Archive for Better than the Mets

Baseball is weird, man. The Mets destroyed the Yankees and their pitching staff in the first two games of the Subway Series, scoring 21 runs in the two games at Yankee Stadium. Then, naturally, the Yankees shut their crosstown rivals out in the two games at Citi Field. Rookie starter Chase Whitley and three relievers followed Masahiro Tanaka‘s shutout with a combined shutout of their own on Thursday. The final score was 1-0.

(Presswire)

(Presswire)

One Run? That’s All You’ll Get And You’ll Like It
This game was a pitcher’s duel for the first 6+ innings. Whitley (more on him in a bit) and fellow rookie righty Jacob deGrom traded zeroes for a while, and it wasn’t until there were two outs in the seventh that the Yankees broke through. Mark Teixeira drew a one-out walk but was erased at second on Brian McCann‘s fielder’s choice. He beat out the would-be double play thanks to a poor relay throw from second. Alfonso Soriano made the Mets pay with a double into the left-center field gap, scoring McCann all the way from first base. He was huffing and puffing the whole way.

Aside from that rally, the only other time the Yankees put a runner at third base came in the eighth inning, when Derek Jeter grounded out weakly to short with the infield in. The runner was cut down at the plate. Kelly Johnson and Brett Gardner drew walks earlier in the inning and advanced on a wild pitch. deGrom retired eleven in a row at one point and looked very sharp in the middle innings. The Yankees had their hands full with the rookie hurler. He made basically one mistake pitch in that seventh inning and they pounced.

(Mike Stobe/Getty)

(Mike Stobe/Getty)

Whitley’s Debut
Based on the fact that he picked up his first career hit before allowing his first career hit, Whitley’s big league debut was a success. Throw in the fact that he held the Mets to two singles and two walks in 4.2 scoreless innings and I’d say it was a definite success. Despite his lack of experience as a starter, Whitley didn’t seem nervous on the mound and he filled the strike zone before tiring in the fifth inning. It was only the fourth scoreless MLB debut by a starter in team history and the first since Sam Militello in 1992. Yep.

I’m sure Joe Girardi was very tempted to let Whitley get the final out of that fifth inning, especially since the pitcher’s spot was due to lead off the next half-inning, but I thought he pulled him at just the right time. Whitley was starting to tire in that final inning (back-to-back walks) even though he threw only 74 pitches on the night — his season-high in Triple-A was 88 pitches two weeks ago, his only game over 78 pitches — and the most important thing is always winning the game. The bullpen bailed him out of the second-and-third jam and Whitley can spend the next few days feeling good about his debut.

All told, Whitely struck out four and got eight ground ball outs compared to only two in the air. The only hard hit ball was Lucas Duda’s fly out to the left-center field warning track to end the second inning. That’s it. The two hits were a ground ball through the right side and a bloop to center. Whitley was missing barrels, that’s for sure. Here’s hit pitch breakdown, courtesy of Brooks Baseball (PitchFX data may change overnight):

  • 37 fastballs, 26 strikes, three whiffs, averaged 92.3 mph and topped out at 94.4
  • 23 changeups, 10 strikes, four whiffs, averaged 84.8 and topped out at 87.9
  • 14 sliders, seven strikes, three whiffs, averaged 86.8 and topped out at 88.8

The Yankees’ pitching staff is full of opportunity right now and I have to think Whitley will make another start in five days (six, really, because of an off-day). He’ll remain in the rotation almost by default. Whitley pitched very well though, especially considering he’s been a starting pitcher for basically two and a half months. He gave the Yankees a much needed shot in the arm — this was the first scoreless outing by one of the team’s non-Tanaka starters in four weeks, since Vidal Nuno in Tampa — and it was good to see someone come up from Triple-A and contribute right away for once.

(Presswire)

(Presswire)

Brilliant Bullpen
Dellin Betances came into this game with a 41.3% strikeout rate (14.85 K/9) and left it with a 44.8% strikeout rate (15.72 K/9). The big man got a ground ball to third to escape Whitley’s jam in the fifth inning, then he tacked on another two scoreless innings. He struck out the side. Both times. Seven batters faced and six strikeouts, all in a row. Betances was overpowering. The Mets had no chance. David Robertson is awesome, but I can’t remember the last time the Yankees had a pitcher this dominant on an inning-by-inning basis. Maybe Mariano Rivera in 1996? Dellin’s awesome.

Adam Warren got the ball to start the eighth inning, and he ran into a little self-inflicted pickle by walking the reanimated corpse of Bobby Abreu with one out. Following an Eric Young Jr. strikeout, Daniel Murphy put runners on the corners with two outs by slapping a soft ground ball single inside the third base foul line. Girardi did what he said he would do a few days ago and went to Robertson for a four-out save, which was absolutely the right move. One-run game, runners on the corners, David Wright at the plate? Get your best reliever in there. Robertson coaxed a ground out from Wright and then tossed a 1-2-3 ninth for his seventh save. Girardi did a great job with the bullpen by going to Betances and Robertson in the biggest spots of the game.

(Presswire)

(Presswire)

Leftovers
According to the batted ball data at FanGraphs, Jeter hasn’t hit a ball in the air since last Wednesday, the final game of the series in Anaheim. He made four outs in three plate appearances in this game (lined softly back to the pitcher for a double play) and failed to get an insurance run in from third in the seventh inning when the runner was thrown out at home. Jeter was double-switched out of the game when Robertson was brought in, a move that would not have happened had the game been played in an AL. I wouldn’t expect this to be a regular thing. Either way, the Cap’n could probably use a day or two off this weekend.

Yangervis Solarte had really rough day, going 0-for-4 with a strikeout and two double plays. He killed a potential rally in the ninth with a double play and I thought Girardi should have challenged the call at first. It was very close and replays showed he probably out, but in that situation, just use the challenge and see if you get lucky. Maybe the umpire in Midtown sees it differently. I understand wanting to save the challenge for potential call in the bottom of the ninth (you could always “encourage” the umps to review a play in the ninth, as per the rulebook), but chances are you won’t need it and the rally could have been extended. Oh well.

The Yankees only had six hits on the night, including two by Soriano. Jacoby Ellsbury doubled, Teixeira single, McCann singled, and Whitley singled. Gardner drew two walks while Teixeira and Johnson drew one apiece. Zoilo Almonte struck out in his first at-bat of the season, which wasn’t surprising considering he was facing a lefty. He is a switch-hitter, but that doesn’t mean much. He had a .946 OPS against righties in Triple-A compared to a .392 OPS against lefties. Eek.

In addition to his 44.8% strikeout rate, Betances is now down to a 0.82 FIP on the season. The three relievers combined to strike out ten batters in 4.1 innings and they did not allow a ball to leave the infield in the air. Murphy’s single that stayed just fair as it rolled by third base was the only ball they allowed to leave the infield in general.

Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
MLB.com has the box score and video highlights, FanGraphs some other stats, and ESPN the updated standings.


Source: FanGraphs

Up Next
The Yankees continue the Yankee Stadium portion of the homestand with a three-game series against the Pirates this weekend. Edinson Volquez and David Phelps kick that one off on Friday night. Worst pitching matchup of the year? Possibly. RAB Tickets can get you in the door if you want to catch any of the three games.

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May
15

Game 40: Two Debuts

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(Presswire)

Whitley. (Presswire)

Thanks to injuries to each team’s Opening Day starter, both the Yankees and Mets will have a pitcher make his MLB debut tonight. Righty Chase Whitley is filling in for CC Sabathia (knee) while fellow righty Jacob deGrom steps in for Dillon Gee (lat). Neither Whitley nor deGrom is a top prospect, but they have the potential to be useful big league arms in some capacity. Whitley only recently converted from reliever to starter, so it’ll be interesting to see how he handles turning over a big league lineup.

Via Bryan Hoch, Elias says this is the first time the Yankees have been involved in a game in which both starters were making their MLB debut since October 1908. They were still the Highlanders back then. That is kinda nuts. The Mets were involved in one of these games back in September 2010, when Gee made his debut against Yunesky Maya. That’s the last time two starters have made their debuts in the same game. It just so happened to include the Mets. Here is the Mets lineup and here is the Yankees lineup:

  1. LF Brett Gardner
  2. SS Derek Jeter
  3. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  4. 1B Mark Teixeira
  5. C Brian McCann
  6. RF Alfonso Soriano
  7. 3B Yangervis Solarte
  8. 2B Brian Roberts
  9. RHP Chase Whitley

It is cloudy and cool in New York, and it was raining overnight and for a good chunk of the morning. There is no more rain in the forecast though, so they shouldn’t have any trouble getting this game in. First pitch is scheduled for 7:10pm ET and you’ll be able to watch on both YES and SNY locally, as well as MLB Network nationally. Depending on where you live, of course. Enjoy the game.

Roster Moves: In case you missed it earlier, Carlos Beltran (elbow) has been placed on the 15-day DL. That cleared a 25-man roster spot for Whitley. The Yankees are back to a normal seven-man bullpen and four-man bench. Righty Bruce Billings was activated off the 15-day DL and designated for assignment to clear a 40-man roster spot for Whitley, the team announced. He was out with a forearm strain.

No matter how long the losing streak gets and no matter how much the other starters get knocked around, every fifth day there is Masahiro Tanaka to make things right. The Yankees ace chucked his first career MLB shutout on Wednesday night, carrying his team to a 4-0 win over the Mets. It was their first Subway Series win since 2012. I’m taking about an individual game, not the whole season series.

"When do the Major League games start?" (Al Bello/Getty)

“When do the Major League games start?” (Al Bello/Getty)

Total Domination
The Yankees have won five games in the month of May and Tanaka has been on the mound for three of them. He was in total control on Wednesday, basically playing a game of catch with catcher Brian McCann and having his way with opposing hitters all night. Tanaka allowed three singles and one double in his nine scoreless innings, striking out eight and generating 22 swings and misses out of 114 low-stress pitches. He face the minimum three hitters in six of nine innings and only faced four batters in the other three innings.

The Mets did not have a runner reach third base against Tanaka and only two made it as far as second. Tanaka threw a first pitch strike to 21 of 30 batters and only went to three three-ball counts all night. By Game Score (87), this was the best pitched game by a Yankees starter since … Tanaka last month. He also had an 87 Game Score in that game against the Cubs (8 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 10 K). Tanaka is the first Yankee with two 87+ Game Scores in a single season since Mike Mussina in 2002. It’s only May.

And just because what he did on the mound wasn’t enough, Tanaka slapped a ground ball single back up the middle for his first career MLB hit in the ninth inning. You know a pitcher has done his job when he get four at-bats in a game. Tanaka was masterful, putting hitters away with every pitch in his arsenal — he got a swing-and-miss with five different pitches and at least six whiffs with three different pitches (four-seamer, splitter, slider) according to Brooks Baseball — and never once ran into trouble. This guy is in total control when he’s on the mound. It’s a blast to watch.

(Elsa/Getty)

(Elsa/Getty)

One Run, Four Times
The Yankees built something of a picket fence in the middle innings, scoring one run in each of the second, fourth, sixth, and seventh innings. The first run scored because Mets left fielder Eric Young Jr. made the bone-headed decision to dive for a soft line drive, only to fall short and watch the ball scoot by him for a Brian Roberts triple. Yangervis Solarte drew a walk before that and came around to score. There were two outs in the inning and Tanaka was due to hit. Why in the world is he diving? Whatever.

The second and third runs were pretty straight forward: Solarte jumped all over a 3-1 fastball for his fourth homer — if he starts regularly hitting dingers, oh boy — and Mark Teixeira yanked a 1-0 pitch out into the bullpen for his team-leading eighth homer. Solarte’s was a annihilated and he hit it with style too, dropping to one knee a la Adrian Beltre. Here is the requisite GIF:

Yangervis Solarte

Outstanding.

The Yankees scored their fourth run with two hits that traveled maybe 100 feet combined. Brett Gardner beat out an infield single to second base, stole second, moved to third on a wild pitch, and scored on Derek Jeter‘s chopper out in front of the plate. The throw pulled first baseman Lucas Duda off the bag and Jeter was safe, which was good because they were two outs in the inning. I wonder if Joe Girardi would have gone to David Robertson in the ninth inning if the score was 3-0 instead of 4-0? I guess we’ll never know.

The Yankees had at least one man on base in seven of nine innings and really worked rookie right-hander Rafael Montero hard early on. He threw 69 pitches in the first three innings — at one point he and Tuesday’s starter Zack Wheeler had combined to throw 187 pitches to get 22 outs — and wound up throwing 108 pitches in six innings. He faced 25 hitters and had to throw at least four pitches to 14 of them. The Yankees really wore Montero down in his MLB debut. They have now scored at least four runs in each of their last eight games, their longest such streak since doing it in 12 straight back in July 2012.

Three rookies. (Getty)

Three rookies. (Getty)

Leftovers
Roberts went 2-for-4 with two triples, the first two-triple game of his career. He was pretty awesome and fast back in the day. I figured he would have had two triples in one game at some point, but I guess not. It’s the first two-triple game by a Yankee since Curtis Granderson in 2010. Gardner had two more hits and is 22-for-62 (.355) in his last 16 games. Jeter (single), Teixeira (homer), Solarte (homer), and Tanaka (single) had the other hits while Jacoby Ellsbury and Solarte drew walks.

The daily defensive miscue did not come back to bite the Yankees on Wednesday. In the bottom of the first, as he was trotting out to shallow right field for the shift, Solarte got caught with his back to infield and Daniel Murphy stole second base uncontested. The Mets tried it again in the fifth inning, but Solarte was paying attention and he got to the bag in time to receive the throw and tag out Chris Young.

And finally, Tanaka is pretty awesome. I just needed to say that again. I’m sure you understand.

Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
For the box score and video highlights, go to MLB.com. For some additional stats, go to FanGraphs. For the updated standings, go to ESPN. The Yankees have lost nine of their last 14 games are still a half-game back of the Orioles for the division lead. The AL East sucks this year.


Source: FanGraphs

Up Next
The Yankees and Mets wrap up the 2014 Subway Series on Thursday night at Citi Field. The starters — Chase Whitley and Jacob deGrom — will both be making their MLB debuts. It will be the first time two starters make their big league debut in one game since September 2010 (Dillon Gee and Yunesky Maya) according to @BRefPlayIndex. Neat. Check out RAB Tickets if you want to catch the game live.

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May
14

Game 39: Save Us, Masahiro

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(Mike McGinnis/Getty)

(Mike McGinnis/Getty)

The current rotation has a very 2008 vibe to it, with Masahiro Tanaka playing the role of Mike Mussina and Michael Pineda playing the role of Chien-Ming Wang. Once Wang went down, the rotation was Moose and pray for rain that year. It was pretty ugly, especially in the second half. Right now it’s Tanaka and no one else. He’s the only guy in the rotation who legitimately gives the club a chance to win each time out.

The Mets, meanwhile, are starting rookie righty Rafael Montero tonight. He will be the fifth pitcher to make his MLB debut during the Subway Series and the first since David Robertson in 2008. The others: Tyler Clippard, Brandon Claussen, and someone named Jaime Cerda. Baseball America ranked Montero as the 68th best prospect in the game before the season but I thought they underrated him a bit. He’s the steady, reliable one while Noah Syndergaard is more flashy and exciting. Think of Montero as Matt Cain and Syndergaard as Tim Lincecum.

Anyway, here is a breakdown of Montero courtesy of MLB Farm. The Yankees have lost each of their last four games overall and each of their last six games to the Mets, dating back to last season. That’s pretty annoying. Hopefully Tanaka takes care of business. Here is the Mets lineup and here is the Yankees lineup:

  1. LF Brett Gardner
  2. SS Derek Jeter
  3. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  4. 1B Mark Teixeira
  5. C Brian McCann
  6. DH Alfonso Soriano
  7. 3B Yangervis Solarte
  8. 2B Brian Roberts
  9. RHP Masahiro Tanaka

It has been cloudy and cool in New York all day, but there’s no rain in the forecast. Tonight’s game will air on both My9 and SNY locally as well as ESPN nationally. First pitch is scheduled for 7pm ET. Enjoy.

Injury Updates: Ichiro Suzuki (back) feels better but is still questionable for tonight’s game. He did some running and hit in the batting cage both today and yesterday … Carlos Beltran (elbow) received treatment and feels “a little better,” though he remains in wait-and-see mode … the Yankees still have four available bench players even with Ichiro and Beltran banged up, so they’re in decent shape for the DH-less game.

Bullpen Update: There were no roster moves made, so Alfredo Aceves and Matt Daley remain on the roster despite yesterday’s extended outings. David Phelps did not throw his usual between starts side session and can throw an inning or two tonight, if need be.

Mets Rotation Update: The Mets placed right-hander Dillon Gee on the 15-day DL with a lat strain this afternoon. Righty Jacob deGrom will start tomorrow night’s Subway Series finale in his place. It will be his MLB debut.

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May
13

Game 38: Just Win

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(Al Bello/Getty)

(Al Bello/Getty)

These last few days have been very rough on the Yankees, and not just because they’ve lost three straight. Players are getting hurt left and right. CC Sabathia is on the DL. Shawn Kelley is on the DL. Carlos Beltran has a bone spur in his elbow. Ichiro Suzuki‘s back is sore. Mark Teixeira says he feels like he has “cement blocks” for feet. That’s just the stuff we know about too. It’s ugly.

The Yankees have lost five straight games to the Mets dating back to last season, including each of the last three at home. They are 9-9 and have been outscored 87-69 (!) in the Bronx this season. That has to stop. Opposing teams are way to comfortable visiting Yankee Stadium right now. The Yankees have not yet lost four games in a row this season and it would be wonderful if they avoided that fate tonight. Here is the Mets lineup and here is the Yankees lineup:

  1. LF Brett Gardner
  2. SS Derek Jeter
  3. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  4. DH Mark Teixeira
  5. C Brian McCann
  6. RF Alfonso Soriano
  7. 3B Yangervis Solarte
  8. 1B Kelly Johnson
  9. 2B Brian Roberts
    LHP Vidal Nuno

It’s a little cloudy and cool in New York right now, but there are no showers in the forecast. Tonight’s game is scheduled to begin a little at 7pm ET, and you can watch on both My9 and WPIX locally as well as MLB Network nationally, depending on where you live. Try to enjoy.

Michael Pineda Update: Pineda (shoulder) played catch this afternoon and continues to progress with his throwing program. No word on when he will get back up on a mound.

Ichiro Update: Ichiro (back) feels better but will probably not be available tonight. Zoilo Almonte was called up today and is the backup outfielder.

Rotation Update: The Yankees will indeed call up Chase Whitley to start on Thursday, according to Ken Rosenthal. Al Aceves remains in the bullpen. A year go, I would have never thought Whitley would make his MLB debut as a starter.

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May
12

Game 37: Beat the Mets

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The Yankees earned a split of their six-game road trip even though they could have easily been 4-2 or even 5-1. They also could have been 2-4, but I digress. The team kicks off what is essentially a seven-game homestand, though only five of those games will be played in the Bronx. The other two will be in Flushing as part of this home-and-home series against the Mets. At least they don’t have to travel anywhere.

Curtis Granderson is returning to the Bronx for the first time since signing with the Mets as a free agent, though, unlike Robinson Cano, the Yankees never really tried to re-sign him. I would be surprised if he was booed as mercilessly as Cano a few weeks ago. I bet it’s a mix of cheers and boos, if anything. Whatever. Who cares. The Mets have lost eight of their last ten and these next four games will be a good opportunity for the Yankees to get back on track. Here is the Mets lineup and here is the Yankees lineup:

  1. LF Brett Gardner
  2. SS Derek Jeter
  3. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  4. DH Carlos Beltran
  5. C Brian McCann
  6. RF Alfonso Soriano
  7. 3B Yangervis Solarte
  8. 1B Kelly Johnson
  9. 2B Brian Roberts
    RHP Hiroki Kuroda

It is warm and cloudy in New York, and there is some rain in the forecast later tonight. Doesn’t seem like it will be an issue unless the game goes to extra innings or something. The game is scheduled to begin at 7:05pm ET. You can watch on both YES and WPIX locally.

CC Sabathia Update: Sabathia (knee) is going to see Dr. James Andrews at his request, according to Brian Cashman. He called it a precaution. We’ll see.

Mark Teixeira Update: Teixeira has some tightness in his left groin and is day-to-day. Joe Girardi called it a low-level concern. Teixeira was running gingerly yesterday and said he felt like he had “cement blocks” on his feet.

Rotation Update: Girardi said Alfredo Aceves is a candidate to start in place of CC Sabathia on Thursday but that is not final. They may need him in long relief before then … the Mets officially announced righty Rafael Montero will start on Wednesday with Jenrry Mejia moving to the bullpen. It will be Montero’s big league debut.

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(Al Bello/Getty)

(Al Bello/Getty)

It’s that time of year again, the Subway Series. The Yankees and Mets will meet four times this week, and, like last season, they will play a four-game home-and-home series. The battle for bragging rights opens tonight at Yankee Stadium and will wrap-up on Thursday at Citi Field. Two games at each building.

What Have They Done Lately?
Following a surprisingly strong start to the season, the Mets have lost eight of their last ten games. They did win yesterday (via walk-off), however. The Amazin’s are 17-19 with a -8 run differential overall this season, which has them tied for last in the top heavy NL East.

Offense
The Mets have a below league average offense at 3.94 runs per game with a team 83 wRC+. They also have a 23.0% strikeout rate as a team, the seventh highest in baseball, so they struggle to score runs and struggle to put the ball in play. Manager Terry Collins does not have any position players on the DL but 1B Lucas Duda (118 wRC+) has missed the last few games with a stomach problem.

(Elsa/Getty)

(Elsa/Getty)

As usual, the Mets’ lineup is anchored by 3B David Wright (104 wRC+), who is off to a relatively slow start. Former Yankee OF Curtis Granderson (72 wRC+) got off to a brutally slow start but has been much better over the last two weeks or so (151 wRC+). Defensive wiz OF Juan Lagares (121 wRC+) has had an unexpectedly strong start to the season. He was always a glove first guy. 2B Daniel Murphy (133 wRC+) has been excellent and Duda has been more than solid since taking over as the full-time first baseman following the Ike Davis trade.

Other than those five, the Mets have OF Chris Young (97 wRC+), C Travis d’Arnaud (67 wRC+), OF Eric Young Jr. (79 wRC+), and SS Ruben Tejada (54 wRC+) playing everyday. IF Wilmer Flores and UTIL Eric Campbell were just called up to add some spark. Flores has played three games and Campbell made his MLB debut yesterday. C Anthony Recker (103 wRC+) and former Yankee OF Bobby Abreu (91 wRC+) round out the bench. Yes, Bobby Abreu is in the big leagues.

It’s worth noting Mets’ pitchers are 0-for-63 this year, the longest hitless streak by a pitching staff to start a season in baseball history. The chances of them picking up their first pitcher hit on Wednesday or Thursday is roughly 10,000%.

Pitching Matchups

Monday: RHP Hiroki Kuroda (vs. NYM) vs. RHP Bartolo Colon (vs. NYY) (Pitcher GIFs)
Remember when the Yankees dragged Colon out of winter ball and we all laughed? Three years later, he’s still going strong in the big leagues. Who would have guessed? The 40-year-old Colon has a 5.36 ERA (4.09 FIP) in seven starts and 43.2 innings this year, with his best strikeout (7.01 K/9 and 17.8 K%) and walk (1.03 BB/9 and 2.3 BB%) rates since his stint in pinstripes. Homers (1.44 HR/9 and 12.1 HR/FB%) and a lack of grounders (37.4%) have been his biggest problems. Colon still throws almost nothing but fastballs, upper-80s four-seamers and mid-80s two-seamers. His velocity isn’t what is was three years ago. On occasion he’ll throw low-80s sliders and changeups. There’s no mystery here. Colon comes right at guys with fastballs.

(Doug Pensinger/Getty)

(Doug Pensinger/Getty)

Tuesday: LHP Vidal Nuno (vs. NYM) vs. RHP Zack Wheeler (vs. NYY) (Pitcher GIFs)
Wheeler, 23, is the second of the Mets’ three big pitching prospects, sandwiched between Matt Harvey and Noah Syndergaard. He has a 4.35 ERA (3.13 FIP) in seven starts and 39.1 innings this season, and his only real problem has been walks (4.12 BB/9 and 10.6 BB%). Young pitchers, man. The two things they do better than anything is walk guys and get hurt. Wheeler has very good strikeout (8.92 K/9 and 22.9 K%), homerun (0.46 HR/9 and 6.3 HR/FB%), and ground ball (52.3%) rates, though he’s been getting clobbered by left-handers (.393 wOBA). Righties haven’t had as much luck (.277 wOBA). Two mid-90s fastballs (four and two-seamer) set up his upper-80s slider and upper-70s curveball. Wheeler throws only a handful of changeups per start. He’s got nasty stuff, but like most young pitchers at this point of their careers, Wheeler is still rough around the edges.

Wednesday: RHP Masahiro Tanaka (No vs. NYM) vs. TBA
This start was supposed to go to RHP Jenrry Mejia, but after three straight rough outings, Collins told David Lennon they may skip his start and give him some time in the bullpen. They need to limit his workload anyway. If that does happen, either RHP Rafael Montero or RHP Jacob deGrom figures to get the call for the spot start. Both would be making their big league debuts. Montero, 23, has a 3.67 ERA (3.97 FIP) in 42.2 Triple-A innings this season and is by far the better prospect of the two. He was really impressive in Spring Training. Everything (delivery, ball out of his hand, etc.) looks easy. The 25-year-old deGrom has a 2.58 ERA (3.73 FIP) in 38.1 innings at Triple-A this season. He spent all of last year at Triple-A, so if the Mets make this decision based on seniority, deGrom would be the guy.

Thursday: TBA vs. RHP Dillon Gee (vs. NYY) (Pitcher GIFs)
Gee, 28, turned his season and to some extent his career around during the Subway Series last season, when he held the Yankees to one run in 7.1 innings while striking out 12. He went into that start with a 6.34 ERA and has pitched to a 2.72 ERA (3.85 FIP) in 202 innings since. Gee comes into this series with a 2.73 ERA (4.28 FIP) and just okay peripherals — 5.64 K/9 (15.6 K%), 2.56 BB/9 (7.1 BB%), 1.03 HR/9 (9.5 HR/FB%), 40.9% grounders, .302 wOBA against lefties, and .262 wOBA against righties — though he’s obviously doing something right. He’s one of those guys who defies the usual ERA/FIP relationship. Gee has the standard issue four-pitch mix: upper-80s fastball, mid-80s changeup, low-80s slider, and mid-70s curveball. Far from flashy, but it’s damn effective, especially over the last year.

As for the Yankees, they seem likely to start Alfredo Aceves in the series finally now that CC Sabathia is on the 15-day DL with a knee issue. Chase Whitley, the other starter candidate, is pitching for Triple-A Scranton today according to Donnie Collins. It could be a short tune-up outing for Thursday or remove him from consideration all together. If that happens, maybe they’ll just stick with Matt Daley as the extra reliever.

Update: Whitley threw only one inning and seven pitches this afternoon, so it was just a tune-up appearance. He is very likely coming up to either make the spot start or replace Aceves as the long man. I assume it’s the latter.

(Christian Petersen/Getty)

(Christian Petersen/Getty)

Bullpen Status
It seems like the Mets have had one of the very worst bullpens in baseball this year thanks to some high-profile meltdowns, but they’re closer to middle of the pack with a 3.99 ERA (4.31 FIP). It could be worse, I guess. Believe it or not, former Yankee RHP Kyle Farnsworth (4.39 FIP) is closing with RHP Daisuke Matsuzaka (3.52 FIP) getting most of the setup innings. That’s a real thing that is happening. RHP Carlos Torres (2.94 FIP) will also see some late-inning time.

LHP Scott Rice (3.97 FIP) is Collins’ only lefty right now. RHP Gonzalez Germen (4.21 FIP), RHP Jeurys Familia (3.77 FIP), and RHP Jose Valverde (5.36 FIP) fill out the rest of the bullpen, which could get a boost from Mejia this week. We’ll find out soon enough. Dice-K threw two innings and 34 pitches yesterday, so he might not be available tonight. Valverde, Familia, and Rice also pitched briefly on Sunday. Our Bullpen Workload page has the status of the Yankees’ relievers. Check out Amazin’ Avenue for the latest and great on the Mets.

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Via Joel Sherman: The Mets and Curtis Granderson have agreed to a four-year contract worth $60M. The Yankees would have received a supplemental first round draft pick, but it will be forfeited due to the Jacoby Ellsbury signing. Thanks for the dingers, Curtis.

May
27

5/27-5/30 Subway Series Preview

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Subway Series

With the Astros moving to the AL and interleague play taking place everyday, the Subway Series has a new twist these days. Instead of two three-game series a month apart, the Yankees and Mets will play four games this week — the first two in Flushing, the next two in the Bronx. It’s a pair of back-to-back home-and-home series. I love the setup.

What Have They Done Lately?
The Amazin’s pulled off a Yankees-esque come-from-behind win last night, ending their five-game losing streak. They’ve won just four of their last 16 games and sit in fourth place in the NL West with a 18-29 record and a -42 run differential. They bad.

Offense
Much like the Yankees, the Mets have a below-average offense. They average just 4.0 runs per game with a team 89 wRC+ while the Bombers are at 4.3 and 93, respectively. The difference between the two is basically the DH. As far as position player injuries go, the Mets are perfectly healthy.

The second best second baseman in New York. (Al Bello/Getty)

The second best second baseman in New York. (Al Bello/Getty)

The conversion about manager Terry Collins’ offense starts with 3B David Wright (143 wRC+), who has again been one of baseball’s elite all-around players. OF Lucas Duda (136 wRC+) and 2B Daniel Murphy (123 wRC+) have been strong supporting players while C John Buck (111 wRC+) has cooled off following his strong start. CF Rick Ankiel (109 wRC+) strikes out a ton (44.9%) but also hits the ball a long, long way (.297 ISO).

The Mets have gotten nothing from SS Ruben Tejada (59 wRC+) and 1B Ike Davis (39 wRC+), though the platoon duo of OF Mike Baxter (82 wRC+ vs. RHP) and OF Marlon Byrd (103 wRC+ vs. LHP) have been better than expected. UTIL Jordany Valdespin (86 wRC+) is the pinch-hitter extraordinaire, C Anthony Recker (58 wRC+) the backup backstop, IF Justin Turner (86 wRC+) the backup infielder, and OF Juan Lagares (30 wRC+) the defensive specialist. Wright, Duda, and Murphy are dangerous, but everyone else can be pitched to.

Starting Pitching Matchups

Monday @ CitiField: RHP Phil Hughes vs. LHP Jon Niese
Niese, 26, broke out last season and was rewarded with his first career Opening Day start this year. Rather than continue to improve, the left-hander has taken a step back in 2013 (4.80 ERA and 4.71 FIP). His strikeout (5.13 K/9 and 12.5 K%) and walk (4.47 BB/9 and 10.9 BB%) rates are both career worsts, though his ground ball rate (55.1%) is a career best. Niese is a true five-pitch pitcher, using upper-80s/low-90s two- and four-seamers as well as a mid-80s cutter to setup his mid-80s changeup and mid-70s curveball. The curve is his bread-and-butter. Niese throws all five pitches at least 10% of the time and four of the five pitches at least 16% of the time. The changeup is the exception. The Yankees faced Niese three times during interleague play these last two years, and he’s handled them well each time. Obviously he was much more effective overall back then.

The ace of New York. (Brian Garfinkel/Getty)

The ace of New York. (Brian Garfinkel/Getty)

Tuesday @ CitiField: RHP Hiroki Kuroda vs. RHP Matt Harvey
You’re not going to find a more exciting pitcher right now that the 24-year-old Harvey. The Connecticut native and former seventh overall pick owns a 1.93 ERA (2.45 FIP) in ten starts this year and a 2.30 ERA (2.84 FIP) in 20 big league starts overall. His strikeout (9.51 K/9 and 28.0 K%) and walk (2.19 BB/9 and 6.4 BB%) numbers are outstanding, and his ground ball rate (44.1%) is solid as well. Harvey throws three pitches regularly but lives off his mid-to-high-90s four-seam fastball. His wipeout upper-80s slider and fading mid-80s changeup are both swing-and-miss offerings. A low-80s curveball is his fourth pitch but is still a legit weapon. It’s nasty, nasty stuff. The Yankees have never faced Harvey before; he wasn’t called up until the second half last season.

Wednesday @ Yankee Stadium: RHP David Phelps vs. RHP Jeremy Hefner
When Johan Santana went down with his second torn shoulder capsule, the 27-year-old Hefner took his rotation spot. He’s been pretty bad this year, pitching to a 4.76 ERA (5.25 FIP) in nine starts and one long relief appearance. Hefner’s peripherals aren’t anything special — 6.53 K/9 (17.5 K%), 3.53 BB/9 (9.4 BB%), 1.59 HR/9 (15.5% HR/FB), and 44.2% grounders — which isn’t surprising. The right-hander is another true five-pitch guy, using his upper-80s/low-90s two- and four-seamers basically half the time combined. A mid-80s slider is his top secondary pitch, though he’ll also throw a low-80s changeup and mid-70s curveball. He’s thrown each pitch at least 10% of the time this year. Hefner threw a perfect inning of relief against the Yankees last season, the only time they’ve seen him.

Thursday @ Yankee Stadium: LHP Vidal Nuno vs. RHP Dillon Gee
Gee, 27, hasn’t just been the worst pitcher on the Mets staff this year, he’s been one of the worst pitchers in all of baseball. He owns a 6.34 ERA (4.93 FIP) in ten starts with not truly awful peripheral stats: 6.70 K/9 (15.9 K%), 3.08 BB/9 (7.3 BB%), 1.45 HR/9 (13.8% HR/FB), and 46.8% grounds. Still, when you allow 36 runs in 49.2 innings, you’ve stunk. Perhaps not coincidentally, Gee has lost about two miles an hour off his two- and four-seam fastballs this year, sitting in the upper-80s instead of the low-90s. A low-80s changeup is his go-to pitch, though he’ll also throw low-80s sliders and mid-70s curveballs. He’s a two-seamer/changeup guy, for the most apart. The Yankees have faced him once in each of the last two seasons and he’s put together solid outings both times. Not great, not terrible. Winnable.

(Al Bello/Getty)

(Al Bello/Getty)

Bullpen Status
Mets GM Sandy Alderson is a bright baseball guy, but his bullpens since taking over three years ago have been just dreadful. The team’s relief unit owns a 4.77 ERA (4.36 FIP) this year, the third worst in MLB. Take away the quietly elite closer RHP Bobby Parnell (2.20 FIP) and it would be a lot worse.

The rest of the bullpen is a mess of has-beens and never-wases. There’s former Yankee RHP LaTroy Hawkins (3.69 FIP) and RHP Brandon Lyon (3.43 FIP) in the former category and RHP Greg Burke (2.05 FIP), oft-used LHP Scott Rice (3.40 FIP), seldom-used LHP Robert Carson (10.18 FIP), and RHP Collin McHugh (10.39 FIP in very limited time) in the latter. Hawkins and Parnell pitched yesterday, but everyone else should be fresh.

Although CC Sabathia got crushed yesterday, he did manage to spare the bullpen by soaking up seven innings. The key late-inning relievers have all had plenty of rest these last few days and are good to go this week. Check out our Bullpen Workload page for exact usage details. For the best Mets analysis, I recommend Amazin’ Avenue. One of the best team-specific blogs in all the land.

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Source: FanGraphs

Sometimes a sweep is more than a sweep. When it’s the Red Sox or Rays or another contender, sweeps mean a little better than they usually do. When it’s the Mets? Forget it. The best. The Yankees securing bragging rights to the city with a come from behind walk-off win over the Amazin’s on Sunday, sweeping the three games to conclude an excellent homestand. The Yankees have won three in a row, six of seven, eight of ten, and 13 of 17. That’s pretty awesome. Let’s recap…

  • Botched: Andy Pettitte has been magnificent since un-retiring, but he had his first real disaster inning on Sunday. Scott Hairston started the second with a double, Vinny Rottino continued it with a ground ball single, then Robinson Cano extended it by botching a potential inning-ending double play. The Yankees instead got zero outs on the play. Pettitte then walked Omar Quintanilla — he hit a homer once, gotta pitch him like he’s Barry Bonds now — and allowed a two-run double down the right field line to Jordany Valdespin. The botched double play ball hurt, but Andy didn’t exactly help himself by leaving some pitches out over the plate.
  • Rally Killer: A three-run deficit that early in the game isn’t the end of the world, especially since Jon Niese was willing to give it back by putting the first two men on base in the bottom half. Of course, Nick Swisher snuffed out the rally with an ill-advised bunt attempt that resulted in a force out at third. The Yankees went on to score zero runs in the inning. It’s hard enough to beat the other team, but having to overcome your own stupidity is damn near impossible.
  • The Lead: Niese was mowing the Yankees down until the seventh, when Russell Martin hit a cheap two-run homer — hit the top of the wall, bounced straight up, and a fan grabbed it. Derek Jeter started the eighth inning rally with a infield double — yep, infield double — then Curtis Granderson, Mark Teixeira, and Alex Rodriguez followed up with consecutive singles. A-Rod‘s go-ahead single was a bloop into the triangle, the exact kind of RISPBABIP luck they haven’t been getting in recent weeks. After about six innings of frustration, the Yankees had the lead.
  • Blown Save: That one-run lead lasted all of two batters. Rafael Soriano came out of the bullpen to allow back-to-back rockets to Lucas Duda and Ike Davis, putting the go-ahead run on second with no outs. A one-out single put men on the corners, at which point Joe Girardi pulled his backup backup closer in favor of Boone Logan. The matchup lefty escaped the jam with a strikeout and a ground ball. After the big comeback, the blow save was a big letdown.
  • The Russ Bus: That said, the Mets’ bullpen is so bad that a win seemed inevitable once they went to the bottom of the ninth tied. Sure enough, Jon Rauch hung a slider to Martin to lead off the inning, resulting in a non-cheapie homer to left field for the team’s first walk-off homer since September 2010. The game was over, the sweep was complete. Pretty great ending to a great series.
  • Leftovers: Martin is now hitting .319/.418/.681 since the start of the Royals’ series before the West Coast trip and is up to a 117 wRC+ for the season … the top five hitters in the order went a combined 9-for-19 and A-Rod was the only guy without multiple hits … the Yankees ground into three double plays and seven in the series … big ups to Clay Rapada and Cory Wade for two scoreless innings between Pettitte and Soriano … don’t forget Jayson Nix‘s play to cut down the lead runner at third in the ninth, it was huge at the time … Pettitte finished with eight strikeouts in six innings, raising his season strikeout rate to 8.64 K/9 (24.7 K%).

MLB.com has the box score and video highlights, FanGraphs the advanced stats, and ESPN the updated standings. The Rays swept the Marlins, so they remain tied atop the AL East with New York in the loss column. The Yankees are off to Atlanta for a three-game set with the Braves, starting Monday evening when Ivan Nova gets the ball against Randall Delgado.

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