The Yanks’ next ten games remind me a bit of my childhood. Before the unbalanced schedule sent the Yanks on multiple West Coast trips with ridiculous Mariners/Royals back-to-back sets, these swings through Seattle, Oakland and Anaheim used to be the norm, and I hated them. I couldn’t stay up to watch much, if any, of these 10 p.m. games, and I wouldn’t find out the winner until the morning. But the Yanks can’t play out a season avoiding the AL West, and well, here we are.
The series against the Mariners kicks off with my least favorite Yankee hurler on the mound. I used to love Phil Hughes, but I’ve grown tired of watching him. His good starts outnumber his bad starts this year, but his stuff hasn’t developed as we all hoped. He gives up predictable home runs, and I’m still expecting his change-up to become a viable pitch any day now. That said, he’s facing Aaron Harang. Here’s to offense.
Phil Hughes P
First pitch is at 10:10 p.m. Eastern, and the game can be seen on YES where Kenny Singleton and Bob Lorenz will usher you through the evening.
The 2013 draft is upon us. The three-day event begins tonight with 73 picks covering the First Round, Supplemental First Round, Competitive Balance Round A, Second Round, and Competitive Balance Round B. MLB Network and MLB.com will broadcast those picks beginning at 7pm ET. The Yankees, who will make more picks than any other team this evening, should be making their first selection around 9:10-ish with two more 15 or so minutes later. Here are their selections for tonight:
- First Round: #26 overall ($1,839,400 slot)
- Supplemental First Round: #32 overall for losing Nick Swisher ($1,677,100 slot)
- Supplemental First Round: #33 overall for losing Rafael Soriano ($1,650,100 slot)
- Second Round: #66 overall ($845,700 slot)
Rumor has it the Yankees are looking to take a college player with that #26 pick, but who really knows. That’s the fun part. The entire draft order can be found here and our 2013 draft archive right here. MLB.com’s Draft Tracker is right here. The liveblog is below. Join in.
The Yankees are out on the West Coast, which means tonight’s game doesn’t start until 10pm ET. We’ll have a regular game thread when the time comes, but for now use this as your open thread. The Mets are playing the Nationals (Marcum vs. Gio), plus you’ve got NBA and NHL playoff action. Oh, and the 2013 MLB draft starts at 7pm ET, so that’s cool. I’ll have a liveblog up in a few minutes. Talk about any of that stuff and more here. Enjoy. · (7) ·
Via the NY Daily News: Biogenesis chief Anthony Bosch tried to extort money from Alex Rodriguez before agreeing to cooperate with MLB’s investigation into the South Florida performance-enhancing drug pipeline. A-Rod refused the apparent six-figure request.
In return for cooperating with the investigation, MLB will drop their lawsuit against Bosch, cover any legal bills and civil liability, and provide him with bodyguards. Trying to extort Alex before rolling over for the league doesn’t exactly help Bosch’s credibility here. This is some shady business. · (47) ·
Off to the West Coast. The Yankees are in Seattle for the start of a ten-game, 12-day road trip up and down the Pacific coast. Four games in the Emerald City start things off.
What Have They Done Lately?
As you probably heard, the Mariners lost a ridiculous 16-inning game to the White Sox yesterday. They were down five runs in the 14th and came back to tie it before losing two innings later. Seattle won two straight before the loss and is 26-34 with a -42 run differential, making them one of the AL’s worst.
The Mariners average 3.7 runs per game with a team 97 wRC+, but this isn’t the same lineup the Yankees saw in New York a few weeks ago. 2B Dustin Ackley and C Jesus Montero have been sent to the minors, which was long overdue. They’re also without 1B Justin Smoak (103 wRC+), who is on the DL with an oblique injury. OF Mike Morse (120 wRC+) is day-to-day with a quad injury and could return to the lineup as soon as tonight. OF Franklin Gutierrez (126 wRC+) has been sucked into a black hole and will never be heard from again (hamstring).
Manager Eric Wedge has just two above-average, full-time players on his roster: 1B Kendrys Morales (142 wRC+) and 3B Kyle Seager (131 wRC+). Morse will make it three whenever he gets healthy. Former Yankee Raul Ibanez (118 wRC+) and former Met Jason Bay (110 wRC+) have formed a very nice DH platoon. Top prospect 2B Nick Franklin (166 wRC+ in limited time) was recently recalled to replace Ackley.
CF Endy Chavez (80 wRC+) has replaced Gutierrez and C Jesus Sucre (24 wRC+ in very limited time) replaced Montero. C Kelly Shoppach (80 wRC+) backs him up. OF Michael Saunders (87 wRC+) has been both hurt and disappointing while SS Brendan Ryan (57 wRC+) is his usual all-glove, no-hit self. 3B Alexi Liddi (-100 wRC+ in very, very, very limited time) and C Brandon Bantz (has not played) are on the roster as well. The Mariners can hit the ball out of the park (71 homers), but not much else.
Starting Pitching Matchups
Thursday: RHP Phil Hughes vs. RHP Aaron Harang
Those innings aren’t going to eat themselves. Harang, 35, is keeping a spot warm until some of Seattle’s prospects are deemed big league ready, and so far this year he’s pitched to a 5.82 ERA (4.43 FIP) in eight starts. His strikeout (8.10 K/9 and 20.6 K%) and walk (1.87 BB/9 and 4.5 BB%) rates are actually excellent, but he’s a fly ball (33.8% grounders) and homer (1.66 HR/9 and 12.1% HR/FB) machine. The Harangutan sits right around 90 mph with his two- and four-seam fastballs, and his top offspeed pitch is a low-80s slider. He’ll also throw mid-70s curveballs and low-80s changeups. The Yankees were supposed to see Harang when the Mariners came to the Bronx a few weeks ago, but he was scratched from the start with a stiff back. He’s never faced the Bombers in his long career.
Friday: RHP Hiroki Kuroda vs. RHP Jeremy Bonderman
Yes, that Jeremy Bonderman. The 30-year-old former Tiger attempted a comeback this year after missing most of 2008-2010 and all of 2011-2012 due to various injuries. Seattle called him up and he made his first big league start in nearly three years last week, getting tattooed for seven runs on nine hits (seven for extra-bases) in 4.2 innings against the Twins. His Triple-A performance before being promoted wasn’t a whole lot better: 4.52 ERA (4.49 FIP), 4.66 K/9 (12.0 K%), and 2.54 BB/9 (6.5 BB%) in 63.2 innings. Bonderman sat right around 90 mph with his four-seamer last week, throwing a bunch of low-80s changeups and sliders as well. He’s not the pitcher he once was after all the injuries, so his experience against the Yankees is meaningless. Obviously no one on the roster has faced him in more than two years.
Saturday: LHP Andy Pettitte vs. LHP Joe Saunders
Saunders, 31, apparently left his horseshoe in Baltimore. He’s been dreadful in 12 starts this year (5.20 ERA and 4.87 FIP) despite a career-high ground ball rate (48.0%). Saunders doesn’t strike anyone out (4.69 K/9 and 12.0 K%) but he limits walks (2.92 BB/9 and 7.4 BB%), which is good because he’s homer prone (1.27 HR/9 and 13.0% HR/FB). An upper-80s sinker is his weapon of choice, though he’ll occasionally mix in a few straight four-seamers at the same velocity. A low-80s changeup is his top secondary pitch, but he’ll also use low-80s sliders and mid-70s curves as well. The Yankees have seen Saunders plenty of times over the years, including twice with the Orioles late last year (once in September and once in the ALDS). He pitched well both times despite failing to complete six innings of work. Buck Showalter had the quick hook.
Sunday: RHP David Phelps vs. RHP Felix Hernandez
You didn’t think the Yankees were going to get through a Mariners series without seeing Felix, did you? The 27-year-old King is having the best season of his career (2.58 ERA and 2.39 FIP), with career-best strikeout (9.43 K/9 and 26.8 K%) and walk (1.69 BB/9 and 4.8 BB%) rates. His 52.3% ground ball rate is not a career-high, but it is very good. Hernandez sits in the low-90s with his four-seamer and sinker, which is more than enough to set up his all-world array of offspeed pitches: upper-80s changeup, mid-80s slider, and low-80s curveball. He’s filthy. He’s filthy and he seems to dominate the Yankees every time he faces them. I expect no different this weekend.
That 16-inning game yesterday really taxed the Seattle bullpen. Six of their seven relievers pitched, with closer RHP Tom Wilhelmsen (3.10 FIP) the only exception. That’s because he pitched in each of the prior two games. RHP Yoervis Medina (2.69 FIP), former Yankee Hector Noesi (3.54 FIP), and former Yankees farmhand RHP Danny Farquhar (0.74 FIP in limited time) all threw multiple innings on Wednesday.
LHP Charlie Furbush (3.88 FIP) and RHP Carter Capps (3.62 FIP) are relatively well-rested despite pitching yesterday, though LHP Oliver Perez (3.21 FIP) has pitched in each of the last two games. I’m guessing the Mariners will make a roster move or two for a fresh arm tonight, perhaps involving Medina or Farquhar. Either way, the White Sox did the Yankees a big favor and the Mariners’ tired relief corps could be a factor this weekend.
The Yankees have a nice and fresh bullpen thanks to CC Sabathia‘s complete-game yesterday, or at least as fresh as they can be this time of year. David Robertson and Mariano Rivera were off yesterday but pitched in each of the two games before that. You can check out our Bullpen Workload page for exact recent reliever usage. Lookout Landing and U.S.S. Mariner are the best Mariners sites on the netweb.
In his latest mock draft (subs. req’d), Keith Law has Stanford LHP Mark Appel going to the Astros first overall. He says they’re trying to nail down his price tag leading up to the draft tonight, but could still wind up taking another player and spreading any savings around. Oklahoma RHP Jonathan Gray goes to the Cubs with the second pick, San Diego 3B Kris Bryant to the Rockies with the third pick.
Law has the Yankees selecting Notre Dame 3B Eric Jagielo (#26), Texas HS OF Billy McKinney (#32), and California HS LHP Ian Clarkin (#33) with their three first rounders. Click the links for my write-up of each player. Law says New York is expected to grab a college player with their first pick, with Jagielo ahead of Stanford OF Austin Wilson on their board. Arizona SS Dustin Peterson, Mississippi JuCo LHP Cody Reed, and UC Irvine RHP Andrew Thurman are mentioned as possibilities at various spots as well.
Other Mock Drafts: Baseball America (v1.0, v2.0, v3.0, v4.0) Keith Law (v1.0, v2.0, v3.0), and MLB.com (v1.0, v2.0). · (8) ·
In his latest mock draft, Baseball America’s Jim Callis has the Astros selected Oklahoma RHP Jonathan Gray with the first overall selection. He cautions that Houston could look to cut a deal with another player and spread the draft pool savings around on later picks. Stanford RHP Mark Appel and San Diego 3B Kris Bryant are projected to go second and third overall to the Cubs and Rockies, respectively. The mock draft is free for all, by the way.
The Yankees have three first round picks, and Callis has them taking Notre Dame 3B Eric Jagielo (#26), New Jersey HS LHP Rob Kaminsky (#31), and Texas HS OF Billy McKinney (#33). Click the links for my write-up of each player. That would be a pretty great haul and it might represent the most realistic best-case scenario for tonight. Callis also connects New York to Mississippi JuCo SS Tim Anderson, North Carolina HS RHP Hunter Harvey, Florida RHP Jonathon Crawford, California HS RHP Phil Bickford, Indiana State LHP Sean Manaea (who might have a labrum tear in his hip, according to Callis), Stanford OF Austin Wilson, Tennessee HS RHP Kyle Serrano, Oklahoma HS C Jon Denney, and Georgia HS OF Josh Hart. So basically everyone.
Other Mock Drafts: Baseball America (v1.0, v2.0, 3.0) Keith Law (v1.0, v2.0, v3.0), and MLB.com (v1.0, v2.0). · (18) ·
The Yankees made a huge splash in the free-agent market back in 2009, landing CC Sabathia, Mark Teixeira, Nick Swisher, and A.J. Burnett. Each player contributed in a huge way and helped the team bring the 27th World Series Championship back to New York. Teixeira, specifically, had a monster year in 2009 as he batted .292/.383/.565 (.402 wOBA, 142 wRC+) with 39 home runs. FanGraphs valued him at 4.9 WAR (trailing only Miguel Cabrera and Kevin Youkilis among AL first baseman).
Since then, Yankee fans have watched Teixeira steadily decline. Over the past few seasons he’s become increasingly one-dimensional offensively even though his defense has remained very reliable. He’s been far more prone to hitting the ball down the first base line (presumably aiming for that enticing short porch), which in turn, has made him increasingly more susceptible to the defensive shift. Consequently, his batting average has ticked downward by about 40 points from where he has historically hovered prior to coming to New York. Discouragingly, we’ve also seen Tex struggle against right handers the past few seasons as well (last season he batted .239 as LH batter verse righties, .224 in 2011, .244 in 2010, and .282 in 2009), and then show an unwillingness to adapt his approach.
Fortunately for the Yankees, they haven’t exactly been hurting for offense for the last decade or so. During Tex’s tenure in pinstripes alone, the Yankees have been among the top three teams in all of baseball in terms of wOBA and wRC+. At least until now; 2013 is a new animal altogether. For the first time in what seems like forever, the offense is most certainly not the strength of the team. The Yankees rank 21st in AVG, 19th in wOBA, 24th in wRC+, 19th in K%, and 19th in BB%. Ironically, the only offensive category that the Yankees favorably crack the top 10 in this season so far is in home runs (68 in total, eighth best in MLB — so much for the #toomanyhomers meme).
This is where Tex steps in, and where I personally think he could play a huge role if he can rebound a bit. Immediately, he (and Youkilis) will provide some additional patience to the lineup. As of now, the Yankees have averaged 3.79 pitches per plate appearances – for perspective, 2012′s squad averaged 3.89 Pit/PA, 3.92 in 2011, 3.92 in 2010, and 3.88 in 2009. Power and patience. That’s the Yankees model. It works, and Tex knows how to do it.
With Vernon Wells cooling off and Travis Hafner always one step away from injury, Robinson Cano has been forced to shoulder much of the load in the power department. Home runs are always a good thing and one part of Tex’s game that has always been solid is deep out-of-the-park hits. With a little luck, it may help stem the tide a bit further until the rest of the Walking Wounded return. A few consecutive singles are nice. They’re even nicer when a 4o0-foot blast brings them home.
Additionally, Cano, Lyle Overbay, Brett Gardner, Ichiro Suzuki, Curtis Granderson and Hafner are really all the Yankees have for left-handed threats. Gardner’s been better of late with the bat, but he’s not the guy who’ll be driving in runs nor is that his role. Given Ichiro‘s struggles, Granderson’s injury, and Hafner’s durability concerns, it’ll be very nice to add another guy capable of batting left-handed. Even if Tex’s splits this season are similar to his last few, he’ll also still likely be an offensive upgrade over Overbay (despite the fact that Overbay is having a great year by his standards thus far). Moreover, having another switch-hitter available provides that much more lineup flexibility for Girardi.
Defensively, Tex provides some options too. As we’ve seen the last few days, Overbay could get some opportunities in right field, which will help mitigate Ichiro’s exposure. When Overbay is at first, Tex can give Pronk a spell at DH which provides him rest and aligns him closer to the situational hitting role he was originally hired for. This also limits the need for Youkilis at first on the depth chart, which can only help given his injury tendencies. Third base and shortstop are still points of concern, but that was basically always the case. At least with Tex at first, you know some of those inevitable throwing errors to first may have a chance of being erased.
The Yankees have done a fantastic job of not just staying alive, but staying competitive with role players while some of their headliner names have been side-lined. However, some of these role players (i.e. Jayson Nix, David Adams, Wells, Overbay) are clearly playing above their norms, or in some cases, have already begun to be exposed. Who knows how long the team can continue to win with these guys starting all the time. Now that some of the marquee players are beginning to return from their various injuries, it’s time for them to step up and contribute. Hopefully they’ll be able to sustain the success, and be a lot less likely to falter down the road. I hope Tex gets the ball the rolling.
Man, it had been a while since the Yankees swept a three-game series. In fact, the last time they did it was the Royals series in Kansas City about a month ago. Wednesday afternoon’s 6-4 win over the Indians gave New York an acceptable (barely) 4-4 homestand.
The Yankees jumped all over Cleveland starter Corey Kluber early on, scoring all six of their runs in the first two innings. In fact, they had a 4+ run inning for the third straight game after coming into the series with just five such innings on the season. Five of those eight 4+ run innings have come against the Indians.
Travis Hafner got the scoring started with a monster two-run homer into the second deck in right field in the first inning, taking advantage of an error by the usually sure-handed Michael Bourn, who dropped a fly ball. It was a bomb, and the way Pronk sheepishly looked away and dropped his bat while breaking into his trot made it look like he was embarrassed he hit a ball that hard. He felt bad for it.
An inning later, the power-hittin’ Brett Gardner jumped all over a hanging slider in a 1-2 count for a three-run homer to right. Most of his homers this year have been on first pitch fastballs — the kind that make you think he went up there hunting for one and just let it rip — but this was a mistake pitch he muscled out with a two-strike swing. It was impressive and, frankly, unexpected.
Kluber settled down and the Yankees didn’t score again, but six runs in the first two innings is a pretty great start. It gave CC Sabathia some breathing room and put all the pressure on the Indians because they had to play catch-up. The Bombers scored 17 runs in the three-game series, or two more than they scored in their previous eight games combined. Yeah.
A Win And A Save
The box score absolutely does not do Sabathia’s performance justice. It wasn’t until there were two outs in the fourth that the Indians hit a ball out of the infield, and it wasn’t until there were two outs in the fifth that the Indians had a man reach base. Only once did Sabathia throw more than 14 pitches in an inning and never once did he throw more than 16 pitches in an inning. Twenty-three of his 27 outs were recorded on the infield.
Sabathia’s only mistake was catching too much of the plate with a first pitch slider to Yan Gomes — the Cleveland backup catcher hit the ball out to left for a two-run homer in the seventh. The Tribe’s two sixth inning runs was a death by a thousand cuts rally. It went infield single, ground ball single through the hole on a hit-and-run, ground ball single passed a diving Mark Teixeira, fielder’s choice. Nothing hit in the air. Two runs is two runs, but the Indians hardly smacked CC around that inning.
A whopping 84 of his 116 pitches were strikes (72%), and that includes 14 swings and misses. Sabathia averaged 91.9 mph with his fastball and topped out at 93.9 according to PitchFX, which is a touch below where he was last start but better than his season averages. In fact, his fastball velocity has been trending upward over the last month or so. I doubt he’ll ever regularly sit 93-95 mph again, but that is encouraging.
Most importantly, Sabathia gave the Yankees innings. All of them. The bullpen had been used heavily the last few days, particularly David Robertson and Mariano Rivera, so giving them a nice day off before the cross-country flight was huge. CC’s efficiency and willingness to pound the zone relentlessly made that happen. Well done, big man.
Everyone in the starting lineup reached base at least once except … Vernon Wells. Who woulda guessed it? He’s now sitting on an 87 wRC+ after putting up an 88 wRC+ last year. So yeah, he officially stinks. Gardner (single, homer), Hafner (homer, walk), and Chris Stewart (single, walk) were the only players to reach base twice.
Wanna hear a scary stat? The Yankees scored 49 runs in seven games against Cleveland this year (7.0 per game) and just 191 in 52 games against everyone else (3.7 per game). The offense needs to pick it up because the Bombers don’t play the Tribe again in 2013.
Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
MLB.com has the box score and video highlights, FanGraphs the WPA graph, and ESPN the updated standings. The Rays won while the Red Sox lost, so they are one back and one up on the Yankees in the loss column.
The Yankees are off to Seattle to kick off a four-game weekend series with the Mariners and ten-game West Coast trip. Phil Hughes and Aaron Harang kick off that series Thursday night.