Here is an open thread for the rest of the day. MLB.tv is free this weekend, so you can use that watch the last few innings of whatever games are still being played. There’s also the rest of the day’s NFL action. Talk about that stuff and more right here.
Today is the final day of the 2016 regular season. The Yankees have already been eliminated from postseason contention, though they’ve also clinched their 24th straight winning season, and that tells you they were good but not good enough. The offense was the main culprit. The pitching certainly wasn’t without flaws either.
Prior to today’s season finale, the Yankees will honor Mark Teixeira, who has decided to call it a career because his body simply can handle the 162-game grind anymore. He’s got neck and knee issues, on top of who knows what else. I still remember the day the Yankees signed Teixeira. The day they pulled the rug out from under the Red Sox to sign him was one of the most exciting days in RAB history.
Teixeira’s eight years in pinstripes have been, well, complicated. Mostly productive. He’s put up a .248/.344/.479 (119 OPS+) batting line with 206 home runs with the Yankees, which works out to 18.3 fWAR and 20.6 bWAR. WAR underrates his defense too. It doesn’t handle first basemen well. Teixeira was second in the MVP voting in 2009 and he hit in the middle of the order for the team’s most recent World Championship squad.
At the same time, the last few years of Teixeira’s career have featured a lot of injuries and a lot of balls hit into the shift, and both of those things are disappointing. Even still, Teixeira was a really good player for the Yankees for a long time, plus he was a bit of a goof and always good for a laugh. It’s too bad we won’t get to enjoy BLOWN SAVE a little longer. That was a hoot. At least we got a full season of Foul Territory.
A year ago Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez carried the Yankees offensively. After today, they’ll both be gone. A-Rod was released back in August and now Teixeira is walking away. This is kind of sad. Sad and exciting at the same time. Those two were key members of some really good teams. At the same time, the Yankees are making room for younger players who we hope will one day form the next great Yankees team.
This afternoon’s series finale is scheduled to begin at 3:05pm ET — every game on the final day of the season starts at the same time for maximum drama — and the Yankees say the Teixeira ceremony will begin at 2:45pm ET. I’m certain the YES Network will carry it. As for today’s game, here is the Orioles’ lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:
- LF Brett Gardner
- CF Jacoby Ellsbury
- C Gary Sanchez
- DH Brian McCann
- 1B Mark Teixeira
- SS Didi Gregorius
- RF Aaron Hicks
- 3B Ronald Torreyes
- 2B Donovan Solano
RHP Luis Cessa
Today’s game is important for the Orioles. A win will clinch a wildcard spot. A loss won’t automatically eliminate them — the Blue Jays and Tigers both need to win — but it would put their backs up against the well. Here are the tiebreaker scenarios. Let’s make life miserable for them. Enjoy the final game of the season and Teixeira’s career, everyone.
Memory and baseball are bedfellows of randomness. Just like we’re not sure what’s going to happen when a ball is hit or thrown, we have little control over what we remember, regardless of how much or how little. There are baseball-related things I’ll forget the day after they happen and others I’ll remember for as long as I have a memory. Most of those times, my memories are on the field. Two moment off the field, however, stand out.
In February of 2004, I was waiting for my name to be called for a haircut as the TV in the barbershop played Alex Rodriguez‘s introductory press conference. Almost five years later, in December of 2008, I was on a side road, facing the on-ramp to I-95 at Exit 5 of the Connecticut Turnpike. To my right was a McDonalds and to my left was a shipping center–both are still there.
That’s where I was — coincidentally in the town he and his family would eventually call home — when I heard via WFAN that Mark Teixeira was signing with the Yankees for eight years, sneaking out from under the thumb of the Red Sox (and the Orioles according to their fans).
Those eight years on, it’s hard to believe time’s gone as fast as it did; a contract that long feels like it’ll never end. But, as always, time is undefeated. All told, barring any changes today, Tex hit .248/.344/.479/.823 (119 OPS+) in his time with the Bombers. He was a steady, switch-hitting first baseman you could count on for power, patience, and pure, blissfully self-aware dorkiness.
He was the latest in a line of prestigious Yankee first base regulars and he will be missed, as will his insight regarding healthy eating and organized crime (or at least films about it). Greg Bird is poised to take the torch and keep the line moving, but as Tex bows out, this is a time to look back, a time to reflect, and a time to give thanks for Teixeira most always being on the Mark. Fare thee well, number 25; take care of Greenwich for me.
Even though they’ve been eliminated from postseason contention, the Yankees are not going quietly this final weekend of the season. They erased a three-run deficit and scored seven unanswered runs Saturday afternoon to earn a 7-3 win over the Orioles. That creates some serious headaches for Baltimore’s postseason push. Hooray for that.
Sevy The Non-Starter
Luis Severino‘s final start of the season didn’t go any better than the first ten. While on a strict pitch count, he allowed three runs on five hits and two walks in 3.2 innings. The first two runs came on Michael Bourn’s two-out, two-strike single in the second inning. The third came on Manny Machado’s solo homer. Meh. Machado’s going to do that. But a two-strike hit by Bourn? Weak.
Severino finishes the season with an 8.50 ERA (5.41 FIP) in eleven starts and 47.2 innings. Opponents hit .337/.389/.587 against him as a starter. Severino basically turned every hitter he faced into a more powerful Jose Altuve (.337/.396/.533), at least when working as a starter. Woof. Severino was awesome as a reliever — 0.39 ERA (2.29 FIP) and a .105/.209/.158 opponent’s batting line in 23.1 innings — but as a starter, he was historically terrible. He’s only the 24th pitcher in history to make at least ten starts with an 8.50+ ERA, and more than a few of the other 23 were broken down old guys trying to hang on.
Severino’s issues as a starter seem pretty obvious. He admitted he’s lost confidence in his changeup — only three of his 66 pitches Saturday were changeups — and his location is generally poor. With everything, really, but especially with his offspeed stuff. Considering the expectations coming into the season, Severino was a colossal disappointment this year. Can’t sugarcoat it. Hopefully he learns from this season and is better for it in the future.
After falling behind 3-0 early, I wouldn’t have blamed the Yankees for packing it in and coasting to the finish line. This game means nothing to them. Guys are already planning their vacations and looking forward to some rest and relaxation. Instead, they battled back in a game that meant an awful lot to the Orioles. The Yankees scored runs in the fifth, sixth, seventh, and eighth innings. They chipped away.
Tyler Austin‘s one-out single drove in the team’s first run in the fifth inning. A single (Mark Teixeira) and a walk (Chase Headley) set that one up. In the sixth, Headley doubled in the team’s second run after Billy Butler and Rob Refsnyder singled with two outs. Love those two-out rallies. The Yankees tied the game in the seventh inning on Austin’s solo home run. Yet again, it was an opposite field job.
The wheels came off in the eighth inning for the O’s. Brian McCann popped up to start the frame, then Showalter went to setup man Brad Brach, who’s had a great season overall but has really struggled of late. Brach walked Jacoby Ellsbury on five pitches, then fell behind in the count 3-1 to Headley. Headley jumped on the 3-1 hanger and poked it by a diving Chris Davis at first base for a double. The Yankees were in business.
Brach again fell behind in the count, this time 2-0 to Austin Romine, and Romine sliced a hanging breaking into shallow left field for a two-run single. Headley actually bumped into J.J. Hardy while on the bases, which third base umpire Jim Reynolds saw, resulting in an obstruction call. Headley scored well ahead of the throw, so ultimately the obstruction didn’t matter. Had he been thrown out, Reynolds could have awarded him home because of the obstruction.
Romine’s single gave the Yankees a 5-3 lead. Torreyes drew a walk two batters later, then Brett Gardner slapped a two-run double to left field to stretch the lead to 7-3. September call-up Oliver Drake was on the mound at that point. The Orioles are fighting for their playoff lives, yet Zach Britton watched that inning from the bullpen. I do not understand. Well, no, I do. Closers are for closin’. Bullpen usage can be so stupid sometimes.
The Unsung Hero(es)
The bullpen made the comeback possible. Severino bowed out after 3.2 innings, then Jonathan Holder came in to get the next four outs without incident. Richard Bleier, Kirby Yates, and Tyler Clippard each followed with a scoreless inning to keep the O’s at bay. Those four guys combined to allow three singles and two walks in their 4.1 innings. Weirdly, they did not strike a single batter out. Huh.
You know who did strike a batter out? Dellin Betances. Three of them, in fact. He came in to pitch the ninth inning with the 7-3 lead, allowed a dumb infield single — the throw got to him in time, but Dellin took a little stutter step that allowed Bourn to beat him to the bag — then struck out the next three batters on eleven pitches. Four of the eleven were swings and misses. Vintage Betances. Total domination. Great to see him finish the year on a high note. Enjoy the offseason, Dellin.
Teixeira got two at-bats and was out of the game That seems to be the plan this weekend. They did it Friday night too. Refsnyder took Teixeira’s spot in the lineup and went out to right field — Austin moved from right to first — and he managed to throw Machado out at third to end the seventh inning. The throw appeared to be on time, but Machado overslid the bag anyway, so he was tagged again for good measure. Nice throw, Ref.
The Yankees had 12 hits as a team, and every starter had at least one except Starlin Castro. The 6-7-8-9 hitters (Headley, Romine, Austin, Torreyes) went a combined 7-for-14 with two doubles, a homer, five runs scored, and five runs driven in. The guys at the top of the lineup did well too. Those bottom four guys really carried the load offensively though.
And finally, the win means the Orioles were unable to clinch a postseason spot Saturday. Doesn’t matter what the Tigers or Blue Jays do in their late games. The O’s needed the win and one of those two teams to lose, and they didn’t get the win. Showalter’s boys will be playing for all marbles Sunday.
Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
ESPN is the place to go for the box score and updated standings. MLB.com has the video highlights. Here are our Bullpen Workload and Announcer Standings pages, and here’s the pretty awesome win probability graph:
It’s the final game of the 2016 season. Been a helluva ride. Luis Cessa and Kevin Gausman are the schedule starters for Sunday’s game. That’s a 3:05pm ET start. The Yankees will honor Teixeira with a pregame ceremony, so that’ll be cool. RAB Tickets can get you in the door if you want to catch the final Yankees game until next year live and in person.
So I came to a realization last night: I want the Blue Jays to miss the postseason more than I want the Orioles to miss the postseason. In a perfect world both would miss the postseason, but that doesn’t seem to be an option at this point. After that benches clearing nonsense and the general mouthiness of the Blue Jays, I’m all for seeing them stay home. Maybe it’s just me.
Anyway, Luis Severino is making the start this afternoon — his first start since that benches clearing incident in Toronto — in place of Masahiro Tanaka, who is healthy, but is being shut down. The Yankees don’t want to push their ace in a meaningless game so soon after a forearm issue. I don’t blame them one bit. Here is today’s Orioles’ lineup and Yankees’ lineup:
- LF Brett Gardner
- CF Aaron Hicks
- 2B Starlin Castro
- DH Billy Butler
- 1B Mark Teixeira
- 3B Chase Headley
- C Austin Romine
- RF Tyler Austin
- SS Ronald Torreyes
RHP Luis Severino
It is really cloudy and cool in New York today, but there’s only a tiny little bit of rain in the forecast, so it looks like they should be able to get this game in. First pitch is scheduled for 4:05pm ET. The game will be on YES. Enjoy.
Injury Update: Chad Green (forearm) played catch for the second straight day. Everything is going well and he should have a reasonably normal offseason.
Assuming the weather cooperates, the Yankees and Orioles will continue their three-game series with the middle game this afternoon. Here are a few links — with a heavy dose of minor league stuff — to help you pass the time before the penultimate game of the 2016 season.
A-Rod arrives at Instructs
Alex Rodriguez‘s post-playing career is officially underway. A-Rod made his debut as a guest instructor in Instructional League yesterday and will be there today as well, report Kevin Kernan and Mark Didtler. A-Rod worked specifically with Clint Frazier, Blake Rutherford, and Jorge Mateo, three of the Yankees’ very best prospects.
“It feels great to be back in pinstripes, to be with the young players. It’s our debt. We owe the game. In many ways it’s our responsibility to pay it forward,” said Alex. “There is as much good young talent that I’ve seen here in all my years with the Yankees … The talent jumps off the page. Right now I’m just collecting a lot of information, trying to understand their strengths and weaknesses, and try to understand their personalities.”
A-Rod, who will again be part of FOX’s postseason coverage, is expected to address the 55 players at Instructs today. It sounds as though he spent most of his time yesterday working with players in the batting cage, not out on the field defensively. I’ve seen rumors that A-Rod is going to stop by the Arizona Fall League at some point, though that’s unconfirmed. Either way, he’s at Instructs now. (Brendan Kuty has some photos of the minor league complex, if you’re interested.)
Kaprielian pitches, Mateo tries the outfield
Two other notes from Instructs: James Kaprielian, who missed most of the season with an elbow injury, threw two innings in an Instructional League game yesterday, Joe Girardi confirmed. The Yankees hope he’ll complete his rehab in Instructs and then pitch in the AzFL. Weirdly enough, he was re-added to the Scottsdale roster soon after being removed earlier this week. Point is, Kaprielian is on the mend and pitching. That’s good.
Also, the Yankees have had Mateo working out in center field in Instructional League, according to Kernan. That’s pretty interesting. It’s not necessarily a permanent move — it’s not uncommon for players to try new positions in Instructs (someone sent me a photo of Gary Sanchez playing third base once) — but it makes sense to try it out. With so many shortstops in the system, center field would make better use of Mateo’s speed and athleticism than second base.
Kaprielian among best unqualified prospects
Baseball America is currently rolling out their top 20 prospects lists for each minor league, and in a companion piece (no subs. req’d), Kaprielian was listed as one of the best prospects who did not qualify for a top 20 list. He simply didn’t throw enough innings. Here’s a snippet of the write-up:
His fastball velocity, erratic in his junior college season and generally in the 89-92 mph range as an amateur, sat 92-96 mph and reached 97. His feel for his breaking balls was a key asset in his amateur days, and he was up to 87-89 mph with his slider on Opening Day, with a true power curve in the low 80s. All three pitches earned plus grades … Kaprielian has the highest ceiling of any Yankees pitcher and was the best pitcher in the Florida State League this season but essentially lost a year of development.
The lost season really stinks because it’s not out of the question that a healthy Kaprielian could have made his MLB debut in September. If nothing else, there was a good chance he could have finished the season in Triple-A and been a big league option early next year. The good news is he’s healthy now and pitching in Instructs. Hopefully Kaprielian gets some innings in the AzFL.
Adams among prospects to make most progress
With the minor league season now over, the folks at Baseball Prospectus (subs. req’d) broke down the prospects who made the most progress this season. The guys who developed best over the summer and finished the season as much better players than they started, basically. Chance Adams was included. Here’s a piece of his write-up:
While starting, he still showed off the two plus pitches that got him drafted, but showed more feel for his changeup and curveball as the season progressed. His command also improved as the season progressed, having a better idea of where to locate and execute his pitches in specific counts … While I don’t think durability will be an overall issue for him, it is just something to keep notice of for the following year.
I’ve yet to see a remotely negative scouting report about Adams this year. Usually you’ll come across one or two throughout the season, especially with pitchers who might wind up in the bullpen, but there’s nothing like that with Adams yet. He figures to start next season in Triple-A, which makes him a potential big league option. I’m looking forward to seeing how Adams’ second season as a starter goes.
Torres among potential top ten prospects for 2017
Soon after the end of the minor league season, Jim Callis looked at players who could emerge as one of the top ten prospects in baseball next season. Nationals outfielder Victor Robles sat in the top spot. Gleyber Torres, who came over from the Cubs in the Aroldis Chapman trade, was fifth. “Torres is a very advanced hitter and his defense keeps improving,” said the write-up.
On Twitter, Callis said he prefers Torres to Frazier because he believes in his bat more, plus he plays a more valuable position. I don’t necessarily agree, but preferring Torres to Frazier is not in any way unreasonable. Either way, the Yankees have both these guys. It’s not one or the other. They’re both in the organization. The fact both are among the best prospects in baseball is pretty awesome. The Yankees built quite the prospect base these last few months.