Scouting the Free Agent Market: Rich Hill

(Getty)
(Getty)

Remember when Rich Hill pitched for the Yankees back in 2014? He threw 5.1 IP of one-run ball in 14 appearances, walking three and striking out nine. The Yankees, of course, did not bring him back that offseason. That 2014 season was the final season of his very forgettable seven-year stretch in which Hill was marred by injuries and inefficiency. In those years, he threw only 153.0 ML innings total with a cumulative 5.41 ERA and 108 walks. No one was going to give serious consideration to an aging journeyman pitcher who had a 6.4 BB/9 since 2008.

As you may know, it’s been a total turnaround for Hill. In 2015, he figured some things out and got a chance with the Red Sox. He threw four stellar games for Boston (29.0 IP, 14 H, 5 ER, 5 BB, 36 K, 1.55 ERA), looking unlike the pitcher who seemed to be on the verge of irrelevancy. Those four games made him an intriguing yet uncertain player entering free agency. The A’s took a flier on him with a one-year deal and a $6 million guarantee.

Hill showed in 2016 that he can stay effective for more than just four starts. In fact, he was one of the best ML starters when healthy. Pitching for the A’s and Dodgers, he had a 12-5 record with a 2.12 ERA in 20 starts. His underlying stats (2.39 FIP) suggest it was no fluke.

I was going to name this “Is Rich Hill a fit for the Yankees?” but of course he’s a fit. A pitcher who can perform like he did in those 20 starts this year is going to be a fit for any team. It is a question of whether Yankees should take a risk and throw money at him after what he’s done in his career, specifically the past two seasons. Let’s break it down.

1. He’s really good. Perhaps good enough that Yankees should consider splurging a bit.

The Yankees have not been willing to offer a huge-money contract to a starting pitcher since, well, Masahiro Tanaka in the 2013-14 offseason. Prior to that, they were willing to break the bank for Cliff Lee but the lefty chose to play with the Phillies. They also approached and signed Hiroki Kuroda via free agency.

The common theme that I see is that you could count on solid, consistent production from those guys. Sure, Tanaka was just coming out of NPB, but many had tabbed him to be a real deal. Cliff Lee, of course, was an ace and he went on a pitch like one in Philly. Kuroda pitched four very consistent seasons for the Dodgers before coming over to New York.

The Yankees did not bother much with the Ricky Nolascos or Wei-Yin Chens of the world — guys who were above average prior to hitting the market, but would you really be comfortable giving either a five-year, $80 million contract? (That’s how much the Marlins are paying Chen by the way. He had a 4.96 ERA in 22 GS in the first year of contract.)

Sure, Hill’s track record of domination isn’t long but his 2016 season reassured us that his surge is for real. He figured something out. Unless his physical strength deteriorates big time, he should have at least a year or two of quality pitching left in tank. You want numbers on how good he is? Here are some (min. 110 IP):

  • 2.12 ERA — ranks 2nd behind Clayton Kershaw
  • 2.39 FIP — ranks 4th behind Kershaw, Noah Syndergaard and Jose Fernandez
  • 10.52 K/9 — ranks 9th
  • 0.33 HR/9 — ranks 1st. It helps that he pitched in two of the most pitcher-friendly ballparks (A’s Coliseum and Dodger Stadium), but still, a great figure.
  • 22.3% soft contact rate — ranks 9th highest
  • 28.3% hard contact rate — ranks 19th lowest

As you can see, Hill ranked among the top 10 in many positive stats. It’s not like he was great at just one thing, a la Michael Pineda and striking hitters out. He excelled in many facets of dominating hitters. He’s a guy that you’d give a ball to in important games ten times out of ten.

If you need a refresher on what Hill’s stuff looks like, here are all the pitches thrown from his September 10 start versus Miami.

2. He won’t cost a pick.

The Yankees hold the 17th overall pick for the MLB Draft next year, which means that they will lose it if they sign a free agent that rejected the qualifying offer. New York is one of the teams that can afford to pick signability guys early and gift them with an ample bonus cash, just like what they did with Blake Rutherford, the 18th overall pick of the draft this year.

I don’t think Yankees would risk losing a pick that high for a pitcher with substantial risk. They have been collecting many young assets via the draft and trades, and I don’t see them slowing down anytime soon. Hill did not reject the qualifying offer — he couldn’t receive one because he was traded at midseason — so he won’t cost the Yankees their first round pick.

3. What about his age and health? 

The thing about Rich Hill is that the man has a long enough injury history to it out on an entire roll of toilet paper. In 2016 alone, he had two separate DL stints (groin and blisters) and was limited to only 110.1 IP. The silver lining is that neither of them are serious arm issues, but they still caused him to miss an extended amount of time. One of the last things you want during the season is to have one of your best pitchers hit the disabled list, whatever the reason may be.

If the Yankees sign Hill, they will monitor his workload for sure. It’s pretty clear that the Yanks are targeting bullpen arms this offseason. If all goes as planned, they could have another ‘pen that can send an array of trustworthy arms after a 5-6 IP outing by the starter. I’m not guaranteeing that they will sign another guy beyond Aroldis Chapman/Kenley Jansen/Mark Melancon, but I think it would make sense if they do. In 20 regular season starts, Hill went 7 innings or longer only thrice. The highest pitch count he had was 112. If New York signs him, I think it is very possible that Joe Girardi will have a strict limit.

From what we can tell, Hill can give a team excellent quality innings in a limited number of starts. “Limited” is the key word here. Prior to 2016, the last time he had a 100+ IP season in pros was 2010 (103.0 IP total between AAA and MLB). In his pro career that started in 2002, only six times he managed to break the 100 IP mark. That is kind of terrifying.

Behind that number are a lot of injuries, but at the same time, he was very ineffective and also had pitched as a reliever. Perhaps we shouldn’t take the figure too seriously. It is true, however, he has limited or basically zero track record of durability. There could very well be a scenario in which he suffers a major injury early on in the contract and is never effective again. Obviously I am no Dodgers fan, but I always get wary that a free agent pitching signing could go as bad as the Jason Schmidt deal. It’s not an outcome that happens often but anything bad could happen when you take on an aging arm.

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(Getty)

4. Do the Yankees need rotation help? (Spoiler: Yes)

As of right now, the two locks for the 2017 rotation are Masahiro Tanaka, CC Sabathia, and Pineda. Who do they have otherwise? Nathan Eovaldi will be rehabbing. Luis Severino could spend another year flip-flopping between the rotation and bullpen. Chad Green will have to earn a spot again if he recovers well from sprained elbow. Bryan Mitchell had a decent showing late in the year but I can’t say he’s locked down a rotation spot. There’s also Luis Cessa, who was decent but not a type that I’d easily guarantee a spot to.

So yeah, there are tons of question marks. At this point, you’ve gotta figure management knows that they need to make a move to improve the rotation to be competitive in 2017. As you can see the names from above, the young depth is there. It is hard to tell, at this moment, if any of them will turn out to be a reliable MLB starter for 2018 and beyond.

The Yankees would surely like to be a winning team in 2017. A Tanaka-Hill tandem would be a hoot. Hill was worth 3.8 fWAR in 2016, which is remarkable considering he only threw 110.1 IP. Getting 20 starts worth of solid production is better than none. Also, in a scenario where the 2017 Yankees tank coming into the trade deadline and Hill pitches lights out, they could explore trading him for prospects.

I think Hill is a worthy venture. He is an elite starting pitcher when healthy … for now. You never know what could happen to a pitcher turning 37. Unless he suffers a season-ending injury, a team could count on him for 100-130 IP worth of solid production. Is 150 IP out of the question? Maybe. If they monitor him well and his body doesn’t betray him, I can see Hill being a useful starter until the young guys in the organization start to make an impact. However, he hasn’t shown a track record of staying healthy as a SP for most of the season since, well, 2007.

On the other side of the coin, Hill wouldn’t require a draft pick or a trade. Just a check from the Steinbrenners. If the contract is around 3 years and $45-50 million, I say sign him. You don’t get many chances to sign a guy with such upside for that money. I don’t think money would be a huge issue for Yankees. However, I’m wondering, because of the weak starting pitching market this winter, if the Hill camp pushes the envelopes a bit and demand more annual money and/or a fourth year. I’m sure the team has done/doing/will do their research to evaluate whether Hill would be worth the risk. We’ll see what happens.

Yankees get walloped in Baltimore, lose 8-0 to Orioles

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To put it succinctly, this game was not good. An 8-0 loss is, surprisingly enough, the worst ever shutout loss for the Yankees at Camden Yards. The lineup managed only two hits total while Chad Green exited early with a right elbow pain. No bueno. Aside from the fact that Jonathan Holder had a pretty nice debut inning, let’s forget this game happened.

Green = hurt

After a hit-or-miss first in which he loaded the bases but also struck out the side and allowed no runs, Green allowed the first run of the day in the second. He allowed a double to J.J. Hardy (which Jacoby Ellsbury got a bad jump to start with but I don’t think he was getting there anyway) and two batters later, an RBI single to Adam Jones to give O’s a 1-0 lead.

A batter later, Pedro Alvarez hit a fastball right down the middle for a 424 ft two-run homer. 3-0 Orioles. After walking Manny Machado, Gary Sanchez and Didi Gregorius saw something wrong with Green. Joe Girardi immediately took him out and replaced him with Nick Goody. Yikes. Goody didn’t fare that well either. He gave up a dingers Chris Davis and Mark Trumbo back-to-back. The Yankees allowed six runs after two outs, which is not what you want.

Losing Green is a bummer. He’s still a young guy but has shown flashes of brilliance in several starts. I think he can he a long-term ML pitcher but if this injury turns out to be a serious one – fingers crossed that it’s not – it could throw a wrench into the progress.

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Bullpen arms = brought in 

As I mentioned, the Yankee bullpen had to absorb tons of innings after Green left after only 1.2 IP. Goody came in and promptly allowed back-to-back jacks. The following inning was kinder to Goody – a scoreless frame with a strikeout and a double allowed. He doesn’t strike me as a potentially dominant ML relief guy. He doesn’t have overpowering stuff and is frequently guilty of leaving pitches up to be prone to homers. Sure, he can develop and fix some of the bad habits but I don’t see a high ceiling in him.

Kirby Yates came in the fourth and took care of two innings. Like Goody, he was pretty ho-hum mediocre. While striking out two in two frames, he also allowed a two-run dinger to Manny Machado, making it 8-0 in the bottom of fourth.

The silver lining of the game happened in the sixth. Jonathan Holder, who had an incredible season in minors (13.9 K/9 and 1.0 BB/9 with 1.65 ERA across three levels), made his ML debut. Against the first hitter faced in ML – Adam Jones – Holder made it look rather easy by striking him out swinging with three fastballs. Not so shabby. He also went on to retire Alvarez and Machado to make it a clean 1-2-3 inning. I have no idea how good of an ML reliever he could be but YankeeSource guy thinks he has a ceiling of David Robertson. Any comparison to a guy like D-Rob warrants some kind of skepticism but hey, drink the kool-aid while it’s cold.

After Holder, Luis Severino and Blake Parker came in and each pitched a scoreless one. Nope, I don’t have a take about Severino being a bullpen arm long-term. He sure does look better there right now but he’s still too young to give up being an ML starter.

Leftovers

The Yankees had two hits the entire game. One of them was a Brett Gardner leadoff single in the 1st (he went on to be picked off almost immediately) and another was an Ellsbury single in the third that put their only runner in RISP all game. They did work Dylan Bundy for four walks but failed to threaten anything major.

To be fair, Bundy is a talented young guy and is capable of shutting down lineups. He will be pain in other AL East teams’ sides for a long while as long as he’s healthy.

Box Score, Highlights, WPA and Standings

Here’s tonight’s box score, video highlights, WPA and updated standings.


Source: FanGraphs


Tomorrow is another day. CC Sabathia will take the mound against Kevin Gausman, who will look to give the O’s the series win. For now, enjoy this incredible photo of Camden Yards at dusk today by Patrick Smith of Getty Images.

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Yankees get shellacked 12-3 by Rays, but hey, Judge and Sanchez homered


Source: FanGraphs

Come for Yankee baseball, stay just for young hitter dingers. Luis Severino got torched by the Rays today and Luis Cessa didn’t do too well either. However, those who paid their money to see the Yanks got to see Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez hit home runs to drive in their only runs of the day. It’s the weekend so let’s do it bullet point style.

  • The Runs (Allowed): Evan Longoria continued to kill the Yankees this series (or, as he’s always done in his career). He drove in the first run of the game for Rays in the first with an RBI double with Logan Forsythe on second. Longoria went 3-for-4 today with 4 RBI’s, doing his part in the 12-run barrage. Guys like Forsythe, Corey Dickerson and Nick Franklin also added in home runs. It was basically a field day. Each one of the Rays starters recorded at least a hit, which should just about tell you how bad the Yankee pitching was.
  • Baby (HR) Bombers: With team trailing 2-0 in the bottom of third, Judge hit a laser just above the short porch for a solo HR. Judge is here to kill baseballs. That ball didn’t seem like it wasn’t particularly hit that hard off the bat but it somehow sailed over the fence. Maybe it’s the easiness of how Judge swings the bat but man, that was something. Save a spot in your bank account for another Yankee jersey – you might want to get a #99 in an imminent future. An inning later, Sanchez got a fastball to drive into the left field seats. This one was a no-doubter.
  • Bad Command Sevvy: We all know the story with Severino. His electric fastball and slider allowed him to strike out seven in 3.2 IP, but he was touched for 7 hits and 2 HR’s in that span, giving up 7 earned runs. The Yankees sent him down to Triple-A right after the game and I hope he gets to maintain rhythm and work on stuff down there. I think he’ll figure something out but it doesn’t mean he’ll be a long-term SP in the majors.
  • Leftovers: After Sevvy departed, Cessa came in to relief. His line doesn’t look as bad as Severino’s but that’s not saying much. He allowed five earned runs in three innings pitched and a dinger to Nick Franklin. Blake Parker made his second Yankee appearance and tossed 1.1 scoreless IP with two strikeouts.

Here’s today’s box score, highlights, WPA and updated standings. The Yankees welcome the Blue Jays to Bronx tomorrow for a three-game series. Chad Green and R.A Dickey are starting Monday. This could be fun or disastrous.

Yankees fall short in the ninth, lose 5-3 to the Red Sox

This picture summarizes it, I think (Getty)

This game started off pretty nicely with a two-run explosion by the bats. With this Yankees team, that’s kind of too good to be true, right?  The Red Sox then scored five runs and held on during a pretty dicey ninth to win the game 5-3.

Taking the lead

For a little while in the game, I was a bit excited about the possibility of Luis Severino out-dueling Rick Porcello. If you haven’t been paying attention, Porcello’s numbers have been pretty neat this year. Prior to tonight’s game, he had a 14-3 record with a 3.46 ERA, becoming the pitcher that Boston envisioned to be when they gave up Yoenis Cespedes. Severino, on the other hand, has had a very up-and-down season in which he’s experienced major growing pains in the majors.

Happier times (Getty)

The Yankees, however, struck first. In the second, Starlin Castro doubled to lead off the inning and Chase Headley drove him in with a two-bagger of his to give New York a 1-0 lead. Castro seemed to move a bit gimpy after his double but thankfully, he stayed in game and played rest of the way.

You don’t call it an offensive explosion without consecutive innings of scoring. Brett Gardner doubled (yeah, again) to lead off the inning. Two batters later, Brian McCann squared up one to right for an RBI single, giving the Yankees a 2-0 lead. Well, that’s as close to the climax for Yanks’ part of the game.

Giving’em back (and then more)

Severino started the bottom third with a Sandy Leon K. However, Andrew Benintendi singled (his first Fenway hit, by the way) and Mookie Betts followed it with a double to put him in a hot water all of sudden with runners on second and third. On the 9th pitch of the at-bat, Severino left a fastball middle up and Dustin Pedroia drove it down the right field line for a two-run double. Argh. Pedroia will do that to ya, especially if you’re a young pitcher going through things.

After tossing a scoreless fourth, Severino got into more trouble in the fifth by allowing a leadoff triple to Sandy Leon. Benintendi followed it with a looooong double that was initially called a double… then called a home run… then reviewed and called a double again. A batter later, Pedroia struck again, hitting a sharp liner down the right field (again) to drive in a run. 4-2. I’m honestly willing to give it time for Severino to develop as a possible ML starter but tonight was just not great – not being able to finish hitters off, giving up big hits, etc. Fortunately, he’s at a stage of the career that there’s always a next time.

Oh, Severino had his earned run tacked on to his ledger when Tommy Layne, making his Yankee debut, let the inherited runner score on an Ortiz RBI single. Sevvy’s final line: 4.1 IP, 7 H, 5 ER, 0 BB and 3K.

The unlucky seventh

Behind 5-2, the Yankees could’ve padded about two runs (or even more) had it not been for some unfortunate baserunning hijinks. Headley hit a big fly bouncing off the center field wall to lead off the inning. The ball trickled away and it appeared that Headley could reach third. However, Jackie Bradley Jr.’s strong, accurate throw caught him out there. As third base coach Joe Espada wanted to check with dugout to see if they could challenge the call, apparently Porcello and Headley had a heated exchange that led to both benches clearing. The Yankee – Sox rivalry ain’t what it used to be, but hey, nothing like a drama like that to make things exciting.

With two outs, Aaron Hicks hit a weak grounder to third that Travis Shaw misplayed, allowing him to reach first base. Gardner followed it up with a sharp grounder down the left field line that seemed like Hicks should’ve scored on. However, Hicks missed Espada furiously waving him home and hesitated as he rounded the base. By the time Hicks saw it, it was too late – he had to stay there or he was dead meat at home. I have no idea how to explain that besides not really paying attention or losing Espada in the vision while running – or both. Yanks’ scoring chance died with Ellsbury’s line out to right.

Close call

Porcello threw eight innings of two-run ball and Farrell brought in his closer Craig Kimbrel to close out the game. Kimbrel is, well, known to be pretty good at this. Tonight, however, he seemed like he had difficulty putting balls into the zone.

After striking out Didi Gregorius, Kimbrel walked Headley. Once Gary Sanchez followed it up with a line out though, it seemed like the end of game was imminent. Well, that’s when Kimbrel walked three hitters in a row – the last one coming in a bases-loaded situation versus Jacoby Ellsbury. Pitching is pretty hard and that’s not really news to anyone. Kimbrel seemed like he was out of sync and not finishing the pitches well, resulting in a lot of pitches way off the mark and, well, walking a bunch of hitters.

The Yankees decreased the deficit to two runs and Farrell took Kimbrel out for Matt Barnes. Barnes had only one job and he got it done – getting the last out of the game. He did so by striking out Mark Teixeira looking with a fastball outside. I don’t know how to say it but this seemed like a fitting end to tonight’s game – the Yankees tried, but for one reason or another, they didn’t execute.

Box score, highlights, WPA and standings

Here’s tonight’s box score, video highlights, WPA and updated standings.


Source: FanGraphs

Up next

The Yankees and Red Sox will play game two of this series tomorrow. Nathan Eovaldi and Drew Pomeranz will be the starters.

Yankees listless all around in a 7-1 loss to the Mets

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I think we’re gonna have many more games like this the last few months. Pretty unspectacular, etc. The Yankee offense had almost nothing going on against Jacob deGrom and, well, the Mets bats scored seven, which was more than enough. The Yankees are bad and boring (for now) and this is this kind of game you get once in awhile.

The Mets Scoring Sequences

This game can be summarized by describing how the Mets scored. First, they jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the bottom third. After retiring the first eight hitters, Masahiro Tanaka gave up a single to … Jacob deGrom. Against the next hitter, Alejandro De Aza, Tanaka threw a 91-mph sinker that found the meat of the barrel and landed in the right field seats. It was one of those “well, that happened” moments. De Aza is not a guy known for his power but then again, he did (somehow) hit for a 1.031 OPS in the month of July.

The Mets added another in the fifth. Travis d’Arnaud, leading off the inning, hit a Tanaka slider into the left field seats for a 3-0 lead. It was a hanger of a pitch and d’Arnaud reached out to make a solid contact. They tacked on four more runs in the seventh to make this game pretty much out of reach.

Wilmer Flores singled and reached second on Brett Gardner‘s throwing error to left to start the inning. Michael Conforto followed it up with an RBI double to left to make it 4-0. Two batters later, Matt Reynolds hit a soft fly ball RBI single to drive Conforto in. Tanaka surrendered another base hit to deGrom before being lifted for Richard Bleier.

Bleier, he of the 3.86 K/9 in the Triple-A, was tasked to face pinch-hitting Yoenis Cespedes. Cespedes hit a pretty hard grounder towards the left of Starlin Castro. Castro couldn’t handle it and throw to first base in time to get Yoenis as another run scored for a 6-0 Mets lead. Neil Walker followed it up with an RBI double to score another for Metropolitans. Yawn. By the end of the inning, all seven runs that Mets scored were charged to Tanaka.

At least for the first eight batters, it seemed like Tanaka was going to be on a roll along with deGrom. However, bad pitches here and there snowballed into a mediocre 7 ER-outing.

Didi Bomb!

The Yankees were kept scoreless up to the very last inning. As it turned top of ninth, many on Twitter were quick to point out that Yankees have never ben shut out in Citi Field, as if that streak was going to break tonight. Didi Gregorius said “not so fast!” On the second pitch of the inning, Gregorius took a slow curve from Jon Niese into the right field seats to erase the shutout. 7-1 Mets. Well, that’s something, right?

As you know, Didi has been one of the very few bright spots of the team this year. After tonight, he’s hitting for a .290/.318/.453 line for season, good for a 104 wRC+. He’s slugging higher than Bryce Harper, Albert Pujols, Hanley Ramirez and Eric Hosmer this season. That short porch probably helped but still, how about that?

At least you didn’t get the golden sombrero. (Getty)

Leftovers

The first two guys of the lineup — Gardner and Jacoby Ellsbury — were held to 1-for-8 tonight (Gardner struck out three times). They went 4-for-10 last night with 2 RBI’s, playing a big part of the Yanks’ exciting win. I feel like they both have been underperforming this year and that kind of translates to how the offense has done in general this year.

Box score, highlights, WPA and standings

Here’s tonight’s box score, video highlights, WPA and updated standings.


Source: FanGraphs


The Yankees are back in Bronx tomorrow for the second half of the Subway Series. Chad Green will face Steven Matz in the battle of young starters.

Yankees win a wild one in Queens, down the Mets 6-5

You thought the trades were the most exciting thing about the Yankees the past few days? Boy, how about tonight’s game? The Yankees were trailing 5-3 heading into the bottom of 8th, and they managed to tie it up. They scored a go-ahead run in the 10th and Dellin Betances barely held on to get the save.

Welp (Getty)

Taking the lead

The Yankees almost had an electric start to the game. Almost. On the second pitch of the game, Brett Gardner hit a big fly that hit the center field fence and trickled away from CF Justin Ruggiano. Gardner got to third pretty easily as they were just relaying the ball into the infield when he started to race towards home. Catcher Travis d’Arnaud got the ball and tagged Gardner out just before his hand got on the plate. It wasn’t like Gardner was slacking on base either – he rounded the base in 14.89 seconds, which is fastest home-to-home speed recorded by StatCast this season. I just think that Mets were in a better position to field it than the Yanks had thought. Oh well.

The Mets got the first run of the game in the bottom of second. Wilmer Flores got a hold of a fastball and drove it out to give them a 1-0 lead. At least on the mound, that was the only mistake CC Sabathia made prior to the sixth inning. The Yankees responded in the fourth with a run of their own. Jacoby Ellsbury led off with double and reached third on Brian McCann fly out. On a 0-1 count versus Didi Gregorius, Verrett threw a sinker way inside and d’Arnaud missed it for a wild pitch, scoring Ellsbury.

The Yankees plated two more in the fifth. With two outs and Rob Refsnyder on second, Gardner hit a double to give the Yankees a 2-1 lead and Ellsbury followed it up with an RBI single (Gardner reached second on Alejandro De Aza’s bobbling error). 3-1 Yankees. Sure, this isn’t the same team but the Yankees were making things happen tonight. However, they are still a flawed bunch.

Falling apart

CC was throwing a pretty solid game until the bottom sixth. Around then, while his slider was still snapping well, his fastball command was, well, not good. After Flores reached on an infield single, he allowed another single to d’Arnaud, but he hit it much better this time. The 91 mph fastball was up in the zone and he hit it squarely to right field.

Sabathia got himself some breathing room by easily striking out James Loney, courtesy of that nasty knockout slider that made him look silly. However, he threw yet another fastball up to Matt Reynolds that left the yard immediately. The Yankees trailed 5-3 after that three-run homer. CC got one more out and was lifted after walking … the pinch-hitting pitcher Steve Matz. That was a weird sight.

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Tie Game!

The score stayed 5-3 going into the bottom of eighth. At this point, the odds against the Yanks were, well, not great. The Mets don’t necessarily have the best relief corp but the Addison Reed-Jeurys Familia combo in the eighth-ninth innings has been pretty solid. Reed came into the eighth with Gardner on and one out. Reed easily struck out Mark Teixeira to make it two outs and needed to get one more to hand it to Jeurys in the ninth. McCann, the next guy up, got a 0-1 fastball and hit it through the shift to make it runners on first and third. Next up? Probably the best hitter in the team, Didi Gregorius.

During Didi’s AB, Reed threw a wild pitch that advanced pinch-runner Ronald Torreyes to second, setting up two runners in scoring position. After a lengthy battle of fouling pitches off, Didi hit a blooper that landed between the left fielder and shortstop to bring both runners in. Wow. That reminded me so much of that Jorge Posada bloop double in the 2003 ALCS Game 7 that tied the game. The 2016 Yankees, now without some of their best players, made a thing happen!

Free Baseball! 

The game headed into extra innings with no changes in scoring. The Mets sent out RHP Seth Lugo to take care of the tenth. With an Ellsbury walk and Teixeira single, Yankees were immediately in business. With A-Rod on deck, Girardi pulled him back and put in Ben Gamel to sac bunt.

Gamel, who was called up just earlier today to take Carlos Beltran‘s spot, bunted it quite evenly between the baseline and the pitcher. Lugo thought he had a chance to get the lead runner out but wait … it’s Ellsbury we’re talking about. Jacoby beat the throw to third and it loaded the bases with no outs. Your usual sacrifice bunt with fielder’s choice.

Didi struck out to give Mets a sigh of relief, but Starlin Castro hit a long (I mean, really long) sac fly just a few feet away from being a grand slam to put the Yankees up 6-5. Chase Headley snared a liner that looked good off the bat but it was right towards Curtis Granderson. On to the bottom of the 10th. It’s neither Aroldis Chapman time nor Andrew Miller time. It’s … Dellin time.

Betances didn’t start great. On the third pitch of the inning, he allowed a double to Loney. The Mets, up against one of the deadliest pitchers of the league, decided to give away an out by having Reynolds sac bunt to advance Loney to third. A HBP to De Aza made it runners on corners with one out.

Next up was Rene Rivera, who took over Familia’s hitting spot after the ninth. He hit a grounder that bounced in front of the mound and went right into Dellin’s glove. Holy moly. If that went past Dellin, the game was surely going to be tied. Instead, it only advanced the runner from first to second.

With two outs and two runners in scoring position, Dellin did what he’s known for – being nasty and striking hitters out. He got Granderson out on three pitches – a fastball and two low curveballs. Game, 6-5 Yankees. This will probably be one of the top 10 games of the season. It wasn’t great for your heart but I would watch again.

Leftovers

Tyler Clippard, back in the pinstripes after being traded after the 2007 season, pitched in the bottom of 7th tonight. Fun fact: he made his Yankee debut in 2007 against the Mets in the old Shea Stadium. Tonight, he made his re-debut (if that’s a thing) with the Yanks against the Mets in Citi Field. He came into the game with an underwhelming 4.30 ERA but I personally think he can be serviceable – the dude had a 2.80 ERA up to mid-July before running into a series of nutty outings. He threw a scoreless inning with two K’s tonight. I’ll take that any night.

Adam Warren, another Yankee recently re-acquired through trade, threw two scoreless frames. I honestly feel like he could be back being a decent bullpen arm back in Bronx.

Box score, highlights, WPA and standings

Here’s tonight’s box score, video highlights, WPA and updated standings.


Source: FanGraphs

Up next

The Yankees and Mets will play the second game of this four-game series Tuesday night. Aces Masahiro Tanaka and Jacob deGrom will be on the mound.

Four straight? Four straight. Yankees shut out the O’s 5-0

The Yankees have won four straight games, including three against the Orioles. Remember when this series was supposed to be grim for New York? Completely different so far. They could pull off a four-game sweep now.

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Biggie Mikes

Sure, the O’s lineup is pretty banged up. Manny Machado is sick, so is Chris Davis. Hyun Soo Kim just landed on DL and Matt Wieters was also scratched. However, it was just an ordeal for Michael Pineda earlier this year pitching to any ML lineup. That being said, seeing an outing like that from him is quite encouraging.

Tonight was Pineda’s first scoreless start of the year. How about that? It seemed like he was surely going to have “one of those innings” in the fourth, when he got into a bases loaded, one-out situation. However, Big Mike turned to his most effective weapon to disarm the next two hitters. His slider was pretty filthy tonight. He threw it 45 times and generated 18 swings-and-misses, good for a 40% whiff (!) rate. He struck out Nolan Reimold on three straight sliders and got Ryan Flaherty strike out swinging on a fifth-pitch slider to end the inning. He had, however, thrown a whopping 79 pitches in four innings by then.

Pineda got into more trouble the next year, when he put a runner on third with one out in the sixth. Mark Trumbo led off with a double and advanced to third on Pedro Alvarez’s ground out. After a mound visit, Pineda reverted back to his nasty mode, striking out J.J. Hardy and Reimold to end the inning, and his night. He walked off the mound having thrown 6 scoreless innings with 5 hits allowed, 2 walks and 8 strikeouts. It wasn’t a perfect start but it’s the type of an outing that makes you hopeful about his season (or trade stock).

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A First Inning Run?????

Prior to tonight, the last time the Yankees scored a run in the first inning was on June 21, during the home series against the Rockies. What is today? July 20. Almost a full month has gone and Yankees finally, finally scored a run in the first inning today.

On the very first pitch of the bottom of the first, Brett Gardner drilled a slider that deflected off of RF Joey Rickard’s glove and ended up becoming a triple. It seemed like Rickard was going to make a nice catch on the wall but he couldn’t hold onto it. On the very next pitch though, Jacoby Ellsbury seemed to be reluctant to break the streak by popping out. However, Carlos Beltran hit a sac fly to drive Gardner in to make it 1-0.

A Pretty Decent Offense?

The Yankees scored five runs in five different innings today, which, I guess, makes for a neat scoreboard display: no 2’s, no 3’s, just a whole lot of 0’s and 1’s all around. They took that 1-0 lead into the fourth and Mark Teixeira hit a solo homer to make it 2-0. He hit a 88 mph pitch that was more of a line drive than a fly ball, and it just didn’t really sink until it got into the short porch seats. Tex is having a pretty abysmal season (58 wRC+ after this game) but hopefully some dingers will turn it around.

New York could have piled on way more runs in the sixth. Ellsbury led off with a single and Beltran saw a huge open space on the third base side and easily bunted for a single. Brian McCann worked a five-pitch walk to load the bases. Gallardo, clearly shaken a bit, walked Teixeira in four pitches to force in a run. 3-0 Yankees. With two of the hottest bats in the team coming up (Didi Gregorius and Starlin Castro), you’d think Yankees were to score more. However, Gregorius struck out and Castro grounded into a double play to end the frame in an anticlimactic sense. Oh well.

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But pout not, the Yankees came back to score another run in the seventh. With one out, Ronald Torreyes squared up on a 88-mph pitch to right field for a triple. Torreyes was a late addition to the lineup tonight after Chase Headley couldn’t play for “personal reasons.” Gardner skied a sac fly to center to bring Torreyes in. 4-0 Yankees.

Wait, not done yet! Former Yankee RHP Chaz Roe came in to pitch the eighth for the Orioles. Beltran, who already had an RBI and a hit this game, drilled Roe’s fastball into the right field seats for a no-doubt solo home run. It seemed like Roe was trying to pound Beltran inside the zone but simply missed the spot. A good hitter like Carlos will punish that mistake ruthlessly and boy, that home run was majestic. Beltran knew right away and just tossed the bat lightly before starting to job. 5-0 Yankees.

Leftovers

The Yankees’ lead was at 3-0 heading into the top seventh so it seemed like the time for the No Runs DMC equation. Dellin Betances tossed an easy one-strikeout perfect frame to start that sequence … but once the offense scored another, Joe Girardi decided to plug in Nick Goody and Chasen Shreve for eighth and ninth respectively. Both of them threw a scoreless inning each to finish off the game, which was neat. They were able to rest the big arms Andrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman, and the lesser guys in the bullpen didn’t allow any damage.

Box Score, Highlights, WPA and Standings

Here’s tonight’s box score, highlights, WPA and updated standings.


Source: FanGraphs


The Yanks play a matinee match tomorrow to try to sweep the Orioles. Big man CC Sabathia will square up against the O’s ace Chris Tillman.