6/29 to 7/1 Series Preview: Los Angeles Angeles

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Time for the final West Coast trip of the season. That’s right, after this three-game series with the Angels, the Yankees are completely done with the West Coast. Heck, just ten of their final 83 games of 2015 are in the Central Time Zone. Travel gets much easier from here on out. The Yankees swept three from the Halos in the Bronx earlier this month, by the way.

What Have The Angels Done Lately?

The Angels beat the Mariners yesterday thanks to a walk-off wild pitch, which is always wacky. They took two of three from Seattle and are 7-7 in their last 14 games. Anaheim is 39-37 with a -4 run differential overall, good for second place in the AL West.

Offense & Defense

Last season manager Mike Scioscia’s team had the best offense in baseball, one which averaged 4.77 runs per game. This year they’re one of the lowest scoring teams in MLB. The Angels are averaging just 3.89 runs per game with a team 95 wRC+. SS Erick Aybar (78 wRC+) is day-to-day with a hamstring problem and OF Collin Cowgill is out for a while with a wrist injury.

Pujols. (Presswire)
Pujols. (Presswire)

As always, Scioscia’s offense is led by OF Mike Trout (167 wRC+), the best all-around player in baseball. He is quietly on pace for 41 homers this season. 1B Albert Pujols (147 wRC+) leads the league with 23 homers but doesn’t hit for average (.265) or get on base (.334) like he did in his prime. Still, he’s really dangerous. Personal fave OF Kole Calhoun (101 wRC+) hasn’t been able to repeat last season’s success (125 wRC+).

3B David Freese (103 wRC+), 2B Johnny Giavotella (94 wRC+), OF Matt Joyce (67 wRC+), and C Chris Iannetta (64 wRC+) are the rest of the regulars. OF Daniel Robertson (48 wRC+ in limited time) and UTIL Efren Navarro (82 wRC+ in limited time) are splitting time in left with Joyce at DH for the most part. C Carlos Perez (68 wRC+), IF Taylor Featherston (7 wRC+), and IF Kyle Kubitza (36 wRC+) round out the bench with their small sample size stats.

Overall, the Angels have a good defensive club led by Trout and Iannetta. They’re studs with the glove. Pujols is good around the bag — his range is nonexistent at this point — and Calhoun is fine in right. So is Giavotella at second. Freese and Joyce are disasters in the field. Aybar is good when healthy and Robertson can really go get it in left.

Pitching Matchups

Monday (10pm ET): LHP CC Sabathia (vs. LAA) vs. LHP C.J. Wilson (vs. NYY)
The Angels tried to trade the 34-year-old Wilson this offseason but had no luck. Now he is arguably their most consistent starting pitcher, pitching to a 3.92 ERA (3.80 FIP) in 15 starts and 96.1 innings with strikeout (21.1%) and walk (7.3%) rates in line with his career norms. He is getting fewer ground balls (43.1%) than usual and is giving up more home runs as well (0.93 HR/9). Go figure. Wilson has close to no platoon split this season (.301 vs. .295 wOBA in favor of lefties) but has historically been much more effective against same-side hitters. Wilson throws six pitches, including five at least 10% of the time. He offers low-90s two and four-seamers, an upper-80s cutter, a mid-80s changeup, a low-80s slider, and an upper-70s curveball. The cutter is the sixth pitch. That one he’s thrown only 7% of the time this year. The Yankees roughed Wilson up for six runs in seven innings earlier this month.

Tuesday (10pm ET): RHP Ivan Nova (vs. LAA) vs. LHP Andrew Heaney (vs. NYY)
Heaney, 24, was the ninth overall pick in the 2012 draft. He was traded twice in one day this offseason — first from the Marlins to the Dodgers for Dee Gordon, then from the Dodgers to the Angels for Howie Kendrick. So Heaney was teammates with Giancarlo Stanton, Clayton Kershaw, and Trout all in one day. Cool. Anyway, he was just called up, and he limited the Astros to one run in six innings last time out. Heaney had a 4.71 ERA (3.08 FIP) in 78.1 Triple-A innings this season with okay strikeout (20.9%) and walk (7.1%) rates. He’s a three-pitch command lefty with a low-90s fastball, a sweepy upper-70s slider, and a sinking low-80s changeup. Heaney’s not a blow-you-away type. He just locates well and keeps everyone off balance.

Heaney. (Presswire)
Heaney. (Presswire)

Wednesday (7pm ET): RHP Adam Warren (vs. LAA) vs. RHP Matt Shoemaker (vs. NYY)
The 28-year-old Shoemaker finished second in the AL Rookie of the Year voting last season — narrowly edging out Dellin Betances! — but man, he crashed back to Earth and hard this season. I guess that’s not surprising considering his Triple-A performance was never all that good to start with. Shoemaker has a 5.03 ERA (4.62 FIP) in 14 starts and 78.2 innings this year — to be fair, his last six starts have been much better (3.41 ERA and 3.13 FIP) — with an average strikeout rate (20.5%), a good walk rate (5.4%), a below-average ground ball rate (38.7%), and an awful home run rate (1.72 HR/9). He also has no platoon split (.337 vs. .332 wOBA in favor of righties) this year after getting hit around a bit by lefties last year. Shoemaker has upper-80s two and four-seam fastballs, and he backs them up with mid-80s changeups, low-80s sliders, and a slow mid-70s curveball. The changeup is his go-to offspeed pitch. The Yankees didn’t see Shoemaker earlier this month. In fact, the Angels used some off-days to skip his start that series because they didn’t want to run him out there in Yankee Stadium with his homer problems.

Bullpen Status
The Mariners did the Yankees a solid and forced Scioscia to use both closer RHP Huston Street (3.10 FIP) and setup man RHP Joe Smith (2.18 FIP) each of the last two days. Street blew the save yesterday. RHP Trevor Gott (1.96 FIP in very limited time) also pitched yesterday. He is their Nick Rumbelow. The 2013 mid-round pick who flew through the minors with great numbers.

LHP Cesar Ramos (3.33 FIP) and LHP Jose Alvarez (3.71 FIP) are Scioscia’s two lefties but neither is a matchup guy. They’re both starters by trade who can pitch full innings if necessary. RHP Cam Bedrosian (4.38 FIP) and RHP Fernando Salas (3.07 FIP) fill out the relief crew. Joe Girardi‘s bullpen is in good shape thanks to Michael Pineda‘s eight-inning complete game yesterday. Still make sure you check out our Bullpen Workload page for recent workloads. Then head over to Halo Hangout for updates on the Angels.

Yankeemetrics: Hot and cold in Houston (June 25-28)

These guys are en fuego. (AP)
These guys are en fuego. (AP)

Keuchel’d?
The Yankees finally ran into an ace they couldn’t beat on Thursday night. Dallas Keuchel threw a six-hit shutout against the Yankees, striking out 12 in a performance that Alex Rodriguez called “complete domination.”

Keuchel is the first pitcher with at least 12 strikeouts in a shutout against the Yankees since Chris Carpenter on Sept. 4, 2001, and the first lefty to do it since the Angels’ Chuck Finley on May 23, 1995 (a game better known as Mariano Rivera’s major-league debut!).

The Astros southpaw, who also went the distance in his first game against the Yankees last season, is the first pitcher to pitch a complete game in each of his first two appearances against the Yankees since Teddy Higuera did so for the Brewers in 1985.

Adam Warren gave up three runs (two earned) before being pulled with two outs in the sixth inning — yet of course he was a hard-luck loser again. Following the game, he had a 2.87 ERA in his five losses, the lowest ERA in games lost by any pitcher with at least four losses this season.

Forever Young
For the first couple hours of Friday’s game, it looked like one of the more remarkable streaks in baseball might come to an end. The Yankees had not been shut out in consecutive games since May 1999, the longest streak in MLB history, yet had just three hits and were being blanked by the Astros through six innings.

That is until … Chris Young happened. The Houston native drilled a three-run homer to erase a 2-0 deficit and the Yankees bullpen held the Astros scoreless to preserve the win. It was his third go-ahead homer in the seventh inning or later as a Yankee; since he joined the team last September, no other player on the team has more than one such homer.

Another guy from Texas, Nathan Eovaldi, had a sweet homecoming as he threw six innings of two-run ball to earn his career-high seventh win of the season. Eovaldi had all four of his pitches working and showed a ton of confidence in his splitter, which he threw 25 times and netted him seven outs while yielding just one hit.

Six is not enough
A 6-0 lead in the second inning with your ace on the mound? Sounds like a good time to go mow the lawn and wait for the recap and highlights in a couple hours, right? Wrong.

Masahiro Tanaka struggled for the second start in a row, coughing up six runs on seven hits — including three home runs — in five innings. He is joins Orlando Hernandez (2001) as the only Yankee pitchers to give up at least six runs and three homers in back-to-back games over the last 100 years.

Mark Teixeira saved the Yankees from their worst loss of the season with a two-run, tie-breaking double in the eighth inning. It was his first go-ahead RBI in the eighth inning or later in more than three years — since a double in the top of the 14th inning on June 16, 2012 against the Phillies.

Brian McCann gave the Yankees an early 4-0 lead with his 11th career grand slam. His 10 grand slams hit as a catcher (one came as a DH) are tied with Johnny Bench for the third-most in the last 75 seasons, trailing only Mike Piazza (14) and Gary Carter (11).

Big Mike is back
It might be hot down in Texas, but the Yankees bats were once freezing cold in Houston in Sunday’s 3-1 loss, as they were held to a season-low two hits by former Met Collin McHugh.

McHugh, who also struck out eight Yankees, is the third starter with at least eight strikeouts and two or fewer hits allowed against the Yankees this season, along with Anibal Sanchez (April 23) and Joe Kelly (April 11). Since at least 1914, this is the first time that three starting pitchers have done that to the Yankees in a single season.

Michael Pineda bounced back from the worst start of his career with a strong outing (8 IP, 3 R, 2 ER, 8 K, 0 BB) but took the loss despite going the distance. He’s the second Yankee with a complete game loss this season, joining CC Sabathia on April 20 against the Tigers. The only other major-league team to have two pitchers with a complete-game loss this season is the Indians.

Fan Confidence Poll: June 29th, 2015

Record Last Week: 3-4 (37 RS, 39 RA)
Season Record: 41-35 (363 RS, 339 RA, 41-35 pythag. record)
Opponents This Week: @ Angels (three games, Mon. to Weds.), Thurs. OFF, vs. Rays (three games, Fri. 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 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?

DotF: Fowler, Palma, Bridges stay hot on a busy Sunday

Perpetually rehabbing RHP Andrew Bailey was bumped up to Double-A Trenton, according to Mark Feinsand. Also, Matt Kardos says LHP Matt Tracy and RHP Caleb Cotham have essentially swapped spots — Tracy goes down to Trenton and Cotham goes up to Triple-A Scranton.

Triple-A Scranton (3-2 loss to Buffalo)

  • CF Ben Gamel: 0-4, 1 K — in a 4-for-23 (.174) slump
  • RF Aaron Judge: 1-3, 1 BB, 1 K, 1 CS
  • LF Ramon Flores: 1-3, R, 1 BB, 1 K
  • 2B Rob Refsnyder: 1-2, 1 R, 2 BB — got picked off first … in a 10-for-46 (.218) rut, but, on the bright side, he has a 4/8 K/BB during that time
  • C Austin Romine: 1-4, 1 RBI
  • RHP Kyle Davies: 6 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 4 K, 1 HB, 6/7 GB/FB — 63 of 107 pitches were strikes (69%)
  • RHP Diego Moreno: 3 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 1 K, 4/3 GB/FB — 33 of 43 pitches were strikes (77%)

[Read more…]

Sunday Night Open Thread

Earlier today MLB announced a new format for the Home Run Derby. They tried a new format last season too, but it still took way too long, so this year’s event will be timed. The new rules are right here. There are now head-to-head matchups with one through eight seeding based on season homer totals, and each player gets five minutes to swing. There’s also bonus time based on homer distance. Could be cool? Maybe. We’ll see.

Anyway, here is tonight’s open thread. The Mets are still playing right now and the ESPN Sunday Night Game is the Cubs and Cardinals (Hammel vs. Martinez). Talk about those games, this afternoon’s loss, or anything else right here.

Yankees have no answer for McHugh, drop series finale 3-1 to Astros

Splitting a four-game series on the road against a first place team is a pretty good outcome all things considered, but man, dropping the fourth game when you had a chance to win the series always sucks. The Yankees had no answer whatsoever for Collin McHugh in Sunday afternoon’s 3-1 loss to the Astros.

(Bob Levey/Getty)
(Bob Levey/Getty)

Three Runs? Two Too Many
In the grand scheme of things, this was a really good bounceback start for Michael Pineda, who got hammered by the Tigers last time out. Three runs in eight innings against one of the better offenses in the league? Have to be pleased with that. Of course, Pineda’s effort also resulted in a loss on Sunday, though it’s tough to blame him. Three runs (two earned) on seven hits and no walks with eight strikeouts in eight innings is a fine performance.

The Astros scored their first run because of what was ruled a Brett Gardner error. It was an easy fly ball off the bat, both Gardner and Garrett Jones converged, then both pulled up, and the ball dropped in. Carlos Correa hustled around the bases for the inside-the-park homer. (Double and a two-base error, whatever.) The ball has to be caught and it appeared Gardner called it before pulling up, probably because Jones was charging after it as well. Either way, catchable ball and an unearned run.

Houston scored their second run in the seventh inning in a more traditional way — Correa doubled to left, moved to third on Jose Altuve’s sacrifice bunt, then scored on an Evan Gattis triple. Gattis smashed a slider off the wall and Gardner was just short of catching it. Far from routine. The fly ball on the first run has to be caught. The triple? It’s a highlight play if it gets caught. A double, a ground out, and a sac fly created the insurance run in the eighth. So it goes.

(Bob Levey/Getty)
(Bob Levey/Getty)

One Run? Not Enough
McHugh came into Sunday’s game with a 4.80 ERA (4.21 FIP) and an unsightly 1.25 HR/9 on the season, so, naturally, he held the second best home run hitting team in baseball to no homers and one run on two singles and two walks in eight innings. The Yankees scored their only run when Stephen Drew walked with one out in third, moved to second on a wild pitch, then scored on Gardner’s soft ground ball single up the middle.

Aside from that third inning, the Yankees did not have a runner advance as far as second base. The five-pitch seventh inning was a killer because McHugh started the inning at 89 pitches and the Yankees had a chance to get his pitch count up over 100, likely ending his day after seven innings, but nope. They couldn’t do anything with his rainbow 12-to-6 curveball in particular. McHugh threw 26 curves according to PitchFX and the Yankees swung and missed nine times. Nine times! McHugh could have told the hitters the curve was coming and they still weren’t going to hit it. Totally dominated.

(Bob Levey/Getty)
(Bob Levey/Getty)

Leftovers
Not surprisingly, Gardner was the only batter who put up much of a fight against McHugh. He went 1-for-3 with a walk and smashed a fly ball to the warning track in right. Alex Rodriguez slapped a soft single to center with two outs in the sixth. That plus Drew’s walk is all the offense. The 4-5-6-7-8 hitters went a combined 0-for-15 with three strikeouts. Yeesh.

Heck of a game for Brian McCann behind the plate. He threw both Jose Altuve (fourth inning) and Domingo Santana (sixth) out trying to steal second base with great throws. The throw to get Altuve was flawless. McCann has thrown out 39% of base-stealers with the Yankees after throwing out 23.8% with the Braves. He’s not the first catcher to improve his throwing under Joe Girardi and Tony Pena.

And finally, the Yankees were held to two hits total, their fewest of the season. They were one-hit by the Blue Jays last season and were held to two hits or less four times in 2013. Yuck. That 2013 season was awful. Never a good thing when you can reference it.

Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
Here are the box score and video highlights, and also the updated standings. Now here are our Bullpen Workload and Announcer Standings pages. And finally, the loss probability graph:


Source: FanGraphs

Up Next
The Yankees are finally done with Houston and now are heading to Anaheim for a three-game series with the Angels. That place used to be a house of horrors but not so much the last few years. That was more of a mid-2000s thing. Anyway, veteran lefties CC Sabathia and C.J. Wilson will be on the mound for Monday night’s series opener.

Game 76: Pineda, Yankees going for series win over Astros

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

I have made the executive decision to downgrade Michael Pineda from Big Mike to Midsize Mike, at least temporarily. Pineda didn’t just get hammered last time out (eight runs in 3.1 innings), he has a 6.10 ERA in his last seven starts and 38.1 innings overall. That dates back to the 16-strikeout game. Pineda has a shiny 2.89 FIP this year. That’s awesome! He also has a 4.25 ERA (93 ERA+). That’s not awesome.

The Yankees need to get Pineda back on track and soon — preferably starting today against the Astros — because I don’t think they can get to the postseason if they’re stuck with Midsize Mike the rest of the season. One thing at a time though. Get the win today, take the four-game series from the Astros, and hope Pineda starts earning back the Big Mike moniker. Here is Houston’s lineup and here is New York’s lineup:

  1. CF Brett Gardner
  2. 3B Chase Headley
  3. DH Alex Rodriguez
  4. 1B Mark Teixeira
  5. C Brian McCann
  6. LF Garrett Jones
  7. RF Chris Young
  8. SS Didi Gregorius
  9. 2B Stephen Drew
    RHP Michael Pineda

There are thunderstorms in Houston today, so the Minute Maid Park roof will be closed once again. This afternoon’s series finale will begin just after 2pm ET and you can watch on YES locally and, depending where you live, MLB Network nationally. Enjoy.

Roster Move: Guess what? Esmil Rogers is back! He has been called up from Triple-A Scranton and Gregorio Petit was sent down, so the Yankees have a seven-man bullpen and a three-man bench right now. Today was Esmil’s day to start for the RailRiders, so he’s good for a lot of innings if necessary. Slade Heathcott was transferred to the 60-day DL to clear a 40-man roster spot for Rogers.

Injury Update: Jacoby Ellsbury (knee) hit and ran the bases again today. He’ll head to Tampa tomorrow and will begin playing in minor league rehab games this week, the Yankees say.