Yankeemetrics: Dawn of a new era in the Bronx [Aug. 15-17]

(Getty)
(Getty)

Mean Green Chad
In what could become a familiar storyline over the final month-and-a-half of the regular season, two rookies were the difference-makers in the series-opening 1-0 win, giving the Yankees their first victory this season when scoring exactly one run (their 0-20 mark in those games before Monday was easily the most such losses without a win among all teams).

The scorching-hot bat of Aaron Judge drove in the game’s only run with a booming double to center field, while Chad Green spun a gem on the mound, tossing six scoreless innings with 11 strikeouts and no walks. Thanks to those fantastic efforts, both carved out a place in the Yankee record books and baseball history.

  • After hitting homers on Saturday and Sunday, Judge became the first Yankee with at least one extra-base hit in each of his first three career games … that’s right, Mantle, Gehrig, DiMaggio, Jeter, etc. never did it.
  • He also is the only player in American League history to have an extra-base hit and drive in at least one run in each of his first three major-league games.
  • At 25 years and 83 days old, Green is the youngest pitcher in franchise history to strike out at least 11 batters and allow no more than two baserunners in a game.
  • Green is just the second player in Major-League history to have an outing with more than 10 strikeouts, no walks and two or fewer baserunners this early into this career (ninth game). The other gem? Kerry Wood’s epic 20-strikeout, 1-hit masterpiece on May 6, 1998 against the Astros.

If not for the dazzling pitching performance by Green and the clutch hitting of Judge, this could have been a demoralizing loss for the Yankees, who squandered numerous scoring opportunities throughout the night. It’s amazing they actually won the game considering the lineup went 2-for-18 with RISP and stranded a small navy of runners on the basepaths.

The 14 men left on base were the most by any Yankee club in a nine-inning 1-0 win over the past century. In fact, the last time they even managed to do that in a 1-0 victory of any game length was July 4, 1925 against the Philadelphia A’s. The Yankees won that game on a walk-off single by backup catcher Steve O’Neil in the 15th inning, while Herb Pennock earned the win after throwing a 15-inning, four-hit, no-walk shutout.

(Getty)
(Getty)

From awesome to awful
From the highest of highs to the lowest of lows, Tuesday’s ugly loss to the Blue Jays perfectly captured the Yankees’ maddeningly inconsistent season in a nutshell.

It was a tale of two games, as the Yankees built up a 5-0 lead before a thunderstorm halted the game in the middle of the fifth inning. When play resumed after a 42-minute rain delay, the Yankees tacked on another run for a seemingly insurmountable six-run lead, before everything went horribly wrong. Thanks to a few horrific performances from Anthony Swarzak (2 outs, 4 ER), Adam Warren (1 out, 4 ER) and Chasen Shreve (0 outs, 4 ER), the bullpen imploded in historic fashion and the Blue Jays scored 12 unanswered runs en route to a 12-6 victory.

The Yankees epic bullpen meltdown can be summarized in this one stat: This was the second game in franchise history where three relievers each allowed at least four earned runs; the other was July 19, 1987 against the Texas Rangers.

Even worse, it was first game in American League history in which a team had three relievers who each pitched fewer than one inning and gave up four or more earned runs. (It has happened twice before in the National League: the Giants against the Expos on May 7, 1997, and the Pirates against the Cardinals on August 6, 1959.)

Gary Sanchez provided one of the few highlights for the Yankees, going 3-for-4 with four RBI while crushing his third and fourth career home runs. The 23-year-old phenom is the youngest Yankee catcher with a multi-homer game since Bill Dickey (age 22) in 1929. Along with Sanchez, the only other Yankee backstops age 23 or younger to have a four-RBI game were Dickey and Yogi Berra.

(AP)
(AP)

Sanchez shines, Sabathia slumps
For the second day in a row, the Yankees struggled to contain Toronto’s explosive offense and lost, 7-4, as a terrible pitching performance once again doomed the home team. Tuesday night’s culprit was the bullpen, and on Wednesday afternoon the blame shifted to the rotation (plus some shoddy defense).

CC Sabathia was both electric and dreadful on the mound, striking out 12 (!) while giving up seven (!) runs on nine hits, and producing one of the strangest pitching lines you’ll ever see. He is the only player in Yankee history to have at least 12 strikeouts and give up at least seven earned runs in a game.

In fact, only four other pitchers in baseball history have done that in an outing of nine innings or fewer: Cole Hamels (2006), Curt Schilling (1997, 2001), Randy Johnson (1998) and Nolan Ryan (1973, 1977).

Gary Sanchez stole the show again with another towering homer onto the netting over Monument Park in his first at-bat of the game. He made Joe Girardi look smart for slotting him in at the No. 4 spot in the lineup, as the 23-year-old Sanchez became the youngest Yankee starting cleanup hitter to hit a home run since Bobby Murcer on August 29, 1969 against the Royals.

Sanchez now has five home runs and 11 RBI in the bigs, giving him one of the most prolific starts to a career by any Yankee: He is the only player in franchise history to hit at least five homers and drive in more than 10 runs within his first 15 major-league games.

Most impressively, all five of his longballs have been moonshots, measuring at 437, 419, 403, 407 and 426 feet, per Statcast data. Since he went deep for the first time on August 10, Sanchez is the only player in the majors to hit five 400-foot homers in that span.

Thoughts as the Yankees head out to the West Coast

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

The Yankees are out on the West Coast and they’ll begin a six-game trip tomorrow night in Anaheim. Angel Stadium used to be a house of horrors for the Yankees. Those days are long gone though. Anyway, here are some thoughts on the off-day.

1. The first two weeks of the Gary Sanchez era have been pretty awesome. It’s not just all the dingers, though those are cool as hell. Sanchez has looked pretty good behind the plate in his limited time there. His arm is obviously a cannon. I mean, holy crap. One of the strongest arms I’ve ever seen. Sanchez’s receiving and blocking look pretty good too. He’s not Gold Glove caliber or anything, but the guy came up through the minors with a reputation for being a poor defender, and now he looks solid. I also like that he seems willing to take charge with the pitching staff. Sanchez is not shy about going out to the mound and talking things over in big spots. The bat is great. I felt pretty confident in Sanchez doing damage at the plate. Maybe not this much right away, but in time. The defense was the bigger question and everything looks good so far. I’m encouraged.

2. When Greg Bird first came up last year, I couldn’t help but notice the way teams would aggressively attack him with fastballs up in the strike zone, especially with two strikes. It really drove home that teams these days have super detailed scouting reports, so much so that when a kid comes up from the minors, the MLB club already knows his tendencies and weaknesses. I remember a few years ago Red Sox manager John Farrell said they had to double check their internal data because the Yankees were shifting on Jackie Bradley Jr. in his first week as a big leaguer. So, with that in mind, here’s the pitch selection against Aaron Judge in his first five games with the Yankees (MLB averages in parenthesis):

Hard (various types of fastballs): 66.7% (61.5%)
Breaking (curveballs, sliders): 20.5% (23.8%)
Offspeed (changeups, splitters): 12.8% (11.7%)

I did toss out Judge’s two at-bats against R.A. Dickey because they tell us nothing useful. Knuckleballers are outliers. That’s the pitch selection against Judge by non-gimmick pitchers. He’s only batted 18 times against non-Dickeys, so it’s not a big sample, but I was still surprised to see Judge has been getting so many fastballs. It hasn’t seemed like that many while watching the games. I feel like he’s been getting a steady diet of soft stuff away, which is exactly what gave Judge so much trouble late last season. Intrigue! Judge has performed well so far and I’m sure he’s going to stop seeing so many fastballs soon. He’s such a unique player because of his size. I’m looking forward to analyzing him as his big league career continues.

3. I get that it was as much a function of their place in the standings than anything, but I do like that the Yankees have called up several of their top young players at the same time. Sanchez was up before Judge and Tyler Austin, but by only a few days. I think it’s good to break these guys in together. The big leagues are hard! It can be even harder and more intimidating if you’re a rookie walking into a veteran clubhouse like the Yankees have had over the years. Sanchez, Judge, and Austin have been playing together for years now and they get to experience all of this together. The successes, the failures, everything. I’m certain MLB can be overwhelming, especially when you’re new. Having a familiar face around to experience things with can only help.

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

4. Didi Gregorius has been the team’s second best hitter this season behind the departed Carlos Beltran, and I’m glad to see he’s finally moved up in the lineup the last few days. Gregorius is an energetic and excitable guy, and he can get really jumpy at the plate. We see it a lot with men on base and in big spots. He goes up there hacking. This little late-season look as the No. 3 or 4 hitter can maybe help get him used to hitting higher in the lineup and keep him from being so jumpy at the plate. I’m not sure if that’s possible, but it’s worth a try. I wasn’t a huge believer in Didi’s bat when the Yankees acquired him, but he’s obviously turned himself into a quality hitter, someone the team can now expect to do damage. With any luck, he’ll continue to improve and still be only their sixth or seventh best hitter as the kids establish themselves. Gregorius is awesome, but when he’s arguably your best hitter like he has been this year, it’s a bit of a problem.

5. What in the world are the Yankees going to do with Jacoby Ellsbury? He’s hitting .263/.326/.361 (86 wRC+) this year, .246/.302/.349 (75 wRC+) since coming off the DL last year, and .264/.324/.379 (94 wRC+) as a Yankee overall. I was okay with giving him this season to show last year’s poor performance was a result of the knee injury, but good grief. His last 800 or so plate appearances have been awful. The Yankees owe Ellsbury roughly $90M from 2017-20, and while no player is truly untradeable, trading him is a question of whether a) the Yankees are willing to live with the terms (eating money, etc.), and b) Ellsbury is willing to waive his no-trade clause. The team has to hope so. The Yankees are suddenly very willing to move on from veteran players, either by trading them (Beltran), reducing their role (Brian McCann), or releasing them (Alex Rodriguez). Ellsbury’s the one guy on the roster with a lots of years left on a big money contract. Unloading him should be a priority this winter.

6. Mark Teixeira is totally going to wind up on television once the season ends and he’s retired as a player, right? Maybe not as soon as next season, but eventually. He’s really good on camera from what we’ve seen, he’s willing to make fun of himself, and he can talk intelligently about the game. Add in the fact that he’s a big name player and you’ve got a great recipe for a television analyst. The only real question is whether he wants to do it. Teixeira’s made so much money in his career that he presumably doesn’t have to work anymore. I’m sure some networks will come calling, maybe even YES, but Teixeira’s in a position where he doesn’t have to settle anything less than the perfect job. Hopefully he hooks on somewhere. I think he’d be really entertaining as a broadcaster.

DotF: Higashioka homers; Gamel, Frazier, Refsnyder each have two hits in Scranton’s loss

Both C Gary Sanchez (two homers in MLB) and LHP Justus Sheffield (another strong start in High-A) made an appearance in today’s Prospect Report after their big games yesterday. As always, it’s not behind the Baseball America paywall, so check it out.

Triple-A Scranton (10-6 loss to Norfolk)

  • LF Ben Gamel: 2-4, 1 R, 1 RBI, 1 BB — 14-for-32 (.434) during his eight-game hitting streak
  • RF Clint Frazier: 2-5, 1 R — 11-for-36 (.306) in his last nine games
  • 3B Rob Refsnyder: 2-5, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 2 K — fourth game since being sent down … he’s played two at second and two at third
  • 1B Chris Parmelee: 0-3, 1 K — left the game in the sixth inning … Shane Hennigan says Parmelee had back spasms
  • CF Mason Williams: 1-4
  • C Kyle Higashioka: 2-4, 1 R, 1 HR, 1 RBI — here’s video of the homer
  • RHP Brady Lail: 3.2 IP, 10 H, 9 R, 9 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 1 HB, 4/2 GB/FB — 49 of 76 pitches were strikes (64%) … managed to allow four homers … ouch
  • RHP Johnny Barbato: 2.2 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 2 K, 3/2 GB/FB — 24 of 40 pitches were strikes (60%) … he’s been working longer outings of late … looks like they’re stretching him out a bit so he can go two or three innings at a time if necessary in September
  • RHP Nick Goody: 2.2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 3 K, 2/1 GB/FB — 28 of 40 pitches were strikes (70%) … 28/1 K/BB in 18.1 innings in Triple-A this year (32/12 K/BB in 27.2 innings in MLB)

[Read more…]

Thursday Wednesday Night Open Thread

I missed this the other day: David Laurila interviewed righty Ben Heller when the Yankees were in Boston last week. Heller came over from the Indians in the Andrew Miller trade and was called up for a few days last week, though he did not appear in a game. I’m certain we’ll see him again when rosters expand in September. Maybe even sooner.

Anyway, here is the open thread for the night. ESPN is showing the Red Sox and Orioles, and the Mets are playing out on the West Coast later tonight. The Olympics are on too. Talk about those games, this afternoon’s loss, or anything else here. Have at it.

Sanchez’s homer not enough, Yanks drop finale 7-4 to Jays

Boy do the Blue Jays know how to humble the Yankees or what? After blowing a 6-0 lead Wednesday night, the Yankees got pushed around by Toronto and dropped Thursday afternoon’s series finale 7-4. The Blue Jays outscored the Yankees 19-4 in the final 13 innings of the series. The Yankees are 7-18 against the Blue Jays since last year’s trade deadline, including 3-10 at Yankee Stadium. They’ve been outscored 119-71 in the 25 games. Men against boys.

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

An Early Deficit
The Blue Jays bludgeoned New York’s bullpen last night, scoring 12 runs in the final four innings of the game, and they picked up right where they left off Thursday afternoon. Toronto struck quick for three runs in the second inning and the bottom of the order did most of the damage. That’s annoying. The top of their lineup is so good and you expect them to create runs. Letting the bottom of the order do it too is no good. That’s going to lead to a loss more times than not.

The second inning rally started with a Troy Tulowitzki single inside the first base bag, then CC Sabathia walked the baseball player former known as B.J. Upton. The Blue Jays were in business with one out, and Ezequiel Carrera took advantage with a loud double off the left field wall. Brett Gardner played the carom perfectly and prevented the the second run from scoring on the play, but ultimately it did not matter. Darwin Barney, the No. 8 hitter, poked a double just inside third base to score two runs. Just like that, it was 3-0 Toronto.

The Short-Lived Comeback
The Yankees did manage to chip away some in the middle innings. Gary Sanchez hit yet another home run in the second inning, his third in the last 24 hours and fourth in the last fourth games. This one was a bomb to dead center field. Here’s the video:

My favorite thing about Sanchez so far is that all five of his home runs have been moonshots. He hasn’t hit a wall-scraper yet. Sanchez got the Yankees back to within 3-1, then Starlin Castro closed the gap to 3-2 with a fourth inning solo home run. That was his 15th homer of the season, a new career high. Castro still has another 42 games to add to that total. Thanks to the two dingers, the comeback was on!

Extra Outs
The game got away from the Yankees in the fifth inning, when the defense completely screwed over Sabathia. They gave the Blue Jays three extra outs. Three! The inning started with a soft ground ball to short by Devon Travis, but Didi Gregorius got his feet tangled and fell down, and was unable to make the throw to first. The next batter, Josh Donaldson, hit a soft grounder to Chase Headley, who threw to second. Travis beat it out (pretty easily, too) and everyone was safe. The play developed slowly and I thought Headley should have gone to first while watching live. The outcome confirms it.

Those are the first two extra outs. Edwin Encarnacion following Donaldson’s grounder to third with another grounder to third, and this time Headley stepped on third base for the first out (hooray!) before throwing the ball over Tyler Austin‘s head at first base (boo!). It should have been a double play. Instead they only got one out. There’s the third extra out. And of course the Blue Jays made the Yankees pay. Russell Martin singled in a run and Upton whacked a three-run home run into the short porch to make it 7-2 Blue Jays. Sabathia isn’t good enough to escape six-out innings anymore. Brutal job by the defense and Headley especially.

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Leftovers
Sabathia finished the afternoon with seven runs allowed in six innings. His ERA has ballooned from 2.20 to 4.49 in his last eleven starts. Sabathia’s resurgence was fun while it lasted. On the bright side, CC struck out 12 batters, his most since striking out a dozen Rays in June 2012. Sabathia is the first pitcher with 7+ earned runs and 12+ strikeouts in a game since rookie Cole Hamels in 2006.

The Yankees did manage to bring the tying run to the plate at one point. Headley hit a solo homer to make it 7-3 in the sixth, then Aaron Judge singled in a run to make it 7-4 in the eighth. Roberto Osuna struck out Gregorius with two on to end that eighth inning. Not a great afternoon for Didi. He went 0-for-4 with a double play, two strikeouts, and four runners left on base, plus got his feet twisted up in that fifth inning.

The 2-3-4-5 hitters led the way offensively: Headley, Castro, Sanchez, and Judge each had two hits and drove in a run. Headley, Castro, and Sanchez homered. Sanchez drew a walk too. The bottom four hitters in the lineup went a combined 0-for-16 with seven strikeouts. Ouch. The Yankees aren’t good enough to win games when a chunk of the lineup does that.

Kirby Yates, Tommy Layne, and Anthony Swarzak each tossed a scoreless inning once Sabathia’s afternoon was over. Swarzak tossed the ninth with the Yankees down 7-4. It’s pretty amazing he’s not only still on the roster, but is also pitching in games that are still reasonably within reach.

And finally, the Blue Jays have now won five straight series in Yankee Stadium. Five! The last visiting team to win five straight series in the Bronx was the Indians, who did it from 1967-69. Yikes!

Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
Go to ESPN for both the box score and updated standings, and MLB.com for the video highlights. Don’t miss our Bullpen Workload and Announcer Standings pages. Here’s the sad loss probability graph:


Source: FanGraphs

Up Next
The homestand is over and the Yankees are now heading out on a six-game West Coast trip. But first: an off-day. The Yankees don’t play Thursday. The West Coast trip starts Friday night in Anaheim with the first of three against the Angels. Masahiro Tanaka and Jered Weaver are the scheduled starters.

Teixeira says he is “staying put” and won’t accept a trade

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

According to Dan Martin and Fred Kerber, Mark Teixeira will not waive his 10-and-5 no-trade protection this month, even if it gives him an opportunity to go to a team with a chance to win the World Series. “You know, (GM Brian Cashman) and I have talked about it, and it’s not something that I think would benefit me or the Yankees. So no, I’m staying put,” he said.

Two weeks ago Teixeira announced he will retire after the season, and with the Yankees on the postseason bubble at best and Tyler Austin now on the roster, I thought maybe he would be open to going elsewhere. Then again, Teixeira and his family live in the New York full-time, and he might not want to leave them, even for a few weeks. I wouldn’t blame him if that’s the case.

Of course, the other side of this is what teams would want Teixeira? The Marlins immediately come to mind. First baseman Justin Bour is out long-term with an ankle injury and Giancarlo Stanton’s season just ended due to a groin injury. Miami has a clear need for a first baseman and power. The Cardinals just lost Matt Adams to a shoulder injury, making them another potential landing spot.

Cashman told Martin and Kerber that while the Yankees didn’t actively shop Teixeira, his willingness to mentor the team’s young players is more valuable than anything they could realistically get in return. I can’t imagine they’d get more than a fringe prospect or cash for Teixeira at this point, so why not keep him to mentor guys like Austin, Aaron Judge, and Gary Sanchez? That sounds good to me. Just maybe don’t bat him cleanup all the time.

For now Teixeira says he doesn’t want to leave the Yankees, but maybe he’ll change his mind if the team really falls out of the race and/or Austin starts hogging all the time at first base. Two weeks from yesterday is the deadline to acquire a player and have him be eligible for the postseason roster, so there’s still some time for this to play out. Right now, my guess is Teixeira retires a Yankee.

Game 120: End of the Homestand

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

This homestand felt longer than it really was, didn’t it? This was only a six-game homestand, but before that three-game swing through Boston, the Yankees had a five-game homestand. So eleven of their last 14 games have been in the Bronx. I have no idea where I’m going with this. Moving on …

The Yankees suffered a pretty brutal loss last night and the best thing about baseball is that it gives you a chance to turn the page quickly. They’re back at with the Blue Jays this afternoon, in the series finale. A win means a series win and a loss means a series loss. The Yankees need as many series wins as possible right now. It’s already Game 120. There’s not that much time left. Here is the Blue Jays’ lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:

  1. LF Brett Gardner
  2. 3B Chase Headley
  3. 2B Starlin Castro
  4. DH Gary Sanchez
  5. RF Aaron Judge
  6. SS Didi Gregorius
  7. 1B Tyler Austin
  8. C Austin Romine
  9. CF Aaron Hicks
    LHP CC Sabathia

It’s a wonderful day for baseball here in New York. The unbearable heat and humid has finally subsided, so it’s a pleasant 84 degrees this afternoon with a nice breeze. Nice day to spend at the park. This afternoon’s game will begin at 1:05pm ET and you can watch on YES. Enjoy.

Catcher Update: Joe Girardi told reporters Sanchez will be the primary catcher going forward and Brian McCann will be the DH. Just like that, McCann goes from being a good hitting catcher to a subpar DH.

Roster Move: The Yankees sent Chasen Shreve down to Triple-A Scranton and recalled Kirby Yates, the team announced. Anthony Swarzak remains on the roster for reasons I can’t understand at this time.