Game 70: Big Mike and the Phillies

BIG MIKE IS HERE

The Yankees open a three-game series with the punchless Phillies this evening — Philadelphia has baseball’s worst offense in terms of runs per game (3.10) and wRC+ (75) — and they’re sending Michael Pineda to the mound. Last time out Big Mike took a no-hitter into the seventh inning against the Marlins. There is no such thing as a guaranteed win in baseball, but man, I’d be lying if I said I didn’t feel good going into this game.

Anyway, the Yankees got blown out by the Tigers on Sunday and that sucked. They had won four straight before that though, and this series with the Phillies is a great opportunity to shake off the blowout and pile up some wins. The Yankees have to take care of business this series. The Phillies are terrible and they need to beat teams like this to remain in the hunt in the AL East. The division is too close to give away series to bad teams. Here is Philadelphia’s lineup and here is New York’s lineup:

  1. CF Brett Gardner
  2. 3B Chase Headley
  3. DH Alex Rodriguez
  4. C Brian McCann
  5. RF Carlos Beltran
  6. 1B Garrett Jones
  7. SS Didi Gregorius
  8. LF Chris Young
  9. 2B Stephen Drew
    RHP Michael Pineda

It’s a gorgeous day in New York. Just perfect for baseball. Tonight’s game will begin at 7:05pm ET and you can watch live on WPIX. Enjoy.

Injury Update: Mark Teixeira is out of the lineup with a stiff neck. It’s been bothering him on and off for a week or so now. Teixeira went for an MRI today and Joe Girardi said he expects him to be back in the lineup in a day or two … Andrew Miller (forearm) will play catch on Wednesday.

Roster Update: In case you missed it earlier, Ivan Nova will start Wednesday and the Yankees will temporarily shift to a six-man rotation … as expected, both Nick Rumbelow and Diego Moreno were called up from Triple-A Scranton. Jose DePaula and Danny Burawa were sent down yesterday.

All-Star Update: MLB released the latest AL All-Star Game voting update today, and the good news is it is no longer Mike Trout and the Royals. Now it’s Mike Trout, Miguel Cabrera, and the Royals. No Yankees are remotely close to the top spot for their positions. No non-Royals other than Trout and Cabrera are, basically.

Nova to make season debut Wednesday, Yankees going to six-man rotation for time being

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

It’s official: Ivan Nova will return to the rotation and start Wednesday’s series finale against the Phillies. Joe Girardi told reporters the news this afternoon. Adam Warren, who is also lined up to start Wednesday, will start Thursday instead. Everyone else is getting pushed back a day and the Yankees will use a six-man rotation for the time being. Girardi said he doesn’t anticipate that lasting beyond next week, however.

Nova, 28, had Tommy John surgery last April and the team took a conservative approach with his rehab, partly because so many other pitchers around the league have needed second Tommy John surgeries the last year or two. Some, including Dr. James Andrews, have speculated the recent spike in second elbow reconstructions stems from an overly aggressive rehab following the first Tommy John surgery.

After making a bunch of Extended Spring Training starts, Nova pitched to a 4.02 ERA in three official minor league rehab starts, one with High-A Tampa and two with Triple-A Scranton. Reports said he looked good even though his last start (five runs in five innings) was rough. Command is the last thing to return following Tommy John surgery and it was never Nova’s strong suit anyway. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t a little nervous about his first few starts back.

The Yankees don’t have an obvious candidate to remove from the rotation. Masahiro Tanaka, Michael Pineda, and Warren have all pitched well, CC Sabathia isn’t going anywhere because of his contract, and Nathan Eovaldi will stay in the rotation for developmental reasons. Heck, who’s to say Nova isn’t the team’s sixth best starter right now?  These things have a way of working themselves out. For now, a six-man rotation it is.

6/22 to 6/24 Series Preview: Philadelphia Phillies

Philly Phanatic1

Hey, it’s a rematch of the 2009 World Series! Good times. (We’ll conveniently ignore the fact that last week’s Marlins series was a rematch of the 2003 World Series.) The Phillies are visiting the Bronx for a three-game series this week. This is not their first visit to Yankee Stadium since the ’09 Fall Classic — the Yankees and Phillies played three games in the Bronx back in 2010 as well.

What Have The Phillies Done Lately?

The Phillies are very bad. Very very bad. They beat the Cardinals yesterday but lost two of three in the series and have dropped eleven of their last 13 games overall. Philadelphia is 24-47 with a -122 run differential, both the very worst marks in baseball. The AL East is crazy tight and the Phillies are terrible. The Yankees have to take care of business this series.

Offense & Defense

With an average of 3.10 runs per game and a team 75 wRC+, the Phillies have the worst offense in baseball. They’re actually tied with the White Sox for the worst wRC+ but are three-tenths of a run below the ChiSox and Mariners for the worst runs per game average in MLB. This team has major offensive problems and their position players are perfectly healthy too. No one’s on the DL or even day-to-day.

Uh, Chase? (Presswire)
Uh, Chase? (Presswire)

The two biggest names in Philadelphia’s lineup are 2B Chase Utley (45 wRC+) and 1B Ryan Howard (101 wRC+). Utley’s been a disaster, one of the worst players in baseball, but Howard has been a useful platoon piece. Stalwart C Carlos Ruiz (56 wRC+) has been really bad too. I mean, the whole team has been bad. SS Freddy Galvis (70 wRC+), OF Jeff Francoeur (91 wRC+), OF Ben Revere (90 wRC+), OF Cody Asche (64 wRC+) … all of ’em. Manager Ryne Sandberg’s best regular hitter right now is 3B Maikel Franco (136 wRC+), who was called up a few weeks ago.

OF Domonic Brown (63 wRC+ in very limited time) was called up not too long ago and Rule 5 Draft pick OF Odubel Herrera (77 wRC+) is really fast and can play defense, but that’s about it. I guess when someone like him gets popped in the Rule 5 Draft it makes it even easier to understand why the Yankees protected Mason Williams last offseason despite his dreadful 2013-14 efforts. C Cameron Rupp (78 wRC+), IF Andres Blanco (126 wRC+ in limited time), and IF Cesar Hernandez (81 wRC+) fill out the bench.

The Phillies are below-average defensively but not as bad as they are offensively. Utley is still an okay defender and Galvis and Herrera are fine at short and center, respectively, but that’s about it. Franco and Howard aren’t good on the corners, Brown is a disaster in the outfield and Asche started the season as a third baseman before moving to the outfield. Revere is rangy but has no arm at all. Francoeur has limited range but a great arm. Ruiz rates as one of the worst catchers in baseball at throwing out attempted base-stealers and framing pitches.

Pitching Matchups

Monday (7pm ET): RHP Michael Pineda (vs. PHI) vs. RHP Kevin Correia (vs. NYY)
Because the offense isn’t bad enough, the Phillies are also scraping the bottom of the pitching barrel. The 34-year-old Correia signed with the Phillies earlier this month and has allowed six runs in 10.2 innings in two starts since. He’s struck out eight and walked two but has historically missed no bats at all. Correia’s strikeout rate from 2012-14 was 12.2%. Eek. He’s got a cutter, a two-seamer, and a four-seamer, all of which sit in the upper-80s, and he throws them about 35% of time combined. A mid-80s slider is Correia’s go-to pitch. He throws it so much it makes me think PitchFX is incorrectly classifying some cutters as sliders. Either way, he’ll also throw mid-80s changeups and mid-70s curveballs.

Tuesday (7pm ET): LHP CC Sabathia (vs. NYY) vs. RHP Sean O’Sullivan (vs. PHI)
Correia’s bad, but wait, it gets worse! The 27-year-old O’Sullivan has bounced around the last few years and has a 4.79 ERA (5.62 FIP) in ten starts and 56.1 innings this year. Good walk rate (6.8%)! But a bad strikeout rate (10.8%), a bad home run rate (1.60 HR/9), and an okay ground ball rate (45.4%). Lefties (.426 wOBA) have also hit him a lot harder than righties (.306 wOBA). O’Sullivan has an upper-80s four-seamer and an upper-80s sinker, which he uses to set up his upper-70s slider, mostly. He’ll also throw a handful of low-80s changeups and low-70s curveballs per start. This is what replacement level looks like. O’Sullivan and Correia.

Hamels. (Presswire)
Hamels. (Presswire)

Wednesday (1pm ET): TBA vs. LHP Cole Hamels (vs. NYY)
The Yankees almost lucked out and missed Hamels this week, but alas. He’s been dealing with a very minor hamstring problem and was supposed to start Saturday before having his start pushed back, so Wednesday it is. Hamels, 31, had a 2.96 ERA (3.55 FIP) in 14 starts and 94.1 innings this year with a great strikeout rate (26.6%) and average-ish walk (8.0%), grounder (46.9%), and homer (1.05 HR/9) rates. This is his worst season in about five years, believe it or not. Righties (.297 wOBA) have actually had much more success against Hamels than lefties (.207 wOBA) in 2015, which is unusual. He’s historically had no platoon split at all. Hamels is a true four-pitch pitcher, using his low-to-mid-90s four-seamer, upper-80s cutter, mid-80s changeup, and upper-70s curveball regularly. His changeup is world class. Arguably the best in baseball. He’ll use it against righties and lefties.

Meanwhile, the Yankees have Wednesday’s starter listed as TBA. That is Adam Warren‘s spot but Ivan Nova also lines up to pitch that day, should the team go in that direction. Joe Girardi told reporters over the weekend he anticipates Nova making his next appearance in the big leagues and not in Triple-A, for what it’s worth. It’ll be either Warren or Nova. That much is clear.

Bullpen Status
The Phillies have a really weak bullpen overall (3.69 ERA and 4.06 FIP) but Sandberg has a dynamite setup man/closer combination in RHP Ken Giles (2.50 FIP) and RHP Jonathan Papelbon (2.81 FIP). Giles really struggled back in April but has since righted the ship, sorta like Dellin Betances. Those two both pitched yesterday, as did RHP Luis Garcia (4.49 FIP).

LHP Jake Diekman (4.13 FIP) and LHP Elvis Araujo (2.28 FIP) are the two lefties and RHP Justin De Fratus (4.47 FIP) and RHP Jeanmar Gomez (2.78 FIP) are the other two righties. Gomez is the long man. The Phillies are really tough to beat if they have a lead after seven innings because of Giles and Papelbon. Before that, well, they stink. Having the worst record in baseball is no fluke. Head over to our Bullpen Workload page for an update on Joe Girardi’s bullpen, then head over to Phillies Nation and The Good Phight for the latest on the Phillies.

(GIF via Reddit)

Yankeemetrics: Hello, dingers (June 19-21)

"I'm not a home run hitter." Really? (AP/Frank Franklin II)
“I’m not a home run hitter.” Really? (AP/Frank Franklin II)

For everything you need to know about A-Rod’s 3,000th hit, be sure to check out my AROD3K By The Numbers post from the weekend.

Thanks Brett and Adam. Yours truly, Al From Miami
Friday night belonged to A-Rod and his dramatic 3,000th hit, but it was Brett Gardner and Adam Warren who made sure that the historic milestone would be celebrated along with a Yankees win over the Tigers.

Gardner sparked the Yankees offense from the top of the lineup, going 4-for-5 with three RBI and two runs scored. He’s the first Yankee leadoff batter to drive in at least three runs and have four hits against the Tigers since Steve Sax in 1989.

Adam Warren pitched a career-high eight innings and allowed just two runs to pick up his fifth win of the season. He’s now 3-1 with a 2.21 ERA at home this season and has allowed two runs or fewer in each of those six games. Only three other Yankees in the last 100 seasons have given up no more than two runs in each of their first six home starts of a season: Brandon McCarthy (2014), David Cone (1997) and Red Ruffing (1939).

Blast from the past
Perhaps inspired by the Old Timers’ Day celebration during which the Yankees paid tribute to many of their former players and legends, the current Yankees reminded everyone how they got their Bronx Bombers nickname by crushing the Tigers, 14-3.

The Yankees hit five homers in a game for the third time this season, matching the total number of five-homer games they had in the last two years combined. It was just the second time in the past 100 years they hit five homers against the Tigers at Yankee Stadium, along with a six-homer outburst on May 24, 2005.

Carlos Beltran homered from both sides of the plate for the 12th time in his career, one behind the record set by teammate Mark Teixeira and Nick Swisher. The 38-year-old Beltran also was just one day shy of tying Eddie Murray as the oldest player to homer from both sides of plate in a game.

A-Rod also went deep for his 3,001st hit and had a season-high five RBI on the night. It was his 29th career game with five-or-more RBIs, tying Sammy Sosa for the third-most all-time. The only players with more are Lou Gehrig (41) and Manny Ramirez (34).

Tigers’ revenge
The Yankees got a taste of their own medicine on Sunday afternoon, as the Tigers blasted five home runs en route to a 12-4 beating of the home team. It was the first time ever that the Tigers hit five home runs at Yankee Stadium.

J.D. Martinez delivered three of those longballs for Detroit, becoming the first Tigers player to hit three homers against the Yankees since Charlie Maxwell in 1959. Martinez hit a solo homer, two-run homer and three-run homer, giving him six RBIs in the game.

The last player with at least six RBIs and three home runs against the Yankees was Ken Griffey Jr. on May 24, 1996 in Seattle. Before Martinez, the last visiting player to do that in the Bronx was a fella named Mr. Bo Jackson on July 17, 1990.

In one of the worst outings of his career, Masahiro Tanaka tied career-highs in hits (10) and runs allowed (7) as his ERA ballooned from 2.49 to 3.17. His losing effort ended an incredible run by the team’s rotation over the past three weeks at Yankee Stadium. Prior to Tanaka’s disaster against the Tigers, Yankee starters had been 10-0 with a 2.29 ERA in their previous 12 games in the Bronx.

Stephen Drew‘s bizarre season continued as he hit his 10th and 11th homers of the season, raising his batting average all the way up to .188. Looking ahead … the lowest batting average for any Yankee with more than 10 homers in a season is .192, by Steve Balboni in 1990.

Brian McCann hit his 10th homer of the season, reaching that milestone for the 10th time in 10 seasons played. He is now the only catcher in baseball history with at least 10 homers in each of his first 10 major-league seasons. That deserves a Big Bravo, Brian.

Fan Confidence Poll: June 22nd, 2015

Record Last Week: 4-3 (39 RS, 36 RA)
Season Record: 38-31 (326 RS, 300 RA, 37-32 pythag. record)
Opponents This Week: vs. Phillies (three games, Mon. to Weds.), @ Astros (four games, Thurs. 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 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?

DotF: Judge promoted, Severino dominates, Mateo steals 50th base on Sunday

Somewhat breaking news: OF Aaron Judge is being promoted to Triple-A Scranton, according to Jack Curry. You know this is breaking because Judge played for Double-A Trenton this afternoon. I’m guessing he’ll be with the RailRiders either tomorrow or the next day.

Also, SS Kyle Holder is day-to-day with a minor hamstring injury, according to Robert Pimpsner. Nothing serious, this year’s supplemental first rounder will be back in a few days.

Triple-A Scranton (8-2 win over Lehigh Valley)

  • CF Ben Gamel: 3-5, 2 R, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 E (fielding) — with OF Mason Williams and OF Tyler Austin both on the DL, I wonder if Gamel is the next outfielder in line to be called up
  • LF Jose Pirela: 1-3, 2 R, 1 BB, 1 HBP
  • 2B Rob Refsnyder: 1-5, 1 K
  • RHP Luis Severino: 7.2 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 7 K, 1 HB — 7/9 GB/FB — 75 of 97 pitches were strikes (77%) … 3.67 K/BB this year after 4.70 K/BB last year
  • LHP Tyler Webb: 1.1 IP, zeroes, 1 K, 1/2 GB/FB — eleven of 16 pitches were strikes (69%)

[Read more…]

Father’s Day Open Thread

Happy Father’s Day to all you dads today. A lot of us can’t tell our dads we love them today, so if you have a chance to do it, make sure you do.

Here’s the open thread for the night. The Dodgers and Giants are the ESPN Sunday Night Game (Lincecum vs. Anderson), so talk about that game, this afternoon’s beatdown, or anything else right here.