Game 72: Mess with Texas

(Adam Hunger/Getty)
(Adam Hunger/Getty)

Hey, the Yankees have won two of three! And they could have won the third game too! Things are looking up. They’re still in first place, Masahiro Tanaka pitched well last night, Tyler Austin has arrived … it could be worse. Hopefully Austin rakes right away. Would be nice to add a little more length to the lineup.

Anyway, this afternoon the Yankees have a chance to do something they haven’t done in two weeks: win a series! The last series win was that depantsing of the Orioles. Winning series is the name of the game. Keep winning series and things will work out. Get the series win today, go for the sweep tomorrow. Here is the Rangers’ lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:

  1. CF Mason Williams
  2. LF Aaron Hicks
  3. RF Aaron Judge
  4. DH Matt Holliday
  5. 2B Starlin Castro
  6. SS Didi Gregorius
  7. 1B Tyler Austin
  8. 3B Ronald Torreyes
  9. C Austin Romine
    RHP Luis Cessa

The rain came and went this morning, and now there’s a bright blue sky above New York. Nice afternoon for a ballgame. Today’s game will start at 1:05pm ET and both YES and MLB Network will have the broadcast. Enjoy the game.

Injury Update: Jacoby Ellsbury (concussion) will begin a minor league rehab assignment with Triple-A Scranton tonight … Adam Warren (shoulder) played catch for the first time since being placed on the disabled list and everything went fine.

Roster Update: Chance Adams was in the clubhouse this afternoon … to pick up a passport. He’s not being added to the roster. There are no Canadian teams in the Triple-A International League and the Yankees don’t visit the Blue Jays again until mid-August. Minor leaguers need their passports at all times though. You never know when you’ll get traded and have to show up in Toronto. I’m kinda surprised Adams didn’t have one already.

Yankees designate Carter for assignment, call up Tyler Austin

(Jim McIsaac/Getty)
(Jim McIsaac/Getty)

Following tonight’s win, the Yankees designated Chris Carter for assignment and called up Tyler Austin, the team announced. I guess Austin is ready now? A few days ago Brian Cashman called Carter the team’s best first base option. Austin has hit three homers since then and Carter has, well, struck out a bunch. Does he get cut if he gets a hit (or even a sac fly) in the tenth inning tonight? Probably not.

Carter hit .204/.286/.383 (76 wRC+) with eight home runs in 189 plate appearances for the Yankees, including Friday’s game. He’d been playing pretty much every day since Greg Bird went on the disabled list in early May, so it wasn’t a playing time issue. We’ll always have that homer in Pittsburgh, Chris.

Austin, meanwhile, hit .316/.388/.588 (145 wRC+) with four home runs in 32 minor league games after coming back from his broken ankle. He fouled a ball off the ankle very early in Spring Training and didn’t return until last month. Austin hit .241/.300/.458 (102 wRC+) in 90 plate appearances with the Yankees last season.

Bird is still working his way back from an ankle injury of his own — he received a cortisone shot a few days ago and will resume baseball activities soon — and there’s no real firm timetable for his return. He might not be back until after the All-Star break. Once he heals up, I assume he’s take over as the everyday first baseman again.

At this point Carter has enough service time to collect his entire $3M salary even if he elects free agency after clearing waivers, so stashing him in Triple-A for depth until Bird is healthy might not happen. Probably not. We’ll see. Either way, hopefully Austin is an upgrade at first base. It’ll be hard for him to be worse.

Toe to the rescue! Tanaka tosses gem and Yankees walk-off with 2-1 win over Rangers

Boy did the Yankees need a win like that. I think we all did after these last 12 days. The Yankees turned the clock back to April and used good pitching, timely hitting, and (occasionally) good defense to earn a hard-fought 2-1 walk-off win over the Rangers on Friday night. They needed ten innings.

(Adam Hunger/Getty)
(Adam Hunger/Getty)

Master ‘Hiro
As bad as Masahiro Tanaka has been overall this season, there have been some flashes of brilliance, and we saw one Friday night. Eight shutout innings, three soft singles (one didn’t leave the infield), two walks, and nine strikeouts against a Rangers lineup that is more than capable of hitting the ball out of ballpark. At one point Tanaka retired 16 consecutive batters.

This start was not about Tanaka getting away with mistakes and lucking out when some balls were hit right at defenders. His defense definitely helped out — Ronald Torreyes made two very good plays at third base, including one to start an inning-ending double play in the second, and Didi Gregorius made a great play up the middle as well — but Tanaka was razor sharp. Best splitter and slider and he’s had in a while. Here are his pitch locations:

masahiro-tanaka-pitch-locationsNot many middle-middle pitches at all. You can count them on one hand. Tanaka stayed on the edges and down in the zone, something he’s struggled to do most of the season, mostly because neither his slider nor his splitter have had the same movement as last season.

Also, Tanaka elevated his fastball for strikeouts several times Friday night. Those green and red dots at the top of the strike zone were not mistakes. Gary Sanchez called for the high fastball with two strikes several times and Tanaka executed. (Most of the time.) We haven’t seen him elevate fastballs all that much over the years. I wonder if this is a new trick or just something they saw in the Texas scouting report.

We’ve seen Good Tanaka a few times this season. He had the shutout in Boston and the 13-strikeout game against the Athletics, plus he was pretty good two starts ago in Anaheim, but he’s been unable to get on any kind of roll. Hopefully this is the start of something big. Given his season to date, I need to see more before declaring Tanaka #cured. Still though, what a night. This man is something else when he’s on.

No Runs For Yu
Unfortunately, Yu Darvish was on top of his game as well. This was the first time Tanaka and Darvish had ever faced each other in MLB — they had four head-to-head matchups in Japan — and it lived up to the hype. Did it ever. Darvish carved the Yankees up with mid-90s fastballs and wicked mid-80s sliders and silly low-70s curveballs. He even threw Aaron Judge a 65 mph curveball at one point. He was better than Tanaka, really.

The Yankees did get a runner to second base in the first inning — Brett Gardner singled and stole second — but their only other baserunner against Darvish was Sanchez’s one-out single in the fifth inning. He was immediately erased on a double play. That was it. Two baserunners, both singles to center, in seven innings against Darvish. He struck out ten and threw only 88 pitches, and after the game manager Jeff Banister said he removed Darvish as a precaution because he felt “tightness.” Can’t really blame the offense for doing nothing in those seven innings. Darvish was lights out.

Yardy. (Adam Hunger/Getty)
Yardy. (Adam Hunger/Getty)

Battle of the Bullpens
Lately anything that involves the bullpen has been bad news for the Yankees, no matter who’s on the mound. Aroldis Chapman took over in the ninth inning and put the go-ahead run in scoring position with one out with a single (Elvis Andrus) and a hit batsman (Nomar Mazara). Chapman plunked Mazara in a 1-2 count. Two-strike hit-by-pitches are the worst.

The Mazara hit-by-pitch pushed Andrus to second base and he then stole third, which is pretty gutsy. Not many players would attempt that in that spot. Not with one out. Sanchez’s throw was high and wide and Torreyes did a great job lunging to make the catch and stop the ball from going into the outfield. He saved a run. Only temporarily, unfortunately. Chapman struck out Adrian Beltre with a 101.3 mph fastball in the dirt Sanchez couldn’t block.

aroldis-chapman-gary-sanchez-adrian-beltre

Yes, Sanchez has to block that. No, a 101.3 mph fastball in the dirt isn’t an easy pitch to the block, especially when you called for and were expecting the pitch on the outside corner. But still, Gary’s gotta get his body in front of that one. Andrus scooted home to break the scoreless tie. The steal of third base was pretty huge. Chapman got Rougned Odor to ground out to limit the damage to one.

Given the way things have been going lately, it was easy to think the game was over at that point. The offense went to sleep after the Judge home run Thursday night and Darvish shut them down for seven innings Friday night. Matt Bush is pretty darn good too. Fortunately he caught a little too much of the plate with a 2-1 fastball to Gardner, who yanked it into the short porch for a game-tying solo home run in the bottom of the ninth. No. 14 of the season for Gardner. How about that?

The Gardner blast gave us what we all wanted to see: more bullpen! Woof. Chad Green and Chasen Shreve (and Gregorius) conspired to load the bases in the top of the tenth without allowing a hit. Gregorius made an error on Carlos Gomez’s soft line drive — it took a short hop right in front of Didi, but still, a Major League shortstop should make that play — to give the Rangers a leadoff baserunner. The next four batters:

  • Jonathan Lucroy grounds out to third on first pitch (no chance at a double play)
  • Mike Napoli walks on eight pitches (Shreve then replaces Green)
  • Joey Gallo strikes out on six pitches
  • Shin-Soo Choo walks on five pitches

Including the Gomez at-bat, that’s 24 pitches to load the bases with two outs. And, naturally, Shreve fell behind in the count 3-1 to Andrus with the bases full. Not ideal! He tried to get him to fish for splitters, but Andrus wasn’t having it. He took the fastball down the middle for the 3-2 count — it was a good pitch to hit, but I don’t blame Andrus for taking here — fouled off the next fastball down the middle, then popped up the third to shallow right field. Inning over. Ex-friggin-hale. A scoreless inning felt like a miracle given the recent bullpen issues.

Joltin’ Toe
The game-winning rally in the bottom of the tenth was made possible by three of my favorite Yankees. Sanchez got it started with a one-out single back up the middle, then Gregorius set it all up with a big single to right-center field, allowing Sanchez to chug all the way to third. A fly ball wins it! And of course Chris Carter was due up, and of course he struck out. At least he had the decency to do it on four pitches rather than the minimum three.

Suddenly, the rally was on life support. Two outs, runners on the corners, Torreyes up against Bush, who was still pumping upper-90s heaters and nasty breaking balls. Bush left one of those upper-90s fastballs out over the plate and Toe slapped it back up the middle for the walk-off single. Beautiful little piece of hitting. Right back up the box. Torreyes knew he’d won the game right away:

ronald-torreyes

Smart move by Carter striking out rather than hitting into a double play, eh? The Yankees really need a new first baseman. Like yesterday. Anyway, Sanchez to Gregorius to Torreyes gave the Yankees a much-needed feel-good win. The last week and a half as been pretty terrible. Suddenly now everything feels like it’ll be a-okay.

Leftovers
Somehow the Yankees finished the night with seven hits despite getting only two in seven innings against Darvish. They sent ten men to the plate against Bush and five got hits. Five! Didn’t see that coming. Gardner and Sanchez each had two hits. Judge, Gregorius, and Torreyes had one each. No walks and 14 strikeouts, mostly because Darvish was so ridiculous.

Chapman, Green, and Shreve combined: 2 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 1 K, 1 HBP. I guess that qualifies as a good bullpen day these days? Chapman really labored. He threw 28 pitches and got only two swings and misses. His velocity was there though. He topped out at 102.2 mph. After the shoulder issue, I can’t help but keep on eye on the radar gun.

And finally, the no shutout streak remains alive! It was in serious jeopardy there. The Yankees and Nationals are the only teams in baseball yet to be shut out this season. I love it.

Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
The box score and updated standings are at ESPN and the video highlights are at MLB.com. Check out our Bullpen Workload page too. Here’s the win probability graph:


Source: FanGraphs

Up Next
The second game of this three-game series, assuming the rain holds off Saturday afternoon, which it looks like it will. Luis Cessa and Austin Bibens-Dirkx are the totally not made up scheduled starting pitchers. There are two games left on the homestand and RAB Tickets can get you into Yankee Stadium for both of them.

DotF: Florial goes deep again in Charleston’s win

Lots of Yankees made this week’s Prospect Hot Sheet: 2B Nick Solak (3rd), RHP Chance Adams (9th), OF Dustin Fowler (11th), and 3B Miguel Andujar (17th). Solak is hitting .310/.417/.448 (155 wRC+) with nearly as many walks (38) as strikeouts (43) overall. Gotta think a promotion to Double-A Trenton is coming soon. High-A isn’t much of a challenge for a guy who was a three-year starter at Louisville.

Triple-A Scranton (9-2 win over Pawtucket)

  • 3B Tyler Wade: 1-3, 2 R, 1 RBI, 2 BB, 3 SB, 1 E (throwing) — tenth game at third base this season … 23-for-27 (85%) in steal attempts
  • RF Tyler Austin: 2-4, 1 R, 1 2B, 2 RBI, 1 BB, 1 K — threw a runner out at the plate … 6-for-15 (.400) with two doubles and three home runs in his last four games
  • LF Clint Frazier: 1-5, 1 R, 1 3B, 1 RBI — here’s video of the triple
  • SS Cito Culver: 2-3, 2 R, 1 2B, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 BB — he’s hitting .250/.326/.487 this year, you know … eight homers is only one shy of his career high
  • LHP Caleb Smith: 6 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 6 K, 6/3 GB/FB — 64 of 98 pitches were strikes (65%) … 77/21 K/BB in 78.2 innings for the Rule 5 Draft pick … he was in camp with the Cubs this year but couldn’t stick

[Read more…]

Game 71: Win a game this isn’t funny anymore

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Okay, I’m sick of this losing business. It’s been going on too long. Yeah, the Yankees won two days ago, but they let another winnable game slip away last night, and that’s been happening far too often the last two weeks. The Yankees have been beating themselves too much. Last night it was the errors. Last week it was the bullpen. Stop it, dudes. You’re better than this.

Anyway, Masahiro Tanaka is back on the mound tonight as the Yankees try to figure out why he’s pitching like Javy Vazquez and not the Masahiro Tanaka we saw from 2014-16. I’ll settle for “pitch well enough to win” tonight. Can Tanaka just do that, please? Man, I hope so. Here is the Rangers’ lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:

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

It is cloudy and humid in New York, which usually means rain. The heaviest stuff isn’t coming until early tomorrow morning. There are some showers on the way later tonight, though it doesn’t look like it’ll be anything heavy enough to delay the game. We’ll see. Tonight’s series opener will begin at 7:05pm ET and both YES and MLB Network will have the broadcast. Try to enjoy.

Injury Updates: Chase Headley (back) received an epidural and will be out a few days. Until then, Austin Romine is the backup infielder … Jacoby Ellsbury (concussion) passed the concussion protocol. He’s been taking batting practice and the Yankees are planning his rehab assignment … CC Sabathia (hamstring) threw a bullpen session today for the first time since going on the disabled list … Adam Warren (shoulder) will begin throwing tomorrow.

Update (6:51pm ET): The game will not start on time. Stupid rain. The new start time is TBA.

Update (8:05pm ET): The game is scheduled to begin at 8:40pm ET, so says the Yankees.

Mailbag: Vogt, Moran, Bird, Adams, Judge, Betances, Shreve

I’ve been busy the last few days, so I didn’t have much time for mailbaggin’. Only eight questions this week. These things used to only be three or four questions, you know. Now eight qualifies as small. Anyway, RABmailbag (at) gmail (dot) com. Send questions there.

Vogt. (Lindsey Wasson/Getty)
Vogt. (Lindsey Wasson/Getty)

Mike asks: Do you believe in Stephen Vogt?

I believe in Stephen Vogt. The Athletics designated Vogt for assignment yesterday as part of their renewed emphasis on youth. Vogt is gone, Trevor Plouffe is gone, and I imagine it’s only a matter of time until Jed Lowrie, Yonder Alonso, and Rajai Davis are gone too. The A’s are going young.

Vogt, 32, was hitting .217/.287/.357 (73 wRC+) with four homers in 174 plate appearances this year — Chris Carter went into last night’s game hitting .201/.287/.384 (77 wRC+) — after being an All-Star in 2015 and 2016. His production has dropped from a 116 wRC+ in 2015 to a 93 wRC+ in 2016 to a 73 wRC+ in 2017. That is: bad. And yet, there is this:

  • Vogt is a career .260/.320/.428 (106 wRC+) hitter against righties.
  • He’s a left-handed hitter who can take advantage of the short porch. Example: this homer.
  • He can play first base, fake the outfield, and be an emergency third catcher.
  • Vogt is an A+ clubhouse dude. He’s awesome. Example: his NBA referee impression.
  • If he gets released, Vogt can be signed for the pro-rated portion of the league minimum.

The Yankees gotten nothing from first base this year. Stephen Vogt has been very bad this year! Can he better in Yankee Stadium while limited to platoon duty? Maybe! Now that Aaron Hicks is healthy, the Yankees don’t need Mason Williams on the bench. Sending down Williams for Vogt and giving him a chance at first base could be an upgrade. Probably not, but maybe so.

Here’s the thing though: I don’t think the A’s will release Vogt, and he definitely won’t elect free agency because he has fewer than five years of service time, meaning he’d forfeit the remainder of his $2.965M salary by electing free agency, and that’s not happening. The A’s will outright him to Triple-A and stash him as depth. I wouldn’t trade anything to get him nor would I take on the salary via waivers. If the A’s do release Vogt, sure, see if he’ll come to New York. If they don’t release him, then forget it.

Colin asks: Colin Moran, top college bat, high draft pick, local kid. The Astros are all locked up in the infield (although with Gleyber going to 3rd maybe the Yankees are now). He’s 25 and seemingly figuring it out, would it be possible to pry someone like that away on the cheap side?

Eh, I’m not sure he’s figuring it out as much as he is repeating Triple-A. Moran, the sixth overall pick in the 2013 draft, is hitting .279/.340/.541 (122 wRC+) with 16 homers, 17.6% strikeouts, and 8.2% walks in 57 Triple-A games this year. He’s a left-handed hitter known more for his level swing than his power. MLB.com ranks him as the 23rd best prospect in the Astros’ system. Here’s a piece of their scouting report:

Known for his pure left-handed swing and his ability to barrel balls easily while controlling the strike zone … His approach and relatively flat stroke yield below-average power, however, and he’s not the walk machine he was in college at North Carolina. Moran contributes little value beyond his bat, so he’ll have to boost his projection to become a big league regular … He has the hands and solid arm to play the hot corner, though Moran lacks range there. He’s a well below-average runner whose only other defensive option is first base.

The ‘Stros have Alex Bregman at third base and Yulieski Gurriel at first — plus A.J. Reed is waiting in Triple-A — so there’s no real spot for Moran going forward. He has a minor league option remaining for next season, so I suppose the Astros could stash him in Triple-A for another year as a depth option. They don’t have to move him anytime soon.

The Yankees don’t have a clear cut long-term third baseman. Gleyber Torres is awesome, though his recent Tommy John surgery throws a wrench into things. If nothing else, it delays his arrival. I am a big Miguel Andujar fan, but prospects are suspects until they prove otherwise. Could the Yankees get Moran for a similar busted former top prospect like, say, Mason Williams? It would be worth it given the uncertainty surrounding third base. Moran is by no means a “must acquire” though.

Jake asks: Given Bird’s setback and the likely probability that Detroit will sell, Alex Avila seems like a good fit. He’s on a prove-it contract that expires at the end of this year, he’s played first in the past, and he’s slashing well (including getting on base at a career-best .432 clip). Is he worth the risk?

Interesting! Avila has played 35 games at first base the last two seasons, so it’s not completely new to him, plus you could always stick him behind the plate. Avila is hitting .314/.437/.587 (172 wRC+) with ten homers on the season, easily his best year at the plate, because he’s doing the “hit more fly balls” thing (like Yonder Alonso):

alex-avila-batted-balls

If Greg Bird continues to have injury issues, Avila would be a nifty little pickup. He’d slide right into Bird’s roster spot as the left-handed hitting first baseman (slash catcher), and he’d give the Yankees a nice platoon option against righties. Plus, left-handed hitter and the short porch! Those two things always mix well. I wonder whether the Yankees could get him for someone like Ben Heller or Jonathan Holder. I can’t imagine Avila has much trade value despite his great start. Getting him for an extraneous reliever (the Tigers are in perpetual need of bullpen help) would work.

Bobby asks (short version): Given that the Yankees drafted numerous players at the bottom of the draft who are early round talents, is there any chance that the Yankees would decide to go crazy and sign all of them to multi-million dollar bonuses? They would have to forfeit their first round pick in the next two drafts and pay 100% tax on the overage.

No team has ever exceeded their bonus pool to the point where they forfeit future draft picks and I don’t see that happening anytime soon. It is an interesting idea though. In the late rounds this year, the Yankees drafted one bonafide first round talent (Alabama HS RHP Tanner Burns) and two players who could be first round picks next year with healthy 2018 college seasons (Stanford RHP Tristan Beck and Louisville RHP Riley Thompson). Beck is a potential top ten pick next year.

Exceeding your bonus pool by 15% or more means forfeiting your next two first round picks and paying a 100% tax on the overage. If the Yankees were to give those three players first round money, say $2.5M to $3M each, they’d be way over their $6.91M bonus pool. Let’s call it $3M each. That means paying $9M in bonus, $9M in tax, and giving up their first round picks in 2018 and 2019. But! You are adding three first round caliber talents to the organization right now. I think this is seriously worth considering when you’re talking about signing more than two such players. Doing it for one doesn’t make sense. But three? It’s not a bad idea. I don’t see the Yankees doing it though.

Michael asks: With the hole at first base who would you acquire? Any thoughts on Matt Adams? He’s cheap and controllable beyond this year.

I’ve never been a big Adams guy but he has been raking since getting traded to the Braves: .294/.346/.647 (148 wRC+) with eleven homers in 30 games prior to last night. Unless you think he’s a new player for some reason — and there’s nothing in the underlying numbers to suggest this is something more than a hot streak — Adams is the same guy he was with the Cardinals a few weeks ago. Atlanta gave up a non-top 30 organizational prospect to get him (Juan Yepez) and that’s all I’d give up to get him now. I’m not paying a bigger price because he had a month long hot streak with the Braves that will in no way benefit me. If the Yankees can get Adams for a non-top 30 guy, say Abi Avelino or Chris Gittens, do it. That’s about my limit here.

Henry asks: without seeing the numbers the eyeball test is telling me that Judges K rate has been climbing. It seems like he is maybe a little frustrated by the lack of good pitches in the zone and hes swinging more at the low and away out of the zone. It also looks that he might be sitting fastball a bit too much as im seeing him take a lot of loopy curves down the middle. do the numbers and your opinion back this up?

Aaron Judge‘s strikeout rate spiked in May and has stayed at the same level since. He was running a 29.8% strikeout rate heading into last night’s game. Here’s the graph:

aaron-judge-strikeout-rate

Twenty-eight of Judge’s 87 strikeouts this season have been looking, or 32.2%. The MLB average is 23.3%. I’m guessing all those low strikes he keeps getting called against him has something to do with that. It does seem like Judge has been caught looking a little more often the last few weeks — I could be completely wrong — and maybe that means he’s caught in between a bit. He’s looking fastball but gets a breaking ball, and vice versa. That sorta thing. Judge is striking out a lot, but man, whatever he’s doing, it’s working. Keep doing it.

Michael asks: Is DiDi’s very low walk rate concerning to you? There have been 208 players with 190+ PA and DiDi is ranked 204th with a BB% of just 3.1.

Nah. I wish Didi Gregorius would walk more, but I don’t think it’s going to happen. This is who he is. He’s a free swinger. And it works for him! Didi makes plenty of contact and he can hit the ball over the fence. I’d just let him be. Swinging is in his DNA so let him do it. If Gregorius wasn’t producing or if the Yankees had six or seven hitters like this in the lineup, it would be a problem. But he’s been hitting and, by and large, the Yankees have a patient lineup. One (or two, really, counting Starlin Castro) free swinger ain’t the end of the world.

Daniel asks: I don’t have video evidence, but it seems to me that Betances has seriously closed off his stance on the mound. What do you think? With Shreve doing the same, does two make a trend?

Both Dellin Betances and Chasen Shreve have closed their deliveries this year. Here’s what I mean:

dellin-betances-chasen-shreve-2016-vs-2017

One of the ex-pitcher YES Network broadcasters spoke about this a few weeks ago. I think it was David Cone. He said closing up like that — Betances and Shreve are practically showing their number to the hitter now — helps the pitcher stop from flying open out front. They stay back better and can more easily maintain their balance through their delivery. That’s what the broadcaster (again, Cone, I think) said, so take their word for it.

Shreve is throwing harder this season. His average fastball is 92.9 mph, up from 92.2 mph the last two years, and his max velocity has jumped from 94.8 mph to 95.7 mph. Basically one full mile-an-hour. That’s not nothing. I have no idea whether the slight velocity jump is due to closing up his delivery, but I suppose it could be related. The fact two pitchers on the same staff have done this now, closed up their delivery, leads me to believe it’s not a coincidence. The coaching staff encouraged this. And hey, given the way Betances and Shreve have pitched this year, it seems it be working.