Fan Confidence Poll: September 11th, 2017

Record Last Week: 4-2 (46 RS, 31 RA)
Season Record: 77-65 (750 RS, 598 RA, 85-57 pythag. record) 3.5 GB in ALE, 3.5 GU on WC
Opponents This Week: @ Rays (three games, Mon. to Weds.), vs. Orioles (four games, Thurs. to Sun.)

Top stories from last week:

Please take a second to answer the poll below and give us an idea of how confident you are in the team. You can view the interactive Fan Confidence Graph anytime via the Features tab in the nav bar above, or by clicking here. Thanks in advance for voting.

Given the team's current roster construction, farm system, management, etc., how confident are you in the Yankees' overall future?
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Two homers for Judge, two homers for Sanchez in 16-7 win over the Rangers

Good win. Good road trip, all things considered. The Yankees pounded the Rangers in the series finale Sunday afternoon, closing out the impromptu six-game trip away from New York with a 16-7 win. They won four of the six games on the trip, and in the two losses, they held a four-run lead and a five-run lead. Hate you sometimes, baseball.

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Blown Open
For all intents and purposes, Rangers righty A.J. Griffin is a knuckleballer who uses a mid-60s curveball instead of an actual knuckleball. He threw that curve 23 times in 59 pitches Sunday afternoon. I guess you have to use it so much when your fastball tops out at 87 mph. Griffin left one of those 87 mph heaters up in the zone in the first inning, and Gary Sanchez promptly deposited it deep into the left field seats for a quick 1-0 lead. Hooray.

The Yankees added two more runs in the third because Griffin plunked Sanchez in the shoulder with a pitch, and I’m pretty sure it was intentional after the homer. If it was, it was stupid, because it put two men on base with one out, and Didi Gregorius followed it up with a double into the right field corner. Add in an Aaron Judge sac fly and that apparently retaliatory hit-by-pitch contributed to a two-run third inning and a 3-1 Yankees lead. They really broke it open in the fourth. Let’s annotate the play-by-play.

yankees-vs-rangers-play-by-play(1) Griffin got through the lineup one time by keeping the Yankees off balance with that lollipop curveball. The second time through the lineup didn’t go nearly as well. Jacoby Ellsbury looked very comfortable in the box during his leadoff hit-by-pitch in the fourth — that one wasn’t intentional, Griffin hit him with a curveball — and Austin Romine‘s single to center was well-struck. Left his bat at 104.3 mph. That ended Griffin’s day. Nick Martinez came in, grooved a first pitch fastball to Brett Gardner, and he lined it into the left-center field gap to score Ellsbury and Romine. The rout was on.

(2) How good has Chase Headley been? He came into this game hitting .326/.392/.535 (144 wRC+) in the second half and his hot streak dates back even further than that, to mid-June or so. His single to center scored Gardner for a 6-1 lead. Headley went 1-for-6 in the game, which lowered his season batting line to .278/.358/.427 (109 wRC+). Pretty cool.

(3) Somehow the Yankees looked even more comfortable in the box against Martinez than they did against Griffin. Sanchez ripped a double down the left field line, though not into the corner, so Headley couldn’t score from first. As good as Headley has been, he’s still slow as hell. That’s okay. Runners at second and third with no outs and three runs already in works for me.

(4) Ground ball double plays that short circuit a big inning are no fun. Starlin Castro banged into a rally killer with runners on the corners and no outs, so a run did score on the play, but still. The first six batters of the inning reached base, then bam, double play. I guess the Yankees have screwed up so many times this year when hitting into a double play to score a run would’ve been a positive outcome that we should appreciate this one? Yeah, let’s go with that.

(5) All friggin’ rise. Judge crushed his 40th (41st*) home run of the season following Castro’s double play, and he smacked it the opposite way out to right-center field. When he’s at his best, Judge hammers the ball the other way. He’s not out of the woods yet, but that’s three homers in seven games now, plus a ton of walks. Not as many strikeouts either. Those hittable pitches he was missing the last few weeks? He’s starting to hit them again. Evidence: his 41st (42nd*) homer of the season, which he hit in the sixth inning.

So make it four homers in his last seven games. Judge is only the second rookie in history to hit 40 homers in a season, and he has a real chance to approach Mark McGwire’s rookie record of 49 home runs. Judge is the fifth Yankee age 25 or younger to hit 40 homers in the season, joining … wait for it … Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Joe DiMaggio, and Mickey Mantle. Oh, and he also drew his 107th walk in this game, setting a new single-season rookie record. Good gravy.

Another Short Start For Montgomery
Does Jordan Montgomery belong in the rotation right now? It’s a question the Yankees have to at least ask, right? Montgomery needed 79 pitches to allow three runs on three hits and four walks in 3.1 innings Sunday, giving him a 5.27 ERA (4.99 FIP) in 12 starts and 56.1 innings dating back to July 1st. That works out to 4.69 innings per start. Some of that is by design to control his innings, but isn’t that also part of the problem? He can’t give you any length.

Anyway, in the second inning Montgomery gave up a game-tying solo home run to Robinson Chirinos, who is somehow hitting .268/.380/.558 (114 wRC+) with 17 home runs in 264 plate appearances this season. Gotta love the juiced ball. After the Yankees put up the six spot in the top of the fourth inning to take a 9-1 lead, Montgomery walked the first two batters on eleven pitches to start the bottom of the fourth. Not good. Walk, walk, strikeout, one-run double off the wall, afternoon over. Montgomery was yanked. Got one more out after the Yankees gave him a 9-1 lead in the fourth. Brutal.

Also brutal: Chad Green throwing 48 pitches in 2.1 innings in a blowout. He entered the game with a seven-run lead and left with an eight-run lead. So, to recap:

  • Thursday: Green pitches in an eight-run game.
  • Friday: Caleb Smith pitched in a two-run game.
  • Sunday: Green pitches in a seven-run game.

I know the Yankees have blown a four-run lead and a five-run lead within the last week, but using Green in games like this seems overkill? The Yankees blew those four and five-run leads partly because Green wasn’t available after pitching with even bigger leads. There has to be a middle ground somewhere, a middle ground where Green isn’t reserved to piggyback with Montgomery every fifth day. Green did allow a run in his 2.1 innings Sunday, so I guess it’s good he got it out of his system with a huge lead.

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Leftovers
Not to be outdone by Judge, Sanchez added a second home run in the eighth inning, that one a very long solo blast onto the grassy knoll beyond center field. Sanchez missed a month and still reached 30 homers. As a catcher. At age 24. The 30 homers tie Jorge Posada and Yogi Berra for the most ever by a Yankees catcher in a single season, regardless of age. Judge and Gary are going to be socking dingers in the same game for a long, long time. I can’t wait.

You know you had a good day at the plate when your cleanup hitter went 4-for-4 with a double and is only the third biggest story on offense. Gregorius had those four hits and also drove in four runs. He somehow didn’t score a run though. Weird. Three hits for Romine and two for Gardner, so the wrap around 9-1-2-3-4 portion of the lineup went a combined 13-for-24 (.542) with two doubles, one triple, and two homers. The Yankees scored 16 runs, had 18 hits and three walks, and struck out twice (Ellsbury and Ronald Torreyes).

Twice the Yankees had a runner at third base essentially deke the infielder into holding onto the ball and not making the play at first. In the third inning, with Sanchez at third, Castro hit a grounder to Joey Gallo, who tried to tag Sanchez after he wandered down the line. Gary retreated to the bag and everyone was safe. Then, in the fifth, Ellsbury deked Gallo into holding onto the ball on Headley’s would-be ground out. Everyone was safe again. Both Sanchez and Ellsbury came around to score after that.

As expected, both Tommy Kahnle and Dellin Betances pitched in the blowout win. For real. Kahnle struck out two in 1.1 scoreless innings and Betances struck out two in his inning. He also walked two and allowed a booming two-run double. Good thing he didn’t do that in a close game, huh? Dellin hadn’t pitched since Tuesday, so he needed the work. When Betances goes too long between appearances, it ain’t pretty, as we saw in this one.

Welcome to the Yankees, Erik Kratz. He never did catch while Sanchez and Romine served their suspensions, but he did come off the bench late in this game to pinch-hit for Sanchez with the score out of hand. He roped a run-scoring double. Sure, why not. Tyler Wade drove in a run with a single off the bench and Tyler Austin drew a pinch-hit walk. Everyone got in on the act except Castro (0-for-6) and Greg Bird (0-for-5).

Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
For the box score and updated standings, go to ESPN. For the video highlights, go to MLB.com. We have a Bullpen Workload page. Here’s the win probability graph:


Source: FanGraphs

Up Next
For all intents and purposes, the road trip is over. The Yankees are heading back to New York for their neutral site series with the Rays at Citi Field. CC Sabathia and Jake Odorizzi will be on the mound in Monday night’s opener. Hope everyone in Florida is staying safe.

DotF: Ford’s homer sends Scranton to championship series

Triple-A Scranton (1-0 win over Lehigh Valley) they win the best-of-five first round postseason series three games to one … they’ll take on Durham (Rays) in the best-of-five International League Championship Series, which starts Tuesday … they’re looking to become the first back-to-back IL champs (and back-to-back Triple-A champs) since Columbus in 2010 and 2011

  • CF Mason Williams, 2B Donovan Solano & RF Jake Cave: all 0-3 — Cave struck out twice and threw a runner out at second
  • LF Billy McKinney: 1-4, 1 K
  • 3B Miguel Andujar: 1-3, 1 2B — 5-for-16 (.313) with three doubles and a homer in the four-game series
  • 1B Mike Ford: 1-2, 1 R, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 BB — his eighth inning solo homer accounted for the game’s only run
  • LHP Nestor Cortes: 7 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 8 K, 2/7 GB/FB — 67 of 98 pitches were strikes (68%) … wonder if he’s going to get popped in the Rule 5 Draft … stuff is iffy, but the performance at Double-A and Triple-A the last two years is undeniably great … seems like a rebuilding club could take a chance on him as a swingman
  • RHP Jonathan Holder: 1 IP, zeroes, 2 K, 0/1 GB/FB — 12 pitches, nine strikes
  • RHP Nick Rumbelow: 1 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K, 0/1 GB/FB — ten of 15 pitches were strikes … by Triple-A standards, Holder/Rumbelow is a dominant setup man/closer tandem

[Read more…]

Game 142: Win The Series

(Richard Rodriguez/Getty)
(Richard Rodriguez/Getty)

The Yankees sure do seem to have a knack for coming through with big wins after crushing losses, don’t they? They came back with a nice win yesterday after blowing a four-run lead Friday. They blew out the Orioles the day after that crushing walk-off loss. Shut down by Doug Fister? Win the next day. Aroldis Chapman gives up an extra inning homer to the Mariners? Sonny Gray dominates the next day. All season long they’ve been doing it.

The Yankees did that again yesterday, meaning today’s game with the Rangers is the rubber game. Win the game, win the series. I’ve been saying this for years, but just keep winning series. The Yankees have seven series remaining this season, including this one, and winning all seven would all but assure them of a postseason spot. Go out and win the series, then head back to New York for basically the rest of the season. Here is the Rangers’ lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:

  1. LF Brett Gardner
  2. 3B Chase Headley
  3. DH Gary Sanchez
  4. SS Didi Gregorius
  5. 2B Starlin Castro
  6. RF Aaron Judge
  7. 1B Greg Bird
  8. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  9. C Austin Romine
    LHP Jordan Montgomery

Another great weather day in Arlington. Sunny but not crazy Texas hot. Today’s series finale will begin at 3:05pm ET and you can watch on YES. Enjoy the game.

Roster Move: Garrett Cooper (hamstring) was activated off the disabled list and optioned to Triple-A Scranton, the Yankees announced. Kinda surprised they didn’t bring him to the big leagues now that rosters have expanded, but how many right-handed hitting corner bats does one team need?

Thoughts Before the Stretch Run Starts

(Rich Schultz/Getty)
(Rich Schultz/Getty)

Before we begin, I’m sure that many of you reading this may be in or from Florida or have relatives/friends there. If that’s the case, I speak for everyone here when I say that we hope you’re safe and they’re safe.

CY-Verino

I know Luis Severino isn’t going to win the Cy Young Award. And given how Chris Sale and Corey Kluber have pitched this year, he probably doesn’t deserve to win it. But dammit if I’m not rooting for those two to crash and burn this month so Severino has a chance to grab it. We’ve talked a lot about things going as well as possible for Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez–and I wrote about it regarding Severino last week–but we might be able to argue that things have gone even better for Luis considering what happened last year. He’s stepped up for the Yankees time and time again this year, including yesterday, and he’s gone a long way towards making me feel better about the rotation next year, which was looking shaky.

Pleasantly Frustrating

This was supposed to be a process year, a developmental year. Then the Yankees started winning and that mindset of mine changed. The Yankees are incredibly likely to win the wild card and host the play-in game for the second time in three years and that’s a lot better than we could’ve hoped for in February and March. But it’s also frustrating as hell because the Yankees are clearly better than any of the teams they’d face in that game. Their starters are better than any starter they will face. In the end, that may not matter. One bad game could derail things. That’s not to say this season would be any sort of failure if the Yankees don’t make it to the Division Series. Would it be disappointing? Definitely. But considering the expectations at the beginning of the year, this season has largely been a success.

The teasing thing is that this is a team built well for a series-style playoff run: a solid rotation of Severino, Masahiro Tanaka, Sonny Gray, and CC Sabathia. A dominant bullpen. A lineup capable of explosion. All of that is dangerous in October, especially the pitching, but they may not even get there. Times like this make me long for the old Wild Card system or something radically new and different.

My pipe dream is a balanced schedule with no divisions within the AL and NL, so the top 4 teams from each league make it. That will never ever happen, but a guy can dream, no?

Anyway, it was nice last year to have a relatively stress-free season (especially in my first year as a parent), but that competitive baseball, the idea of the playoffs, it’s something I definitely missed. Sure, this isn’t like 2009-12 when you knew the Yankees were racking up division wins and what not, but it feels good to have some form of baseball to look forward to in the fall. Remind me I said this when I’m rocking back and forth like Leo Mazzone during the Wild Card game.

DotF: Hendrix & Estrada lead Trenton to championship series

Triple-A Scranton (6-1 win over Lehigh Valley) they lead the best-of-five first round postseason series two games to one

  • CF Mason Williams: 2-4, 1 R — 5-for-13 (.385) in the series, and according to people at the games, he’s made a number of great defensive plays as well
  • 2B Donovan Solano: 3-4, 2 R, 1 2B, 2 RBI, 1 E (fielding) — 7-for-13 (.538) with two walks in the series
  • LF Billy McKinney: 1-4, 1 R, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 2 K — second homer of the series, and he hit it against former big leaguer Henderson Alvarez
  • 3B Miguel Andujar: 0-2, 1 RBI, 1 K — flashed his arm on a nice play going to his right (here’s video)
  • C Kyle Higashioka: 0-3, 1 R, 1 BB
  • RF Jake Cave: 0-3, 1 K
  • RHP Brady Lail: 6 IP, 7 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 5 K, 0/1 GB/FB — 64 of 96 pitches were strikes (67%) … comes up big in his first postseason start after allowing 15 runs in his final 21.1 regular season innings

[Read more…]

Yankees 3, Rangers 1: Severino sensational, the offense rallies late to get the win


Source: FanGraphs

This game went from frustrating to gratifying in a matter of few innings. The Yankee bats couldn’t score a run against Andrew Cashner while Luis Severino was up there just straight-up dealin’. However, they rallied in the eighth and the ninth to tie it up and take the lead. It’s the weekend so let’s do it bullet-point style.

  • Sevvy great: It’s hard to choose Severino’s signature game from this season. He’s had a lot of great starts this season and this has to be up there as one of the best. He went 7.0 IP, 1 H, 1 ER, 3 BB with 10 strikeouts. Really hard to ask any more from your starter. From 100 pitches thrown, Sevvy threw 18 changeups, which is not too many fewer than the amount of sliders (27) he threw – a big indicator of how far he has come with his pitch development. Although he did not get the win today, his ERA has decreased to 2.96. Also, he has 211 strikeouts in 176.1 IP. That’s really darn good, folks.
  • The lone mistake: It’s hard not to make at least a mistake or two during a start. Severino allowed his only run on the only hit that he (and the Yankees) allowed today. In the fifth inning, Sevy walked Joey Gallo to start the frame. Will Middlebrooks hit into a fielder’s choice groundout. Severino struck out Rougned Odor to get the second out but allowed an RBI double to Brett Nicholas, a September call-up catcher. 1-0 Rangers. Crappy way to lose a no-no and let the other team go ahead. On the other side, Cashner was simply dealing, holding the Yankee bats scoreless for the first seven innings while striking out four. However…
  • Tying it up: The Rangers pulled Cashner out in the eighth inning after he plunked Todd Frazier on the first pitch of the frame. He was in command all day and the Yankee hitters were probably glad to see him gone. Matt Holliday, pinch-hitting for Greg Bird to face the lefty Alex Claudio, lined a single to right to make it runners on corners with no out. Brett Gardner popped out for the first out but Chase Headley tied it up with a sac fly. A run! Gary Sanchez swung at 3-0 pitch for a single past Elvis Andrus and Yankees, once again, had a runner in the scoring position. However, Didi Gregorius grounded into the shift to end the inning.
  • The ninth-inning rally: Joe Girardi brought in David Robertson for the bottom of the eighth. D-Rob responded with an easy eight-pitch inning. In the top of the ninth, Starlin Castro led off with a single to right and Aaron Judge grounded into a fielder’s choice out. With one out and runner on first, Jacoby Ellsbury fought for an eight-pitch at-bat and lined a base hit to right to put runners on corners – huge at-bat, huge outcome. With Frazier coming up, Jeff Bannister put in the righty Ricky Rodriguez. On a 1-2 count, Rodriguez hit Frazier on the left triceps to load the bases. Tyler Austin, who took over for Bird at the first base, followed it up with an RBI single to left to finally give the Yankees a lead. Gardner popped out (again) for the second out, but Headley worked a walk to extend the lead to 3-1. That’ll do.
  • Leftovers: Aroldis Chapman was the closer for today. He had a solid past two outings and I assume that was enough to restore some faith in him. The lefty threw a perfect inning with two strikeouts to close it out and earn his first save since August 15.

Here are today’s box score and updated standings from ESPN, video highlights from MLB.com and WPA graph from Fangraphs. The Yankees will play the series finale at Arlington tomorrow. It’ll be a Jordan Montgomery vs. A.J. Griffin matchup for a 3:05 pm EST start.