- Brett Gardner (wrist) was going to stay in last night’s game to hit after pinch-running, if necessary. “I was prepared if my spot came up in the ninth to get a normal at-bat and get up there and swing the bat,” he said. Gardner came through several rounds of batting practice just fine and should return to the lineup today.
- Ivan Nova (Tommy John surgery) threw 20 pitches in his second live batting practice session yesterday. “I’m getting closer. Feels awesome,” he said. Nova expects to throw batting practice two more times next week before getting back into games. Joe Girardi said they’re shooting for May 1st for Nova’s first minor league rehab start.
- Chris Capuano (quad) threw live batting practice Thursday and will do so again tomorrow. Girardi said Nova and Capuano are “pretty close” with regards to their timetable, but Capuano is “slightly ahead.”
- Jose Pirela (concussion) is going through all drills and hit against Capuano on Thursday. He’ll play in an Extended Spring Training game on Monday. Girardi was noncommittal when asked if Pirela will join the big league team once healthy.
- Brendan Ryan (calf) “might” go to Tampa next week to begin going through baseball workouts. It depends how he feels in the coming days.
RHP Luis Severino placed 13th on the first Prospect Hot Sheet of the year following his efficiently dominant start earlier this week. Also, RHP Brady Lail is opening some eyes according to Jon Heyman. “One pitcher impressing folks is right-hander Brady Lail, with the Tampa Yankees. The 18-round pick from Utah throws 90-94 and has an impressive hook,” wrote Heyman.
Triple-A Scranton (8-7 win over Syracuse in ten innings)
- CF Slade Heathcott: 3-5, 1 R, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 2 K — led the game off a homer and drove in the go-ahead run in the top of the tenth with a sac fly
- LF Ramon Flores: 2-6, 1 2B, 2 RBI, 2 K, 1 CS
- 2B Rob Refsnyder: 1-5, 1 R — 7-for-32 (.219) in the early going … remember he started slow last year too
- 1B Kyle Roller: 1-4, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 2 K
- RF Tyler Austin: 1-5, 1 R, 1 SB
- C Austin Romine: 2-3, 2 R, 1 BB
- RHP Chase Whitley: 6 IP, 3 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 4 BB, 6 K, 1 WP, 6/2 GB/FB , 1 E (pickoff) — 54 of 89 pitches were strikes (61%), plus he picked a runner off first … so, does he get called up to make a spot start next week now that the Yankees are playing 13 games in 13 days
- RHP Nick Rumbelow: 1.1 IP, 3 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 3 K, 1/0 GB/FB — 24 of 43 pitches were strikes (56%)
- RHP Jose Ramirez: 1.2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K, 1/0 GB/FB — 16 of 29 pitches were strikes (55%)
- LHP Jacob Lindgren: 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K, 1/0 GB/FB — eight of 13 pitches were strikes (62%) … I hate that he’s wasting away down here
Thanks to just enough offense and some stellar bullpen work, the Yankees eked out a 5-4 win in their series opener against the Rays on Friday night. It was a one-man show at the plate and four-reliever show on the mound. It’s Friday night, so let’s recap with bullet points:
- Ten More Years!: Imagine where this team would be with Alex Rodriguez. He’s a one-man army. Solo homer in the second, game-tying two-run homer in the sixth, go-ahead RBI single in the eighth. Alex drove in four of the team’s five runs and had three of their five hits. According to MLBAM, A-Rod‘s first homer was the longest of the year (471 feet) and his second was the hardest hit of the year (115.3 mph exit velocity). Like in all of MLB. Goodness.
- Back-to-Back: Through three innings, Adam Warren made it look like this starter thing just might work. He allowed two singles in those three innings before things came apart in the fourth following the daily defensive miscue — Mark Teixeira couldn’t scoop a throw from Didi Gregorius. It hit him right in the glove. A walk and back-to-back homers followed, the first a three-run shot by Allan Dykstra the second a solo homer by Logan Forsythe. Four runs on six hits and two walks in only four innings for Warren. Not good enough.
- Team Strength: The bullpen is supposed to be a strength this year and relief crew rebounded nicely from Wednesday’s meltdown. Esmil Rogers picked up Warren with 2.1 scoreless innings, Justin Wilson struck out the only batter he faced, Dellin Betances allowed a hit in a scoreless inning, and Andrew Miller nailed down the four-out save. Five scoreless innings, two hits, one walk, seven strikeouts for the bullpen. That’s the plan right there.
- Leftovers: A-Rod’s dingers were the 657th and 658th of his career, so he’s two away from tying Willie Mays for fourth place all-time and triggering his first $6M bonus. Could be tomorrow! … Brett Gardner stole a base ahead of Rodriguez’s single in the eighth, so props to him. He was pinch-running for Carlos Beltran, who singled … Stephen Drew hit a solo, his third dinger of the year … And finally, A-Rod called Betances and Miller the “Twins Towers” after the game. That’ll work for a nickname.
Here are the box score, video highlights, and updated standings. Also make sure you check out our Announcer Standings page, just because. The Yankees and Rays will continue this three-game series in a nationally televised FOX Sports 1 game on Saturday night. Blah. Masahiro Tanaka and Jake Odorizzi will be the pitching matchup.
The start of the 2015 season has been less than ideal for the Yankees. They haven’t excelled in any facet of the game — even the bullpen, which was really good to start the year, melted down spectacularly in the series finale against the Orioles — and they don’t really have an identity. In the past they’d beat you with offense. Further back they’d beat you with pitching. This team … I dunno. They’ll beat you if they catch some breaks?
The Rays are off to a fine start this season but they’re very banged up. Three starting pitchers are on the DL (Alex Cobb, Alex Colome, Drew Smyly) as is the left side of the infield (James Loney, Nick Franklin) and their best reliever (Jake McGee). Tampa Bay has still been able to go 6-4 in their first ten games, including 5-1 in their last six games. The Yankees could use a run like that. Here is New York’s starting lineup:
- CF Jacoby Ellsbury
- 3B Chase Headley
- RF Carlos Beltran
- 1B Mark Teixeira
- C Brian McCann
- DH Alex Rodriguez
- 2B Stephen Drew
- LF Chris Young
- SS Didi Gregorius
RHP Adam Warren
Evan Longoria, who left last night’s game after taking a pitch to the hip, is in the lineup for the Rays, but at DH instead of his usual third base. Here is their starting lineup.
The temperature is in the upper-70s and it’s really humid in St. Petersburg, but that doesn’t matter. It’ll be a climate controlled 72-ish degrees inside Tropicana Field. Tonight’s game is scheduled to begin at 7:10pm ET and YES locally and, depending where you live, MLB Network nationally. Enjoy the game.
Injury Update: Brett Gardner (wrist) feels good enough to play today, but apparently Joe Girardi is giving him the proverbial “one extra day.” Gardner took batting practice and expects to be in the lineup tomorrow.
Forgotten left-hander Chris Capuano faced hitters for the first time yesterday as he works his way back from a Grade II right quad strain suffered early in Spring Training, reports George King. He threw a round of live batting practice at the team’s complex in Tampa.
Capuano, 36, injured his quad covering first base in his second start of the spring, so he basically has to go through an entire Spring Training before rejoining the Yankees. Fill-in fifth starter Adam Warren is scheduled to start tonight’s game, and it seems like he will make at least four more starts given Capuano’s timetable.
Although Capuano was signed to be the fifth starter, I don’t think he’s guaranteed a rotation spot when he returns if everyone is healthy and Warren is pitching well. Capuano could slide into a relief role and give the Yankees some bullpen stability after they cycled through four pitchers for the final spot in the last week alone.
By no means is Capuano a staff savior or anything, but pitching depth is never a bad thing and he can help the Yankees in some capacity. Perhaps they will speed up his timetable and bring him back as a reliever before he’s fully stretched out, say after three tune-up games or something. We’ll see.
The Yankees spent yesterday’s off-day at their second home in Tampa, and tonight they’ll open a three-game series with the Rays at Tropicana Field. The Trop used to be a house of horrors for New York — back in the day everything that could go wrong did go wrong there, it seemed — but the Yankees won five of ten games there last season. That’s … decent.
What Have The Rays Done Lately?
While the Yankees were in Tampa resting yesterday, the Rays were up in Toronto wrapping up a series with the Blue Jays with a 4-2 win. They took three of four in the series and probably didn’t get in until 3am or so this morning. Tampa and is 6-4 overall with a zero run differential. Exactly as many runs scored as allowed.
Offense & Defense
Believe it or not, the Rays are one of the better scoring teams in baseball so far this season, averaging 4.40 runs per game. (MLB average is 4.13 right now.) They are currently without 1B James Loney (oblique), DH John Jaso (wrist), and 2B Nick Franklin (oblique) though. Loney straight up destroys the Yankees. They’re catching a break that he’s out this series. Also, 3B Evan Longoria took a pitch to the hip last night and left the game. Not sure what his status is for tonight’s opener or the series in general.
Here is Tampa Bay’s regular lineup at the moment, their 2015 performance to date, and their 2015 ZiPS projections:
|2015 Performance||2015 ZiPS Projection|
|DH David DeJesus
||7-for-18 (.389), 1 HR||.235/.321/.366 (95 OPS+)|
|RF Steven Souza
||8-for-32 (.250), 2 HR||.231/.309/.403 (107 OPS+)|
|SS Asdrubal Cabrera
||8-for-42 (.190), 1 2B, 1 3B||.260/.325/.411 (101 OPS+)|
|3B Evan Longoria
||7-for-31 (.226), 1 HR||.255/.330/.441 (117 OPS+)|
|LF Desmond Jennings
||8-for-34 (.235), 4 SB||.243/.320/.385 (100 OPS+)|
|1B Allan Dykstra
||1-for-14 (.071)||.193/.312/.398 (82 OPS9)|
|2B Logan Forsythe
||2-for-33 (.242), 1 HR||.224/.301/.341 (82 OPS+)|
|CF Kevin Kiermaier
||11-for-32 (.344), 2 HR||.253/.305/.392 (97 OPS+)|
|C Rene Rivera
||4-for-34 (.118)||.215/.269/.333 (73 OPS+)|
New manager Kevin Cash is not quite as platoon happy as Joe Maddon but he does use UTIL Tim Beckham and OF Brandon Guyer against lefties, usually in favor of Forsythe and DeJesus, respectively. (Cash is also quite fond of the double steal, I’ve heard.) C Bobby Wilson and OF Mikie Mahtook are the other bench players. Fun fact: The Rays selected Mahtook with the Yankees’ first round pick in 2011, which they received as compensation for Rafael Soriano.
With Loney hurt, Longoria is the Rays’ only above-average defensive infielder. Cabrera has a knack for highlight reel plays but he’s a weak spot overall. His defense has really fallen off the last three or four years. Forsythe is just adequate at second and is better suited for third, really. Rivera is a stud behind the plate though. I guess he counts as an infielder.
The outfield is a much different story. Kiermaier is one of the best defensive outfielders in all of baseball — that’s why they moved Jennings to left — and the two guys flanking him are very good as well. Cash has used Kiermaier in right to shut down the running game on occasion because he has a very strong arm. If the Yankees hit the ball in the air, it’ll probably be caught. If they hit the ball on the ground … who knows.
Friday: RHP Adam Warren (Career vs. TB) vs. RHP Nate Karns (Career vs. NYY)
Karns, 27, came to Spring Training as a fifth starter candidate, and he wound up starting the second game of the season because Alex Cobb, Alex Colome, and Drew Smyly all got injured. Karns spent just about all of last season in Triple-A, where he had a 5.08 ERA (4.03 FIP) with a 24.5 K% and a 9.9 BB% in 145.1 innings. He owns a 5.65 ERA (6.02 FIP) in 36.2 career big league innings scattered across the last three years. Karns’ go-to pitch is a big breaking low-80s curveball, which he sets up with a straight low-to-mid-90s four-seamer. He also throws a mid-80s changeup, but that curve is his moneymaker. Karns has made two starts this season — one good (two runs in seven innings) and one not so good (six runs in 5.2 innings.)
Saturday: RHP Masahiro Tanaka (Career vs. TB) vs. RHP Jake Odorizzi (Career vs. NYY)
Very quietly, the 25-year-old Odorizzi ranked ninth among 88 qualified starters last season with a 9.32 K/9. (That translated to a 24.2 K%.) Odorizzi had a 4.13 ERA (3.75 FIP) in 168 innings with an 8.2 BB% a year ago, and righties (.324 wOBA) actually hit him better than lefties (.294 wOBA). Thanks to low-90s two and four-seamers and a mid-80s cutter, Odorizzi is very fastball heavy, throwing those pitches a combined 65% of the time or so since the start of last season. A mid-80s splitter is his main offspeed pitch (hence the reverse split), and he’ll also throw a very low upper-60s curveball. It’s an extreme change of pace pitch. Odorizzi’s two starts have been excellent this year — 6.2 scoreless innings (two hits and seven strikeouts) and eight innings of one run ball.
Sunday: RHP Michael Pineda (Career vs. TB) vs. TBA
The Rays still have not announced their starter for Sunday but all indications are it will be right-hander Matt Andriese. He’s made one start and one relief appearance so far this year, allowing two runs on five hits and two walks in 4.2 total innings. He struck three. Last year in Triple-A the 25-year-old Andriese had a 3.77 ERA (4.24 FIP) with a 17.1 K% and a 4.9 BB%. He throws three fastballs (low-90s two and four-seamers and an upper-80s cutter) and a mid-80s slider. Andriese has thrown a handful of upper-80s changeups but it’s not a big weapon for him. If Andriese doesn’t start Sunday, I honestly have no idea who Tampa Bay would run out there. They have an off-day Monday and could decide to bite the bullet and go with a bullpen game Sunday.
Chris Archer gave the Rays seven excellent innings last night — the Yankees are pretty lucky to be missing him, it looks like he’s ready to take that next step towards true ace-hood — yet Cash still used three relievers, including closer RHP Brad Boxberger. He threw 24 pitches in an inning of work. RHP Steve Geltz and RHP Kevin Jepsen both pitched as well. They’ve both thrown in two of the last three games.
RHP Grant Balfour is currently filling a middle relief role and LHP Jeff Beliveau is their only southpaw reliever. The ultra-hard-throwing RHP Jose Dominguez and the not as hard-throwing RHP Kirby Yates round out the bullpen. Andriese is technically in the bullpen too, but he’s kinda in the rotation as well. The Yankees were off yesterday, so their bullpen’s fresh, but head over to our Bullpen Workload page anyway. Then check out DRays Bay for the latest on the southern-most AL East team.