7/31 to 8/2 Series Preview: Detroit Tigers

(Denis Poroy/Getty Images)
(Denis Poroy/Getty Images)

I started writing this series preview this morning, about eight hours before the trade deadline, in the hopes that these two teams wouldn’t look entirely different before this hit the front page. That’s likely a fool’s errand, though, as most major deals on deadline day are announced with mere moments to spare, and this is scheduled to publish at 2 PM EST. And these two teams are expected to be active today, albeit on opposite ends of the buy-or-sell spectrum.

The Last Time They Met

The Tigers visited New York last June, from the 10th through the 12th. They took 2 of 3 that time around, dropping the Yankees to 31-32 on the season. And through that point that was the norm for the Yankees, as they spent the majority of the first half within two games of .500. Here are some notes from that series:

  • CC Sabathia, Dellin Betances, and Anthony Swarzak combined to pitch a gem in the first game of the series, a 4-0 Yankees win. They allowed eight baserunners (6 hits, 2 walks) and struck out 7 in 9 innings.
  • Former Yankee Shane Greene came in in relief in the 7th inning in games two and three … and he was relieved in the 8th inning by former Yankee Justin Wilson both times.
  • Four of the six Yankees relievers that pitched in this series (Swarzak, Kirby Yates, Nick Goody, Richard Bleier) are no longer in the organization.

For more information, check out Katie’s Yankeemetrics post.

Injury Report

LHP Daniel Norris and OF Alex Presley are both on the disabled list, and neither is expected to return for this series.

Their Story So Far

The Tigers are 47-56 with a -24 run differential, and are currently eight games out of the Wild Card race. They announced that they would be sellers back on July 18, when they sent J.D. Martinez to the Diamondbacks in exchange for prospects, and they dealt Justin Wilson and Alex Avila to the Cubs just last night. Rumors around Justin Verlander and Ian Kinsler have been swirling for a few weeks, as well, but there doesn’t seem to be anything in the works as of this morning.

Under-performance has been the Tigers greatest issue this season, as Miguel Cabrera (152 wRC+ to 103), Ian Kinsler (123 to 93), Nick Castellanos (119 to 96), and Victor Martinez (120 to 90) have all regressed heavily as opposed to last season; and Justin Verlander (136 ERA+ to 101) and Daniel Norris (123 to 82) have done the same on the pitching side of the game. It’s difficult to win games when the heart of your order and the top of your rotation struggles so tremendously.

The Lineup We Might See

Manager Brad Ausmus has been fairly consistent with his lineups, with the greatest discrepancies being caused by injuries, a catcher platoon (which no longer exists, thanks to the Avila deal), and the Martinez trade. Barring another trade, we’ll probably see something like this:

  1. Ian Kinsler, 2B
  2. Mikie Mahtook, CF
  3. Justin Upton, OF
  4. Miguel Cabrera, 1B
  5. Nick Castellanos, 3B
  6. Victor Martinez, DH
  7. James McCann, C
  8. Andrew Romine, RF
  9. Jose Iglesias, SS

The Starting Pitchers We Will See

Monday (7:05 PM EST): RHP Luis Severino vs. RHP Michael Fulmer

For better or worse, most Yankees fan know Fulmer best as the pitcher that stole the AL Rookie of the Year from Gary Sanchez last year. Many expected him to see a dip in his production this season, due to the wide gulf between his ERA (3.06) and FIP (3.76), as well as his second-half drop-off (he had a 4.76 ERA in September), but that hasn’t really happened. His ERA has risen from 3.06 to 3.35 this year, but it’s still good for a 129 ERA+ – which ranks 10th in the American League.

Fulmer is a four-pitch guy, with a mid-90s four-seam fastball, a mid-90s sinker, a high-80s slider, and a high-80s change-up. He doesn’t get many strikeouts (6.4 K/9), but he keeps the ball on the ground (50.0 GB%).

Last Outing (vs. KC on 7/25) – 8.0 IP, 8 H, 3 R, 0 BB, 6 K

Tuesday (7:05 PM EST): LHP CC Sabathia vs. RHP Anibal Sanchez

Sanchez was a solid starting pitcher from 2006 through 2014, pitching to a 3.53 ERA (117 ERA+) in 1177.0 IP. He missed parts of several seasons with injuries, but he was reliable when he was on the field. Since then, however, he has been one of the worst pitchers in baseball, with a 5.55 ERA (74 ERA+) over the last three seasons. He’s bounced between the rotation and the bullpen these last to seasons, and the Tigers are likely counting down the days until the end of the season, when they can buy him out of his team option for 2018.

The 33-year-old Sanchez is a five-pitch pitcher, with a low-90s fastball, low-90s sinker, mid-80s slider, low-80s change-up, and high-80s curveball. None of those offerings is particularly effective, though.

Last Outing (vs. KC on 7/26) – 3.2 IP, 9 H, 4 R, 2 BB, 4 K

Wednesday (1:5 PM EST): RHP Masahiro Tanaka vs. RHP Jordan Zimmermann

Two years ago, the Tigers signed Zimmermann to a five-year deal worth $110 MM. It wasn’t an entirely unreasonable deal, as he had averaged 203 IP of 3.13 ERA ball from 2012 through 2015, and he wouldn’t turn 30 until May of 2016. It hasn’t worked out, as Zimmermann has posted a 5.29 ERA (80) ERA+ in his time in Detroit, while also missing time with injuries.

Zimmermann has five pitches in his repertoire, but he focuses on three for nearly 95% of his offerings – a low-to-mid 90s four-seamer, a mid-to-high 80s slider, and a low-80s curve. He’ll also through a sinker and change-up, but those are more show-me pitches.

Last Outing (vs. KC on 7/28) – 7.0 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 0 BB, 2 K

The Bullpen

The Tigers are ostensibly closer-less right now, as Justin Wilson was filling that role most recently. He wrested that gig from Francisco Rodriguez, who was released in June, signed by the Nationals, and then released again. That’s not great news for a bullpen that has the worst ERA and FIP in baseball.

The expectation is that Shane Greene (2.74 ERA in 46.0 IP) will inherit the role for now, and recent call-up Joe Jimenez (12.46 ERA in 4.1 IP) will be groomed for it going forward. Alex Wilson (4.25 ERA in 42.1 IP), Daniel Stumpf (2.25 ERA in 20.0 IP), Chad Bell (6.10 ERA in 31.0 IP), Bruce Rondon (12.41 ERA in 12.1 IP), and Drew VerHagen (6.75 ERA in 4.0 IP) round out the group.

Yankees Connection

Shane Greene pitched well for the Yankees in 2014 (78.2 IP, 102 ERA+), but he is most memorable for being dealt for Didi Gregorius in December of that year. He was mostly bad for the Tigers in 2015 and 2016 (144.0 IP, 63 ERA+), but he seems to have found his niche as a short reliever this year.

Utility player Andrew Romine is the older brother of Austin Romine, and arguably the more successful of the two. He has a 67 wRC+ in 1070 MLB PA, and has spent most of the last four years on big-league rosters.

Who (Or What) To Watch

I’m looking forward to Sanchez and Fulmer squaring-off, which, depending on the Yankees batting order and ability to hit, will happen in the first or second inning. We could also see Gregorius vs. Greene, but that’s far less exciting.

7/27 to 7/30 Series Preview: Tampa Bay Rays

(Duane Burleson/Getty Images)
(Duane Burleson/Getty Images)

The Yankees have won three in a row, and five of their last six since an ugly series loss to the Twins. Things finally seem to be clicking (again), but the Rays will provide a serious test – heading into this series, they are just 1.5 games back of the Yankees for the Wild Card, and just 2.5 games out of first in the division.

The Last Time They Met

This will be the fourth series between these teams this year, with the Yankees leading the season series 5-4. The Rays won the last series, though, taking two of three in Tampa back in May. Here are some tidbits from that series:

Check out Katie’s Yankeemetrics post for more on the series.

Injury Report

Tampa has dealt with several serious injuries this season, with four would-be everyday players, a few bench/platoon players, a couple of starting pitchers, and several relievers spending time on the DL. They’re just about as healthy as they’ve been right now. That’s a loaded phrase, though, as SP Matt Andriese, RP Xavier Cedeno, IF Matt Duffy, CF Kevin Kiermaier, SP Jake Odorizzi, and IF Daniel Robertson are all on the disabled list, and none will be back in time for this series.

And, while it’s not an injury, OF Colby Rasmus decided to “step away from baseball” in June, and is no longer with the team.

Their Story So Far

With yesterday’s victory over the Orioles, the Rays improved to 53-49 on the season, with a +13 run differential. They’re within striking distance of both the AL East and the Wild Card, and they have made it clear that they will be buyers at the deadline. Their moves for Adeiny Hechavarria and Sergio Romo may not move the needle all that much, but they’re said to be in on Lucas Duda, Addison Reed, and others.

The Rays offense is the key to their success. It’s among the best in the game, ranking fifth in the majors in wRC+, sixth in BB%, and tenth in ISO. Logan Morrison (140 wRC+), Steven Souza Jr. (140 wRC+), and Corey Dickerson (133 wRC+) form the heart of the order, alongside the declining but still good Evan Longoria (106 wRC+). It’s a group that’s capable of hitting the ball out of any park at most any time.

Pitching, however, is an issue – particularly in the bullpen. More on that in a bit.

The Lineup We Might See

Stop me if you’ve heard this one before, but the Rays love to mix-and-match lineups on a game-to-game basis. Manager Kevin Cash seems to take after Joe Maddon in that respect, and it has worked out well for his club this year. That being said, their ideal lineup will look something like this:

  1. Mallex Smith, CF
  2. Corey Dickerson, LF
  3. Evan Longoria, 3B
  4. Logan Morrison, 1B
  5. Steven Souza, RF
  6. Brad Miller, DH
  7. Wilson Ramos, C
  8. Tim Beckham, 2B
  9. Adeiny Hechavarria, SS

The Starting Pitchers We Will See

Thursday (7:05 PM EST): LHP CC Sabathia vs. RHP Chris Archer

This will be Archer’s third time facing the Yankees this year. He had a very good outing against them on Opening Day (7 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 5 K), and a quality start in a losing effort back in May (6.1 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 2 BB, 12 K). That’s the norm for Archer, as the 28-year-old has a 2.73 ERA in 15 starts (102.1 IP) against the Yankees.

Last Outing (vs. TEX on 7/22) – 7.0 IP, 4 H, 4 R, 1 BB, 11 K

Friday (7:05 PM EST): RHP Masahiro Tanaka vs. TBA

Odorizzi would have made this start, but he was put on the disabled list yesterday. Austin Pruitt is rumored to be getting his turn in the rotation, having been scratched from his own Triple-A start on Tuesday for no real reason. He’s been an up-and-down guy for the Rays this year, serving as a swing man and long reliever in his first big league season. He has a 6.25 ERA (67 ERA+) in 31.2 IP.

Despite his struggles, Pruitt is a legitimate four-pitch pitcher. He throws a fastball in the low-90s, a cutter in the upper-80s, a mid-80s change-up, and a low-80s curveball. His cutter is often confused with a slider, though some would say it’s a slider that gets mislabeled as a cutter.

Last Outing (vs. BAL on 6/23) – 3.0 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K

Saturday (1:05 PM EST): LHP Caleb Smith vs. LHP Blake Snell

Snell made his major league debut against the Yankees last year, and fared quite well – he went 5 innings, allowing 2 hits, 1 run, and 1 walk, while striking out 6. He last faced the Yankees on April 12 of this year, getting chased in the fifth inning due to an elevated pitch count. And that’s been the story of his year, as his inefficiency sees him leave way too many games after just five innings. He’s still just 24, though, and the Rays are being cautious with his development (he spent a bit over a month in the minors working on his pitch sequencing and control).

Last Outing (vs. BAL on 7/24) – 7.0 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 1 BB, 4 K

Sunday (1:05 PM EST): LHP Jordan Montgomery vs. RHP Jacob Faria

The 23-year-old Faria was called-up on June 7, and has been a member of the Rays rotation since then. He was the team’s tenth-round pick back in 2011, and was a lightly-regarded prospect – the sort that was slapped with a “fifth starter” label from the outset. He’s been quite good for the Rays so far, though, pitching to a 2.67 ERA (156 ERA+) in 57.1 IP.

Faria is basically a three-pitch guy, with a low-90s four-seamer, a low-80s change-up, and a mid-80s slider. He’ll throw a curveball every now and then, but it’s more of a show-me pitch than anything else.

Last Outing (vs. BAL on 7/25) – 7.1 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 2 BB, 5 K

The Bullpen

The Rays bullpen has been its weak point this year, ranking in the bottom-ten in the majors in park-adjusted ERA and K%, and in the bottom-five in WPA, meltdowns, and blown saves. There have been some improvements as the season has progressed, but they nevertheless took two losses against the Rangers last weekend (including a blown save on Sunday). They still have kinks to work out.

Alex Colome is the closer, with Tommy Hunter serving as his primary set-up man. Chase Whitley and Danny Farquhar have settled into 6th and 7th inning roles, and former closer Brad Boxberger is still in search of a role. With the possible exception of Hunter (who somehow has a 1.93 ERA and 10.5 K/9), the Rays don’t have a dominant reliever in the bunch.

Who (Or What) To Watch

These teams have had their fair share of dust-ups over the last several years, and that always bears watching. The fact that they’re also jockeying for position in the playoff race with the trade deadline rapidly approaching should only exacerbate that, so I wouldn’t be shocked if we see a few kerfuffles this weekend. I’d actually be kind of shocked if we didn’t.

Other than that, Jacob Faria is an interesting pitcher, with a legitimately plus change-up and a bit of potential. He’s also tiny for a pitcher, checking in at 5’11” and around 175 pounds, which always makes for some interesting chatter from the play-by-play guys.

7/25 to 7/26 Series Preview: Cincinnati Reds

Votto and Cozart. (Dan Hamilton/USA TODAY Sports)
Votto and Cozart. (Dan Hamilton/USA TODAY Sports)

The Yankees have won a series for the first time in well over a month, finishing up an eleven games in ten days stretch with a 6-5 record. Monday’s off-day was well-earned, and almost undoubtedly a necessity as they head into another lengthy stretch without a day off – they’ll play for thirteen straight days beginning this evening. And the Reds are up first.

The Last Time They Met

The Yankees visited Cincinnati for two games back in May, splitting the series a game apiece. That was way back when the Yankees were the best team in baseball, owning the game’s best record and best run differential. Some notes on the series:

  • The Yankees offense was at the height of its powers in the first game, plating ten runs and going a combined 13-for-36 with a couple of home runs and more walks (7) than strikeouts (5). Masahiro Tanaka was the only starter that did not reach base, but he got in on the action with a sacrifice bunt.
  • Didi Gregorius hit his first home run of the season in the second game, which was his eleventh game of the season. He went 4-for-8 with 4 RBI in the series.
  • CC Sabathia was knocked around in his start, pitching to the following line: 6 IP, 7 H, 5 ER, 2 BB, 2 K. It was his fourth straight subpar start, which left him with a 5.77 ERA on the season. Since then, however, he has a 1.62 ERA in 50 IP (9 starts).

For more factoids about the series, check out Katie’s Yankeemetrics post.

Injury Report

Four-fifths of the Reds rotation is currently on the disabled list, with Bronson Arroyo and Brandon Finnegan out for the rest of the year, and Anthony DeSclafani and Scott Feldman recovering from injuries. Neither DeSclafani nor Feldman will be back in time for this series; though, Feldman could be on the Yankees radar as a deadline acquisition, should he recover quickly from his knee injury.

Their Story So Far

The Reds were atop the NL Central when these teams faced in May, with a half game lead over the Chicago Cubs. They were 17-14 with a +22 run differential at that time, with a borderline-elite offense and a league-average pitching staff. That was then; they’re now sitting at the bottom of their division at 41-58, with a -84 run differential – the fifth-worst mark in the majors.

This is a rebuilding team, so such a stark backslide isn’t entirely surprising. And, with the trade deadline rapidly approaching, this team may well be even worse in a week’s time.

For more on the Reds, check out Red Reporter or Redleg Nation.

The Lineup We Might See

As was the case when these teams last met, the Reds lineup is fairly consistent on a game-to-game basis. Manager Bryan Price will play for the platoon advantage a bit, but he does so by swapping his fifth and sixth hitters in the lineup – and that’s about it. The only real wrinkle that we will see is his choice for designated hitter. We’ll probably see a lineup along these lines:

  1. Billy Hamilton, CF
  2. Zack Cozart, SS
  3. Joey Votto, 1B
  4. Adam Duvall, LF
  5. Eugenio Suarez, 3B
  6. Scooter Gennett, 2B
  7. Scott Schebler, RF
  8. Patrick Kivlehan, DH
  9. Tucker Barnhart, C

The Starting Pitchers We Will See

Tuesday (7:05 PM EST): LHP Jordan Montgomery vs. RHP Luis Castillo

Castillo has the odd distinction of being dealt twice by the same team in a six month span. The Marlins attempted to send him to the Padres for Andrew Cashner and Colin Rea at last year’s trade deadline, only to nix the deal due to Rea’s undisclosed injury (even though he appeared in a game for the Marlins). He was subsequently dealt to the Reds in January, as a part of the deal that sent Dan Straily to Miami. Castillo was called-up for his big league debut on June 23, and has been in the Reds rotation ever since – and he’s done quite well. He has a 3.86 ERA (116 ERA+) in 35.0 IP, with a ridiculous 29.5% strikeout rate and a well above-average 55.7% groundball rate.

The 23-year-old Castillo is a power pitcher, with a three-pitch arsenal. His four-seam fastball sits in the upper-90s, and he complements it with a mid-80s slider and an upper-80s change-up.

Last Outing (vs. ARI on 7/20) -6.0 IP, 4 H, 4 R, 1 BB, 7 K

Wednesday (1:05 PM EST): RHP Luis Severino vs. RHP Homer Bailey

Bailey is the longest-tenured member of the Reds, having made his MLB debut a bit less than three month before Joey Votto. He was the 7th overall draft pick back in 2004, a top-10 prospect in 2007 and 2008, and an exciting young pitcher in 2012 and 2013, but injuries have derailed his career these last three years. Bailey has appeared in just 14 games since the beginning of 2015, pitching to a 7.30 ERA (60 ERA+) in 61.2 IP. He returned from the disabled list on June 24, and has mixed three good starts with three atrocious ones. And he’s still just 31.

Bailey is a three-pitch guy, with a low-to-mid 90s fastball, an upper-8s slider, and a mid-80s splitter. When he’s on, both the slider and splitter can be devastating.

Last Outing (vs. MIA on 7/21) – 6.0 IP, 8 H, 2 R, 2 BB, 3 K

The Bullpen

Way back in May, I noted that the Reds bullpen was showing signs of competence after being absolutely horrific in 2016. That has held mostly true, as they remain in the middle-of-the pack in terms of run prevention, and currently sit in the top-ten in WPA and meltdowns. There isn’t a great deal of name value in this group, but they’re getting the job done.

Closer Raisel Iglesias leads the way, with a 1.46 ERA (306 ERA+) and 31.2 K%; he’s 17 for 18 in save opportunities. Wandy Peralta and Drew Storen are the set-up men, and both have been solid in their roles, as well. A lack of rest may be an issue for the bullpen as a whole, though, as they’ve yet to have a day off since the All-Star break.

Who (Or What) To Watch

Scooter Gennett made headlines when he cranked out four home runs and 10 RBI on June 6. That feat was made even more amazing by the fact that, heading into that, Gennett had hit just 38 HR in 1754 PA – so those 4 home runs represented 9.5% of his career total. As a result, he seemed like the sort of player that would pop-up for a historical moment, and then fade into the background as a neat bit of trivia. Instead, Gennett has slashed .323/.385/.623 (158 wRC+) since that game, with 11 HR in 143 PA.

Why bring this up here? Simple – he’s a LHH whose spray chart looks like this:

(FanGraphs)
(FanGraphs)

I will also add a token reference to Joey Votto, who remains one of the most interesting hitters in all of baseball, and one of my favorite non-Yankees.

7/20 to 7/23 Series Preview: Seattle Mariners

(Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)
(Stephen Brashear/Getty Images)

The Yankees have played staggeringly mediocre baseball since the All-Star break, splitting a four-game set with the Red Sox and dropping two of three to the Twins. Their lead for the second Wild Card spot stands at just half a game as a result, so the reinforcements could not have come at a much better time. Unfortunately, our first extended look at Todd Frazier, Tommy Kahnle, and David Robertson will come on West Coast time, as the Yankees visit Seattle for four games.

The Last Time They Met

It has been almost a year since the Yankees faced the Mariners, as the two teams last met in August of 2016. The Yankees took two of three by a combined score of 15-8, moving to 66-61 in the process. Some notes from the series:

  • Gary Sanchez and Starlin Castro hit two home runs apiece in the first game, but it wasn’t enough as they lost 7-5. Anthony Swarzak took the loss and a blown save that day, allowing two inherited runners to score on a three-run home run by Mike Zunino. And, no, going with Swarzak didn’t make much sense at the time, either.
  • Sanchez was at the height of his August powers in that series, going 6 for 11 with 3 HR, 3 BB, and 0 K.
  • CC Sabathia had one of the best starts of his season in the second game, going 7 strong and allowing 3 hits, 1 run, and 1 walk, while striking out 7.

Check out Katie’s Yankeemetrics post for more fun facts.

Injury Report

The Mariners have battled the injury bug all year, with key players like Jean Segura, James Paxton, Mitch Haniger, Felix Hernandez, Drew Smyly, and Hisashi Iwakuma all spending time on the disabled list. They’re approaching full strength, but Smyly is done for the year, and there’s no real timetable for Iwakuma’s return.

Their Story So Far

Seattle is essentially the perfect .500 team – they’re 48-48 with a +1 run differential. They’re 5-1 since the break, which includes a series victory over the Astros this week. The Mariners offense has been the driving force behind the team’s limited success, and it currently ranks 6th in the majors in wRC+ and 8th in runs scored. They currently have 8 regulars or semi-regulars with a wRC+ of 100 or better, and their back-up catcher (93 wRC+) and fourth OF (90 wRC+) aren’t all that bad, either. In short, their lineup is almost always strong from top to bottom.

Their starting pitching has been less than stellar, though. Paxton has performed like a top of the rotation starter when healthy, with a 3.05 ERA (132 ERA+), 10.3 K/9, and 3.0 BB/9 in 94.1 IP. The pickings are fairly slim after that, with a mishmosh of average to well below-average guys making up the rest of the rotation. The declining Hernandez is their second-best starter right now, and he’s sitting on a 4.20 ERA (101 ERA+) in 55.2 IP, for comparison’s sake, and the group as a whole has a 4.79 ERA – good for 22nd in baseball.

For more on the Mariners, I recommend checking out Lookout Landing.

The Lineup We Might See

Injuries have force manager Scott Servais to tinker with his lineup quite a bit, but he seems to prefer this configuration when everyone’s available:

  1. Jean Segura, SS
  2. Ben Gamel, LF
  3. Robinson Cano, 2B
  4. Nelson Cruz, DH
  5. Kyle Seager, 3B
  6. Danny Valencia, 1B
  7. Mitch Haniger, RF
  8. Jarrod Dyson, CF
  9. Mike Zunino, C

The Starting Pitchers We Will See

Thursday (10:10 PM EST): RHP Luis Severino vs. RHP Felix Hernandez

Three years ago, Felix Hernandez was one of the best pitchers in baseball. Two years ago, he saw a dip in velocity, and an overall drop-off in production, but remained comfortably above-average. Last year, his velocity backed-up again, and his numbers slipped even further into average territory (and his 4.63 FIP suggested that he was actually lucky). And this year, he’s simply rather average. His strikeouts and walks went in the right direction, but he’s more hittable and more gopher-ball prone than ever before, and his fastball no longer has much bite to it. This is what a decline looks like.

Hernandez focuses on four pitches nowadays – a low-90s fastball, a low-90s sinker, a mid-80s change-up, and a low-80s curve. He’ll mix in a mid-80s slider, as well, but that is oftentimes shelved unless something else isn’t working.

Last Outing (vs. CHW on 7/15) – 5.0 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 0 BB, 5 K

Friday (10:10 PM EST): LHP CC Sabathia vs. RHP Andrew Moore

The 23-year-old Moore was a second-round pick back in 2015, and he made his big league debut last month, going 7 IP and allowing 3 ER in a victory over the Tigers. His scouting report isn’t terribly exciting, as he’s a command/control type with a back-of-the-rotation ceiling, but he also qualifies as a “high floor” type due to his ability to limit walks and soak innings. It’s not a sexy profile by any stretch, but it feels an awful lot like the type of rookie that has plagued the Yankees in years past.

Moore is a four-pitch guy, with a low-90s fastball, low-80s slider, low-80s change-up, and mid-70s curveball. He’s earned praise for his change-up, which I’ve seen graded as high as a 60 on the 20-80 scale.

Last Outing (vs. CHW on 7/16) – 3.0 IP, 6 H, 5 R, 0 BB, 1 K

Saturday (9:10 PM EST): RHP Masahiro Tanaka vs. LHP Ariel Miranda

The Mariners acquired Miranda at last year’s trade deadline in a straight-up swap for Wade Miley, and it has paid dividends thus far. The 28-year-old Cuban has thrown 165.2 IP in 30 games for the Mariners, posting a 4.07 ERA (100 ERA+) along the way. His underlying numbers aren’t awe-inspiring (6.9 K/9, 3.1 BB/9, 5.30 FIP), but he’s managed to stay healthy and mostly effective this year (97 ERA+), which is a boon for a team that has needed 13 starting pitchers already.

Miranda mostly utilizes three pitches – a low-90s fastball, a mid-80s change-up, and a low-80s splitter. That splitter is his best pitch, with a whiff rate just shy of 20%, and a batting average against of just .190.

Last Outing (vs. HOU on 7/17) – 5.2 IP, 6 H, 5 R, 1 BB, 4 K

Sunday (4:10 PM EST): RHP Luis Cessa vs. RHP Sam Gaviglio

The 27-year-old Gaviglio is the second rookie the Yankees will face this weekend, having made his debut on May 11. He was a fifth round pick way back in 2011, and his journey to the show may best be described as methodical – he spent three years bouncing between Double-A and Triple-A, and always seemed to be the “next guy up;” it just took a long time for that need to arise.

Gaviglio is a pure junkballer. His fastball tops out in the upper 80s, and he complements it with a low-80s slider, low-80s change-up, and a curve in the upper-80s. His margin for error is razor thin, as his strikeout rate is a well below average 15.4%.

Last Outing (vs. HOU on 7/18) – 6.0 IP, 8 H, 5 R, 2 BB, 3 K

The Bullpen

The Mariners bullpen has been right around average in most respects this year, with its ERA, K%, BB%, and WPA all falling between 13th and 20th in the majors. That might be a bit misleading, though, as the bullpen’s overall numbers are dragged down by folk that are primarily used in mop-up situations. Edwin Diaz has been solid as the closer (134 ERA+, 12.9 K/9, 3.9 BB/9), and the late-innings trio of Nick Vincent, Tony Zych, and Steve Cishek is formidable. They also have Marc Rzepcyznski in a traditional LOOGY role – LHH are batting .171/.227/.244 in 45 PA against him this year.

It is worth noting that the bullpen has been stretched thin since the break. They’ve been called upon for 22.1 IP in six games, and Diaz and Vincent were both needed yesterday.

Yankees Connection

It’s all but guaranteed that we will see three former Yankees during this series. Seeing Robinson Cano in another uniform still saddens me, and I’ll have to suffer him starting everyday against the Yankees. I don’t think we need to recap his fantastic career in pinstripes.

Ben Gamel was a 10th round pick by the Yankees in 2010, and he was in the organization up through last August, when he was sent to the Mariners for Juan De Paula and Jio Orozco. It was a roster crunch that made sense at the time (and still does), but Gamel has done his damnedest to make Cashman and Co. look bad. He’s batting .319/.373/.444 (125 wRC+) with 5 HR and 3 SB in 309 PA as a regular in LF/RF, and he has shown no signs of slowing down.

And old friend James Pazos is there, too. He was drafted by the Yankees in 2012, and he tossed 8.1 subpar IP (84 ERA+, 1.50 K/BB) for the team between 2015 and 2016. He was dealt to the Mariners for Zack Littell this off-season, and he’s been very effective in their bullpen this year, with a 124 ERA+ in 36.2 IP. Littell, for his part, has been awesome in the Yankees system – he has a 1.71 ERA in 105.1 IP between High-A and Double-A.

Who (Or What) To Watch

Ben Gamel’s flowing locks.

7/17 to 7/19 Series Preview: Minnesota Twins

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Even though we’re now in the second half, the Yankees have somehow only played ten of the other 14 American League teams so far this season. They’ll knock out two others on this road trip. They’ll start the week in Minnesota and end the week in Seattle. The Yankees and Twins are playing three games in Target Field, starting tonight.

What Have They Done Lately?

The Twins started their second half by losing two of the three to the Astros, who have outscored them 57-28 in six head-to-head meetings this season. A one-sided season series that has been. Overall, the Twins are 46-45 despite a -65 run differential. They’re the anti-Yankees. The Yankees are massively underperforming relatively to their run differential. The Twins are massively overperforming. Also, these two teams are separated by only 1.5 games in the wildcard race — two games in the loss column if you’re smart and keep track of such things — so this isn’t a nothing series.

Offense & Defense

The Twins have a roughly league average offense so far this season. They’re averaging 4.56 runs per game with a team 95 wRC+, so yeah, about average. Minnesota is without CF Byron Buxton (62 wRC+), who was recently placed on the disabled list with a groin injury. He won’t be back this series. Manager Paul Molitor does tend to shuffle things around, though this is generally his go-to lineup:

  1. 2B Brian Dozier (101 wRC+)
  2. CF Zack Granite (-10 wRC+ in 16 plate appearances)
  3. 1B Joe Mauer (104 wRC+)
  4. 3B Miguel Sano (133 wRC+)
  5. RF Max Kepler (105 wRC+)
  6. DH Robbie Grossman (113 wRC+)
  7. LF Eddie Rosario (105 wRC+)
  8. SS Jorge Polanco (53 wRC+)
  9. C Jason Castro (82 wRC+)

Remember when Dozier hit 42 home runs last season? That’s the most ever by an American League second baseman. Well this year he has 15 home runs. He’s have a good power year, though nothing like last year. I’m really surprised the Twins didn’t trade him this past offseason. Dozier’s stock was never going to be higher.

Anyway, Sano is the big scary guy in that lineup. He’s a monster. Kepler, Dozier, and Mauer are no pushovers, however. Dozier’s not what he was last year and Mauer’s not what he was back in the day, though they can still beat you. One thing about the Twins: they draw a lot of walks. Their team walk rate is a healthy 9.6%. Only the Dodgers (10.8%), Yankees (10.1%), and Cubs (9.9%) draw more.

Sano. (Rob Carr/Getty)
Sano. (Rob Carr/Getty)

On the bench the Twins are carrying C Chris Gimenez (93 wRC+), 1B Kennys Vargas (89 wRC+), IF Eduardo Escobar (95 wRC+), and UTIL Ehire Adrianza (91 wRC+). Fun fact: Gimenez has already made six pitching appearances this year. Six! He’s allowed four runs in five innings. That’s already the most pitching appearances by a full-time position player in a single season since Hal Jeffcoat pitched in seven games in 1957. Hopefully the Yankees force Gimenez to get back on the mound this series.

As for defense, the Twins are one of the most improved teams in baseball in the field this season. Last year they ranked 29th among the 30 clubs with a .681 Defensive Efficiency, which means they turned 68.1% of batted balls into outs. This year they’re 14th with a .706 Defensive Efficiency. Going from 29th to 14th is a pretty big jump. Getting Sano out of right field helped there. That said, Buxton is unreal in center, and he’s currently on the disabled list.

Pitching Matchups

Monday (8:10pm ET): RHP Bryan Mitchell (vs. MIN) vs. LHP Adalberto Mejia (No vs. NYY)
In a very roundabout way, Mejia has some ties to the Yankees. He’s the guy the Twins got from the Giants in the Eduardo Nunez trade last year. Eh? No? Nevermind. The 24-year-old southpaw has a 4.43 ERA (5.30 FIP) in 13 starts and 65 innings this season, during which he’s struck out 18.8% of batters faced and walked 11.1%. That’s not too good. His ground ball rate (45.2%) is fine and his home run rate (1.52 HR/9) is high even considering the homer environment around the league. Mejia has a big reverse split this year — lefties have a .385 wOBA against him while righties have a .327 wOBA — though that’s a sample size issue. He’s only faced 50 lefties compared to 238 righties. Mejia works primarily with a low-90s sinker and backs it up with low-80s sliders and changeups, both of which he throws a ton.

Tuesday (8:10pm ET): RHP Luis Cessa (vs. MIN) vs. RHP Bartolo Colon (vs. NYY)
Bartolo! The Yankees helped resurrect Colon’s career back in the day — he was 38 when they signed him out of winter ball back in 2011 and he’s still pitching — and now they’ll be the first team he faces in his return to the AL. Colon was miserable for the Braves earlier this season (8.14 ERA and 5.08 FIP), so they released him, and he hooked on with Minnesota. His strikeout (14.1%) and homer (1.57 HR/9) rates with Atlanta were bad. His walk (6.7%) and grounder (45.6%) rates were fine. Both lefties (.371 wOBA) and righties (.423 wOBA) crushed him. Colon is still throwing about 85% fastballs these days, though his velocity is mostly upper-80s/low-90s now. Remember when he showed up to Spring Training chucking 95-97 mph with the Yankees? That was fun. When he doesn’t throw a fastball, Colon mixes in low-80s sliders and changeups.

Berrios. (Adam Glanzman/Getty)
Berrios. (Adam Glanzman/Getty)

Wednesday (1:10pm ET): LHP Jordan Montgomery (No vs. MIN) vs. RHP Jose Berrios (No vs. NYY)
Last year Berrios, 23, was one of the top pitching prospects in baseball. Then he got blasted in his MLB debut. He threw 58.1 innings with an 8.02 ERA (6.20 FIP) in 13 starts. Yikes. No other rookie starter in baseball history has posted an ERA that high in at least 50 innings. This season Berrios has gotten back on track, throwing 79 innings across 12 starts with a 3.70 ERA (4.02 FIP). Good strikeout rate (23.0%), okay-ish everything else (7.2 BB%, 42.9 GB%, 1.11 HR/9). Lefties have had a little more success against him than righties (.311 wOBA vs. .277 wOBA). Berrios throws both a straight four-seamer and a sinking fastball in the mid-90s, and his go-to secondary pitch is a cartoonish low-80s curveball. He also throws a mid-80s changeup on occasion. It’s worth noting Berrios started out great, with a 2.67 ERA in his first eight starts, but his last four outings have been rough. He’s given up at least four runs in each of his last four starts, including allowing seven runs in 1.2 innings last time out.

Bullpen Status

Finally, the Yankees will know what it’s been like to face the Yankees’ bullpen these last few weeks. Minnesota’s relief crew has a collective 4.77 ERA (4.83 FIP) on the season, and that’s with All-Star closer Brandon Kintzler posting a 2.23 ERA (3.66 FIP) in 40.1 innings. The rest of the bullpen has been awful. Here is Molitor’s relief crew:

Closer: RHP Brandon Kintzler
Setup: RHP Matt Belisle (5.66 ERA/4.71 FIP) and LHP Taylor Rogers (2.06/3.59)
Middle: RHP Tyler Duffey (4.74/3.60), RHP Ryan Pressly (6.83/4.76), LHP Buddy Boshers (3.47/4.86), RHP Trevor Hildenberger (2.70/2.24)
Long: RHP Phil Hughes (5.87/5.41)

Hughes had surgery to treat Thoracic Outlet Syndrome last year and he wasn’t very good when he first came back, so the Twins moved him into the bullpen. This is the first year of the three-year, $42M extension he signed back in December 2014. He has a 5.04 ERA (4.93 FIP) in innings since signing that deal. That one ain’t working out as hoped.

I should note Hughes is also the only Twins player with real connection to the Yankees. No one else on their roster has previously worn pinstripes, though hitting coach James Rowson was a hitting instructor in New York’s farm system for several years. He worked closely with Gary Sanchez to Aaron Judge, among many others. Rowson left the Yankees and joined the Twins this past offseason. (Update: Colon is an ex-Yankee too. Duh.)

As for recent usage, Hildenberger, Pressly, and Boshers all pitched yesterday. Kintzler, Rogers, Duffey pitched Saturday. No one is coming off back-to-back appearances, so pretty much everyone is fresh, and Kintzler is ready to go for the ninth inning. Check out our Bullpen Workload page for the status of the Yankees’ bullpen.

7/14 to 7/16 Series Preview: Boston Red Sox

(Mark Brown/Getty Images)
(Mark Brown/Getty Images)

With a horrendous end to their first half firmly in the rear-view mirror, the Yankees look to open the second half with a renewed sense of purpose. Matt Holliday will be back in the lineup tonight, there’s a chance that Starlin Castro could return this weekend, and four days off should have helped with the other assorted bumps, bruises, and nagging injuries that tend to pile up over a 162-game season. And who better to right the ship against than the first-place Red Sox?

The Last Time They Met

The Yankees took two of three from the Red Sox from June 6 through 8, moving out ahead of the AL East pack by three games with a 34-23 record. Unfortunately, they’re 11-18 since then, while the Red Sox have gone 18-12. That’ll turn a 3 game lead into a 3.5 game deficit in … well … about a month. Some notes from the series:

  • The Yankees dropped the first game 5-4, despite a dreadful performance from Masahiro Tanaka (5 IP, 5 ER, 3 HR allowed) and going 0-for-10 with RISP as a team. I list this as a reminder that it wasn’t too long ago that we refused to count this team out, and I’m hopeful that we’ll be back at that point soon.
  • Game two was an incredibly satisfying win, and not just because it was 8-0. CC Sabathia tossed 8 scoreless innings, the team was 5-for-12 with RISP, and Chris Carter somehow managed to go 3-for-4 with a home run and 4 RBI.
  • Gary Sanchez continued his torment of David Price in the third game, knocking out two home runs. He’s 4-for-7 with 4 HR, 9 RBI, and 2 BB against Price in his career.

Check out Katie’s Yankeemetrics post for more fun with numbers.

Injury Report

The Red Sox are still somewhat banged up, with Marco Hernandez, Tyler Thornburg, and Steven Wright done for the season, Roenis Elias trending in that direction, and Carson Smith still up in the air. That being said, they stand to get much more healthy in the coming week, with Brock Holt, Josh Rutledge, and Eduardo Rodriguez all slated to return in the next week or so.

Their Story So Far

Boston is 50-39 with a +65 run differential, and the best home record (25-14) in the American League. Their pitching staff has been the driving force behind their success, with the third-best park-adjusted ERA in the majors, and the fourth best WAR. The fact that they have the best pitcher in the league helps, but it is far from a one-man show.

The Red Sox offense has been starting to click, as well, though its 105 wRC+ in the last 30 days still isn’t quite where they wanted to be. Mookie Betts, Jackie Bradley Jr., Andrew Benintendi, and Hanley Ramirez all had slow starts (and Xander Bogaerts has slumped of late), and they haven’t come close to replacing David Ortiz. It’s difficult to see this offense as anything less than potent, but they’re still waiting to truly break out.

For more specifics about the Red Sox, check out Over the Monster.

The Lineup We Might See

This has been John Farrell’s lineup of choice of late:

  1. Mookie Betts, RF
  2. Dustin Pedroia, 2B
  3. Xander Bogaerts, SS
  4. Mitch Moreland, 1B
  5. Hanley Ramirez, DH
  6. Andrew Benintendi, LF
  7. Jackie Bradley Jr., CF
  8. Christian Vazquez, C / or / Sandy Leon, C
  9. Tzu-Wei Lin, 3B

The Starting Pitchers We Will See

Friday (7:10 PM EST): LHP Jordan Montgomery vs. LHP Drew Pomeranz

Pomeranz had a somewhat rough outing against the Yankees on June 6; he only allowed 2 R (1 ER) in 5.0 IP, but it took him 123 pitches to finish those innings. He was clearly laboring, and only 58% of his offerings were strikes – but the Yankees could get that one big hit to blow the game open. Pomeranz has made 17 starts this season on the whole, throwing 90 innings of 3.60 ERA (128 ERA+) ball.

Last Outing (vs. TBR on 7/7) – 6.0 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 5 BB, 6 K

Saturday (4:05 PM EST): RHP Luis Severino vs. LHP Chris Sale

By several measures, Sale has been the best pitcher in baseball this year. He leads the majors in fWAR, K%, K-BB%, and park-adjusted FIP, and he’s averaging better than 7 IP per start. He has 10+ strikeouts and 0 walks in three of his 18 starts, and he’s walked more than 2 batters twice. In short, he has been dominant (and, yes, that includes his loss to the Yankees back in April, when he went 8 IP, allowing 8 H, 3 R, and 0 BB, while striking out 10).

Last Outing (vs. TBR on 7/6) – 7.0 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 0 BB, 12 K

Sunday (1:05 PM EST): RHP Bryan Mitchell vs. RHP Rick Porcello

Porcello has followed-up his Cy Young campaign by being the worst starter on the Red Sox. He’s currently sitting on a 4.75 ERA (97 ERA+) in 119.1 IP, and he has allowed 4+ ER in 7 of his 19 starts (and 3 ER in 6 more). He is coming off of his best start of the season, though.

Last Outing (vs. TBR on 7/8) – 8.0 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 7 K

Sunday (8:05 PM EST): RHP Masahiro Tanaka vs. LHP David Price

The Yankees roughed Price up a little over a month ago, plating 6 runs in 5 innings, with 12 runners reaching base. Price has settled down since then, with a 3.25 ERA in six starts, but he has yet to look dominant this season. He missed nearly two months, so that’s understandable – but he didn’t look like the Price of old last year, either.

Last Outing (vs. TBR on 7/9) – 6.0 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 BB, 5 K

The Bullpen

The Red Sox have the best bullpen in baseball by RA9-WAR (FanGraphs’ run-based WAR), with nearly a full run lead over the Dodgers. Closer Craig Kimbrel leads the way, with his microscopic 1.19 ERA and ridiculous 16.3 K/9 and 1.2 BB/9 leading the way to his season yet. Joe Kelly (1.49 ERA), Fernando Abad (2.93), Blaine Boyer (3.13 ERA, 4.0 K/BB), Heath Hembree (3.57 ERA, 6.3 K/BB), and Matt Barnes (3.57 ERA, 10.9 K/9) form a formidable middle relief core that stands to improve if a couple of guys get healthy.

Who (Or What) To Watch

I’m all-in for the Gary Sanchez vs. David Price match-up.

In a more general sense, I’m just plain happy that the Yankees (and baseball) are back. Two days off may not be all that much in the most basic sense, but it felt like an eternity.

7/7 to 7/9 Series Preview: Milwaukee Brewers

(Dylan Buell/Getty Images)
(Dylan Buell/Getty Images)

With injuries and poor performances aplenty, the All-Star break cannot come soon enough for the Yankees. All that stands in their way between four much-needed days off are the (surprisingly good) first-place Milwaukee Brewers.

The Last Time They Met

The Yankees visited Milwaukee for a three-game set in May of 2014, losing two of three. Both losses came by one run, with the series finale coming in walk-off fashion. Some points of interest:

  • Yangervis Solarte went 4-for-10 with 1 R, 1 HR, 5 RBI, and 1 BB in the series. By the time it was over he was leading the Yankees regulars in batting average (.315), OBP (.394), and RBI (20).
  • The Yankees bullpen was responsible for both losses, with Alfredo Aceves losing game two, and Matt Thornton, Dellin Betances, and Adam Warren combining to blow game three.
  • Of the players that suited up for the Brewers, only Matt Garza is still in the organization. Ryan Braun was on the team at that time, as well, but he was on the disabled list.

Injury Report

Chase Anderson – the team’s best or second-best starter depending upon your metric of choice – went down with a strained oblique on June 29, and is unlikely to return until sometime in August. He was just joined there by utility man and ‘Face of Baseball‘ Eric Sogard, who suffered a left ankle strain on Wednesday. Wily Peralta is out, as well, but, given his production thus far, the Brewers may be better for it.

Their Story So Far

The Brewers are currently in first place in the NL Central by 4.5 games, with a 48-40 record and a +40 run differential. They’ve won four in a row, and are 15-8 since falling back to a game above .500 on June 13. Their success seems to be a product of average-ish performance across the board, as their offense (13th in wRC+), pitching (8th in park-adjusted ERA, 12th in park-adjusted FIP), and defense (14th in DRS, 16th in UZR/150) are all right around the middle of the pack.

Eric Thames has been the team’s biggest story, as the 30-year-old “busted” prospect turned South Korean superstar returned to MLB, and tore the cover off the ball for the first month of the season (11 HR and a 218 wRC+ in April). He’s cooled off considerably since then, with a 107 wRC+ in May and a 68 wRC+ in June, but the threat of his power still looms.

Their pitching shouldn’t be overlooked, though, as the aforementioned Anderson and Jimmy Nelson have been a formidable one-two punch in the rotation, and Garza has been surprisingly competent. The remainder of their staff has been mostly average – and that alone is a surprise.

Check out Brew Crew Ball for more news and notes about the Brewers.

The Lineup We Might See

Third-year manager Craig Counsell has tinkered with his lineup throughout the year, riding the hot hand as often as possible. Sogard was raking prior to his injury, for example, so he was hitting leadoff for a couple of weeks, while the struggling Jonathan Villar was dropped in the order. Nevertheless, I suspect we’ll see something like this:

  1. Jonathan Villar, 2B
  2. Eric Thames, 1B
  3. Ryan Braun, LF/DH
  4. Travis Shaw, 3B
  5. Domingo Santana, RF
  6. Stephen Vogt, DH/C
  7. Manny Pina, C
  8. Keon Broxton, CF
  9. Orlando Arcia, SS

The Starting Pitchers We Will See

Friday (7:05 PM EST): LHP Jordan Montgomery vs. RHP Junior Guerra

Guerra bounced around the minors and independent leagues for over a decade before getting a cup of coffee with the White Sox in 2015. He then spent most of the 2016 season in the Brewers rotation, putting up a 2.81 ERA (152 ERA+) in 121.2 IP as a 31-year-old rookie. His peripherals suggested he was something closer to a league-average pitcher, but he didn’t appear to be a complete and utter fluke. This season has been a different story, though, as he sports a 4.93 ERA/7.10 FIP (!) in 45.2 IP. Guerra also missed nearly two months with a calf injury.

In 2016, Guerra was a three-pitch guy, throwing a mid-90s four-seamer, a mid-80s splitter (with a 20% whiff rate), and a low-80s slider. He introduced a low-90s sinker this year, to mixed results. Guerra’s overall velocity has dropped in 2017, with 2 MPH disappearing from the fastball, and 1-plus MPH coming off of his splitter and slider.

Last Outing (vs. MIA on 7/2) – 4.0 IP, 8 H, 4 R, 3 BB, 7 K

Saturday (1:05 PM EST): RHP Luis Severino vs. LHP Brent Suter

The 27-year-old Suter has served as an up-and-down guy/long-reliever/spot starter for the Brewers over the last two years, with mostly strong results (albeit in just 42.2 IP). He has a 3.16 ERA (139 ERA+) as a big-leaguer, with league-average strikeout (19.6%) and walk (6.7%) rates. He took what would have been Anderson’s last turn in the rotation, and he stands to get an extended look.

Suter is a finesse lefty, with a mid-80s fastball, low-80s change-up, and mid-70s slider making up the bulk of his offerings.

Last Outing (vs. BAL on 7/3) – 6.0 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 8 K

Sunday (1:05 PM EST): RHP Masahiro Tanaka vs. RHP Jimmy Nelson

If Anderson isn’t the Brewers ace, it’s because of the 28-year-old Nelson, who has been borderline dominant at times this season. He has a 3.20 ERA (139 ERA) in 104.0 IP, with comfortably above-average strikeout (26.1%), walk (5.8%), and groundball (49.3%) rates. He was a top-100 prospect heading into his rookie season, so this may well be a legitimate breakout.

Nelson is a four-pitch pitcher, with a low-to-mid 90s four-seamer, a low-to-mid 90s sinker, a slider in the upper-80s, and a mid-80s curveball. He draws praise for sequencing his pitches well, and keeping hitters off-balance with power stuff and movement.

Last Outing (vs. BAL on 7/4) – 7.0 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 8 K

The Bullpen

Closer Corey Knebel is the only truly dominant pitcher in the Brewers bullpen, with a 1.11 ERA (403 ERA+) and 43.3% strikeout rate in 40.2 IP. He took over as closer when Neftali Feliz earned his release, and he hasn’t disappointed. Jared Hughes and Jacob Barnes handle the 7th and 8th inning on most nights, and both are solid-average by most metrics. Beyond those three, however, it’s something of a crapshoot.

The bullpen has been taxed of late, as the Brewers have played 22 games in the last 22 days, with a double-header on June 13 somewhat negating their June 26 off-day.

Yankees Connection

This is a bit of a stretch, but Thames was drafted by the Yankees way back in 2007. He was the 1191st overall pick that year, and he elected to return to Pepperdine for his senior year instead of signing.

Who (Or What) To Watch

Keon Broxton was one of my favorite non-Yankees prospects for a while, and he has finally begun to make good on his hyper-athletic promise over the last season and change. He’s hitting .239/.306/.473 (97 wRC+) with 14 HR and 15 SB on the season, and he plays strong defense in center field. He’s something of a hacker, but he’s a fun player to watch nonetheless.

Seeing Nelson pitch could be a treat, as well – particularly the day after we see the soft-tossing Suter.