Game 154: Nine to Go


Counting today, there are only nine games left in the regular season. That kinda sucks. The good news is the Yankees are in position to go to the postseason this year, though they haven’t clinched anything yet. The magic number for a wildcard spot is five — it’s five for the first wildcard spot as well since the Astros and Angels have the same number of losses — and it would be cool to clinch during the homestand. Six games to get to get the job done.

Of course, the Yankees would actually need to score some runs for that to happen. The offense has been scuffling for weeks now — they’re averaging 3.75 runs per game in their last 12 games but man, it sure feels like less — because way too many players have hit the skids in the second half. Half the lineup, basically. Nine games left in the regular season to get the offense back on track. Here is the White Sox’s lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:

  1. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  2. 3B Chase Headley
  3. DH Alex Rodriguez
  4. RF Carlos Beltran
  5. C Brian McCann
  6. LF Chris Young
  7. 1B Greg Bird
  8. SS Didi Gregorius
  9. 2B Rob Refsnyder
    RHP Adam Warren

There are a few clouds in the sky this afternoon but not many. No rain in the forecast or anything like that. Pretty nice autumn afternoon for a game. First pitch is scheduled for 4:05pm ET and you can watch on WPIX. Enjoy.

Injury Updates: Masahiro Tanaka (hamstring) continued to undergo treatment and feels better. Joe Girardi said they haven’t decided when he will make his next start, but they expect him to pitch again in the regular season … Nathan Eovaldi (elbow) played catch for the first time Friday. He’ll throw again this week. Girardi stated the obvious, saying if Eovaldi does return at some point this year, it’ll be as a reliever.

Saturday Links: Wildcard Game, Thames, Judge, Son, Yogi


The Yankees and White Sox are halfway through their four-game series. They continue the set with the third game later this afternoon. Here are some links to help you pass the time.

Wildcard games start times announced

Earlier this week, MLB announced the start times for the two wildcard games. The AL game will be played at 8:08pm ET on Tuesday, October 6th, while the NL game will be played at 8:08pm ET on Wednesday, October 7th. Standard postseason start times. The AL game will be broadcast on ESPN and the NL game on TBS. Those are the only games scheduled those days. The full postseason schedule can be found right here.

The Yankees come into today four games back of the Blue Jays in the AL East and 4.5 games up on the Astros for the first wildcard spot. They’re five games up on the Angels for a wildcard spot in general. The magic number to clinch the team’s first postseason berth since 2012 is a mere five, as Joe DiMaggio tells you in the sidebar. It’s unlikely the Yankees will catch and pass the Blue Jays to win the AL East, so they figure to be playing in that wildcard game one week from Tuesday. They’ll host the game at Yankee Stadium if they hold onto their lead for the first wildcard spot.

Q&A with Marcus Thames

Brendan Kuty recently posted a short-ish interview with Triple-A Scranton hitting coach Marcus Thames, who was with the Yankees during their recent trip to Toronto. Thames discussed his philosophy as a hitting coach and some players we’ve seen come up from the minors this year. He also spoke about top prospect OF Aaron Judge at length after Judge hit .224/.308/.373 (98 wRC+) with a 28.5% strikeout rate in 61 games for the RailRiders.

“If you come to a game and watch, everybody’s trying to make him expand (the strike zone). So if he expands, he’s going to get himself out. So he’s going to have to have discipline to know what he does well, and that’s swing at strikes. If he does that, he’s going to be fine,” said Thames. Judge is always going to strike out a bunch — he’s 6-foot-7 remember, that’s a lot of strike zone to cover — but another few hundred at bats in Triple-A next season is best for him. Triple-A is the place to learn how to not expand the zone, not the big leagues.

Son. (Korea Times)
Son. (Korea Times)

Korean OF Ah-Seop Son plans to come to MLB

Korean outfielder Ah-Seop Son plans to come over to MLB this offseason, reports Jeff Passan. Son will not be a free agent this winter, so his team, the Lotte Giants, will have to make him available through the posting system. Once he is posted, teams will be able to place a blind bid, and high bidder gets a 30-day window to negotiate a contract with Son. Here are his career stats, via Baseball Reference:

2007 19 -9.5 Lotte KBO 4 6 2 1 1 0 0 1 0 0 0 1 .167 .167 .333 .500
2008 20 -8.2 Lotte KBO 80 250 31 66 11 1 3 17 2 3 28 35 .303 .387 .404 .791
2009 21 -7.3 Lotte KBO 34 96 11 16 4 0 3 4 1 1 9 16 .186 .263 .337 .600
2010 22 -6.0 Lotte KBO 121 487 85 129 23 0 11 47 6 2 50 82 .306 .377 .438 .815
2011 23 -5.4 Lotte KBO 116 492 79 144 25 5 15 83 13 4 43 80 .326 .385 .507 .892
2012 24 -4.3 Lotte KBO 132 556 61 158 26 0 5 58 10 5 41 79 .314 .370 .396 .766
2013 25 -3.5 Lotte KBO 128 568 83 172 23 4 11 69 36 7 64 88 .345 .421 .474 .895
2014 26 -2.9 Lotte KBO 122 570 105 175 25 3 18 80 10 3 80 78 .362 .456 .538 .994
2015 27 Lotte KBO 108 480 82 133 26 0 12 52 11 6 62 95 .321 .408 .471 .879
All Levels (9 Seasons) 845 3505 539 994 164 13 78 411 89 31 377 554 .324 .399 .462 .860

Son, who turns 28 in March, is described as a player “whose forte is more hitting for a high average and getting on base” rather than hitting for power. Passan notes Son will qualify for free agency next year, so if he gets lowballed during contract talks this winter, he could simply return to Korea for another season, then try again as a true free agent with more negotiating leverage next offseason.

The Yankees have a full and rather pricey big league outfield as well as a bevy of lefty hitting outfielders in the upper minors — Son is a left-handed hitter as well — so I’m not sure he makes sense for them. (For what it’s worth, the Yankees are reportedly scouting Korean first baseman Byung-Ho Park.) That said, you can be sure teams will take a much harder look at Korean players going forward following the success of Jung-Ho Kang with the Pirates.

Yogi’s funeral will be an “intimate private memorial”

According to Priscella DeGregory, the funeral for the late Yogi Berra will be an “intimate private memorial” next week, likely near his home in Montclair, New Jersey. It’ll be a small service for his family according to officials for Berra’s museum. “The outpouring of emotion that we have witnessed is a testimonial to how significant an impact he had not just as an athlete but as a human being,” said museum CEO Kevin Peters to DeGregory. Yogi passed away at age 90 late Tuesday night. We all miss him.

Double plays doom Yankees in 5-2 loss to White Sox

Every loss seems to play out the same way these days. The starter pitches okay but not great, the offense doesn’t get The Big Hit, and the Triple-A bullpen allows an insurance run or two. That’s exactly what happened in Friday night’s 5-2 loss to the White Sox. It followed the script perfectly.


Three Bad Innings
Earlier this season, CC Sabathia seemed to fall victim to the One Bad Inning start after start. He’d pitch well for a few innings, allow like four runs at once, then continue to pitch well afterwards. It was annoying. This game featured three bad innings. The White Sox scored one run in the second, another run in the third, and then two more in the seventh.

The second and third inning rallies involved a series of base hits. They’re weren’t quick rallies. Melky Cabrera singled and scored on Alexei Ramirez’s double into the right center field gap in the third — Ramirez’s double was a single that became a double because, you know, Carlos Beltran defense — then Sabathia put two more runners on base before escaping the inning. Four of the first six batters reached base in the second.

In the third, Sabathia allowed a one-out single to Trayce Thompson and a two-out single to Avisail Garcia to score the run. (Thompson took second on a ground out earlier.) The PC Richard & Son whistle mistakenly went off after strike two to Garcia, which was amusing. Both hits in the inning came in two-strike counts, which was less amusing. Mike Olt and Gordon Beckham then hit solo homers in the seventh for two runs. Olt hit a ball into the second deck in left. Very bad pitches. Very, very bad.

Sabathia finished the night with four runs allowed on six hits and two walks in 6.2 innings. He struck out three and did get an impressive 14 ground ball outs. (Only two in the air.) Sabathia has pitched much better since coming off the DL but this was easily his worst start of the four. Those two homers in the seventh ruined it. Sabathia was fine up until then.


Blown Chances
Carlos Rodon did everything in his power to give this game to the Yankees. He walked five and hit two batters in six innings of work. That’s seven (!) free base-runners. Not a single one of those seven scored. Didi Gregorius drove in both of New York’s runs in the fourth inning. Brian McCann (single) and Chris Young (infield single) reached base earlier to setup the rally.

Of course, all those free base-runners led to lots of chances, yet the Yankees never capitalized. A hit batsman and a walk in the second? Rob Refsnyder grounded out to end the threat. A hit batsman and a walk in the third? Beltran popped up to end the inning. Bases loaded in the fourth? Chase Headley hit into an inning-ending double play. A double and a walk in the sixth? Brett Gardner banged into a double play. A leadoff base-runner in both the seventh and eighth? More double plays! These by Alex Rodriguez and Young.

That was rough. The Yankees had plenty of chances but were smacking into double plays or popping or whatever all night. The offense has been scuffling for weeks now — there are simply too many players not hitting at the moment, most notably Gardner, Headley, and A-Rod — and we’ve seen a few too many games like this recently. Lots of opportunities but not lots of runs. They’ve got ten days to figure it out before the wildcard game.


David Robertson tossed a 1-2-3 ninth inning for his 32nd save. Wait … he’s not on the team anymore. Force of habit. Anyway, Andrew Bailey was the first reliever out of the bullpen and he retired all four batters he faced, with two strikeouts mixed in. Nick Rumbelow (two singles) and Chasen Shreve (one single) conspired to allow an insurance run in the ninth. The bullpen is a mess right now.

The Yankees had six hits: a double by Refsnyder and singles by Gardner, Headley, McCann, Young, and Gregorius. A-Rod, McCann (two), Greg Bird, Refsnyder, and Gregorius drew the six walks. Gardner and McCann were hit by pitches. McCann was on base four times? Huh, didn’t realize it.

Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
Here are the box score and video highlights for the game, and here are the updated standings and postseason odds for the season. The magic number to clinch a postseason spot remains five as of this writing. The tragic number in the AL East is also five. Here are our Bullpen Workload and Announcer Standings pages. Here’s the loss probability graph:

Source: FanGraphs

Up Next
The Yankees and White Sox still have two more games to play. They’ll play the third game of this four-game set Saturday afternoon. That’s a 4pm ET start. Adam Warren and John Danks is the scheduled pitching matchup. There are only six home games left in the regular season, so head over to RAB Tickets if you want to catch any of them live.

Game 153: Happy Anniversary

One year ago today, Derek Jeter played his final home game at Yankee Stadium. I know you remember that. It was an incredible night capped off by Jeter’s walk-off single to win the game. If a movie ended like that, it would be the cheesiest thing ever. But real life? It was remarkable. One of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen.

One year ago today, the Yankees had already been eliminated from postseason contention. Jeter’s walk-off didn’t help the team in the standings at all. This year, the story is different. The Yankees are in contention and their magic number to clinch a playoff spot is a mere five. They could clinch as soon as Sunday if things break right. One game at a time though. Focus on winning tonight and worry about tomorrow tomorrow. Here is the White Sox’s lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:

  1. CF Brett Gardner
  2. 3B Chase Headley
  3. DH Alex Rodriguez
  4. RF Carlos Beltran
  5. C Brian McCann
  6. LF Chris Young
  7. 1B Greg Bird
  8. 2B Rob Refsnyder
  9. SS Didi Gregorius
    LHP CC Sabathia

It’s cloudy and cool in New York, but there is no rain in the forecast tonight, so that’s good. Tonight’s game will begin a little after 7pm ET and you can watch on YES. Enjoy the game.

Injury Update: Masahiro Tanaka (hamstring) threw a 31-pitch bullpen session with no problems, but admitted the Grade I strain “isn’t completely gone” and won’t be until after the season. He’s yet to run at full speed or attempt any fielding drills. Tanaka insists he can pitch with the injury, for what it’s worth.

Jennings: Tyler Austin replaces Eric Jagielo in Arizona Fall League


According to Chad Jennings, the Yankees have decided to not send third base prospect Eric Jagielo to the Arizona Fall League this year. Jagielo was one of six players the team originally planned to sent to the desert this year, along with Gary Sanchez, Tyler Wade, Dustin Fowler, Chaz Hebert, and Tyler Webb. Ian Clarkin was added to the roster yesterday.

“Everything we’re doing right now is more with an eye toward 2016 and making sure he’s ready for Spring Training,” said assistant GM Billy Eppler to Jennings. Jagielo suffered a knee injury sliding into home plate in late-June this year and later had the knee scoped. The injury ended his season. A recent check-up showed everything is healing well, but apparently the Yankees decided not to push it.

Jagielo, 23, will miss the Arizona Fall League for the second straight year. He was scheduled to play the AzFL last season before being hit in the face by a pitch during Instructional League. Jagielo suffered a facial fracture and had to have surgery, so he was unable to play. This year it’s the knee injury keeping him from playing the AzFL. Two dumb, fluky injuries. So it goes.

In 58 games with Double-A Trenton this year, Jagielo hit .284/.347/.495 (141 wRC+) with nine home runs. He’s a career .266/.356/.469 (140 wRC+) hitter with 33 homers in 205 pro games since being the first of New York’s three first round picks in the 2013 draft. (Aaron Judge and Ian Clarkin were the other two.) Jagielo missed time with an oblique injury last year as well.

Outfielder Tyler Austin will replace Jagielo on the Surprise Saguaros roster. Technically it’s an infielder-for-infielder replacement, so Austin will end up playing a whole bunch of first base (and maybe third base? he has experience there) in the AzFL. The Yankees outrighted Austin off the 40-man roster a week ago but apparently still think enough of him to send him to the Fall League.

“He’s still young. (There is) a chance for him to continue to bridge the gap,” said Eppler. Austin, 24, hit .240/.315/.343 (92 wRC+) with six homers in 94 games split between Triple-A Scranton and Double-A Trenton this year. He started the season with the RailRiders, but played so poorly he had to be demoted at midseason. Maybe he can get himself back on track in the AzFL.

The 32-game AzFL season begins October 13th and runs through November 19th. The Championship Game is scheduled for November 21st. Yankees prospects will play on a team with Royals, Brewers, Cardinals, and Rangers prospects.

Acevedo, Jackson, Holder among Baseball America’s top 20 NY-Penn League prospects

(Staten Island Advance)
Acevedo. (Staten Island Advance)

Baseball America’s look at the top 20 prospects in each minor league continued today with the Short Season NY-Penn League. As always, the list is free but the scouting reports are not. You need a subscription for those. Red Sox OF Andrew Benintendi owns the top spot and is following by Nationals OF Victor Robles.

The Yankees have three players on the list: RHP Domingo Acevedo (No. 3), OF Jhalan Jackson (No. 10), and SS Kyle Holder (No. 18). Acevedo was slated to open the season with Low-A Charleston before a blister forced him back to Extended Spring Training for several weeks, leading to his assignment to the Staten Island Yankees. Jackson (seventh round) and Holder (supplemental first) were 2015 draft picks.

“Acevedo hit 103 mph at least once this summer and routinely worked his fastball at or around triple digits. He sits 95-96 mph early in starts but reaches back for 98-100 when he needs it,” said the write-up, which also noted Acevedo’s penchant for overthrowing. He also has a “plus changeup at 85-88 mph” and a below-average slider he can throw for strikes. The write-up likens the 6-foot-7 Acevedo to a young Dellin Betances.

Jackson claiming a spot in a top ten is surprising, though the scouting report says his “power is a legitimate plus tool.” That’s a good tool to have. “Jackson has profile right-field tools, with a plus arm and at least average speed,” added the write-up. Jackson is also said to have a raw approach at the plate and can get caught guessing at times. That’s a big obstacle to overcome, but you can’t teach this kind of power and athleticism.

As for Holder, the scouting report says “most scouts and evaluators agree that Holder is a plus defender, with some going so far to say that he is the best defensive college shortstop they’ve ever seen.” His defensive tools — body control, movement, hands, instincts, etc. — all draw big time praise. Holder’s offense is the question. “Few project him to be an impact offensive player because of his uphill swing, lack of power and substandard bat speed,” said the write-up.

Acevedo, 21, had a 1.69 ERA (2.85 FIP) with very good strikeout (27.7%) and walk (7.7%) rates in 48 innings with the Staten Island Yanks. The 22-year-old Jackson hit .266/.338/.452 (133 wRC+) with five homers and a 29.8% strikeout rate in 49 games. Holder? The 21-year-old hit .213/.273/.253 (57 wRC+) with a 13.6% strikeout rate in 56 games. Yuck. Both he and Jackson missed time with minor injuries.

In the subscriber-only chat, Michael Lananna says RHP James Kaprielian “would’ve likely ranked in the top 5″ had he thrown enough innings with Staten Island to qualify for the list. “I heard nothing but positive things,” Lananna added. “I think he could be a fast riser. Some have said he could’ve pitched out of the major league bullpen this year, but obviously that’s not going to happen … He’s a polished, promising pitching prospect.”

The next list of interest to Yankees fans is the Low-A South Atlantic League. That’ll be out sometime next week. SS Jorge Mateo is a lock — he won’t get the top spot (Red Sox 2B Yoan Moncada almost certainly will) but he figures to rank high — and others like OF Dustin Fowler, SS Angel Aguilar, and RHP Jordan Foley have an outside chance to make it too. LHP Jordan Montgomery may fall just short of qualifying for the list because of his quick promotion.

Other league top 20s: Rookie Gulf Coast League, Rookie Appalachian League