The Yankees have played 11 of the 14 other AL teams so far this season, and this week they’ll make it 12 of 14 when they face the Indians for the first time. (They still have yet to play the Tigers and Rangers.) The Bombers are in Cleveland and will open a four-game set against the Tribe later tonight.
What Have They Done Lately?
The Indians took two of three from the Royals over the weekend and have won four of their last five games overall. They lost eight of eleven before that. Cleveland comes into the series sitting in third place in the AL Central with a 43-44 record and a -13 run differential. They’re six games back in the division but only 4.5 back of the second wildcard spot. The Indians and Yankees are separated by one game in the wildcard standings, so this series is not insignificant.
At 4.41 runs per game with a team 104 wRC+, the Tribe is one of the better offensive teams in the game this year. They won’t have OF Michael Bourn (97 wRC+) this series after placing him on the 15-day DL with a hamstring injury just yesterday. OF Nyjer Morgan (knee) and DH Jason Giambi (knee) are also hurt and won’t play this series. Kinda bummed we won’t get to see Big G.
Manager Terry Francona’s lineup is built around deserving All-Star OF Michael Brantley (155 wRC+), who has finally broken out this season. They acquired him from the Brewers in the CC Sabathia trade back in the day, just in case you needed a reminder that it often takes years for a young player to find his way in MLB. C/IF Carlos Santana (118 wRC+) got off to a brutal start but has been much better of late. 3B Lonnie Chisenhall (166 wRC+) if starting to live up his potential in a mostly platoon role, and C Yan Gomes (110 wRC+) is the reason Santana moves all around the field.
Former Yankee OF Nick Swisher (74 wRC+) is having an awful year and the double play combo of 2B Jason Kipnis (99 wRC+) and SS Asdrubal Cabrera (98 wRC+) has been just average. IF Mike Aviles (80 wRC+) and UTIL Ryan Raburn (46 wRC+) haven’t been anything special in reserve roles. OF David Murphy (96 wRC+) does his best work against righties. C George Kottaras (197 wRC+ in very limited time) is effectively the third catcher and OF Tyler Holt was called up to replace Bourn. He went 0-for-1 in his MLB debut yesterday.
Monday: RHP Shane Greene (No vs. CLE) vs. RHP Justin Masterson (vs. NYY)
The 29-year-old Masterson is going to be a free agent after the season and so far things are not going well this year. He has a 5.16 ERA (3.97 FIP) in 18 starts and 96 innings, so he’s still taking the ball every fifth day, but his walk rate (4.97 BB/9 and 12.1 BB%) has ballooned to a career high by quite a margin. Masterson is still missing bats (8.63 K/9 and 21.0 K%) and using his sinker to keep the ball on the ground (59.3%) and in the park (0.56 HR/9 and 10.3 HR/FB%), but hitters are reaching base against him more than ever. As usual, lefties (.395 wOBA) have hit him much harder than righties (.303 wOBA). Masterson’s velocity drop is scary — he went from averaging 93.1 mph with his four-seamer and 91.1 mph with his sinker last season to 90.6 and 88.7 this year, respectively. Yikes. Losing two and a half miles an hour off your fastball in an offseason usually means something is physically wrong. A low-80s slider is Masterson’s primary secondary pitch, though he will throw a few mid-80s changeups per start.
Tuesday: RHP Masahiro Tanaka (No vs. CLE) vs. RHP Trevor Bauer (vs. NYY)
Bauer, 23, appears to have gotten his career back on track after some tinkering, though his 4.42 ERA (4.43 FIP) in ten starts and 59 innings this season isn’t anything to get excited about. He misses bats (8.24 K/9 and 21.1 K%) and does a good job not handing out free passes (3.36 BB/9 and 8.6 BB%), but he is an extreme fly ball pitcher (30.2% grounders) and very homer prone (1.37 HR/9 and 11.5 HR/FB%). That is by design too — Bauer has said he likes pitching up in the zone because fly balls are higher percentage outs than ground balls, and he’ll live with the homers as a byproduct. He is definitely unique when it comes to that line of thinking. Anyway, his platoon split is small and he throws his mid-to-upper-90s fastball roughly half the time. Bauer also throws a mid-to-upper-80s cutter, a mid-80s changeup, a low-80s slider, and an upper-70s curveball. He throws all five pitches regularly with the slider and curve being his go-to offspeed pitches.
Wednesday: RHP Brandon McCarthy (vs. CLE) vs. RHP Josh Tomlin (vs. NYY)
The Indians seem to have a lot of homer prone pitchers on the staff this season. Tomlin, 29, has a 4.11 ERA (3.71 FIP) in 70 innings across eleven starts (and one relief appearance) despite a ridiculous 1.41 HR/9 (13.6 HR/FB%). That’s right in line with his 1.37 HR/9 (11.1 HR/FB%) career norm too. Tomlin’s sky high strikeout rate (8.23 K/9 and 22.0 K%) is by far the best of his career. We’re talking about a guy with a career 5.48 K/9 (14.8 K%) here. He has never walked anyone (1.16 BB/9 and 3.1 BB%) and isn’t much of a ground baller (36.2%) either. Unless the improved strikeout rate is real, the only thing Tomlin does well is limit walks. He actually has a reverse split too — lefties have a .270 wOBA against him while righties are at .361. Tomlin uses upper-80s four-seam fastballs and mid-80s cutters to set up his mid-70s curveball and occasional low-80s changeup. Pretty generic repertoire.
Thursday: TBA vs. LHP T.J. House (No vs. NYY)
The Yankees lucked out and will not face All-Star Final Vote candidate Corey Kluber this weekend. He’s been awesome this year and started yesterday. Instead, they will face the 24-year-old House in the series finale. He has a 4.24 ERA (4.62 FIP) in seven starts (and one relief appearance) and 40.1 innings this year thanks mostly to his low walk rate (2.01 BB/9 and 5.2 BB%) and high ground ball rate (61.0 K%). House doesn’t miss many bats (5.58 K/9 and 144 K%) and yes, he is homer prone (1.34 HR/9 and 26.1 HR/FB%). Like I said, everyone on the staff seems to give up the long ball. Righties (.386 wOBA) have hit him a lot harder than lefties (.323 wOBA), though that’s probably a sample size thing. House is a true four-pitch pitcher, using low-90s four and two-seamers to complement low-80s sliders and changeups. He throws all four pitches at least 16% of the time.
The Yankees’ starter for this game depends on whether Chase Whitley is needed out of the bullpen at some point in the next few days. If he is, David Phelps will probably get the ball on Thursday instead of getting an extra day of rest following the McCarthy trade. Heck, it might be Phelps anyway even if Whitely isn’t needed in relief because Greene could pitch well enough tonight to earn another start. The schedule allows them to avoid giving Whitley a start this week.
Francona is already on his third closer this season. RHP John Axford (4.60 FIP) started the year in the ninth inning, melted down, then RHP Bryan Shaw (3.14 FIP) got a chance. When he had some hiccups, the job went to RHP Cody Allen (2.92 FIP), who has run with it. Allen has pitched each of the last two days, though he only threw four pitches yesterday, so he should be available tonight. Otherwise the rest of the bullpen is fresh.
Axford and Shaw still see some setup work while LHP Marc Rzepczynski (3.51 FIP) faces the tough lefties. RHP Scott Atchison (3.16 FIP), RHP Vinnie Pestano (2.51 FIP in limited time), and LHP Kyle Crockett (4.43 FIP in limited time) handle the middle innings and RHP Carlos Carrasco (3.23 FIP) is the team’s swingman. Yes, the Indians are currently carrying eight relievers and only three bench players. The Yankees’ bullpen is pretty overworked, so check up on their status with our Bullpen Workload page. Once you’ve done that, head over to Wahoo’s on First for everything you need to know about the Indians.
When the Yankees acquired Brandon McCarthy from the Diamondbacks yesterday, they threw their rotation temporarily out of whack. Nuno and McCarthy were not scheduled to start on the same day — Nuno was supposed to start tonight’s series opener against the Indians while McCarthy lines up start tomorrow on normal rest — so the club has to dig up a spot starter. Not a huge deal, just something they have to deal with. (McCarthy will get an extra day of rest and make his Yankees debut on Wednesday, partly so Masahiro Tanaka can start as scheduled Tuesday and make two starts before the All-Star break.)
That spot start will go to right-hander Shane Greene, the Yankees announced. He will be on normal rest after last pitching for Triple-A Scranton on Wednesday. I assume Jim Miller will be dropped from the roster to clear a spot rather than Bruce Billings simply because Billings is stretched out and can go 100+ pitches if necessary. The bullpen is pretty taxed and keeping the extra long man around sure seems like a good idea.
Greene made his MLB debut earlier this season and it was a disaster — five batters faced, three walks, three unearned runs, one out — though that came after a few weeks of being jerked between the show and Triple-A. That appearance came on April 24th and up to that point he had thrown only thrown 2.2 innings and 52 pitches during the regular season. Add in the usual MLB debut jitters and it’s easy to understand why he was wild.
That will not be the case tonight, at least hopefully not. Greene has been making a regular turn in the RailRiders rotation for weeks now, so he is fully stretched out and able to go through his usual routine. No irregular pitching schedule, no sitting in the bullpen for weeks on end, nothing like that. Greene’s overall numbers in Triple-A are not all that good (4.61 ERA and 3.39 FIP) but he has been much better of late, allowing six earned runs (1.93 ERA) with a 23/10 K/BB in 28 innings across his last five starts.
If Greene can come up and give the Yankees the bare minimum quality start (three runs, six innings), I’ll be thrilled. I’m sure the team would be as well, considering how things have been going for most of the rotation. Six innings from someone other than Tanaka feels like a minor miracle these days. The rotation after Greene is a little unsettled at the moment. Tanaka will start Tuesday and McCarthy on Wednesday, but Thursday’s starter is officially listed as TBA. That’s Chase Whitley‘s spot.
“Right now [Whitley will] be in the bullpen until we get this ironed out,” said Joe Girardi to Chad Jennings following yesterday’s game. “If we don’t need him out of the bullpen, he could start again for us. A lot of this depends on tomorrow … Every opportunity is an opportunity to shine and get more opportunities.”
If Whitley isn’t need out of the bullpen these next few days, he’ll make the start on Thursday. If they do need him, David Phelps would presumably move up and start Thursday on normal rest. Then they’d need a spot starter for Saturday (Hiroki Kuroda goes Friday), which could be Greene again. Point is, the bullpen is such a mess right now that Whitley could wind up pitching in relief at some point soon. I’m guessing that’s something that wouldn’t happen or even be considered if he hadn’t gotten destroyed in his last three starts. If he was still pitching like he was a few weeks ago, he’d remain in the rotation no questions asked.
So now, even with McCarthy theoretically providing some stability in place of Nuno, the Yankees still have one questionable rotation spot in Whitley. The All-Star break is coming next week and that will give the team a much-needed chance to catch its collective breath and reset the staff, but beyond that the job should be considered up for grabs. If Greene pitches well tonight, he could very well assume that rotation spot with Whitley, the career reliever, remaining in the bullpen. Girardi said it himself: “every opportunity is an opportunity to shine and get more opportunities.”
The benefit to keeping Greene in the rotation is potentially two-fold. One, it would improve the rotation compared to what Whitley has given them the last three times out. That’s the only way Greene would remain in the rotation anyway, if he pitches well enough to get another chance. Two, Whitley has been a reliever his entire life, so it’s a familiar role for him, plus now he’s stretched out. He could step in and serve as another two or three-inning guy for the middle innings. That would be a huge improvement over the Miller/Jose Ramirez/Matt Daley revolving door we’ve seen lately.
The Yankees have taken some steps to shake up their roster over the last week or so, specifically replacing Yangervis Solarte, Alfonso Soriano, Ramirez, and Nuno with McCarthy, Miller, Billings, and Zelous Wheeler. The Miller and Billings moves are only temporary, plus the team will need to call up another position player to replace Soriano in the coming days, so the shakeup isn’t complete. Outside of a handful of spots at the top of the rotation and in the back of the bullpen, the current pitching staff is full of opportunity. If you pitch well, you’ll get a chance to remain with the team and play a role. Whitley has done it already and now it’s Greene turn to try to carve out a niche for himself.
Record Last Week: 3-4 (30 RS, 30 RA)
Season Record: 44-43 (353 RS, 385 RA, 40-47 pythag. record)
Opponents This Week: @ Indians (four games, Mon. to Thurs.), @ Orioles (three games, Fri. to Sun.)
Top stories from last week:
- The week started with three games against the Rays, who took the series opener in extra innings. Tampa won again the next day thanks to David Price, then they finished off the sweep and handed New York their fifth straight loss on Wednesday.
- The Yankees headed to Minnesota for four games against the Twins next. They took the series opener behind Masahiro Tanaka before winning the second game despite Chase Whitley‘s poor start. The Twins took the third game in extra innings thanks to a walk-off error, but the Bombers rebounded to win the fourth game of the series yesterday.
- Injury Updates: CC Sabathia (knee) suffered a setback and may need microfracture surgery, which would put his career in jeopardy. Carlos Beltran (forearm) is dealing with some lingering stiffness from his throwing program. Mark Teixeira (knee) had some fluid drained and has returned to the lineup.
- The Yankees acquired Brandon McCarthy and cash from the Diamondbacks for Vidal Nuno. They also designated Alfonso Soriano and Dean Anna for assignment. Anna was claimed off waivers by the Pirates. Jose Ramirez, Yangervis Solarte, and were all sent down while Jim Miller, Bruce Billings, and Zelous Wheeler were all called up.
- Before landing McCarthy, the Yankees exchanged proposals with the Cubs for Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel. Both righties were traded to the Athletics. The Yankees are not strongly pursuing Chase Headley at this point, and they offered to eat $4.5M of Ichiro Suzuki‘s salary in a trade with the Astros before the season.
- The Yankees spent over $26M on international prospects between bonuses and penalties when the signing period opened on Wednesday.
- Derek Jeter, Tanaka, and Dellin Betances are all heading to the All-Star Game next week. Jeter was voting in as the starting shortstop.
- Alfredo Aceves was suspended 50 games for a second positive test for a drug of abuse.
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 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?
Given the team's current roster construction, farm system, management, etc., how confident are you in the Yankees' overall future?
Triple-A Scranton (13-9 loss to Charlotte) they managed to hit five homers and lose
- RF Jose Pirela: 1-5, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 K, 1 E (fielding)
- 2B Rob Refsnyder: 1-4, 1 R, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 3 K — third homer in his last ten games
- 3B Yangervis Solarte: 3-5, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 3B, 1 RBI, 1 K — mashin’
- LF Adonis Garcia: 1-4, 2 R, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 BB
- DH Kyle Roller: 2-4, 1 R, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 2 K
- 1B Scott Sizemore: 0-2, 2 K — not sure why he was pulled from the game, though with all the recent roster moves, it wouldn’t be surprising if it was a call-up
- PH-1B Corban Joseph: 2-3, 2 R, 1 HR, 1 RBI
- C Austin Romine: 3-5, 1 R, 2 2B, 1 HR, 2 RBI — everyone once in a while he shows of flash of why he was once a highly touted prospect
- LHP Jeremy Bleich: 2 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 3 BB, 1 K, 1/3 GB/FB — 29 of 54 pitches were strikes (54%)
- RHP Danny Burawa: 0.1 IP, 6 H, 6 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 0 K, 1/0 GB/FB — 13 of 24 pitches were strikes (54%) … yikes, not what they needed with a short bullpen following the Jim Miller and Bruce Billings call-ups
- RHP Jose Ramirez: 0.2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 2 K — eight of 13 pitches were strikes
- LHP Taylor Dugas: 1.1 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 0 K, 1/1 GB/FB — 11 of 16 pitches were strikes (69%) … yeah, the bullpen was so short they had to use a position player to pitch
- RHP Antoan Richardson: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 0 K, 0/3 GB/FB — only six of 17 pitches were strikes (35%0 … yeah, the bullpen was so short they had to use TWO position players to pitch
The All-Star break can not come soon enough for the bullpen. The Yankees jumped out to an early 9-0 lead against the Twins on Sunday afternoon, but Minnesota slowly chipped away, and before you knew it, the tying run was on base. Thankfully, New York still managed to walk away with a 9-7 win, taking three of four in Target Field. Let’s recap the nail-biter:
- Nope-lasco: The Yankees destroyed Ricky Nolasco. He faced 13 batters, put eight on base, and allowed six runs in two innings of work. One of the outs was a great jumping catch by Sam Fuld at the wall, another was an out at the plate when Mark Teixeira ran through a stop sign. The big blow was Jacoby Ellsbury‘s three-run homer in the second inning. Nolasco was fooling no one. They were all over him.
- Hiroki Why: The lead swelled to 9-0 in the third inning, but Hiroki Kuroda gave four runs back (two on a Chris Colabello homer) in the bottom half of the inning to make the came uncomfortably close-ish. He did not allow any more runs, he failed to complete six full innings of work after being staked to a nine-run lead. That really sucks, especially with the bullpen running on fumes. Kuroda allowed the four runs on seven hits and two walks in 5.2 innings. Yuck.
- Chipped Away: The Twins managed to score seven unanswered runs between the fourth and ninth innings. Adam Warren allowed a run (infield single, single, ground out) in 1.1 innings of work, Jim Miller allowed a run (solo homer) in an inning of work, and David Robertson (single, single single) allowed a run in his inning of work. The Twins had men on the corners and the go-ahead run at the plate when Robertson got Kurt Suzuki to ground out for the final out. Like I said before, these relievers need the All-Star break in the worst way.
- Leftovers: Derek Jeter went 3-for-4 and recorded his 3,400th career hit … every starter reached base at least once except Carlos Beltran and they all had a hit except Beltran and Brett Gardner (two walks) … Jeter, Ellsbury (two), Teixeira (two), Ichiro Suzuki (three), and Kelly Johnson (two) all had multiple hits … Ichiro had the team’s only strikeout (Twins!) and Gardner had the only walks, so make it nine times in the last ten games that they’ve been held to two walks or less … despite allowing nine runs and 16 base-runners, four Twins pitchers combined to throw only 138 pitches. Four Yankees pitchers threw 166.
MLB.com has the box score and video highlights, FanGraphs some additional stats, and ESPN the updated standings. The Orioles beat the Red Sox, so the Yankees are still 3.5 games back of both the AL East lead and the second wildcard spot. The Bombers are now off to Cleveland for a four-game series with the Indians. Shane Greene will get the call to make a spot start necessitated by the Brandon McCarthy/Vidal Nuno trade in the series opener on Monday. Justin Masterson will be on the bump for Cleveland.
As expected, Derek Jeter has been voted in as the starting shortstop for the AL All-Star team by the fans. His double play partner will be Robinson Cano. Masahiro Tanaka and Dellin Betances will also represent the Yankees at the Midsummer Classic. The full All-Star Game rosters are right here.
Jeter will be playing in his 14th All-Star Game and starting at short for the ninth time. His performance this year doesn’t really warrant the selection, but he’s a star of the first order and fans want to see him in the All-Star Game in his final season. That’s what the All-Star Game is all about in my opinion. Tanaka and Betances are obviously very deserving of their selections. They will be the first Yankees rookie pitchers to make the game since Spec Shea in 1947. Congrats to all three guys. · (35) ·
The Yankees acquired Brandon McCarthy from the Diamondbacks earlier today, and he will make his first start with the team on Wednesday. McCarthy, in case you’re unfamiliar with him, reinvented himself as a pitcher in 2010 by embracing sabermetrics and PitchFX analysis. He focused on missing bats, limiting walks, and trying to keep the ball on the ground to avoid homers. I recommend this Eno Sarris post and this ESPN The Magazine piece on his career turnaround. “I didn’t want to suck at baseball anymore,” he said. Check the links out. Pretty interesting stuff.
Here is your open thread for the rest of the night. The ESPN Sunday Night Game is the Rays and Tigers (Price vs. Porcello), but before that the All-Star Game rosters will be announced at 7pm ET on ESPN. Yes, ESPN. Not MLB Network. My guess: Derek Jeter (starter at shortstop) and Masahiro Tanaka make it, Dellin Betances and every other Yankee do not. Remember, making it and deserving to make it are two separate things. Talk about any of that stuff and anything else right here.
The Yankees took the first two games of this four-game weekend series in Target Field before dropping yesterday’s game on a walk-off error. I can’t even get mad about that game. You could see the loss coming a mile away. The Bombers have a chance to take three of four and win the series against the Twins this afternoon though, and that’s the most important thing. I’ll take three wins out of every four games from now until the end of time. Here is the Twins lineup and here is the Yankees lineup:
- LF Brett Gardner
- SS Derek Jeter
- CF Jacoby Ellsbury
- 1B Mark Teixeira
- C Brian McCann — his sore foot made it through batting practice fine
- DH Carlos Beltran
- 2B Brian Roberts
- RF Ichiro Suzuki
- 3B Kelly Johnson
RHP Hiroki Kuroda
The weather report makes it sound like an uncomfortable day in Minneapolis — temperatures around 90 with a bunch of humidity. There is also some rain in the forecast later this afternoon. Scattered thunderstorms, hopefully nothing that delays the game. First pitch is scheduled for 2:10pm ET and you can watch on YES locally and TBS nationally. Enjoy the game.
Roster Moves: In case you missed it earlier, the Yankees designated Alfonso Soriano for assignment and called up Bruce Billings to help the overworked bullpen. They also traded Vidal Nuno to the Diamondbacks for Brandon McCarthy (and cash!).
The Yankees have designated Alfonso Soriano for assignment, the team announced. The move clears both a 25-man and 40-man roster spot for Bruce Billings, who has been called up from Triple-A Scranton to help the overworked bullpen.
Soriano, 38, hit a miserable .221/.244/.367 (61 wRC+) with six homers in 238 plate appearances this season. He started the year as the everyday DH and, thanks in part to Carlos Beltran‘s elbow injury, wound up as a platoon right fielder losing playing time to Ichiro Suzuki. Soriano went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts and some awful defensive plays yesterday, which might have been the final straw.
The Yankees are paying $5M of Soriano’s $18M salary this year — the Cubs are paying the other $13M — and they still owe him that. They now have ten days to trade him, release him, or place him on waivers. It’s inevitable he will clear waivers and be released with that salary. Soriano was a monster after being re-acquired last year, hitting .256/.325/.525 (130 wRC+) with 17 homers in 58 games. Father Time remains undefeated, unfortunately.
Earlier this season Soriano said he will consider retirement if he has a poor year and I have to think this qualifies. Another team can sign him for the pro-rated portion of the league minimum once he is released, so he might get another chance (Red Sox?) to show he still has something left in the tank. Soriano was as fun a player to watch as anyone when he was locked in, but the time had come to move on. He wasn’t helping at all this year.
Once the pitching staff gets settled in following the Brandon McCarthy trade, the Yankees figure to call up another position player to replace Soriano. Zoilo Almonte and Yangervis Solarte are on the 40-man roster, but Jose Pirela is an interesting non-40 man option. He has crushed Triple-A pitching this year (124 wRC+) and started playing right field about a week ago. That’s probably not a coincidence. We’ll see.
The Yankees have added some much-needed rotation help, and it came very cheap. The team announced they have acquired right-hander Brandon McCarthy from the Diamondbacks in exchange for lefty Vidal Nuno. Buster Olney says Arizona will pay half of the $4.1M owed to McCarthy through the end of the season. The Yankees will pay the $1M assignment bonus in his contract.
Arizona comes into today with baseball’s worst record at 36-53, and GM Kevin Towers has made it clear in recent days that they will look to deal veterans for young players in the coming weeks. The D’Backs traded lefty reliever Joe Thatcher and outfielder Tony Campana to the Angels just yesterday. I’d expect them to make more moves before the trade deadline. McCarthy is due to become a free agent after the season, so this is a pure rental for the Yankees. It seems like a salary dump for the D’Backs more than anything.
“Quality stuff. Pounds the strike zone. Lots of ground balls, which helps at our Stadium,” said Brian Cashman to Joel Sherman when asked about the deal. “[David] Huff was better than we had and McCarthy was better than what we had, so we improve when we can.”
McCarthy, who turns 31 tomorrow, has a 5.01 ERA and 3.79 FIP in 18 starts and 109.1 innings this year. Homeruns have been a big problem (1.23 HR/9 and 20.0 HR/FB%) and that doesn’t figure to change in Yankee Stadium, but his strikeout (7.63 K/9 and 20.0 K%), walk (1.64 BB/9 and 4.3 BB%) and ground ball (55.3%) rates are all solid. Clearly the Yankees are hoping his .345 BABIP and 66.7% strand rate return to his career norms (.296 and 70.5%, respectively) and he pitches closer to his FIP than ERA the rest of the season.
I wrote about McCarthy as a possible trade target just the other day. He is going to give up some homers, that’s inevitable, but the D’Backs are one the few clubs with a worse team defense (.669 defensive efficiency) than the Yankees (.682), so New York’s porous infield and all their shifts might actually be an upgrade for him. Either way, Nuno set the bar rather low (5.42 ERA and 5.15 FIP). All McCarthy has to do is chew up innings every fifth day to be an upgrade, and that’s not necessarily a guarantee given his worrisome injury history. Here’s a wrote I few days ago:
The biggest concern with McCarthy, by far, is his injury history. He has stayed healthy this season but has otherwise visited the disabled list with a shoulder problem at least once every year from 2007-13. Only once since 2006 has McCarthy thrown more 135 innings in a season (180.2 in in 2011) and this year he is already at 104 innings. Maybe he’ll stay healthy, but, given his history, you have to think a disabled list stint is coming at some point.
Nuno, 26, opened the season as the long man and was initially pushed into the rotation by Ivan Nova‘s elbow injury in April. He remained a starter as CC Sabathia (knee) and Michael Pineda (shoulder) went down with their injuries. The Yankees plucked Nuno out of an independent league a few years ago, got about a hundred replacement level innings out of him, then turned him into a half-season of McCarthy. Not bad at all.
McCarthy last started on Thursday and, according to Dan Barbarisi, he told reporters in Arizona he will start for the Yankees on Wednesday. In that case the Yankees will need someone to make Nuno’s scheduled start tomorrow. Bruce Billings, who is currently in the clubhouse after being scratched from last night’s start with Triple-A Scranton, will not make that start according to Joe Girardi. He’s there to help the bullpen. Shane Greene is scheduled to start for Triple-A tomorrow and seems like the obvious choice to make the spot start. Masahiro Tanaka can then start on Tuesday on normal rest.
I think it’s important to note that while McCarthy figures to be an upgrade over Nuno, perhaps a substantial one, this move alone won’t put the Yankees over the top. It can’t be their only move if they truly want to contend. They need help at third base and in right field, plus another reliever to ease the burden on Dellin Betances and Adam Warren would help as well. Another starter shouldn’t be off the table either. Sabathia and Pineda aren’t coming back any time soon and Chase Whitley has hit the wall and hard. The Yankees got better today, but hopefully the McCarthy trade is not the only move they make.