Yankeemetrics: Two up, two down in Cleveland (Aug. 3-6)

(AP)
(AP)

Sorry, Sonny
Thursday’s series opener in Cleveland — a sloppy and frustrating 5-1 loss — was definitely not the ideal way to welcome Sonny Gray to the New York Yankees franchise.

Four batters into the game and the Yankees had already committed three errors behind Gray and the Yankees were quickly in a 2-0 hole. Whoops. It was the first time the Yankees committed three errors in any inning since October 2, 2010 against the Red Sox.

For Gray, this was a recurring nightmare that he thought had ended when he left Oakland, which leads the league in errors. Instead, he now has 13 unearned runs allowed on his ledger, tied with Derek Holland for the most in the majors through Thursday.

Gray pitched well as the Yankee gloves failed behind him, showing his toughness in pitching out of jams and limiting the damage on the scoreboard. He finished with two earned runs allowed on four hits in six innings, and for that solid effort, gets our Obscure Yankeemetric of the Series:

Gray is the first pitcher in nearly 60 years to post those numbers or better (at least 6 innings, 2 earned runs or fewer, 4 hits or fewer) in his debut with the Yankees — and lose. The last guy to be this unlucky was Duke Maas in 1958. Maas (no relation to Kevin, I think) was traded by the A’s to the Yankees in mid-June, and then made his pinstriped debut as the starter in a 1-0 loss to the Tigers on June 21.

The Yankees bats also provided little offensive support as they were dominated by Corey Kluber, who tossed an 11-strikeout, three-hit complete game while giving up one run. That was his fourth straight start with at least eight strikeouts and one earned run or fewer allowed against the Yankees, the longest such streak ever by any pitcher against the Yankees.

(AP)
(AP)

Bad News Bombers
It was deja vu all over again on Friday night for the Yankees, as the mistakes in the field piled up and their offense remained in a miserable slump, resulting in another disappointing loss.

The “star” of the defensive lowlights was Gary Sanchez, who had his 12th passed ball of the season, the most in the majors despite the fact that he missed nearly a month of games in April and early May. He also has 10 errors, the second-most among catchers through Friday.

While the Yankees could barely touch Kluber’s stuff on Thursday, they put plenty of runners on base against Trevor Bauer and the Indians bullpen, but repeatedly failed to cash in on those chances. For the 15th time this season, they outhit their opponent (11-8) but still lost; only the Blue Jays (16) and White Sox (21) had suffered more losses in games when out-hitting their opponents through Friday.

Jaime Garcia contributed to the miserable night with a mediocre outing. He coughed up six runs in 4⅔ innings and couldn’t find the strike zone (four walks, one wild pitch), earning himself this #NotFunFact:

He’s one of just seven players in the Live Ball Era (since 1920) to allow that many runs, not get out of the fifth inning and walk at least four batters in his Yankee debut. The most recent guy to do it was CC Sabathia on Opening Day 2009 … okay? And the others are Tim Redding (2005), Bob Wiesler (1951), Fred Sanford (1949) and Karl Drews (1946).

(AP)
(AP)

Chase “Hero” Headley
While the bats remained silent on Saturday, the defense was outstanding and the Yankees got a stellar effort from Jordan Montgomery to survive a 2-1 nail-biter in Cleveland.

It was perhaps one of the team’s most unlikely wins, given how dominant Danny Salazar and the rest of the Indians pitchers were against a feeble Yankee lineup. They struck out 15 times, were on base just nine times and scored only two runs. In the last 100 years, no Yankee team had ever won a game with that many strikeouts, fewer than 10 baserunners and no more than two runs scored … before Saturday.

Montgomery was terrific, allowing one run on three hits in five innings, and making a strong statement that he should be a key part of the rotation down the stretch (which is now a hot topic for us banter about after he was optioned to Triple-A following Sunday’s game). Although Monty rarely dazzles like a Severino or Pineda, he consistently puts up solid numbers and keeps the Yankees in the game while he’s on the mound.

Consider this stat: Saturday was the 16th time this season that he held the opponent to three runs or fewer. Only five other Yankee pitchers have done that within their first 21 career games: Dave Righetti, Doc Medich, Masahiro Tanaka, Mel Stottlemyre and Spec Shea.

Chase Headley rescued the Yankees from another depressing loss when he belted a tie-breaking home run in the top of the eighth inning. Headley, who has quietly been one of the best hitters in the league since the All-Star break deserves a #FunFact for his heroics on Saturday: He is just the third Yankee first baseman in the last four decades with a go-ahead homer in the eighth inning or later against the Indians – Jason Giambi (2005) and Don Mattingly (1984 and 1986) are the others.

(AP)
(AP)

#Sevy4MVP
Finally … the Bronx Bombers are back. The Yankees offense, which had been M.I.A. for the past week, exploded for eight runs on Sunday, more than they had scored in their previous five games combined. But it was the brilliant pitching of Luis Severino and a shutdown performance by the Yankee bullpen that truly shined in the 8-1 win.

It was the fourth game this year that the pitching staff allowed no more than three baserunners. The last time a Yankees team did that? 1929!

Sevy, the undisputed ace of the 2017 staff, cemented his status as a no-doubt Cy Young contender with another lights-out performance: two hits, one run, nine strikeouts over 6⅔ dominant innings. I think this is a good list to be on:

He also became the first Yankee pitcher in more than 20 years to beat the Indians in Cleveland while holding them to no more than two hits. The last guy to do it? David Cone in the 1996 opener … and we know how that season ended.

Severino’s effort would have been another wasted gem in a deflating loss if not for the team’s offensive explosion in the sixth and seventh innings. The five-run sixth was sparked by the most unlikely source, a bases-loaded triple off the bat of Jacoby Ellsbury. The struggling lefty entered the day hitting .163 with runners in scoring position, the sixth-lowest batting average among AL players (min. 50 PA).

The three-run seventh, on the other hand, was powered by a much more familiar name — Mr. Aaron Judge — who smoked a 94 mph fastball into the rightfield seats for his 35th homer of the season. And, of course, with that blast, Judge etched his name in the baseball record books once again: He is the only rookie outfielder in major-league history with at least 35 homers and 75 walks in a season.

Fan Confidence Poll: August 7th, 2017

Record Last Week: 3-4 (23 RS, 23 RA)
Season Record: 59-51 (570 RS, 458 RA, 66-44 pythag. record)
Opponents This Week: Mon. OFF, @ Blue Jays (three games, Tues. to Thurs.), vs. Red Sox (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 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?
View Results

DotF: Andujar homers again, Hicks and Austin continue rehab assignments in Scranton’s win

C Donny Sands has been promoted from Low-A Charleston to High-A Tampa, the team announced. The 21-year-old converted third baseman is hitting .269/.323/.350 (97 wRC+) overall this season, though over his last 28 games, he’s hitting .298/.381/.452 (114 wRC+).

Triple-A Scranton (7-5 win over Pawtucket)

  • RF Mason Williams: 0-5
  • CF Aaron Hicks: 2-3, 2 R, 1 2B, 1 RBI — he also was robbed of a home run (here’s video) … 6-for-17 (.353) with two doubles and a triple in five rehab games so far … Hicks told Conor Foley he will have Monday off, then join Trenton to continue his rehab there rather than go on the road trip with Scranton
  • 3B Miguel Andujar: 2-4, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 HR, 2 RBI — here’s video of the homer … six homers in his last 19 games … he’s up to .320/.353/.521 with a 13.5% strikeout rate this year
  • DH Tyler Austin: 2-3, 2 R, 1 2B, 1 BB — here’s video of the double … unlike Hicks, he’s stuck going on Scranton’s road trip down to Gwinnett, according to D.J. Eberle
  • LF Billy McKinney: 2-3, 1 R, 1 HR, 3 RBI — here’s video of the homer … nine homers in 32 Triple-A games now
  • 1B Ji-Man Choi: 1-4, 1 R, 1 HR, 1 RBI — eleven homers in his last 24 games between Triple-A and MLB
  • RHP Chance Adams: 6 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 5 K, 5/6 GB/FB — 58 of 91 pitches were strikes (64%) … 119/50 K/BB in 128.1 innings
  • RHP Nick Rumbelow: 1.1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 0 K, 2/1 GB/FB — ten of 17 pitches were strikes

[Read more…]

Offense finally breaks out, Yankees escape Cleveland with a split after 8-1 win


Source: FanGraphs

Boy did that feel good. After scoring eight runs total in their previous five games, the Yankees broke out for eight runs in the span of two innings Sunday afternoon. The offensive explosion gave New York an 8-1 win and a split of the four-game series in Cleveland. Considering they lost the first two games, I’ll take it. It’s Sunday, so let’s recap this one with bullpen points:

  • Cy Sevy: Luis Severino went into Sunday’s start with a 2.98 ERA (2.91 FIP) on the season and he left with a 2.91 ERA (2.91 FIP). He held the Indians to one run on two hits in 6.2 innings. Michael Brantley hit a first inning solo homer and Edwin Encarnacion hit a sixth inning ground ball single back up the middle, ending Severino’s afternoon. He struck out nine and allowed one walk. Domination. Severino is pitching to the best case scenario this year. I would’ve been happy with Jordan Montgomery numbers this season. He’s putting up Corey Kluber numbers.
  • The Big Hit Arrives: When a team struggles offensively like the Yankees have struggled the last few days, and they finally get that big hit, it feels like the weight of the world has been lifted off their shoulders. Jacoby Ellsbury provided that big hit Sunday. The Yankees had already tied the game 1-1 in the sixth inning on Chase Headley‘s sac fly, and when Ellsbury came to the plate, the bases were loaded with two outs. He jumped all over Carlos Carrasco’s 1-0 fastball and, off the bat, I thought it was gone. It had the sound and the look. It didn’t leave the yard though. Right fielder Abe Almonte went all Bobby Abreu near the wall, allowing Ellsbury’s line drive to clank off the wall for a bases clearing triple. Phew. The Yankees were up 4-1.
  • Insurance Runs: Ellsbury’s triple seemed to wake the bats up. Ronald Torreyes got Ellsbury home with a two-out single, the kind of hit the Yankees haven’t been able to get for weeks. One inning later Clint Frazier drew a walk and Didi Gregorius singled to set up Aaron Judge for the line drive opposite field three-run home run. Statcast tells me the ball was 42 feet off the ground at its highest point, which is insane. Just a rocket. Not many players can hit a ball like that. The Judge home run officially broke the game open and gave the Yankees an 8-1 lead.
  • Leftovers: Very strong work by the bullpen. Seven up, seven down for Tommy Kahnle, Adam Warren, and Chasen Shreve … the Yankees held the Indians to three baserunners (two hits, one walk) and this was their AL leading fourth game with no more than three baserunners allowed. The Rockies have done it four times too. No other team has done it more than once … every starter had at least one hit except Austin Romine. Three hits for Gregorius and two each for Ellsbury and Torreyes. Judge and the Fraziers each had a hit and a walk.

Here are the box score, video highlights, and updated standings. Here’s our Bullpen Workload page. The Yankees have an off-day Monday before beginning a three-game series in Toronto on Tuesday night. That game will feature two first initial, middle initial veteran lefties: CC Sabathia and J.A. Happ.

Sunday Open Thread

Good win today. A needed win. Good to see the offense break out and good to see Aaron Judge hit the kind of home run pretty much only Aaron Judge can hit. I thought it was a double into the gap off the bat. It just kept carrying and carrying and carrying. As much as Judge has slumped the last few weeks, there are maybe five players in the game who can hit a ball like that.

Anyway, here is an open thread for the rest of the weekend. The Mets and Dodgers are the ESPN Sunday Night Baseball game, and that’s pretty much it. Talk about that game, this afternoon’s win, or anything else here.

Game 110: Severino Sunday

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

As crummy as the Yankees — the offense in particular — have looked over the last six days, it’s pretty amazing they come into today’s series finale with a chance to split a four-game series against the defending AL champs. I’m not sure scoring two runs and hanging on for dear life is a sustainable strategy, but it worked last night. Maybe it’ll work again today. I’d prefer a stress-free blowout win. Those are cool.

The six-man rotation comes to an end this afternoon, at least in theory, as Luis Severino makes his first start since that five-inning, 116-pitch grind against the Tigers on Monday. Hopefully he’s feeling good after the extra day of rest. Severino’s numbers are out of this world this year: 2.98 ERA (2.91 FIP) with 28.2% strikeouts, 6.5% walks, and 51.5% grounders. Man. Go get ’em Sevy. Here is the Indians’ lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:

  1. DH Brett Gardner
  2. LF Clint Frazier
  3. SS Didi Gregorius
  4. RF Aaron Judge
  5. 1B Chase Headley
  6. 3B Todd Frazier
  7. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  8. 2B Ronald Torreyes
  9. C Austin Romine
    RHP Luis Severino

Another cool and cloudy day in Cleveland. Not exactly a picturesque day for baseball, but it’ll do. This afternoon’s series finale will begin at 1:10pm ET and YES will have the broadcast. Enjoy.

Roster Move: Matt Holliday was placed on the 10-day disabled list with a left lumbar strain, the Yankees announced. Not sure how long he’ll be sidelined, but given the way he’s been hitting, the Yankees aren’t losing much. Garrett Cooper was called up from Triple-A Scranton to fill the roster spot. How unexciting.

Injury Update: Greg Bird (ankle) is going to hit in the cage today, and the plan to take full batting practice and begin fielding/baserunning drills next week.

Attitude Adjustment

(Jim McIsaac/Getty)
(Jim McIsaac/Getty)

If you’re reading this, chances are you know a little bit about me. For those of you who don’t, let me tell you that I’m a teacher (high school English) by trade. In my experience as a teacher, I’ve had to rely on one trait more than any: flexibility. It took me a long time to land a full time position, so I was ‘stuck’ doing long-term sub positions in southwestern Connecticut from April 2013 to February 2016. In that time, I taught grades 7, 9, 10, 11, and 12 in five different schools (one middle, four high) to different populations, from different courses/curricula, and in five different districts. To boot, most of the time, I was parachuting in after the start of the year and had to find my bearings on the fly. If not for flexibility, I’d’ve drowned. It might be time to exercise similar flexibility for the Yankees.

All year, I’ve been saying this is a ‘house money’ season for the Yankees. Given the roster, expectations weren’t high; a second wildcard spot seemed like the ceiling. Of course, early season hotness blew the doors right off of that. Despite some hiccuping in June, the Yankees went into the trade deadline like buyers and came away with a much improved Major League roster and, until recently, a first place position in the AL East. Now, they sit in the first wildcard seat, controlling their own destiny. And with many games left against the first place Red Sox, the division isn’t far out of reach.

According to the FanGraphs projection mode, the Yankees have a 69.4% chance of making the playoffs. Using the season-to-date mode, their playoff chances are even higher at 79.8%. If we flip over to the Baseball Prospectus playoff odds table, they’re at 81.8%. Coupling this with the Yankees’ deadline moves and the general feeling you get, it’d be hard to call missing the playoffs anything aside from a disappointment.

If we allow ourselves some dispassion for a minute, we can rationalize a missed playoff run. Aaron Judge will have had a killer season. Gary Sanchez, too. Clint Frazier came up and held his own. Luis Severino and Jordan Montgomery will have taken huge steps forward. Didi Gregorius, too. With Sonny Gray aboard, the rotation for 2018 feels a lot better than it did even a month ago. Those are all great things for the Yankees in 2017 and 2018, regardless of this year’s record.

But dispassionate analysis is for the offseason. Right now, we’re in the heat of things, quite literally as August marches on. I want this team to make the playoffs. This team can and should make the playoffs. They’ve worked hard and gone through some rough patches and ‘deserve’ to have that rewarded with a real shot at number 28. The rotation and bullpen are stacked for a playoff run and they could do some real damage in a short series, especially if the bats heat back up to support them.

Another important factor of teaching is holding students to high expectations, or at the very least, adjusting those expectations as they perform. The Yankees have performed above and beyond their original expectations for 2017 and it’s time to ask more of them. Play today. Win today. That’s it.