DotF: Gamel’s walk-off single gives Scranton’s latest win

Some quick notes:

  • LHP James Pazos threw a simulated game this afternoon, reports Shane Hennigan. He’s been on the Triple-A DL since mid-June with an unknown injury. Pazos is getting healthy just in time for September call-ups.
  • Thanks to yesterday’s great start, RHP Chad Green made an appearance in today’s Prospect Report even though he’s in the big leagues. He’s still prospect eligible though, so there you go.

Triple-A Scranton (3-2 win over Norfolk, walk-off style)

  • LF Ben Gamel: 3-5, 1 2B, 1 RBI — walk-off single … had a walk-off single the other day too
  • CF Clint Frazier: 0-4, 1 K
  • 3B Rob Refsnyder: 1-3, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 BB, 1 K — 5-for-14 (.357) since being sent down
  • C Kyle Higashioka: 0-4, 2 K
  • DH Mason Williams: 1-4, 1 R, 2 K
  • LHP Phil Coke: 4 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 3 K, 5/2 GB/FB — 48 of 68 pitches were strikes (71%) … he had to make the spot start because they played doubleheaders Sunday and Monday
  • RHP Gio Gallegos: 3 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 5 K, 1 WP, 1/2 GB/FB — 31 of 49 pitches were strikes (63%) … 81/15 K/BB in 65 total innings
  • RHP Jonathan Holder: 2 IP, zeroes, 3 K, 2/1 GB/FB — 16 of 20 pitches were strikes (80%) … 83/7 K/BB in 58.1 innings

[Read more…]

Game 119: Gain ground on … someone

Judge is like a cartoon giant. (Presswire)
Judge is like a cartoon giant. (Presswire)

The Yankees may have long postseason odds, but until they’re mathematically eliminated, they’re still in the race and every game means something. There’s still seven weeks and a lot of head-to-head games to go.

Tonight’s game is a chance for the Yankees to gain ground on … someone. Right now the Orioles and Blue Jays are tied atop the division and the Red Sox, the second wildcard team, are one game back. The Yankees are playing the Jays while the O’s and BoSox meet in Baltimore. A win tonight means the Yanks gain a game on the Jays and whoever loses the Orioles-Red Sox game. That’s kinda big. Here is the Blue Jays’ lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:

  1. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  2. 3B Chase Headley
  3. SS Didi Gregorius
  4. 1B Mark Teixeira
  5. 2B Starlin Castro
  6. DH Brian McCann
  7. C Gary Sanchez
  8. RF Aaron Judge
  9. LF Aaron Hicks
    RHP Michael Pineda

Yet another hot and humid day in New York. There have been too many of these lately. It was raining earlier this afternoon and there’s more rain in the forecast later this evening, which is generally not good. Hopefully nothing that interferes with the game too much. Tonight’s game is scheduled to begin at 7:05pm ET and you can watch on YES. Enjoy.

Rotation Update: No surprise here, but Chad Green and Luis Cessa are in the rotation going forward, Joe Girardi announced. Cessa is replacing Luis Severino, who was sent down following Sunday’s start.

Injury Update: In case you missed it earlier, Nathan Eovaldi will have surgery to repair a torn flexor tendon and a partially torn ligament. He did some serious damage to his elbow. Never pitch, kids.

Nathan Eovaldi to have surgery for torn flexor tendon and partially torn UCL

(Ronald Martinez/Getty)
(Ronald Martinez/Getty)

Nathan Eovaldi‘s time with the Yankees may be over. Eovaldi will have surgery to repair a torn flexor tendon as well as a partially torn ulnar collateral ligament in his elbow, according to the various reporters at Yankee Stadium. The flexor tendon was torn right off the bone. Ouch. Those are two pretty significant injuries, obviously.

The Yankees have not announced a rehab timetable, but I think it’s safe to assume Eovaldi will miss the entire 2017 season. He is scheduled to become a free agent after next year, so chances are the Yankees will non-tender him this winter a la the Royals and Greg Holland. No need to carry him in 2017 only to have him become a free agent once he’s healthy.

Eovaldi has had Tommy John surgery before, way back in his junior year of high school. He threw almost 900 innings on the replacement ligament. There’s a pretty decent chance the injury will end Eovaldi’s time with the Yankees, though they’d always have the option to re-sign him, either after the season as a non-tender or when he becomes a free agent next year.

Over the last two years the 26-year-old Eovaldi had a 4.45 ERA (4.11 FIP) in 279 innings in pinstripes, which just isn’t good. The Yankees brought him in as an extremely hard-throwing project and pitching coach Larry Rothschild did teach Eovaldi a splitter, but it didn’t work out. So it goes. You win some and you lose some. This one is a loss.

The Yankees have bats on the way, now they need to figure out the pitching staff

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Two days ago, in his latest return to the rotation, Luis Severino got roughed up by the Rays and didn’t make it out of the fourth inning. He looked pretty good at times and flat out bad at others. Severino wasn’t any better than he was earlier this season, when he was getting hammered every fifth day before landing on the DL. If he was better, it wasn’t a ton better. At least his slider has improved.

In the grand scheme of things, one start doesn’t mean a whole lot. We shouldn’t change our long-term view of Severino one way or the other based on 3.2 innings. Sunday night’s start was meaningful in the sense that the Yankees are trying to build a pitching staff for the future, and Severino keeps getting opportunities because the team hopes he is a big part of that pitching staff of the future. He still has an awful lot of upside.

“I think all players hit bumps, whether you’re young or old,” said Joe Girardi to Chad Jennings after Severino was sent down following Sunday’s start. “But one thing I think part of our focus has to be is helping those kids get through those bumps, because you don’t get here unless you’re talented enough. You don’t just come from nowhere and all of a sudden stay here. But you got to help them get through the ups and downs.”

Much of the second half is going to be spent auditioning young bats. Gary Sanchez has been up for almost two weeks now and is playing regularly. Tyler Austin and Aaron Judge came up over the weekend and both have had an immediate impact, especially Judge. The Yankees still have Clint Frazier in Triple-A and other high-end position players like Gleyber Torres and Jorge Mateo in the low minors.

Not all of these guys are going to work out. We know that. That’s baseball, and that’s why it’s important to have as many high-end prospects as possible. The more you have, the more likely you are to end up with bonafide star(s), something the Yankees lack right now. We’ll see Sanchez and Austin and Judge in the coming weeks. Frazier is coming next year, and Torres and Mateo hopefully soon after that.

Pitching prospects are a very different story. The Yankees have high upside position player prospects but they lack potential impact pitching prospects, especially at the upper levels. There’s Severino, who technically isn’t a prospect but still kinda is, and … Chad Green? Luis Cessa? Chance Adams? New York’s best starting pitching prospects are in High-A (Justus Sheffield) or injured (James Kaprielian).

This is why the Yankees focused so much on adding controllable starting pitching during trade talks last offseason. Aside from Green, the four starters currently in the rotation can become free agents after next season. The Yankees hope Sheffield and Kaprielian will be ready by then, and hope that someone like Cessa or Severnino or Adams emerges as another piece, but relying exclusively on those players is kinda foolish.

The upcoming free agent markets are so bad. The best free agent pitcher this offseason will be either Doug Fister or Jeremy Hellickson, depending on your preference. Jake Arrieta will be a free agent after next season, but he’s going to turn 32 during Spring Training 2018, so the Cubs are getting the best years of his career right now. It’s entirely possible the best starter on the 2017-18 free agent market will be Masahiro Tanaka, assuming he opts out.

The sudden wealth of position player prospects can help the Yankees build the pitching staff going forward through trades. Like I said, not all of these guys are going to work out, and the key is determining who is worth keeping and who should be traded. This is much much much easier said than done. I can’t help but look at Torres and Mateo, two high upside shortstops at the same level, and think one of those dudes is getting traded for an arm soon.

Getting Severino on track is step one of building the rotation of the next great Yankees team. He is, by frickin’ far, the team’s best hope for a cheap frontline starter, Sunday afternoon’s start notwithstanding. The Yankees did a really nice job building a strong position player core not just at the deadline, but over the last few years. Now they need to shift gears and bring the pitching staff up to speed.

How does McCann fit into the Yankees’ long-term picture?

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

Over the last two weeks or so the Yankees have changed their direction dramatically. Yes, they’re still playing up the “we’re trying to contend” angle, but they traded quality veteran players at the deadline and have installed several young prospects into the everyday lineup. Those kids are playing too. They’re not sitting on the bench three or four days at a time like we’ve seen in the past.

The first of those young players to arrive was catcher Gary Sanchez, who has started ten of 12 games since being called up. Six of those ten starts have come behind the plate, which is great, except the Yankees already have a pretty good veteran backstop in Brian McCann. McCann’s not someone you just brush aside, not with another two years and $34M left on is contract after the season.

McCann has started exactly two games behind the plate since Sanchez was called up. That’s it. Sanchez has caught six and Austin Romine has caught four. McCann has started five other games at DH, so he’s been in the lineup seven times and out of the lineup five times since Sanchez arrived. That’s a pretty drastic shift in playing time, right? This isn’t an A-Rod caliber benching, but it’s definitely a reduction in playing time.

There are reasons for this. One, Sanchez is clearly the catcher of the future and the Yankees want to see what he can do behind the plate on a regular basis, which means McCann has to sit. Two, McCann’s been in a pretty miserable slump, going only 14-for-77 (.182) in the second half. And three, it helps reduce the wear-and-tear on McCann. He’s not young in catcher years. There’s a lot of innings on that body.

Sanchez’s arrival has led to less playing time for McCann in the short-term. What happens in the long-term? That’s a pretty big question. I see three possible outcomes, only two of which are realistic.

1. Release McCann. This just isn’t going to happen. I know the Yankees cut ties with Alex Rodriguez last week, but quality catchers are very hard to find, and McCann is still very good relative to his peers at the position. You don’t just eat $34M across two years and let some other team have McCann for free. Do that and he’d be a Red Sox or Ray or Tiger or Indian or Astro in about three seconds. This ain’t happening.

2. Keep McCann. Again, McCann is pretty productive for a catcher, and there’s never anything wrong with keeping a productive catcher. The second half slump has taken a bite out of his numbers, but a .232/.334/.406 (100 wRC+) batting line and 15 homers from a backstop is nothing to sneeze at. Years ago we watched Joe Girardi mentor Jorge Posada when Posada first broke into the big leagues and learned how to be an everyday catcher. McCann can be that mentor to Sanchez next year. Could you think of a better veteran to watch over the kid? I can’t.

3. Trade McCann. A year ago at this time I probably would’ve laughed at the idea. But now we know the Yankees had trade talks with the Braves about McCann, and that the team is open to continuing trade talks — with any team, not just Atlanta — after slipping McCann through trade waivers earlier this month. After trading away Carlos Beltran, Andrew Miller, and Aroldis Chapman, why wouldn’t the Yankees listen to offers for McCann? They’d be doing themselves a disservice if they didn’t. (The big obstacle here is McCann’s no-trade clause.)

(Jason Miller/Getty)
(Jason Miller/Getty)

The McCann situation is similar to the Miller situation. The Yankees don’t have to trade him. He’s signed for another two years and if a team makes them a nice offer, great. But if not, they’re not going to just give him away for the sake of making a move. McCann’s a quality player who can be valuable to any franchise, even one going through a transition — “transition” is the Yankees’ word for rebuild — like the Yankees.

At the same time, the McCann situation is not similar to the Miller situation. For starters, Miller was a truly elite player at his position whereas McCann is merely really good. Also, there are seven (and sometimes eight) bullpen spots. There’s always room for a guy like Miller, on any team. Most teams only carry two catchers though, maybe three, so roster space is at more of a premium.

The Yankees are blessed with three big league quality catchers at the moment. McCann’s a proven veteran, Sanchez did everything he needed to do in Triple-A, and Romine has shown himself to be a passable backup. They could carry all three on the roster next season. Heck, they’re carrying all three right now. It was a little tough when A-Rod was still on the roster, but as long as that DH spot is not married to one player, three catchers is doable.

Doable doesn’t make it the best way to go, however. Especially since these guys aren’t versatile. It’s catcher and first base only. Romine doesn’t have much trade value — guys like Bobby Wilson and Bryan Holaday seem to be on waivers every other week — and Sanchez is presumably off-limits. McCann’s not stupid. He knows Sanchez is here to take over behind the plate long-term. Does that make him more willing to waive his no-trade clause? I guess that depends on the teams that want him.

Over the last few weeks the Yankees have moved on from several expensive veterans, either by trading them or releasing them. Mark Teixeira‘s going to be gone after the season and I’d bet good money on either Brett Gardner or Jacoby Ellsbury being trading over the winter. (So Gardner, basically.) The Yankees are going young and McCann’s one of those veterans the team will be able to replace internally rather easy.

There is no reason to rush into a decision with McCann. If the Yankees get a good trade offer in the coming weeks, great. If not, they can take McCann into the offseason and explore the trade market then. And if that doesn’t turn up anything good, they can carry him into next season. The fact Sanchez is here and getting the bulk of the playing time does mean that, for the first time since he arrived three years ago, McCann’s role with the Yankees going forward is not entirely certain.

The Yankees have moved on from some veterans, and now they’re way more fun and interesting

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Last night’s 1-0 win over the Blue Jays was very much a nail-biter. The Yankees have 61 wins this season and not too many of them have been stress-free. This team doesn’t do blowouts. Not this year. So of course the Blue Jays were able to put the tying run on third base in the ninth inning. The Yankees had to sweat right up until the final out, and when it was all said and done, they won for the ninth time in 14 games since the trade deadline.

That trade deadline was a momentous day (or series of days) for the Yankees. They sold for the first time in nearly three decades, sending away three productive veterans (and Ivan Nova) for 12 total prospects (and Adam Warren). I don’t think many folks thought the Yankees would actually go through with the sell-off even though it was clearly in the best interests of the franchise long-term. It had to be done.

In many cases, once a team trades away productive veterans for prospects at the deadline, they slip back in the standings and really wear it the rest of the season. Not many teams sell and improve in the second half. Those seem like conflicting ideas. Usually it’s one or the other. Not both. It’s a little early to say the Yankees have improved since the trade deadline, but you know what? They are way more fun and interesting. I have zero doubts about that.

It’s all because of the young players. The Carlos Beltran trade has cleared the way for Aaron Judge, who is the first Yankee ever to record an extra-base hit in his first three career games. The first guy to do that in franchise history. Insane. Gary Sanchez has been up for close to two weeks and he’s been mashing. Judge and Sanchez recently hit balls a combined 900 feet or so for their first career home runs. It was incredible.


There’s also Tyler Austin and Chad Green, who have had their moments as well. Austin homered in his first MLB at-bat and Green shoved against the Blue Jays last night. Eleven strikeouts in six scoreless innings against that lineup? Amazing. Warren is back and that’s fun too. So is Aaron Hicks performing well since the deadline. About the only negative lately has been Luis Severino‘s two bad starts.

The Yankees had to make some tough decisions these last few weeks to make this all possible. Selling at the deadline was no doubt a difficult call for ownership. The team also pushed Alex Rodriguez out the door and ate the $25M or so left on his contract to get these young guys in the lineup. Brian McCann has not been completely benched, but his playing time has been reduced. Mark Teixeira‘s too. You think Joe Girardi wants to do that to those guys? Of course not. But it’s for the best.

Right now the Yankees are 4.5 games back of the second wildcard spot and FanGraphs has their postseason odds at 4.1% as of this writing. I have no idea whether this team can rally and get back in the thick of the playoff race. Probably not. The odds are stacked against them. I do know the Yankees have made smart moves designed to improve the franchise long-term, and I do know they’ve called up several exciting young players recently.

Judge’s and Sanchez’s at-bats are must see television right now. Same with Austin. As great as Beltran was this season, watching Judge is far more enjoyable, at least to me. Watching Sanchez and Austin is infinitely more exciting than watching A-Rod and Teixeira, and that’s coming from a huge A-Rod fan. It’s certainly helped that the Yankees have been winning and the young guys have produced right away. No doubt about it.

Now, that said, this would all still be really fun even if the Yankees were losing and the young guys were struggling because of what we hope this represents: the next great era of Yankees baseball. Judge and Sanchez are potential cornerstone pieces. They might hit third and fourth for the next decade. Or third and fifth with Greg Bird fourth. Austin, Green, and Severino are trying to force their way into the long-term mix too. There’s others like Ben Heller and Luis Cessa as well, and even more in Triple-A.

It has been a very, very long time since the Yankees last had this much young talent on their big league roster. Not since the mid-1990s, really. That’s not a Core Five comparison. That’s just a statement of fact. The Yankees have spent the last few years toeing the line between contention and mediocrity, and they’ve finally made moves geared towards improving the future. This is all new to a lot of us, and gosh, is it fun or what?

Green dominates, Judge drives in only run in 1-0 win over Blue Jays

So the Yankees just won a 1-0 game in which their right fielder (not Carlos Beltran) drove in the only run and their bullpen (not Andrew Miller and not Aroldis Chapman) made it stand up. That is pretty, pretty cool. The Yankees beat the Blue Jays by that 1-0 score Monday night.

More dangerous than he looks. (Presswire)
More dangerous than he looks. (Presswire)

Mean Green Machine
I’m not going to lie, I wasn’t feeling too great about Chad Green starting against the Blue Jays. They can really hit and Green came into this game with one good big league start in four tries. This one seemed like it could get out of hand early, but instead Green came out of the gate and retired the first 13 men he faced. He was dominant too. They weren’t hitting line drives right at people.

The perfect game bid came to an end in the fifth inning, when Troy Tulowitzki dunked a single into shallow left field. Darrell Ceciliani followed with a double into the right field corner to give Toronto runners on second and third with one out. The Yankees had a one-run lead at the time and it felt like it was gone after the double. Limit the Blue Jays to one run and go from there. That seemed like a plan.

Green wasn’t have any of that. He rebounded to strike out both Justin Smoak and Melvin Upton, stranding the two runners. The Upton at-bat was particularly grueling. Bossman Jr. forced Green to throw nine total pitches after he jumped ahead in the count 0-2, and after feeding him a steady diet of two-strike breaking balls, Green surprised him with a fastball on the outside corner for a called strike three. Just a perfect pitch. Upton was sitting slider all the way. The fastball was a total surprise.

I thought Green was done at that point. The Blue Jays forced him to throw 36 pitches that inning, so he was at 89 pitches through five, and when you get five shutout innings from a rookie starter against that lineup, it feels like you should take it and run. Instead, Joe Girardi sent Green back out for the sixth, and he struck out the side. He completely overpowered Josh Donaldson to end the inning. Blew him away with a high fastball. It was insane.

All told, Green held the Blue Jays to those two hits in six scoreless innings. He struck out eleven. Eleven! It was the second double digit strikeout game by a Yankee this season (Michael Pineda has the other). Green is the first Yankees rookie with 10+ strikeouts since Shane Greene in 2014. There’s something about that color, I guess. Check out the pitch mix, via Brooks Baseball:

Chad Green pitch selection

You’d like to see more changeups going forward, no doubt about it, but Green was heavy on the other four pitches and he mixed them very well. This wasn’t a “get ahead with fastballs, then throw sliders” start. He faced 20 batters and threw 13 first pitch sliders. This was a no nonsense start. Green attacked and yes, that led to some long counts because the Blue Jays fouled 27 of 104 pitches off, but he had the hitters on the defensive. What a start. I suggest watching the video:

Look at those sixth inning strikeouts. That’s not tricking guys. That’s overpowering them. This start was by far the best Green has looked in the big leagues. The Yankees really needed a start like that in general, but especially from one of their young arms. They collectively have not looked good in 2016.

One Run, Despite Their Best Efforts
This had all the look of a “they’re going to regret blowing all those opportunities” game. The Yankees put the first two runners on base in the both the first and second innings, but they scored neither time. They loaded the bases in the sixth and eighth innings, and scored neither time. The leadoff man reached base five times in eight offensive innings. None of the five scored. Argh!

The Yankees broke through for the game’s only run in the fourth inning because Aaron Judge was sick of this crap. R.A. Dickey walked Brian McCann and Gary Sanchez back-to-back with one out, then Judge basically inside-outed a flat knuckleball to the right-center field warning track for a run-scoring double. He looked like he flicked his wrists. I thought it was a little jam shot bloop off the bat. The damn thing nearly hit off the wall. Judge has shown some crazy power in these three games.

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

All told the Yankees went 2-for-18 (!) with runners in scoring position, and of course one of those two hits didn’t even scoring a run. Jacoby Ellsbury managed lead off the first with a double and still have a terrible game. He grounded out with runners on first and second in the second, struck out with runners on second and third in the fourth, hit a chopper back to the pitcher with the bases loaded in the sixth, and struck out with runners on first and second in the eighth. Woof. Nine left on base.

Judge and Gary Sanchez both went 2-for-3 with a walk. The other seven hitters went a combined 4-for-27 (.148) with five walks. That youthful bat speed is a welcome addition to the lineup, though it should be noted both Chase Headley and McCann each had a hit and two walks. They did their job. Not a great night by the offense overall, but you know what? Sometimes you need to win a game 1-0.

Dellin’s Escape Job
New old Yankees Tyler Clippard and Adam Warren combined for perfect seventh and eighth innings. Clippard’s inning was huge. He faced the 3-4-5 hitters and retired them on nine pitches. Dellin Betances came in for the ninth inning and things got hairy. He jumped ahead of Josh Thole, the No. 9 hitter, 0-2 in the count, but ended up walking him to start the inning. ARGH.

Donaldson rifled a single back up the middle later in the inning for give Toronto runners on corners with one out. Edwin Encarnacion, who is hitting roughly .380/.550/.900 since the start of June (.298/.401/.662, to be exact), was up to the plate and he hit a rocket. Statcast measured it at 103 mph off the bat. It just so happened to be a grounder right at Headley.

Never in doubt! (It was very much in doubt.) That was a hold onto your butts ninth inning for sure, and while I was hoping Betances would get out of it with a pair of strikeouts, a hard-hit 5-4-3 double play will work just as well. Dellin’s 5-for-5 in save chances as the closer this season. This was also the first time all season he pitched a full inning and did not strike out a batter. It was only his fourth strikeout-less game in 57 appearances overall.

Leftovers
I guess I kinda covered it all already, huh? Well, the Yankees are now 9-5 since selling at the trade deadline, so that’s fun. I feel like I should mention that. Also, Green got the win and Judge drove in the game’s only run. The youth movement is pretty darn fun, isn’t it?

Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
ESPN is the place to go for the box score and updated standings. MLB.com has the video highlights and we have both Bullpen Workload and Announcer Standings pages. By my unofficial count, the Yankees have played 38 series this season and YES has used 15 different booth combinations. Here’s the win probability graph:


Source: FanGraphs

Up Next
The Yankees and Blue Jays continue this three-game series with the middle game Tuesday night. Pineda and Marco Estrada are the scheduled starting pitchers, making that one a candidate for the most frustrating game of the year. Pineda is Pineda and Estrada excels at getting weak pop-ups with his upper-80s fastball. There are two games left on the homestand, and if you want to catch either live, go to RAB Tickets.