So I came to a realization last night: I want the Blue Jays to miss the postseason more than I want the Orioles to miss the postseason. In a perfect world both would miss the postseason, but that doesn’t seem to be an option at this point. After that benches clearing nonsense and the general mouthiness of the Blue Jays, I’m all for seeing them stay home. Maybe it’s just me.
Anyway, Luis Severino is making the start this afternoon — his first start since that benches clearing incident in Toronto — in place of Masahiro Tanaka, who is healthy, but is being shut down. The Yankees don’t want to push their ace in a meaningless game so soon after a forearm issue. I don’t blame them one bit. Here is today’s Orioles’ lineup and Yankees’ lineup:
- LF Brett Gardner
- CF Aaron Hicks
- 2B Starlin Castro
- DH Billy Butler
- 1B Mark Teixeira
- 3B Chase Headley
- C Austin Romine
- RF Tyler Austin
- SS Ronald Torreyes
RHP Luis Severino
It is really cloudy and cool in New York today, but there’s only a tiny little bit of rain in the forecast, so it looks like they should be able to get this game in. First pitch is scheduled for 4:05pm ET. The game will be on YES. Enjoy.
Injury Update: Chad Green (forearm) played catch for the second straight day. Everything is going well and he should have a reasonably normal offseason.
Assuming the weather cooperates, the Yankees and Orioles will continue their three-game series with the middle game this afternoon. Here are a few links — with a heavy dose of minor league stuff — to help you pass the time before the penultimate game of the 2016 season.
A-Rod arrives at Instructs
Alex Rodriguez‘s post-playing career is officially underway. A-Rod made his debut as a guest instructor in Instructional League yesterday and will be there today as well, report Kevin Kernan and Mark Didtler. A-Rod worked specifically with Clint Frazier, Blake Rutherford, and Jorge Mateo, three of the Yankees’ very best prospects.
“It feels great to be back in pinstripes, to be with the young players. It’s our debt. We owe the game. In many ways it’s our responsibility to pay it forward,” said Alex. “There is as much good young talent that I’ve seen here in all my years with the Yankees … The talent jumps off the page. Right now I’m just collecting a lot of information, trying to understand their strengths and weaknesses, and try to understand their personalities.”
A-Rod, who will again be part of FOX’s postseason coverage, is expected to address the 55 players at Instructs today. It sounds as though he spent most of his time yesterday working with players in the batting cage, not out on the field defensively. I’ve seen rumors that A-Rod is going to stop by the Arizona Fall League at some point, though that’s unconfirmed. Either way, he’s at Instructs now. (Brendan Kuty has some photos of the minor league complex, if you’re interested.)
Kaprielian pitches, Mateo tries the outfield
Two other notes from Instructs: James Kaprielian, who missed most of the season with an elbow injury, threw two innings in an Instructional League game yesterday, Joe Girardi confirmed. The Yankees hope he’ll complete his rehab in Instructs and then pitch in the AzFL. Weirdly enough, he was re-added to the Scottsdale roster soon after being removed earlier this week. Point is, Kaprielian is on the mend and pitching. That’s good.
Also, the Yankees have had Mateo working out in center field in Instructional League, according to Kernan. That’s pretty interesting. It’s not necessarily a permanent move — it’s not uncommon for players to try new positions in Instructs (someone sent me a photo of Gary Sanchez playing third base once) — but it makes sense to try it out. With so many shortstops in the system, center field would make better use of Mateo’s speed and athleticism than second base.
Kaprielian among best unqualified prospects
Baseball America is currently rolling out their top 20 prospects lists for each minor league, and in a companion piece (no subs. req’d), Kaprielian was listed as one of the best prospects who did not qualify for a top 20 list. He simply didn’t throw enough innings. Here’s a snippet of the write-up:
His fastball velocity, erratic in his junior college season and generally in the 89-92 mph range as an amateur, sat 92-96 mph and reached 97. His feel for his breaking balls was a key asset in his amateur days, and he was up to 87-89 mph with his slider on Opening Day, with a true power curve in the low 80s. All three pitches earned plus grades … Kaprielian has the highest ceiling of any Yankees pitcher and was the best pitcher in the Florida State League this season but essentially lost a year of development.
The lost season really stinks because it’s not out of the question that a healthy Kaprielian could have made his MLB debut in September. If nothing else, there was a good chance he could have finished the season in Triple-A and been a big league option early next year. The good news is he’s healthy now and pitching in Instructs. Hopefully Kaprielian gets some innings in the AzFL.
Adams among prospects to make most progress
With the minor league season now over, the folks at Baseball Prospectus (subs. req’d) broke down the prospects who made the most progress this season. The guys who developed best over the summer and finished the season as much better players than they started, basically. Chance Adams was included. Here’s a piece of his write-up:
While starting, he still showed off the two plus pitches that got him drafted, but showed more feel for his changeup and curveball as the season progressed. His command also improved as the season progressed, having a better idea of where to locate and execute his pitches in specific counts … While I don’t think durability will be an overall issue for him, it is just something to keep notice of for the following year.
I’ve yet to see a remotely negative scouting report about Adams this year. Usually you’ll come across one or two throughout the season, especially with pitchers who might wind up in the bullpen, but there’s nothing like that with Adams yet. He figures to start next season in Triple-A, which makes him a potential big league option. I’m looking forward to seeing how Adams’ second season as a starter goes.
Torres among potential top ten prospects for 2017
Soon after the end of the minor league season, Jim Callis looked at players who could emerge as one of the top ten prospects in baseball next season. Nationals outfielder Victor Robles sat in the top spot. Gleyber Torres, who came over from the Cubs in the Aroldis Chapman trade, was fifth. “Torres is a very advanced hitter and his defense keeps improving,” said the write-up.
On Twitter, Callis said he prefers Torres to Frazier because he believes in his bat more, plus he plays a more valuable position. I don’t necessarily agree, but preferring Torres to Frazier is not in any way unreasonable. Either way, the Yankees have both these guys. It’s not one or the other. They’re both in the organization. The fact both are among the best prospects in baseball is pretty awesome. The Yankees built quite the prospect base these last few months.
No one said these last three games would be pretty. The Yankees played their first truly meaningless game of the season Friday night, and not surprisingly, they got clobbered 8-1 by the Orioles. So it goes.
The End of the Pineda Era
There’s a non-zero chance Michael Pineda threw his last pitch in pinstripes Friday night. He’s a year away from free agency, and if the Yankees deem him unworthy of a long-term extension, they could try to cash him in as a trade chip in a weak free agent class this offseason. It’s certainly worth exploring both options, a trade and extension. Doesn’t hurt to see what’s out there, after all.
Regardless of what happens over the winter, this was Pineda’s final start of the season, so it’s only fitting he closed out his year with some two-out runs and long home runs. That’s what he did all summer. Two singles and a double in the fourth inning, all with two outs, created the Orioles’ first two runs. Adam Jones (solo) and Mark Trumbo (two-run) then annihilated long home runs into the second deck in left field for a 5-1 lead in the fifth.
You can never really trust the television gun or the scoreboard, but PitchFX confirms Pineda’s velocity was down quite a bit Friday night. He averaged 91.8 mph with his cutter and 82.1 mph with his slider, down from his season averages of 94.8 mph and 86.4 mph, respectively. Hopefully that’s just the product of the less than ideal conditions — it was rainy and cold as hell — and not something worse.
The Trumbo homer ended Pineda’s night and season. He finishes with a 4.82 ERA (3.79 FIP) — second straight season his ERA was a full run higher than his FIP — in a career high 175.2 innings. The good news: Pineda leads all qualified AL starters with a 10.61 K/9 and is second with a 27.4 K%. The bad news: He’s the sixth pitcher in history with 200+ strikeouts and a 4.80+ ERA. Joe Girardi called Pineda’s season “mind-boggling” before the game. That about sums him up.
One Token Run
Not a whole lotta offense for the home team Friday night. The Yankees scored their one run in the fourth inning, on a walk (Chase Headley), a loud single (Brian McCann), and a sac fly (Mark Teixeira). Their only other hits were an infield single by Aaron Hicks in the fifth inning and a regular ol’ singly by McCann in the ninth. Their only other baserunners were a first inning catcher’s interference (Jacoby Ellsbury, of course) and a trio of walks (two by Hicks, one by Rob Refsnyder).
Once the Orioles blew the game open in the fifth inning, Girardi pulled all the regulars and the Yankees played the rest of the game with a Triple-A lineup. Here was the batting order after the sixth inning:
- CF Eric Young Jr.
- 3B Donovan Solano
- C Austin Romine
- DH Brian McCann
- 1B Tyler Austin
- 2B Rob Refsnyder
- RF Aaron Hicks
- LF Mason Williams
- SS Ronald Torreyes
Billy Butler didn’t even pinch-hit for McCann in the ninth, so props to Girardi for benching Butler these last few days. His at-bats are better used elsewhere. Anyway, the Yankees were eliminated from postseason contention Thursday night and it showed Friday. Not much fight in the offense in this one.
The multitude of relievers: James Pazos (two outs), Anthony Swarzak (six outs), Chasen Shreve (three outs), and Ben Heller (three outs). Pazos allowed three runs, all on Jonathan Schoop’s homer. Shreve loaded the bases with no outs in the eighth and actually escaped without allowing a run. How about that? When Swarzak is your most effective pitcher, you know it’s bad.
Gary Sanchez went 0-for-3 with a strikeout and is now in a 1-for-27 (.037) slump. The one was a home run, of course. Hey, a slump was bound to happen eventually. Sanchez is still hitting .298/.373/.662 (171 wRC+) on the season, which I can confirm is pretty excellent. Sock one more dinger before the season ends, will ya Gary?
Ellsbury’s first inning catcher’s interference was his 12th of the season, extending his own single-season record. The old record was eight by Roberto Kelly, so he didn’t just break the record. He smashed it. There have been 39 catcher’s interferences this season. Ellsbury has almost a third of them. Crazy.
Pineda’s first strikeout of the game was the team’s 1,371st of the season, establishing a new franchise record. The old record was set in 2014 and tied in 2015. Me thinks we’re going to see a lot of strikeout records set in the future. That’s where baseball is heading.
And finally, the Tigers are winning and the Blue Jays are losing as of this writing, so if the scores hold, the Orioles will sit in the top wildcard spot and the Blue Jays will be a game back. The Tigers will be a half-game back of Toronto. It would be so great if the Blue Jays miss the postseason after running their mouths earlier this week.
Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
For the box score and updated standings, head on over to ESPN. MLB.com has the video highlights. Don’t miss our Bullpen Workload and Announcer Standings pages. Here’s the win probability graph:
The Yankees and Orioles will play the second game of this season-ending three-game series Saturday afternoon. That’s a 4pm ET start. Luis Severino, not Masahiro Tanaka, will be on the mound. The Yankees are understandably playing it safe and shutting down their ace after his minor forearm injury. Wade Miley will be on the mound for the O’s. Check out RAB Tickets if you want to catch either of the final two games of the season live at Yankee Stadium. The winter’s long, man. Go see baseball while you can.
Well folks, the Yankees have nothing left but three meaningless games this season. Meaningless to them, that is. The Yankees were eliminated from postseason contention last night, but their opponent this weekend, the Orioles, is still very much alive in the wildcard race. These three games mean everything to them.
Buck Showalter has been taking shots at the Yankees since they parted ways following the 1995 ALDS. He goes out of the way to needle the Yankees every chance he gets. Now the Bombers have a chance to keep Showalter’s team out of the postseason, and gosh, that would be sweet as hell. The Yankees already created some headaches for the Blue Jays and Red Sox this week. Time to do the same for the O’s. Here is the Orioles’ lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:
- CF Jacoby Ellsbury
- 3B Chase Headley
- C Gary Sanchez
- DH Brian McCann
- 1B Mark Teixeira
- SS Didi Gregorius
- RF Aaron Hicks
- LF Mason Williams
- 2B Ronald Torreyes
RHP Michael Pineda
It is cold and windy and rainy in New York. Not exactly baseball weather. There’s rain in the forecast pretty much all night too. Seems like it’s going to be more mist than outright downpour. We’ll see. Tonight’s game is scheduled to begin at 7:05pm ET and you can watch on YES. MLB.tv is free this weekend, by the way. Blackouts still apply, however. Enjoy the game.
Injury Updates: It’s still undecided whether Masahiro Tanaka (forearm) will make his scheduled start tomorrow. He feels fine, but the Yankees may decide not to risk anything since they’re out of the race … Brett Gardner is a bit banged up but is expected to play again before the end of the season … Starlin Castro is out of the lineup essentially as a precaution. The don’t want him on the wet field so soon after his hamstring injury.
News: Luis Severino has been fined for his role in Monday’s benches clearing brawl(s) with the Blue Jays, but he wasn’t suspended. Weird. A.J. Cole just got five games for throwing behind Jung-Ho Kang. Didn’t even hit him. Severino threw behind Justin Smoak then hit him with the next pitch, after benches were warned, yet no suspension. I do not understand. Whatever.
So here we are. The final series of the 2016 season. The Yankees were eliminated from postseason contention last night by the Orioles, who are in the Bronx for the final three games of the season this weekend. Baltimore beat the Blue Jays to knock the Yankees out. Alas. The Yankees are 8-8 against the Orioles this season, including 5-2 at Yankee Stadium.
What Have They Done Lately?
The O’s took two of three from Toronto this week and they’ve won five of their last six games overall. They’re 87-72 with a +23 run differential. The Orioles and Blue Jays are tied for the second wildcard spot, and the Tigers are 1.5 games back. Baltimore’s magic number is three. Sweeping them this weekend wouldn’t automatically push the O’s out of the postseason — the Tigers still need to take of their own business — but it would be a big help for Detroit.
Offense & Defense
The Orioles have had exactly the kind of offense everyone expected them to have this season. They hit a ton of homers (247) but they’re only okay at getting on base (team .317 OBP), which is why they’re middle of the pack with an average of 4.58 runs per game. Their team wRC+ is exactly average at 100. The O’s are without UTIL Steve Pearce (forearm) and Rule 5 Draft OF Joey Rickard (thumb), who are done for the year.
Despite a .314 OBP, CF Adam Jones (98 wRC+) remains manager Buck Showalter’s leadoff hitter for whatever reason. Lately 1B Chris Davis (110 wRC+) has been batting second too, so that’s fun. 3B Manny Machado (130 wRC+) and DH Mark Trumbo (121 wRC+) hit third and fourth. Showalter starting bunching his four best hitters at the top of the lineup about a week ago. DH Pedro Alvarez (117 wRC+) and rookie DH Trey Mancini (283 wRC+) have been platooning as the No. 5 hitters.
C Matt Wieters (85 wRC+), 2B Jonathan Schoop (94 wRC+), and SS J.J. Hardy (91 wRC+) are the team’s other regulars. OF Hyun-Soo Kim (122 wRC+) and OF Nolan Reimold (78 wRC+) have been sharing time in left field of late. C Francisco Pena (33 wRC+), UTIL Ryan Flaherty (62 wRC+), and OF Michael Bourn (75 wRC+) were the regular bench players for much of the season. C Caleb Joseph, IF Paul Janish, and OF Drew Stubbs are the extra September call-ups.
Defensively the Orioles are a solid team with above-average defenders at all four infield spots. Well, Machado is arguably the single greatest defensive player in baseball, so he’s more than above-average. Jones is solid in center, ditto Wieters behind the plate, but the corner outfield spots leave a lot to be desired regardless of who Showalter sends out there. When it doubt, hit it to Trumbo.
Friday (7:05pm ET): RHP Michael Pineda (vs. BAL) vs. RHP Yovani Gallardo (vs. NYY)
Had Gallardo been merely bad instead of disastrous, the Orioles would have probably locked up a playoff spot a few days ago. The 30-year-old right-hander has a 5.63 ERA (5.09 FIP) in 22 starts and 112 innings this season, and there’s basically no silver lining in his rate starts. Not enough strikeouts (16.3%) or grounders (43.4%), and too many walks (11.4%) and homers (1.29 HR/9). His platoon split is small because batters on both sides of the plate have hit him well. Gallardo’s four-seamer and sinker sit right around 90 mph, and his trademark slider is still humming in around 87 mph. He’ll also throw mid-80s changeups and upper-70s curveballs. The Yankees have seen Gallardo twice this year. The first start was okay (four runs in seven innings) and the second was a nightmare (eight runs in 1.1 innings).
Saturday (4:05pm ET): TBA vs. TBA
The O’s still have Saturday’s starter listed as TBA but it is expected to be lefty Wade Miley, who has been away from the team the last few days on paternity leave. The 29-year-old southpaw has a 5.40 ERA (4.50 FIP) in 29 starts and 160 total innings this season, though it’s a 6.38 ERA (3.91 FIP) in ten starts and 48 innings with the O’s since coming over from the Mariners at the trade deadline. His peripherals are middling (18.7 K%, 7.0 BB%, 47.9 GB%, 1.35 HR/9) and righties have hit him a ton harder than lefties. These days Miley sits in the low-90s with his four-seamer and sinker, and pairs them with low-to-mid-80s changeups and sliders. He’ll also toss a few upper-70s curves per start too. The Yankees have seen him just once this season, scoring four runs in five innings a little less than four weeks ago.
As for the Yankees, Masahiro Tanaka (forearm) threw a bullpen session yesterday and says he wants to make his scheduled start tomorrow, but the Yankees might simply shut him down now that they’ve been knocked out of the race. If they do, I guess Luis Severino would get the start the instead. Kinda weird he hasn’t been suspended, right? Maybe MLB forgot he threw at a hitter intentionally (twice!) and was ejected. Usually that’s an insta-suspension announced the next day. Weird.
Update: Severino has been fined for his role in Monday’s brawl, but not suspended. Huh.
Sunday (3:05pm ET): RHP Luis Cessa (vs. BAL) vs. RHP Kevin Gausman (vs. NYY)
Hah, figures. Last game of the season and who do the Yankees have to face? The guy who’s crushed them all season. Though, to be fair, Gausman has been dominating everyone of late. He has a 3.15 ERA (3.90 FIP) since the All-Star break. The 25-year-old northpaw has a 3.66 ERA (4.08 FIP) in 29 starts and a career high 172.1 innings. His strikeout (23.5%) and walk (6.3%) rates are very good, though Gausman has been a little too fly ball (43.4 GB%) and home run (1.41 H/9) prone. Then again, pretty much every pitcher has been homer prone this season. Righties have hit Gausman harder than lefties and that’s not unusual because he has a nasty mid-80s splitter. That pitch is the equalizer against batters of the opposite hand. His fastball sits mid-to-high-90s and he’ll also throw some low-80s curveballs. In five starts against the Yankees this season Gausman has a 0.80 ERA and a .205/.240/.279 batting line against in 33.2 innings. Yeah.
The Orioles are fighting for their playoffs lives and Showalter has declared this an all hands on deck weekend. That means starters RHP Dylan Bundy (4.02 ERA/4.69 FIP) and RHP Chris Tillman (3.77/4.22) are available in relief, if necessary. Tillman is lined up to start the wildcard game and they probably don’t want to mess with that if at all possible though. Anyway, here is Showalter’s bullpen.
Closer: LHP Zach Britton (0.55 ERA/1.59 FIP)
Setup: RHP Brad Brach (1.60/2.86), RHP Darren O’Day (3.90/4.68)
Middle: RHP Mychal Givens (3.18/3.26), LHP Donnie Hart (0.50/3.53), RHP Tommy Hunter (3.18/3.05)
Long: RHP Vance Worley (3.53/4.82)
Extra: LHP Jayson Aquino, RHP Oliver Drake, LHP Bran Duensing, RHP Tyler Wilson, RHP Mike Wright
O’Day has missed much of the season with hamstring and shoulder problems, but he’s healthy now and on the roster. Him, Brach, and Britton form a really tough end-game trio. Britton might be the best closer in the game right now. Showalter, like Joe Girardi, loves his matchups, so get ready for lots and lots of pitching changes this weekend.
Brach (23 pitches) and Hart (four pitches) both pitched last night. Then again, with a 12-man bullpen, availability isn’t much of a problem. Head on over to our Bullpen Workload page for the status of Joe Girardi’s relief crew.