Game Five: The Day After

Last night's game in picture form. (Presswire)
Last night’s game in picture form. (Presswire)

Last night’s 19-inning marathon gave me a hangover. That game was all sorts of awful. If you want to blame the offense, you can do that. If you want to blame the pitching, you can do that too. Defense? Base-running? Blame worthy as well. If you’re the type that needs to assign blame to everything, last night was the perfect game for you. Lots of options.

Anyway, none of that matters now. It’s a new day and a new game and boy would it be nice to see the Yankees pick up a win on Saturday afternoon. Or even just hold a lead. They’ve had the lead for exactly one half-inning out of the 45.5 innings they’ve played in 2015. As best I can tell, no team has had a lead for less time this year. Even the 0-4 White Sox held a lead for one full inning at one point the other day. Here’s the lineup:

  1. LF Brett Gardner
  2. CF Chris Young
  3. DH Carlos Beltran
  4. 1B Alex Rodriguezyup
  5. 3B Chase Headley
  6. RF Garrett Jones
  7. C John Ryan Murphy
  8. SS Didi Gregorius
  9. 2B Gregorio Petit
    RHP Adam Warren

As expected, the Red Sox activated Joe Kelly (biceps) off the DL so he could make this afternoon’s start. He’ll be on a 90-pitch limit. Knuckleballer Steven Wright was send down to make room on the roster. Here is Boston’s lineup.

It’s a nice clear day in New York but windy as hell. Nearly lost my hat when I went out to get breakfast this morning. This afternoon’s game will begin just after 1pm ET and you can watch on YES locally and Fox Sports 1 nationally. Enjoy.

Roster Move: The Yankees have called up lefty Matt Tracy to bolster their worn out bullpen, the team announced. Tracy was scheduled to start for Triple-A Scranton today, so he’s good for 80+ pitches if needed. I hope they aren’t. Ivan Nova was transferred to the 60-day DL to clear a 40-man roster spot and Chasen Shreve was optioned to Triple-A to clear a 25-man roster spot. Shreve was awesome last night. Unfair game, this baseball.

Three comebacks not enough, Yankees fall 6-5 to Red Sox in 19 stupid innings

Source: FanGraphs

I was planning to write a regular recap for this game, but forget it. Nineteen innings is about seven too many. The Yankees made three (three!) dramatic late game-tying comebacks — Chase Headley homered in the ninth, Mark Teixeira homered in the 16th, Carlos Beltran doubled in the 18th — and got stellar work from their bullpen, yet still lost to 6-5 to the Red Sox

The Yankees shot themselves in the foot with awful base-running, as both Brett Gardner and Headley got picked off first base, and Gardner was thrown out trying to steal second as well. Nathan Eovaldi made his first start in pinstripes and showed good stuff without the results to match, which is basically the story of his career. The bullpen though. Look at this:

Marathon Bullpen

Trash Esmil Rogers all you want. He bit the bullet and threw 81 pitches one day after throwing 34 pitches. Respect. Chasen Shreve was stellar in his 3.1 innings of work and the bullpen in general was great. Three runs in 13.2 innings? What more do you want? The relief crew held up their end of the bargain. I’m sure Shreve will go to Triple-A for a fresh arm tomorrow and Rogers might be headed to the DL for a two-week vacation.

Here are the box score, video highlights, and updated standings. Also make sure you check out our Bullpen Workload page and brand new Announcer Standings page. I’m still not sure why the second one exists. I made it on a whim and maybe it’ll it prove to be useful at some point. Adam Warren and Joe Kelly will be the pitching matchup in the second game of this series less than 12 hours from now.

DotF: Judge starts the season with a homer in Trenton’s blowout win

Just a heads up, the Aaron Judge Watch is now up in the sidebar, underneath the RAB Tickets and YES Network links. He was the overwhelming choice in our poll. Also, Baseball America post lists of the youngest players at each level, with LHP Jacob Lindgren, LHP Miguel Sulbaran, RHP Luis Severino, and 3B Miguel Andujar ranking among the youngest players in their leagues. Bryce Harper is the youngest player on an NL Opening Day roster for the third straight year. El-oh-el.

Triple-A Scranton (6-0 loss to Syracuse)

  • CF Slade Heathcott: 0-4, 1 K
  • LF Ramon Flores: 0-3, 1 BB, 1 K
  • 2B Rob Refsnyder: 0-4, 1 E (fielding) — error led to two runs
  • 1B Kyle Roller: 0-3, 2 K
  • RF Tyler Austin: 1-3, 1 K
  • RHP Jaron Long: 5 IP, 8 H, 6 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 3 K, 7/1 GB/FB — 51 of 83 pitches were strikes (61%) … rough Triple-A debut
  • RHP Diego Moreno: 3 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 6 K, 2/2 GB/FB — 22 of 36 pitches were strikes (61%)
  • RHP Branden Pinder: 1 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K — 14 of 19 pitches were strikes (74%)

[Read more…]

Game Four: The Best Hitter Bats Third

"I got this." (Presswire)
“I got this.” (Presswire)

First, the sad stat: the Yankees are only hitting .191/.305/.348 as a team through the first three games of the season. Now, the sadder stat: the Yankees have a collective 100 OPS+ as a team through the first three games of the season. Pitching has dominated so far this year. Teams are averaging just 3.50 runs per game, down from 4.07 last year, and there have been 13 shutouts in 46 total games. It ain’t only the Yankees, folks.

Earlier this week I said I thought Alex Rodriguez would be “hitting in the middle third of the order by May 1st,” and it turns out I overestimated by three weeks. A-Rod is batting third tonight — Carlos Beltran‘s on the bench — and I’m fairly certain it’s because the Red Sox are starting the lefty Wade Miley. I expect Alex to hit sixth or seventh or whatever next time the Yankees face a righty. For now, it’s just like the good ol’ days with A-Rod hitting third. Memories! Here is Joe Girardi‘s starting nine:

  1. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  2. LF Brett Gardner
  3. DH Alex Rodriguez
  4. 1B Mark Teixeira
  5. C Brian McCann
  6. 3B Chase Headley
  7. RF Chris Young
  8. SS Stephen Drew
  9. 2B Gregorio Petit
    RHP Nathan Eovaldioh by the way, it’s his first start in pinstripes

The Red Sox are in town to start this three-game weekend series. Here is their lineup.

The bitter cold of the last two nights has passed. The temperature will be closer to 60 degrees for first pitch tonight, and while that’s still not ideal baseball weather, it’s better than yesterday and the day before. It was brutal if you were sitting in the stands somewhere. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05pm ET and you can catch tonight’s game on WPIX locally and MLB Network nationally. The Yankees are back on WPIX for the first time since 1998. Now it’s really like the old days. Enjoy the game.

Injury Update: Jose Pirela (concussion) has resumed baseball activities and is taking swings. He’s not ready to return to game action just yet. “Hopefully it’s not too long,” said Girardi. [Chad Jennings]

Sanchez: Cuban infielder Andy Ibanez planning showcases for scouts this month

Ibanez at the 2013 World Baseball Classic. (Koji Watanabe/Getty)
Ibanez at the 2013 World Baseball Classic. (Koji Watanabe/Getty)

According to Jesse Sanchez, free agent Cuban infielder Andy Ibanez is planning to hold showcase events for scouts in Miami later this month. He was cleared to sign by MLB and the Office of Foreign Assets Control back in February.

Ibanez, 21, hit .283/.348/.419 with 60 doubles and 13 home runs in 242 games in the Cuban league from 2011-13 before defecting. He was on Cuba’s roster for the 2013 World Baseball Classic but rode the bench in the deference to their veteran infielders. Here’s a mini-scouting report from Ben Badler:

At 5-foot-11, 183 pounds, Ibanez has a thicker build for a middle infielder but he’s athletic and has good body control. With fringy speed and an average arm at best, Ibanez isn’t flashy, but he has a good internal clock and a high baseball IQ, fitting best at second base. Ibanez’s power is mostly to the gaps, projecting as a doubles hitters rather than a big home run threat, but what’s sold some scouts on him is his bat.

“He’s a strong guy who doesn’t have your prototype, ideal body for a second baseman, but he moves around well for his stature,” said another scout. “And he performs. He’s a good hitter. I liked his swing and the way he manipulated the bat.”

The Yankees have been rumored to have interest in Ibanez and I’m sure they’ll attend his upcoming showcases. They seem to go to all of ’em. Ibanez is no budding star like Yoan Moncada, however. He’s looked at as more of a solid player going forward. A complementary piece, not a centerpiece. Think Adeiny Hechavarria or Jose Iglesias, not Yasiel Puig or Jose Abreu. Then again, who knows. Cuban players have shown a knack for outperforming expectations.

Because of his age and limited experience in Cuba, Ibanez is subject to the international spending restrictions. The Yankees are free to sign him for any amount prior to June 25th, but, after that, they will only be able to offer him $300,000 as a result of the penalties from last July’s international spending spree. The Angels signed the less-heralded Roberto Baldoquin to an $8M bonus back in January, and I’m guessing it’ll take similar if not more money to get Ibanez.

As always, it makes sense for the Yankees to add talent whenever possible, and by all accounts Ibanez has some skills and will be able to help an MLB club in some capacity in the near future. The Yankees don’t have a long-term solution at second base — they might have one in Rob Refsnyder — and middle infield talent is hard to find in general. Of course, the Yankees always seem to stop just short of offering enough to sign a Cuban player. Enough to say we tried but not enough to get him. Until they buck the trend and sign one of these guys, I have no reason to think they’ll actually do it.

4/10 to 4/12 Series Preview: Boston Red Sox


One AL East rival leaves town and another comes in. The Red Sox will be in the Bronx for three games this weekend, including the ESPN Sunday Night Game. At least Saturday’s game won’t be on FOX. It ain’t all bad.

What Have The Red Sox Done Lately?

The Sawx drew the short straw and opened their season with a road interleague matchup against the awful Phillies. Boston took two of three in Philadelphia and outscored them 16-6 in the three games.

Offense & Defense

Like I said, Boston scored 16 runs in three games against the Phillies. Only five teams have scored more runs in the early going of the new season, which means not much, really. I’m not kidding when I say it’s early. The first series of the year isn’t definitive proof of anything. That said, everyone expects the Red Sox to hit this year. Here’s their lineup, their season performance to date, and their ZiPS projections:

2015 Performance 2015 ZiPS Projection
CF Mookie Betts
3-for-13 (.231), 1 HR .266/.336/.408 (109 wRC+)
2B Dustin Pedroia
3-for-12 (.250), 2 HR .278/.340/.392 (104 wRC+)
DH David Ortiz
1-for-7 (.143) .277/.363/.526 (139 wRC+)
LF Hanley Ramirez 4-for-13 (.308), 2 HR .271/.345/.455 (123 wRC+)
3B Pablo Sandoval
2-for-12 (.167) .279/.328/.454 (114 wRC+)
1B Mike Napoli
0-for-5 .241/.353/.441 (123 wRC+)
RF Shane Victorino
2-for-8 (.250), 1 SB .261/.317/.393 (98 wRC+)
C Ryan Hanigan
1-for-8 (.125) .240/.335/.333 (86 wRC+)
SS Xander Bogaerts
4-for-11 (.364) .263/.322/.409 (103 wRC+)

So yeah, everyone expects the Red Sox to hit and hit big this year, including the totally objective projection systems. Boston has at least three and maybe four guys who would qualify as the Yankees’ best hitter this season. They have power and on-base skills, mostly from the right side. Ortiz and the switch-hitting Sandoval are their only significant threats from the left side and Betts is their best stolen base threat at this point.

Hanley. (Presswire)

On the bench, manager John Farrell has UTIL Allen Craig, UTIL Brock Holt, OF Daniel Nava, and C Sandy Leon. Leon was a last minute pickup in Spring Training after projected starting C Christian Vazquez blew out his elbow and needed Tommy John surgery. Holt can play anywhere and Nava, who can really hit righties, abandoned switch-hitting this spring and now bats exclusively from the left side. Craig is coming off a brutal 2013 season (69 wRC+) and is a square peg in a round roster hole. I have to think he’ll be traded at some point this summer.

Defensively, the Red Sox are strong on the infield and sketchy in the outfield. Pedroia and Sandoval and comfortably above-average at their positions and Napoli is strong around the bag, though not the rangiest at first. Bogaerts has skills but is maddeningly inconsistent. He’s error prone in the purest sense of the term. The outfield features two guys who have been full-time outfielders for less than a year (Hanley and Betts) and a 34-year-old coming off back surgery (Victorino). This isn’t a disaster outfield, but it’s not as good as the infield, for sure.

Pitching Matchups

Friday: RHP Nathan Eovaldi (Career vs. BOS) vs. LHP Wade Miley (Career vs. NYY)
Both Eovaldi and Miley will be making their first starts for their new teams later tonight. Miley, 28, came over from the Diamondbacks in the offseason after pitching to a 4.34 ERA (3.98 FIP) in 201.1 innings a year ago. His strikeout (21.1%) and home run (1.03 HR/9) rates were about average, his walk rate was below average (8.7%), and his ground ball rate was above average (51.1%). Miley didn’t have a platoon split at all — lefties had a .326 wOBA and righties had a .331 wOBA. The burly southpaw works in the low-90s with his two and four-seam fastballs, which he uses interchangeably, and he also throws a mid-80s slider and a low-80s changeup. Miley has pitched in Yankee Stadium before, allowing three runs in 6.2 innings with Arizona back in 2013.

Saturday: RHP Adam Warren (Career vs. BOS) vs. RHP Joe Kelly (Career vs. NYY)
The 26-year-old Kelly missed the end of Spring Training with a biceps problem, and he was originally expected to make a minor league rehab start this weekend, but Farrell told Scott Lauber yesterday they “are leaning towards” starting him against the Yankees tomorrow. Whatever. Kelly had a 4.20 ERA (4.37 FIP) in 96.1 innings split between the Cardinals and Red Sox last year, and only his ground ball (54.9%) and homer (0.74 HR/9) rates were better than average. His strikeout (15.9%) and walk (10.1%) rates were comfortably worse than average. He didn’t have much of a platoon split though (.318 vs. .307 wOBA in favor of righties). Kelly throws hard, sitting in the mid-90s with a two-seamer he uses as his main fastball. An upper-70s curveball is his go-to secondary pitch and he’ll also throw some low-80s changeups. If Kelly doesn’t start Saturday, it’ll be 30-year-old knuckeballer Steven Wright instead.

Buchholz. (Presswire)

Sunday: RHP Masahiro Tanaka (Career vs. BOS) vs. RHP Clay Buchholz (Career vs. NYY)
So there will be plenty of rational discourse about Tanaka during the ESPN broadcast, right? Lol no. It’ll be awful. Anyway, the 30-year-old Buchholz held the punchless Phillies scoreless for seven innings on Opening Day, striking out nine and allowing just three hits and one walk. He had a 5.34 ERA (4.01 FIP) in 170.1 innings a year ago thanks to a below average strikeout rate (17.9%) and average-ish walk (7.3%), grounder (46.6%) and homer (0.90 HR/9) numbers. Lefties (.351 wOBA) hit him quite a bit harder (.308 wOBA) than righties. This is Clay Buchholz though, who knows what you’re going to get on a given night. Low-90s two and four-seamers and an upper-80s cutter set up his upper-70s curveball and low-80s changeup, both of which are legit swing-and-miss pitches on their best days. Even with the roster turnover the last year or so, the Yankees have seen quite a bit of Buchholz. He’s no stranger.

Bullpen Status
The Red Sox are without closer RHP Koji Uehara, who missed most of Spring Training with a hamstring injury and a subsequent setback. He’s still working his way back and won’t return this series. Farrell has said RHP Edward Mujica will take over ninth inning duties in the meantime. He threw eleven pitches in an inning of work last night. Middle innings lefties Craig Breslow and Tommy Layne also threw an inning each yesterday.

Mujica’s primary setup man is RHP Junichi Tazawa, who is quietly one of the better setup men in the game. He threw an inning on Opening Day and hasn’t pitched since. Ex-Rangers RHP Alexi Ogando and LHP Robbie Ross are Boston’s version of Justin Wilson and David Carpenter, but with less velocity. They each threw an inning Wednesday. RHP Anthony Varvaro is a Staten Island kid who is the quintessential “maybe he can more but probably not” middle reliever. He’s yet to pitch in the game this season. Wright is in the bullpen as well and I assume he’ll go to Triple-A to make room for Kelly. Check out our Bullpen Workload page for the status of New York’s bullpen and Over the Monster for the latest and greatest on the Red Sox.

Yankeemetrics: April 6-9 (Blue Jays)

First win of the season! (Photo credit: NY Daily News)
First win of the season! (Photo credit: NY Daily News)

[For those of you new to these Yankeemetrics posts, what I try to do is recap each game in the series using interesting, fun and sometimes quirky statistical notes. Hope you enjoy it.]

Marathon, not a sprint
Opening Day did not go exactly as planned, to put it mildly. The Yankees lost 6-1 to the Blue Jay on Monday afternoon, extending their streak of Opening Day losses to four. That’s the longest such streak for the franchise since 1982-85. The Elias Sports Bureau also notes that for the first time in team history, the Yankees have lost three straight season openers by a margin of at least three runs.

The Yankees also failed to score more than two runs for the third Opening Day in a row, just the third time the Bronx Bombers have done that in the last 100 years. The other seasons were in 1978-80 and 1935-37.

Masahiro Tanaka, who was the youngest righty to start on Opening Day for Yankees since Doc Medich in 1975, allowed five runs in four innings and made every Yankee beat writer hit the panic button. It was the shortest Opening Day start by any Yankee since Phil Niekro in 1985 vs. Red Sox.

While a ton of the focus was on Tanaka’s poor outing, the Yankee bats certainly didn’t help him out with just one run on three hits. The last time the Yankees scored no more than one run and had three or fewer hits in the season’s first game was 1968 (yes, the so-called Year of the Pitcher).

So you’re saying there’s a chance…
Phew. The Yankees got back to .500 with a 4-3 win on Wednesday, avoiding what would have been a franchise-record fourth straight 0-2 start. Down 3-1 entering the eighth frame, the Yankees pulled off what has to be one of the more improbable rallies in recent memory.

They tied the score when Brian McCann was hit by a pitch with the bases loaded. The last time the Yankees had a game-tying HBP after the seventh inning was when Reggie Jackson was plunked in 1978 against the Brewers.

Chase Headley had the game-winning RBI in the next at-bat when his ground ball up the middle bounced off Blue Jays pitcher Brett Cecil and squirted into the outfield. It was Headley’s third go-ahead hit in the eighth inning or later with the team, the most such hits by any Yankee since he arrived in the Bronx on July 22 last year.

Michael Pineda may not have made his case to be the Yankees ace, but he had strong performance in his 2015 debut (ND, 6 IP, 2 R, 6 K, 1 BB). This was the fifth time in his Yankee career he’s given up two runs or fewer in at least six innings pitched without getting the win –- and three of those games have now come vs. Toronto.

Second to none
CC Sabathia‘s first regular season start in nearly a year was ruined by a disaster second inning when he gave up four runs on five singles; he allowed just three hits and one run in the other 4 2/3 innings he pitched. Of the 17 outs he recorded in the game, 16 were either by strikeout (8) or groundout (8). That’s pretty darn good…except for the five runs he allowed on the night. Oops.

So the Yankees ended up losing the rubber game, 6-3, and Sabathia lost his fourth straight home start, his longest such losing streak in pinstripes. The only Yankee left-handers to lose more than four starts in a row at Yankee Stadium are Whitey Ford (5, 1965-66) and Sam McDowell (6, 1973-74).

Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira tried to rally the Yankees when they hit homers in the sixth inning to make it 5-3. For A-Rod, it was his 57th homer vs. Toronto, the most by any player against the Blue Jays franchise. Of course it was also his 655th career home run, five away from tying Willie Mays and earning a cool $6 million bonus.