingers like Gary Sanchez circa August 2016. Those were the days. It was called April. The bats were mostly silent Friday night in the series opener against the Athletics. The final score was 4-1 bad guys. It’s Friday night and I’m sick, so let’s recap this with bullet points:

  • Masahiro My Hero: So Sanchez is never gonna catch Masahiro Tanaka again, huh? Coming off back-to-back disaster starts, Tanaka dominated the A’s on Friday, striking out a career high 13 in 7.1 innings of work with Austin Romine behind the plate. He threw 111 pitches and generated a career high 26 swings and misses. Splitters, sliders, first pitch curveballs, it was all working. Welcome back, good #TANAKA. We’ve missed you.
  • Blown By The Bullpen: Apparently Romine’s magic only applies to the starters, not the relievers. Tyler Clippard inherited a runner on first with one out from Tanaka in the eighth inning, and he managed to allow two runs even though that inherited runner was thrown out at home on the contact play. It would be nice to see Dellin Betances on the mound in one of these eighth inning game on the line situations one of these days. Closers don’t always have to be for closin’. Jonathan Holder allowed a two-run homer to Stephen Vogt in the ninth to put things out of reach.
  • At Least They Weren’t Shut Out? The good news: the Yankees were not shut out! They’ve scored in every game so far this season. The bad news: the Yankees didn’t score their one and only run until there were two outs in the ninth. A Didi Gregorius sac fly did the trick. Jairo Garcia Santiago Castillo loaded the bases with one out that inning, so the Yankees got both Gregorius and Sanchez to the plate as the tying run. Alas, there was no miracle comeback this time.
  • Leftovers: Aaron Judge had two hits and a walk. Aaron Hicks had a hit and a walk. The non-Aarons had two hits and a walk … the Yankees had their best chance to score in the seventh, then Chase Headley banged into a 5-4-3 double play with runners on first and second and one out. The Yankees are going to have to do something about third base soon. Headley’s play is untenable … Matt Holliday went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts and is now 5-for-21 with 12 strikeouts in his last six games. That works out to a 50.0% strikeout rate and a .556 BABIP.

Here are the box score, video highlights, and updated standings. Also make sure you check out our Bullpen Workload page. The Yankees and A’s will continue this three-game series with the middle game Saturday afternoon. That’s a regular old 1pm ET start. CC Sabathia and Jharel Cotton are the scheduled starters. Perhaps the offense will do something crazy and score multiple runs.

Minor League Update: Like I said, I’m not feeling well, so I’m going to take the easy way out with DotF tonight. Here are the box scores and here’s the short version: 3B Gleyber Torres had two singles, OF Clint Frazier had a double and a homer, RHP Chance Adams struck out four and allowed two runs in five innings, SS Thairo Estrada had three singles, 3B Miguel Andujar had two singles and a walk, DH Jorge Mateo went 0-for-5, OF Estevan Florial hit a solo homer, and OF Blake Rutherford had a single.