DotF: Sensley crushes two homers in Pulaski’s loss

It’s been a while since I’ve updated the standings, so let’s do that today. The minor league regular season ends in roughly six weeks, so the affiliates are entering crunch time in the various postseason races. Here are the day’s notes:

  • LHP Justus Sheffield (oblique) has resumed some exercises but is still not throwing, reports Sean Miller. There’s a chance Sheffield will return before the end of the season, though the Yankees aren’t going to rush it. My guess is the Yankees will send him to Arizona Fall League to make up for the lost innings.
  • Also from Miller: RHP Domingo Acevedo is nearing his innings limit and will have his starts capped from here on out. “Acevedo can only go five from now on,” said Double-A Trenton manager Bobby Mitchell. Acevedo has thrown a 108 innings this year after throwing 93 last year.
  • C Kyle Higashioka (back) received a cortisone shot recently and is doing better, according to D.J. Eberle. He’s been out a month now. With Higashioka sidelined, veteran journeyman C Eddy Rodriguez is the No. 3 catcher by default. I wonder if the Yankees will make a small deal for a depth catcher at some point.
  • RHP Freicer Perez was in this week’s Monday Morning Ten Pack (subs. req’d). “While Perez does have the tools to be a potential starter, his lack of workable secondaries makes it more likely that his future lies as a high-leverage reliever … Perez has the ceiling of a quality middle reliever because of his ability to pump his fastball to plus-plus velo,” says the write-up.
  • OF Jake Cave was named the Triple-A International League Offensive Player of the Week. He went 15-for-26 (.577) with two doubles and two homers last week. I wonder whether Cave has played himself into some trade value this year. Usually the answer is no in these cases. Any team could have had Cave and kept him as a two-time Rule 5 Draft over the winter, but they all passed.

Triple-A Scranton (3-2 loss to Norfolk) they’re 63-38 and have a 1.5 game lead in the North Division

  • CF Mason Williams: 0-4, 1 BB, 2 K
  • LF Jake Cave: 2-4, 1 R, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 1 K — 20-for-37 (.541) with two doubles and three homers during his ten-game hitting streak
  • 3B Miguel Andujar: 1-4, 1 R, 1 BB, 1 K — first game as a dad
  • DH Billy McKinney: 2-5, 1 RBI, 1 K
  • RHP Domingo German: 2.2 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 5 K, 1/0 GB/FB — 37 of 62 pitches were strikes (60%) … he spent a lot of time sitting in the big league bullpen as the eighth reliever, so they have to get him stretched back out now
  • RHP J.P. Feyereisen: 2.1 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 3 K, 2/1 GB/FB — 38 of 62 pitches were strikes (61%) … 62 pitches? wonder if they’re stretching him out or something
  • LHP Chasen Shreve: 1.1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 2 K, 0/2 GB/FB — 20 of 30 pitches were strikes

[Read more…]

Monday Night Open Thread

The Yankees flew back home last night following their long eleven games in ten days road trip, and today they enjoyed an off-day. Off-days always feel good coming off a win, especially a series win. Anyway, with no Yankees baseball tonight, I recommend checking out Kevin Kernan’s piece on the budding bromance between Aaron Judge and Clint Frazier. I’m so glad those two are Yankees. They’re so much fun.

Here is the open thread for the night. The Mets are out on the West Coast and ESPN is showing the Rockies and Cardinals. That’s about it. Talk about those games, Judge and Frazier, or anything else that isn’t religion or politics right here.

The Yankees reportedly checked in on Giancarlo Stanton and it’s not as crazy as you may think

(Mike Ehrmann/Getty)
(Mike Ehrmann/Getty)

According to Jon Heyman, the Yankees have checked in with the Marlins about slugger Giancarlo Stanton. The two sides aren’t close to a deal and it’s unclear how serious the Yankees are about a potential trade. This could have been a due diligence thing. That said, the Marlins are selling and the team itself is in the process of being sold, so it stands to reason everyone is available. It never hurts to listen, right? Right.

Stanton, 27, is hitting .271/.356/.578 (137 wRC+) with 30 home runs this season, most among all non-Aaron Judge hitters in the big leagues. He’s right smack in the prime of his career and he’s averaged 45 home runs per 162 games since Opening Day 2014. The guy is a monster. He’s also owed $295M from 2018-27. Goodness. The contract includes an opt-out after 2020, though Stanton would be leaving $218M on the table by walking away. Opting out is far from a guarantee, even if he continues to stay healthy and play well.

There’s a few interesting angles to the reported Stanton interest. For starters, the Yankees seem to be pretty well set on the outfield corners going forward with Judge and Clint Frazier. They’re definitely set in right field. We know that much. The jury is still out on Frazier, as impressive as he’s been early in his MLB career. I suppose there’s also the designated hitter spot, though tying that up with a big money player signed long-term isn’t a great idea (See: Rodriguez, Alex).

Secondly, Stanton’s contract would hurt the team’s chances to get under the luxury tax threshold next season. The original 13-year, $325M contract came with a $25M average annual value and luxury tax hit. That’s not the luxury tax hit the Yankees would assume, however. They’d take on a luxury tax hit closer to $30M once you adjust for the timing of the trade, assuming they didn’t change the calculation in the latest Collective Bargaining Agreement.

And third, the Yankees would have to give up some pretty damn good prospects to get Stanton. The Marlins are not going to take okay-ish prospects in a straight salary dump. It would be shameful. MLB should just fold the franchise if that happens. If the Marlins are going to trade Stanton, literally the greatest player in franchise history and someone who is still in the prime of his career, they’re going to do it because they get blown away with an offer.

My guess is the Yankees checked in because they check in on everyone, and hey, there’s always a chance the Marlins offer Stanton on favorable terms. You’ve got to ask to find out. That all said, what about looking at this through the Bryce Harper lens? Harper, another prime-aged superstar, will be a free agent after next season and the Yankees are expected to be very involved. Players that good and that young are hard to find. You go all-out to get them.

Harper is going to smash contract records and will almost certainly be the first $40M per season player in baseball history. He might get a $500M contract. It’s very possible. Compared to Harper’s upcoming contract, taking on Stanton at $295M from 2018-27 could be a downright bargain. Harper is the better player, but is he $10M+ per year better? Peak Harper and peak Stanton might not be so different, and peak Stanton is available right now (in theory).

I don’t think the Yankees have serious interest in Stanton right now. I think they made the call because they make every call. They wouldn’t be doing their job if they didn’t. Ultimately, I think the luxury tax plan and keeping the top prospects is too important to swing a Stanton trade right now. Harper will cost a ton of money, but it is just money, and the Yankees have plenty of it. They could wait a year to sign Harper for nothing but cash whereas Stanton costs money and prospects.

Scouting The Trade Market: Lance Lynn

(Justin K. Aller/Getty)
(Justin K. Aller/Getty)

The 2017 non-waiver trade deadline is exactly one week away, and already the Yankees have swung a pretty significant seven-player trade with the White Sox that, more than anything, added high-end depth to the bullpen. I know Todd Frazier is the biggest name, but that trade was about Tommy Kahnle and David Robertson. Adding those two has already paid dividends.

With the bullpen addressed, the single biggest item left on the shopping list is a starting pitcher. Michael Pineda is done for the season and Bryan Mitchell, Luis Cessa, and Caleb Smith have combined to start three of the last seven games. No one wants that to continue. Getting another starter is a top priority. You don’t make that trade with the ChiSox only to skimp on the rotation.

One rental starter who could possibly be available prior to the trade deadline is Cardinals righty Lance Lynn. St. Louis isn’t have a great season overall (47-51), though they’re only 4.5 games back in the NL Central, and I don’t think it’s in their DNA to throw in the towel and sell. Lynn being available is far from certain. It’ll probably take a bad week this week. Let’s see whether Lynn is the fit for the Yankees in case the Cardinals do decide trade him away.

Current Stuff

So far this season the 30-year-old Lynn has a 3.30 ERA (4.97 FIP) in 20 starts and 114.2 innings. His strikeout (21.5%) and walk (8.3%) rates are about average, though Lynn has always been fly ball prone (42.9% grounders), and these days that means lots of homers (1.65 HR/9). He’s either going to have to start keeping the ball in the park or continue stranding runners at an above-average 82.4% clip, otherwise that ERA is going up.

As a starter Lynn has always been Bartolo Colon-esque in that he lives and dies with his fastball. So far this season 92.2% of his pitches have been some type of fastball. Either a four-seamer, sinker, or cutter. Here is his pitch selection since moving into the rotation full-time in 2012, via Brooks Baseball:

lance-lynn-pitch-selection

So many fastballs. Sooo many fastballs. And hey, that’s fine. Throwing that many fastballs can work. It has for Lynn for years. He has good velocity (low-90s and touches 96), he can locate, and he mixes in enough changeups and curveballs to keep hitters honest.

Also, keep in mind Lynn is not throwing one fastball over and over. It’s three different fastballs. A straight four-seamer, a sinker, and a cutter. One stays true, one dives down, and another cuts in. Hitters see a lot of fastballs, though they don’t know which direction they’re heading. It’s not like Lynn is throwing four-seamer after four-seamer, you know?

Here’s a pretty good example of how Lynn uses those three different fastballs. The hitters do not look comfortable because those heaters are moving in all different directions.

Lynn missed the entire 2016 season with Tommy John surgery and he’s come back this year showing basically the same stuff. His velocity is down about half-a-mile an hour from 2015, though it’s not uncommon for a pitcher his age to loss a little something off their fastball over a two-year span, elbow reconstruction or otherwise. Lynn’s stuff is fine. He’s unconventional because he throws so many fastballs, but it works.

Injury History

Like I said, Lynn missed last season with Tommy John surgery. He also missed two months with an oblique strain way back in 2011, which is no big deal. Lynn averaged 189 innings a year from 2012-15 and maxed out at 203.2 innings in 2014, so before his elbow gave out, he was a workhorse. Acquiring a pitcher so soon after Tommy John surgery is inherently risky. There’s no reason to believe Lynn is riskier than any other pitcher in his first full year back from elbow reconstruction.

What Would It Take?

The Cardinals bought out Lynn’s arbitration years with a three-year extension worth $22M back in January 2015. This is the final guaranteed year on the contract — he’s making $7.5M this season — and Lynn will be a free agent after the season. He’s a rental.

I do think the Cardinals would make Lynn the qualifying offer after the season. Getting him back on an expensive one-year deal isn’t the worst thing in the world, and besides, Lynn would probably decline it. He could secure more total dollars on a multi-year deal, though the point is the Cardinals are in position to demand a greater return than the draft pick they’d receive after the season.

Last week I ran through other recent rental starter trades, and based on the benchmarks, the Cardinals shouldn’t have any trouble getting two good prospects for Lynn. Not top prospects like Gleyber Torres or Clint Frazier, but good prospects. Someone from the Tyler Wade/Chance Adams/Dillon Tate pool. That doesn’t seem unreasonable to me. Guys like Lynn don’t come that cheap.

Does He Make Sense?

Aside from Yu Darvish, Lynn is probably the best rental available at the trade deadline, assuming he is actually made available at some point. The Cardinals could rip off a bunch of wins this week and decide to keep Lynn and go for it. That’s probably what they’d prefer to do. Also, keep in mind the Cardinals traded lefty Marco Gonzales last week, so they’re down one layer of rotation depth. They might not want to trade even more pitching.

Two things to consider here. One, the Yankees probably really like Lynn’s postseason experience and the fact he was part of the World Series winning team with the Cardinals in 2011. And two, the Yankees don’t rely on the fastball, as Tom Verducci recently wrote. Would they acquire a pitcher who lives and dies with his heater when their team philosophy is to pitch backwards? Perhaps the different look wouldn’t be a bad idea.

Anyway, yes, Lynn makes sense for the Yankees because they have a rotation opening and he’s better than the Mitchells and Cessas and Smiths of the world. They have plenty of prospects to trade, so it’s not like the trade would cripple their farm system. The biggest issue here is outside the Yankees’ control: will the Cardinals sell? I don’t think they want too, and they can justify keeping Lynn given their place in the standings.

Fan Confidence Poll: July 24th, 2017

Record Last Week: 4-3 (29 RS, 25 RA)
Season Record: 51-46 (517 RS, 413 RA, 58-39 pythag. record)
Opponents This Week: Mon. OFF, vs. Reds (two games, Thurs. and Weds.), vs. Rays (four games, Thurs. 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?
View Results

DotF: Stephan dominates in Staten Island’s win

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

  • CF Mason Williams & RF Mark Payton: both 1-4, 1 R, 1 K — Williams was hit by a pitch
  • DH Jake Cave: 3-4 — 18-for-33 (.545) during his nine-game hitting streak
  • LF Billy McKinney: 1-4, 1 2B — 7-for-30 (.233) in his last eight games, though four of the seven hits are doubles
  • RHP Brady Lail: 5.2 IP, 8 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 2 BB, 4 K, 4/7 GB/FB — 55 of 88 pitches were strikes (63%)
  • RHP Jonathan Holder: 1 IP, zeroes, 1 K — ten pitches, nine strikes, plus he picked a runner off first

[Read more…]

Yankees 6, Mariners 4: Bullpen comes up big in come-from-behind win

A series win! The Yankees finally got that monkey off their back Sunday afternoon. They rallied from behind for a 6-4 win in the road trip finale over the Mariners. The Yankees managed to go 6-5 on this eleven-game, ten-day trip across three time zones. Thank goodness that one is over with.

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Three Solo Dingers
It took the Yankees two pitches to take the lead Sunday afternoon. Yovani Gallardo’s first pitch to Brett Gardner in the first inning was a fastball in the dirt, and his second was a center cut fastball deposited into the right field seats for a leadoff home run. The home run was Gardner’s third leadoff dinger of the season and ninth of his career. It was also his career high tying 17th home run. There are 65 games remaining this season.

Gallardo was not done serving up the long ball. Didi Gregorius touched him up for a solo home run in the second and again in the fourth. Two Didi dingers! This was the first two-homer game of Gregorius’ career. The last Yankee shortstop with a two-homer game? Derek Jeter, of course. In 2011. Last one before that? Jeter again, in 2010. Last one before that? Cody Ransom! Ransom had two homers in Game 160 in 2008. Three solo homers equaled a 3-0 lead.

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Smith Unravels
For the second time in as many big league appearances, Caleb Smith impressed early before unraveling once the lineup turned over. First time through the order he retired eight of nine Mariners faced, with Kyle Seager’s one-out double in the second the only blemish. Smith needed only 32 pitches to go through the first three innings. Eleven pitches in the first, eleven pitches in the second, and ten pitches in the third. Beautiful.

Then, one the lineup turned over, Smith retired only three of eight batters faced. He didn’t even get to face the ninth hitter. Two soft singles and a walk loaded the bases with no outs in the fourth inning, and I thought that was going to be it for Smith. The Yankees hadn’t won a series in forever, the bullpen is loaded, there’s an off-day Monday, and Smith let things get away from him in his previous outing after the lineup turned over. All the signs were pointing to a pitching change.

Joe Girardi didn’t agree. He stuck with Smith and hey, he struck out Seager and popped up Mitch Haniger, so he put himself in position to escape the jam. Instead, Ben Gamel managed to pull a soft first pitch jam shot into shallow right field for a two-run single. The pitch was right in on his hands:

caleb-smith-ben-gamel

Not sure how that pitch didn’t shatter Gamel’s bat. The two-run single cut the lead to 3-2. Two pitches later Guillermo Heredia gave the Mariners a 4-3 lead with a double to left field. Smith very nearly escaped that jam. He got two outs and really busted Gamel inside. Instead of escaping, four runs were on the board. Life is pain.

The Comeback
The Yankees regained the lead with a three-run sixth inning against former Yankees lefty James Pazos. After the way Gamel tortured them all series, Pazos stepped up and did the Embedded Yankee thing Sunday. Thanks for that, James. All the damage came with one out too. Gregorius started the inning with a ground out, then the next six men the Yankees sent to the plate reached base.

The rally started with back-to-back walks by Chase Headley and Todd Frazier, and an opposite field single by pinch-hitter Ronald Torreyes — Torreyes hit for Tyler Wade to get the right-on-left matchup against Pazos — loaded the bases with one out. Hooray for that. Gardner tied the game with an opposite field single off Gamel’s glove in left field. The way this series has been going, I figured Gamel would’ve caught that. Gardner’s single came in an 0-2 count too. Nice.

With the score tied 4-4, Mariners skipper Scott Servais brought in the right-handed Tony Zych, and Clint Frazier responded with a two-run double along the left field line. Like Gamel in the fourth inning, Frazier managed to get enough wood on a pitch in on his hands. He legendary-bat-speeded it into a go-ahead double. This kid is so much fun, isn’t he? The Gardner single and Frazier double turned a 4-3 deficit into a 6-4 lead.

He's not going back to Scranton. (Presswire)
He’s not going back to Scranton. (Presswire)

The New Bullpen
Unsung hero Sunday: Chad Green. He replaced Smith, struck out Carlos Ruiz to strand two runners in the fourth, then tossed perfect fifth and sixth innings as well. Green struck out three of the seven batters he faced and gave the offense a chance to get back in the game. He restored order. That was big. It’s pretty nice to be able to use Green early in the game now, in key situations like that, isn’t it?

For whatever reason Joe Girardi decided to flip Dellin Betances and David Robertson on Sunday. Betances pitched the seventh and Robertson pitched the eighth. Not sure what that was about, though it doesn’t really matter. Three up, three down for both guys. Aroldis Chapman sandwiched a pickoff between an infield single off his leg and a double off the wall. He then got the last two outs for his 11th save. The bullpen: 5.1 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 6 K. That’ll do.

Leftovers
The 3-4-5 hitters (Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez, Matt Holliday): 0-for-12 with three walks and four strikeouts. Judge had two walks and Holliday had one. The other six hitters in the lineup: 10-for-24 (.417) with four doubles and three homers. Sometimes the other guys have to carry you. Gardner, Gregorius, and Headley each had two hits. Headley also had two walks. He is hitting for zero power, but he’s been getting on base a bunch lately.

And finally, the series win is New York’s first since the massacre series against the Orioles from June 9th through 11th. They outscored the O’s 38-8 in that series. The Yankees were 0-8-2 in their last ten series. The last time they went at least ten series without a win? Back in 1991. What a terrible season that was. This one is much better.

Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
For the box score and updated standings, head to ESPN. MLB.com has the video highlights and we have a Bullpen Workload page. Here’s the win probability graph:


Source: FanGraphs

Up Next
The Yankees are heading home for the first time in more than two weeks. They have an off-day Monday, then will welcome the Reds to the Bronx for a quick little two-game series. Rookies Jordan Montgomery and Luis Castillo will be on the mound in Tuesday night’s opener. That game is start of a nine-game homestand. RAB Tickets can get you in the door for any and all nine games.