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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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.
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.
Definitely a fan of the three-game sweep, but a three-game sweep of the Mets is always a little extra special. Things didn’t look so good for most of the game really, but the Yankees got some fortunate bounces and some bloops finally blooped before Russell Martin hit the team’s first walk-off homer since September 2010. That’s six wins in seven games and 13 in 17 games. Pretty awesome.
Anyway, here’s your open thread for the night. The ESPN Sunday Night Game is the Tigers at the Reds (Smyly vs. Bailey), and that’s all you’ve got as far as the major sports are concerned. Feel free to talk about whatever you like here, go nuts.
The Yankees have already won the series and while that is always the goal — two out of every three is a 108-win pace — it’s time to get greedy and finish off the sweep. There are bragging rights are on the line and in this age of the internet, bragging rights are worth more than ever. Here’s the lineup…
LHP Andy Pettitte
Today’s game starts a little after 1pm ET and can be seen on both YES and WPIX locally as well as TBS nationally. Enjoy.
Freddy Garcia Update: Garcia is back with the team after going home to Venezuela following his grandfather’s death. He’s been activated off the bereavement list and Ryota Igarashi has been sent back to Triple-A.
Hiroki Kuroda Update: Kuroda (foot) threw his regular between starts bullpen this afternoon. He’s expected to be good to go for his next start, but we won’t know for sure until Joe Girardi speaks after the game.
Another day, another win for the Yankees. They again rode their starting pitcher and some timely homers to a 4-2 win over the Mets to clinch the Bronx-end of the 2012 Subway Series. It was their fifth win in the last six games, their seventh win in the last nine games, and their 12th win in the last 16 games. That’ll do just fine. Let’s recap.
- Teixeicution: I don’t expect much from Mark Teixeira when he has two strikes against a changeup pitcher … mean the “changeup, strike three” meme practically created himself. Tex found himself in a 2-2 count against changeup specialist Dillon Gee with the Yankees down a run in the sixth, but Gee didn’t go to the changeup. He hung a breaking ball and Teixeira hung it on a line out to right field for a homer, turning a one-run deficit into a one-run lead. T’was unexpected.
- WonderPhil: Phil Hughes has made 23 starts since coming off the DL last July, and he’s now allowed two runs (earned or unearned) or less in 14 of them. His 6.1 inning effort against the Mets wasn’t nearly as pretty as his complete game victory over the Tigers, but he limited the damage to two solo homers (more on that in a bit) while striking out six and recording 12 of his 19 outs on the infield. The homers continue to be a problem, but Hughes has now pitched to a 3.50 ERA with a 3.64 K/BB ratio in his last seven starts. That’s pretty damn good. Keep it up, Phil.
- Other Runs: Alex Rodriguez singled in Derek Jeter for a quick 1-0 lead in the first inning, but — stop me if you’ve heard this before — they were unable to convert a bases loaded, one-out situation into any more runs because Raul Ibanez grounded into a double play. The Yankees didn’t pick up another hit until Teixeira’s homer in the sixth. Curtis Granderson‘s solo homer in the eighth plated an important insurance run.
- Bullpen: Gotta hand it to the mix-and-match setup crew, they took care of business in the middle innings. Boone Logan retired the lone lefty he faced (thanks to a great grab by Granderson), Cory Wade finished off the seventh and retired David Wright in a one-run game to open the eight, then Clay Rapada retired his two lefties to hand the ball off the Rafael Soriano for the Wetteland-esque save. Wade allowed a bloop single, but otherwise the setup trio retired five of the six men they faced. Bravo, fellas.
- Leftover: Hughes allowed the obligatory homer (Omar Quintanilla?!) and is now two starts shy of a) Dennis Rasmussen’s team record of 14 consecutive starts with a homer allowed (1986), and b) Bert Blyleven’s all-time record of 14 consecutive starts with a homer allowed to start a season (1987) … the top six hitters in the lineup each had exactly one hit while the bottom three each went 0-for-3 with a strikeout … the homers by Tex and Grandy were the club’s only extra-base hits of the night.
MLB.com has the box score and video highlights, FanGraphs the nerd score, and ESPN the updated standings. The Rays annihilated the Marlins, so they remain tied atop the AL East in the loss column with New York. Andy Pettitte gets the ball in search of the sweep on Sunday afternoon. Fellow southpaw Jon Niese is on the bump for the Amazin’s. If you want to catch the series finale, check out RAB Tickets.
The Yankees got some more bad news about Brett Gardner and his sprained right elbow today as his latest minor league rehab game resulted in more pain. He’s headed to the doctor on Monday and Joe Girardi said he doesn’t expect him back until after the All-Star break. Gardner is no superstar but his presence has been missed, specifically his speed in the lineup and his defense in the outfield. Win this game for him Yankees, win it for him and clinch the series win over the Mets. Here’s the lineup…
RHP Phil Hughes
Tonight’s game is scheduled to start at 7:15pm ET and can be seen on FOX. Enjoy.
David Robertson Update: Robertson (oblique) will make his first minor league rehab appearance with Triple-A Empire State tomorrow. He could return in time for next weekend’s series in Washington.