Yankeemetrics: A Ray of Hope [May 27-29]

(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Super Hiro
A couple veteran sluggers made sure that the Yankees wouldn’t waste another pitching gem in Friday night’s series opener at Tampa Bay. Alex Rodriguez and Carlos Beltran both homered in support of another brilliant performance by Masahiro Tanaka, leading the Bronx Bombers to a 4-1 win over the Rays.

Tanaka took a perfect game into the fifth inning, allowing just two hits and no walks over seven scoreless innings. He is now 3-0 in 10 starts this season, the first Yankee pitcher with a double-digit streak of unbeaten starts to begin a season since Orlando Hernandez in 2004.

Tanaka continued his dominance away from Yankee Stadium, delivering his third straight road outing of at least seven innings, one run or fewer and no more than five hits allowed. The last Yankee with a streak like that was Mike Mussina in August 2003. He lowered his road ERA to 1.34, the best in the American League through Friday’s games (min. 15 IP).

The 27-year-old right-hander was brilliant in finishing off hitters, as the Rays went 0-for-11 in two-strike counts with four strikeouts. Tampa Bay’s left-handed bats were also held in check by Tanaka, going 0-for-10 and hit just one ball out of the infield (a fly out by Corey Dickerson in the fifth inning).

A-Rod and Beltran supplied the offensive fireworks needed for the win, becoming the first set of Yankee teammates age 39 or older to homer in the same game, and the 21st pair overall to achieve that feat. The most recent guys to do it were Frank Thomas and Matt Stairs for the Blue Jays on June 23, 2007, and the first guys were Ty Cobb and Zack Wheat for the Philadelphia A’s on July 15, 1927.

The 6-foot-7 elephant in the room
Saturday’s game went pretty much as predicted given that Michael Pineda was listed as the starting pitcher for the Yankees. The big righty gave up a bunch of first-inning runs and was hit hard all afternoon, adding another ugly pitching line to his ledger, and the Yankees lost to the Rays.

(Getty  Images)
(Getty Images)

Pineda added three more runs and four hits to his league-leading totals in the first inning, which now stand at 16 runs and 26 hits. His 14.40 first-inning ERA would easily be the highest single-season mark by any Yankee that started more than five games.

It was also his fourth game with at least six earned runs allowed this season, the most by any pitcher in the majors through Saturday’s slate. The only other Yankee in the last 60 seasons to have four such games this early into the schedule (through 48 team games) was Terry Mulholland in 1994.

On a more positive note … Beltran reached another significant statistical milestone in this game, hitting his 12th homer of the season in the fourth inning for his 2,500th career hit. He’s the 99th player all-time and the 10th switch-hitter with that many hits, but also joined an even more exclusive club when looking at his rare combo of speed, power and on-base skills.

Just three other players in major-league history, along with Beltran, have compiled at least 2,500 hits, 400 homers, 300 stolen bases and 1,000 walks: Barry Bonds, Willie Mays and Alex Rodriguez.

One is enough
One swing changed everything for the Yankees on Sunday afternoon. With Starlin Castro‘s two-run homer in the seventh inning, they avoided becoming a historical footnote in baseball history and instead added another rare win to their franchise record books. The go-ahead blast ended Jake Odorizzi’s no-hit bid in emphatic fashion and delivered one of the most unusual victories ever recorded by a Yankee team.

It was the first time since at least 1913 that the Yankees won a game of nine or more innings while recording just one hit or fewer. The only other instance of this happening in a contest of any length was July 10, 1914 against the Indians, the second game of a doubleheader that lasted only six innings. The next day, on July 11, a 19-year-old named Babe Ruth made his major-league debut for the Boston Red Sox.

(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

This was also the first time since at least 1913 that the Yankees were held to one hit or fewer and scored more than one run in a game, regardless of the length or outcome.

Just three other times in the Live Ball Era (since 1920) have the Yankees played a game where their only hit was a home run: Sept. 10, 1999 vs. the Red Sox (Pedro’s 17-strikeout one-hitter); June 1, 1960 vs. the Orioles; Aug. 11, 1943 vs. the Browns.

Lost in the statistical madness was another fantastic outing by Nathan Eovaldi. He threw six innings of one-run ball, winning his fifth straight start and improving to 6-0 with a 2.72 ERA in his last seven starts. Nasty Nate now has a streak of back-to-back-to-back starts of at least six innings and no more than one run allowed for the first time in his career.

Fan Confidence Poll: May 30th, 2016

Record Last Week: 3-3 (22 RS, 22 RA)
Season Record: 24-25 (190 RS, 209 RA, 22-27 pythag. record)
Opponents This Week: @ Blue Jays (three games, Mon. to Weds.), @ Tigers (one game, Thurs.), @ Orioles (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.

Castro’s home run rescues the Yankees from no-no, leads to a 2-1 win over the Rays

Brian Blanco/Getty Images

As Drake said, that went from 0 to 100 real quick. The Yankees were no-hit for 6.1 innings by Rays starter Jake Odorizzi, but Starlin Castro‘s two-run homer gave them a lead for good. Nathan Eovaldi was awarded with a win for his good outing and the Yankee bullpen arms did their thing to shut the game down. It’s the weekend so let’s do this bullet-style.

  • Rays Strike First: With two outs and Brandon Guyer at third, Eovaldi surrendered an RBI single to Evan Longoria on a 88 mph splitter in the third. He got into more trouble in the fifth. With one out, Curt Casali reached to first on a bobble by Castro and a call overturned by replay. Guyer followed it up by hitting a hanging curve into the left field warning track for a double. With runners on second and third however, Nate induced a harmless foul territory fly out from Brad Miller for the second out. Longoria gave it a ride to right field but the ball fell into Aaron Hicks‘ glove right in front of the wall to end the inning. Imagine if that was hit a smidge better, we could be talking about a 4-0 Rays lead.
  • Nasty Nate: Okay, enough talking about the bad parts of Eovaldi’s start; he actually pitched pretty well overall. In 6 IP, he struck out 7, allowed 2 walks and 1 ER. His ERA is now at 3.71 and his FIP and xFIP don’t look shabby either (3.53 and 3.37 respectively). He had a shaky start to this season but Eovaldi’s settled down pretty well in the month of May. For awhile though, it looked like he was being outmatched by Odorizzi, who was perfect through the first 5.1 innings. Until…
  • No More Perfecto: The Yankees broke up the perfecto in the sixth … or, really, the Rays let it go. Dustin Ackley hit a grounder to SS Brad Miller and he double clutched the ball before throwing. Umpires declared Ackley safe on the initial call. The Rays challenged it and after review, the  umpsstood by it. That’s one way to get a baserunner on, right? The play was ruled an error, not a hit. Ronald Torreyes followed with a double play to end the sixth.
  • Taking The Lead: The Yankees were still being no hit heading into the seventh. With one out, Brett Gardner worked a seven-pitch walk to get on base. On a 1-0 count, Castro got a 91 mph fastball right down the middle and didn’t miss any of it. Upon contact, both him and Odorizzi knew it was out – and they weren’t wrong. 2-1 Yankees. That was also the Yankees’ only hit of the day. As our Katie Sharp noted, this was the team’s first win with only one hit in a nine-inning game since at least 1913.
  • Shutdown Bullpen: As soon as the Yanks took the lead in the seventh (with Eovaldi already having thrown 105 pitches), you knew this was going to happen: the Dellin BetancesAndrew MillerAroldis Chapman formula. The three relievers threw three perfect innings with seven K’s. Each of them threw less than 15 pitches too. Simply dominant. Also, as Mike noted, the Yankees had pitchers with insane velocity readings all day.

Here’s today’s box score, video highlights, WPA and updated standings. The Yankees are going to Toronto for a three-game series with the Blue Jays next. Ivan Nova and Marco Estrada will be on the mound Monday.


Source: FanGraphs

DotF: Luis Severino throws three scoreless innings in first rehab game

Two quick notes:

  • IF Deibinson Romero has been released, according to Shane Hennigan. The move clears a roster spot for RHP Brady Lail, who was technically called up from Double-A Trenton. Lail never actually left Scranton though. He was between starts and it was a paper move to temporarily clear a roster spot for LHP Phil Coke last week.
  • 3B Miguel Andujar whacked two home runs yesterday and that landed him in today’s Prospect Report. As always, the Prospect Report is free. It’s not behind the Baseball America paywall. Make sure you check it out.

High-A Tampa (6-4 win over Brevard County)

  • 2B Jorge Mateo: 0-4, 1 RBI, 2 K
  • SS Abi Avelino: 2-5, 1 R, 1 K, 1 SB
  • 3B Miguel Andujar: 1-5, 2 K
  • DH Austin Aune: 1-5, 1 RBI, 3 K — leads the farm system with 59 strikeouts (33.1 K%)
  • RF Jake Skole: 2-3, 2 R, 2 HR, 2 RBI, 1 BB, 1 K — five homers in 34 games for the 15th overall pick in the 2010 draft … his career high is nine homers in 124 games back in 2011
  • RHP Luis Severino: 3 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K, 4/1 GB/FB — 27 of 43 pitches were strikes (63%) … Joe Girardi told reporters Severino was scheduled for 45-50 pitches or so, which indicates he’ll be making more than one rehab start … we know Severino can dominate at this level, so I wouldn’t focus on the numbers much … the important thing is that he’s healthy
  • RHP Gabe Encinas: 1.1 IP, 2 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 3 BB, 0 K, 1 WP, 1 HB, 1/0 GB/FB — 24 of 45 pitches were strikes (53%) … 8/18 K/BB in 14.1 innings this year
  • RHP Jordan Foley: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 2 K, 1 WP, 1/0 GB/FB — 12 of 22 pitches were strikes (55%) … 32/15 K/BB in 24.2 innings

[Read more…]

Sunday Open Thread

Here’s the open thread for the rest of the weekend. The Mets and Dodgers are the ESPN Sunday Night game (Colon vs. Kershaw), and that’s pretty much it tonight. Talk about that game, this afternoon’s win, or anything else right here.

Game 49: Rubber Game

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

By my quick count, the Yankees have played 12 three-game series this season, and even with that recent 13-7 stretch, they’ve won only four of those 12 series. Yikes. Today’s rubber game with the Rays is a chance for series win No. 5, and also a chance to get back within a game of .500. Baby steps, I guess. Getting a little tired of writing that. Anyway, here is the Rays’ lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:

  1. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  2. LF Brett Gardner
  3. 2B Starlin Castro
  4. C Brian McCann
  5. DH Alex Rodriguez
  6. SS Didi Gregorius
  7. RF Aaron Hicks
  8. 1B Dustin Ackley
  9. 3B Ronald Torreyes
    RHP Nathan Eovaldi

Another hot and humid day in St. Pete, and there’s some rain in the forecast too. The dome will come in handy this afternoon. Today’s series finale will begin at 1:10pm ET and you can watch on WPIX locally and MLB Network nationally. Yep, another WPIX game. Enjoy.

Injury Updates: Carlos Beltran left yesterday’s game with a stiff back and is available today. Joe Girardi said before the series he wasn’t going to play Beltran on the turf all three games anyway … Mark Teixeira (neck) feels much better and will take batting practice today with an eye on playing tomorrow.

Looking Ahead

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

There comes a day when you rectify the team you are with the team you want to be; the Yankees can’t seem to make the two things coexist.

On the good side of things, the Yankees lead the American League in both strikeout percentage and walk rate from the mound. They’ve also got a respectable 91 FIP- and a 100 ERA-, suggesting their pitching may still have some room to grow. On the bad side of things, the Yankees have scored the second fewest runs in the AL, just eight more than the lowly Twins. Their 88 wRC+ is also the second worst in the Junior Circuit, just two points ahead of the trailing Twins.

(Stephen Lam/Getty)
(Stephen Lam/Getty)

As Memorial Day is generally the first ‘mile marker’ of the year, today’s as good a time as any to look at the road ahead by reflecting on the road behind. One way of doing that is heading over to FanGraphs and checking out the playoff odds section, which lets you sort by a few things. In the spirit of looking back, here are the Yankees’ playoff odds based on their season to date stats. A 3.9% chance to win the division. An 8.7% chance to win the wild card. Those don’t look good, obviously, thanks to the poor performances the Yankees have turned in at the plate. Bounce backs from Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez would help those numbers creep up, but they’re still fairly low.

If we decide to be more fair to the team and acknowledge the uncharacteristically bad performance at the plate, we can go peek at the playoff odds using rest of season projections instead. Those numbers look a little better–4.5% for the division and 16.4% for the wild card–but they still aren’t anything spectacular.

Their deficits in both the AL East and wild card standings–5.5 and 4.5 games respectively–are not insurmountable, especially considering it’s not quite yet June. But in the AL East, the Yankees have three teams to brush aside, including the first place Red Sox. In the wild card, it’s six teams, including the leading Orioles and Rangers. Allowing for some dramatics, the day of reckoning is fast approaching for the Yankees.

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

At some point soon–maybe by mid-June–they need to make a decision, and an honest one at that. This is something the Yankees have struggled with in recent years, but hopefully it’s something they put some earnest reflection into over the next few weeks. Their playoff odds are bad. The team is flawed in multiple ways. Fighting or a five hundred record or to be ‘in it’ in the last week of the season with some vague, outside, puncher’s chance at the second wild card is not worth it. There are still enough valid pieces on this team that can contribute to next year which can be properly bolstered by jettisoning the right assets.

A smart man who used to comment ’round these parts used to say that the Yankees are a win now and win later team and the Yankees need to focus on the latter at this point in the season. Trade some of the present for some of the future and be honest about it with the fans. Trusting that the fans can handle an honest to goodness rebuild is something the Yankee brass has been reluctant to do, but there’s no better time to start than now. It’s not likely this team is going anywhere in 2016 and preparing for 2017 is the responsible thing to do.