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.

DotF: Holder extends hitting streak in Charleston’s win

C Kyle Higashioka has been bumped up to replace C Gary Sanchez (thumb) on the Triple-A Scranton roster, per Shane Hennigan. C Sebastian Valle was up yesterday in a temporary move. Sanchez has a fracture in his thumb and will be re-evaluated in two weeks.

Triple-A Scranton (5-0 loss to Louisville)

  • CF Ben Gamel & RF Aaron Judge: both 1-4 — Gamel threw a runner out at third
  • 1B Nick Swisher & LF Jake Cave: 0-4, 2 K
  • LHP Tyler Olson: 4.2 IP, 10 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 1 BB, 3 K, 1 WP, 5/2 GB/FB — 58 of 74 pitches were strikes (78%)
  • RHP Mark Montgomery: 2.1 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 2/2 GB/FB — 14 of 23 pitches were strikes (61%)
  • LHP James Pazos: 1 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 2 K, 1/0 GB/FB — 14 of 24 pitches were strikes (58%) … 20/14 K/BB in 17.1 innings is not what you want

[Read more…]

Yankees release Slade Heathcott

(Brian Blanco/Getty)
(Brian Blanco/Getty)

8:45pm: The Yankees have no plans to re-sign Heathcott, reports Chad Jennings. It’s been real, Slade.

8:32pm: The Yankees have given outfielder Slade Heathcott his unconditional release, the team announced this evening. The move clears a 40-man roster spot for lefty Richard Bleier, who was called up earlier today.

I’m not quite sure how the mechanics of the transaction work, but my guess is the unconditional release makes it easier for the Yankees to re-sign Heathcott to a minor league contract. Designating him for assignment would mean exposing him to waivers.

Heathcott, 25, is currently on the Triple-A DL with a knee injury. He’s hit only .218/.260/.287 (50 wRC+) with a 32.0% strikeout rate in 23 Triple-A games this season. Slade made his MLB debut last year and playing sparingly, but he did do this:

That was pretty awesome. Definitely one of the highlights of the season.

Heathcott has been hampered by all sorts of injuries throughout his career, including multiple knee and shoulder surgeries. He’s played only 302 games total from 2012-16. The Yankees have a small army of left-handed hitting outfielders at Double-A and Triple-A, so it’s possible Slade will look for a team that can give him a greater opportunity. We’ll see.

Fun fact: Heathcott leads all Yankees first round picks from 2007-15 in career WAR. He has +0.4 WAR. Now that I think about it, that fact isn’t fun at all.

Thursday Night Open Thread

Got some info about a pretty cool event to pass along: Jack Curry is hosting a luncheon and a Q&A with Don Larsen at NYY Steak on June 9th. That’s the West 51st Street location, not the Yankee Stadium location. All of the information is right here. A ticket gets you a three-course lunch, a baseball autographed by Larsen, and photos. From what I understand there are still some discounted tickets remaining, so act fast.

Anyway, here is tonight’s open thread. MLB Network is showing a regional game tonight, plus there’s NBA and NHL playoff games as well. Talk about any of that stuff and more right here.

Game 46: A-Rod Returns

(Brian Bahr/Getty)
(Brian Bahr/Getty)

After three weeks on the shelf with a hamstring injury, Alex Rodriguez is back in the lineup this afternoon. I wouldn’t say the Yankees have missed him — they went 13-7 during his absence and both Carlos Beltran and Aaron Hicks hit well — but it’s good to have A-Rod back nonetheless. He hit three homers in the six games before the injury and he went deep in a rehab game last night. Hopefully Alex picks up where he left off.

As for the Yankees, their six-game winning streak came to an end last night, but that was bound to happen at some point. The important thing is that it doesn’t snowball into a losing streak. The Yankees start a ten-game, four-city road trip tomorrow, so a win today to close out the homestand and clinch the series would be pretty great. Here is the Blue Jays’ lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:

  1. LF Brett Gardner
  2. CF Aaron Hicks
  3. 2B Starlin Castro
  4. RF Carlos Beltran
  5. DH Alex Rodriguez
  6. C Brian McCann
  7. 3B Chase Headley
  8. SS Didi Gregorius
  9. 1B Austin Romine
    LHP CC Sabathia

It’s a very nice day in New York. Warm and sunny with no clouds in the sky. Pretty great weather for a ballgame. This afternoon’s game will start at 4:05pm ET for some reason. You can watch on YES. Enjoy.

Injury Updates: Chasen Shreve has been placed on the 15-day DL with a shoulder problem. That’s not good. He’s currently being evaluated He’s been diagnosed with an AC joint sprain. Shreve received a cortisone shot and will not pick up a baseball for seven days … Mark Teixeira (neck) received a cortisone shot and will miss three more games. Yesterday’s MRI did not show anything different from the MRI he took last month.

Roster Moves: The Yankees called up lefty Richard Bleier to replace Shreve in the bullpen. Shreve was placed on the DL and Rob Refsnyder was sent to Triple-A Scranton to clear 25-man roster spots for A-Rod and Bleier. The team has not yet announced a 40-man roster move to accommodate Bleier.

2016 Draft: Jordan Sheffield

Jordan Sheffield | RHP

Background
Sheffield, 20, is Gary’s nephew and he’s from the relatively small town of Tullahoma, Tennessee. He was considered a first round talent out of high school in 2013, but he blew out his elbow as a senior and needed Tommy John surgery, which caused him to drop to the 13rd round (Red Sox). Sheffield rehabbed as a true freshman at Vanderbilt before returning to the mound last year. He has a 2.38 ERA with 101 strikeouts and 33 walks in 90 .2 innings this spring.

Scouting Report
At 6-foot-0 and 196 lbs., Sheffield inevitably draws lazy comps to other short-ish righties like Marcus Stroman and Sonny Gray (another former Vandy ace). Sheffield throws harder than those two and lives in the 93-96 mph range with his fastball, and he’s able to hold that velocity deep into games. He also throws a mid-80s changeup and a slurvy low-80s breaking ball, both of which are out pitches on their best days. The change is more consistently excellent than the breaking ball. Among all the college arms in this draft class, Sheffield has the best chance for three above-average pitches. The only drawback is the effort in his delivery, which robs him of command. Sheffield has the stuff to start. The concern is he won’t be efficient and will be a five-and-fly guy long-term. Plus he has Tommy John surgery in his history. That’s kind of a big deal even though he’s been healthy since.

Miscellany
Both Keith Law (subs. req’d) and Baseball America ranked Sheffield as the 23rd best prospect in the draft class in their latest rankings. MLB.com had him a bit higher at 19th. The Yankees pick 18th. Sheffield obviously has premium stuff and good baseball bloodlines — his brother Justus was a first round pick in 2014 (31st overall by Indians) — so the unteachables are very good. The only red flags are the elbow and his inconsistent command. And I guess fastball plane, which is a concern for all pitchers on the short side. For what it’s worth, the Yankees have been connected to Sheffield in a few mock drafts recently, and those tend to be informed speculation. There’s probably more than cursory interest there.

Chasen Shreve’s homer problem is too big for the Yankees to ignore

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

For six innings plus two outs last night, the Yankees and Blue Jays played a tight game that really could have gone either way. Toronto led 3-1 at the time but a two-run deficit in Yankee Stadium is far from insurmountable. Ivan Nova then hit Edwin Encarnacion with his 103rd pitch, ending his night with two outs in the seventh. It was a rock solid performance from Ivan.

Joe Girardi went to Chasen Shreve for the left-on-left matchup with Michael Saunders after Nova was lifted. It did not go well:

Chasen Shreve play by play

Three batters after Nova was removed, the 3-1 deficit had turned into a 7-1 deficit. Shreve allowed two home runs and a double off the wall, and all three hits came in two-strike counts. He went back out to start the eighth and got a line out to right field and a long fly ball to the warning track in left. Four of the six batters Shreve faced hit the ball to at least the warning track. Yikes.

Unfortunately, this was not just one bad outing for Shreve. He has now allowed seven home runs in 19 innings this season — all seven have come in his last 13.2 innings! — and, if you go back to last August and September, Shreve has been taken deep 14 times in his last 36.2 innings. I mean, holy crap. No other reliever has give up more than eleven homers since August 1st of last season and only four have allowed as many as ten (J.J. Hoover, Steve Geltz, Joel Peralta, Carlos Villanueva).

It goes without saying allowing 14 homers in the span of 36.2 innings is a huge problem, even if those 36.2 innings are split across two seasons. Nine of those 14 home runs have come on fastballs, three have come on splitters, and two have come on sliders, so it’s not like one pitch is consistently hurting Shreve. Hitters are putting good swings on everything. Remember, he gave up the double off the wall and the fly ball to the warning track last night too. Even the non-homers have been loud.

“Early in the year, I think it was just them jumping on fastballs early in the count,” said Shreve to Chad Jennings following last night’s game. “Tonight it was just falling behind. Small ballpark, and if you make mistakes, they’re going to hit them. Especially this team. They hit a lot of home runs.”

Shreve was very good for the Yankees early last season, and especially when Andrew Miller was on the DL for a month. He had a 1.77 ERA (3.16 FIP) in 40.2 innings from April though July last year and he pitched his way into the Circle of Trust™. Shreve struggled big time in August and September, and everyone chalked it up to fatigue. It was totally believable too. He was great in Spring Training and very good the first few weeks of the season. Then, the dingers. Oh the dingers.

It’s reached the point where the Yankees have to consider sending Shreve down to Triple-A for two reasons. One, to hopefully help get Shreve back on track and effective. Two, to get a more reliable reliever in the big league bullpen. I don’t see how you could trust a pitcher that homer prone in anything other than pure mop-up duty, and Girardi still uses Shreve in semi-important spots. There’s no real indication he’ll slide down the pecking order either.

Who replaces Shreve in the bullpen? The Yankees have some options. Tyler Olson, James Pazos, and the recently signed Neal Cotts are available if the team wants a left-on-left matchup guy for the middle innings, something they lack right now. (Shreve has had a sizeable reverse split throughout his big league career.) Johnny Barbato is primary right-handed option. I guess they could always try Chad Green in relief too, or maybe scrap heap pickups J.R. Graham and Layne Somsen.

I’d probably go with Cotts myself — he held lefties to a .178/.243/.330 (.251 wOBA) batting line with a 23.9% strikeout rate last season — but you could make a case for Olson or Pazos or Barbato or whoever. Heck, they could replace Shreve with a shuttle spot and cycle in relievers as necessary. Either way, the point is Shreve is struggling far too much — especially with the home run ball — to remain on the roster. He’s been an ongoing problem.

I thought Shreve’s performance early last season earned him a chance to show August and September was a fluke, and now we’re seeing it’s not. He’s still giving up a ton of home runs and Girardi can’t rely on him right now. Shreve’s a liability. No other way to put it. Pitchers who give up seven homers in their last 13.2 innings and 14 homers in their last 36.2 innings tend to find themselves in the minors. I think it’s time to make the move for Shreve, both to help the bullpen and help Shreve figure out whatever the hell is going wrong.