Game 31: Steal A Win

(Elsa/Getty)
(Elsa/Getty)

On paper, this looks like a game the Yankees will have a very tough time winning. First of all, Chase Whitley is starting, and while he was phenomenal last time out and very good in his two starts overall, I’m not sure anyone is truly comfortable expecting Whitley to take the ball deep into the game and pitch well given his fade last year. Maybe it’s just me.

Secondly, the bullpen is taxed. Check out our Bullpen Workload page for details. Andrew Miller, Dellin Betances, and Justin Wilson have all pitched three days in a row, and Joe Girardi hates asking his guys to pitch three straight days, especially this early in the season. Furthermore, Esmil Rogers has warmed up in each of the last two games after pitching Wednesday. His arm is not exactly fresh. This is a game the Yankees shouldn’t win on paper, but they’ve already won a lot of those types of games this season. Here is the Orioles’ lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:

  1. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  2. LF Brett Gardner
  3. RF Chris Young
  4. 1B Mark Teixeira
  5. DH Carlos Beltran
  6. 2B Jose Pirela
  7. 3B Chase Headley
  8. SS Stephen Drew
  9. C John Ryan Murphy
    RHP Chase Whitley

The weather is kinda yucky in New York today. I was disappointed to not see the sun when I went out for breakfast this morning. It’s cloudy and gray out, but there is no rain in the forecast, so that’s good. Not the prettiest day for baseball. It happens. This afternoon’s game will begin at 1:05pm ET and you can watch on YES. Enjoy.

Late Roster Move: Branden Pinder is with the Yankees, according to Meredith Marakovits. Chris Martin has been send down to clear a roster spot placed on the 15-day DL. No word on the injury yet.

Andrew Bailey close to starting throwing program after being shut down with shoulder strain

(NY Post)
(NY Post)

A little more than one week after being shut down with a right shoulder strain, right-hander Andrew Bailey is a few days from starting a throwing program, Brian Cashman told Brendan Kuty. “He’s trying to do almost the impossible,” said Cashman, referring to Bailey’s attempt to return from a torn shoulder capsule, a very severe injury.

Bailey, 30, was shut down with discomfort in his surgically repaired shoulder after pitching in back-to-back games with High-A Tampa. Bailey made six appearances in Spring Training and had a 5.40 ERA (3.59 FIP) with seven strikeouts and one walk in five innings with Tampa before being shut down. It was the first time he pitched in back-to-back games as part of his rehab.

Obviously the Yankees aren’t counting on Bailey to help in any way this year. Anything he gives them is a bonus, and they have enough bullpen depth in Triple-A that they don’t need to count on him. The Yankees took a low-risk flier and gave Bailey a minor league contract, so if he can help, great. If not, they’ve lost nothing.

Now, that said, Bailey could give the Yankees a nice shot in the arm, especially now that Chris Martin appears to be coming back to Earth and David Carpenter couldn’t be any further outside the Circle of Trustâ„¢. Another right-hander wouldn’t hurt. There’s a spot for Bailey in the bullpen if he manages to stay healthy and show he can produce.

Yankees take early lead, then bullpen nails down 5-4 win over Orioles

Was it easy? Nah. Was it a win? Yes it was. A win is a win is a win. The Yankees won for the 16th time in their last 21 games on Friday night, beating the Orioles by the score of 5-4. The Bronx Bombers — we can call them that unironically again! — are 14-9 (.609) against AL East opponents this year. They were 37-39 (.487) within the division last year.

(Elsa/Getty)
(Elsa/Getty)

Swinging 3-0 Makes It 3-0
Exactly one week ago, Alex Rodriguez unloaded on a 3-0 pitch at Fenway Park for his historic 660th career home run. On Friday night, Brian McCann did the same, except his homer wasn’t as historic. He took a healthy cut at Miguel Gonzalez’s 3-0 offering in the first inning for a two-run homer to right field. A Yankee Stadium special. The kind of home run the Yankees signed him to hit.

The homer gave New York a quick 3-0 lead. Jacoby Ellsbury and Brett Gardner — who else? those two are something else atop the lineup — set the inning up with a single and a double, and A-Rod plated the first run of the night with a sacrifice fly. It was well-struck but not “hey that might get out of here” well-struck. In the span of five batters, the Yankees scored three times as many runs as they scored in seven innings against Gonzalez three weeks ago.

Ellsbury and Gardner set up another multi-run rally in the third, this time with a leadoff walk and a single. The next two batters made outs and Gonzalez again fell behind 3-0 on McCann, but he knew better this time. He walked him intentionally to load the bases for Carlos Beltran. Zombie Beltran rose from the dead and whacked a double to right-center field, scoring two runs, though McCann was thrown out at home trying to score at first.

In hindsight, that was a pretty big out at the plate. I was too busy being happy Beltran actually got a hit to care about the out at the time. That would have been a nice insurance run to have in the late innings, but thankfully it wasn’t necessary. Through the first three innings, the Yankees went 6-for-13 (.462) with a two doubles, a homer, a sac fly, a walk, and a stolen base against Gonzalez.

Six innings, Adam. You can do it. (Elsa/Getty)
Six innings, Adam. You can do it. (Elsa/Getty)

Five & Fly
This was Adam Warren‘s sixth start of the season, and it followed the same script as his other five starts. Pretty good the first time through the order, not as good the second time through, terrible the third time through. Warren got some help from his defense early in the game and navigated the first four innings unscathed despite putting at least one man on base in each inning.

The fifth inning is where it got messy. Warren didn’t just walk the first two batters to start the inning, he walked the number eight and nine hitters to start the inning. Ouch. Manny Machado followed with a single to left to drive in Baltimore’s first run. Warren rebounded to strike out Jimmy Paredes, but Adam Jones laced a single to right to load the bases. He hit it so hard Ryan Flaherty was unable to score from second.

With his pitch count rising and his command deteriorating — a classic sign of fatigue and something we’ve seen from Warren in his other starts this season when his pitch count crossed 85 or so — Warren was able to get Delmon Young to weak tapper to shortstop, too weak to turn the double play. The out was made at second and the second run scored, ending his night. Justin Wilson came in and struck out Chris Davis to end the threat.

Warren finished the night with two runs allowed on five singles and two walks in 4.2 innings. He struck out two and recorded ten of his other dozen outs on the infield. That’s sorta cheating though — one runner was thrown out at the plate and another was thrown out trying to steal. Warren is averaging 91.5 pitches and 5.1 innings per start this year, so he’s the very definition of a five-and-fly pitcher. Not terrible, not great. The Warren as a starter story.

(Elsa/Getty)
(Elsa/Getty)

Hang On
The bloom seems to be off the Chris Martin rose. After Wilson put two men on base with two outs in the sixth, Martin came in, walked Machado on six pitches that weren’t particularly close to the strike zone (Manny’s a hacker), then allowed a two-run single to Paredes to make it a 5-4 game. Martin has inherited seven runners this year and five have scored. Probably not the best guy to use in a fireman role going forward.

Joe Girardi doubled down and left Martin in to start the seventh, and he rewarded his manager’s faith with two quick outs before blossoming Yankees killer Caleb Joseph singled up the middle. Martin has faced eleven batters in his last three outings and six have reached base. Slump or a crash back to Earth? Girardi went for the kill with two outs and a man on first in the seventh by bringing Dellin Betances.

Betances struck out Travis Snider to end the seventh, got two ground balls and a fly out to the warning track in the eighth, then gave way to Andrew Miller. A strikeout, a pop-up, and a ground out later, Miller had his 13th save in 13 chances. Dellin and Miller this season: 33.1 IP, 11 H, 2 R, 0 ER, 16 BB, 54 K. This is good. I enjoy this. Oh, and by the way, Girardi officially named Miller his closer after the game. Never woulda guessed it.

Meeeeanwhile, the offense stopped scoring after the third inning. They had runners on the corners in both the fifth and eighth innings, but failed to capitalize. After Beltran’s double, 15 of the final 19 Yankees to bat made outs, and two of the four guys who reached base did so on an intentional walk and an infield single. Coulda used an insurance run or five there, fellas.

Nope, out. (Elsa/Getty)
Nope, out. (Elsa/Getty)

Leftovers
Each of the top six hitters in the lineup had at least one hit, and that includes Stephen Drew, who came off the bench to replace Beltran for defense in the late innings. (Drew took over at second and Chris Young went to right, replacing Jose Pirela.) The bottom three hitters in the lineup went 0-for-10 with a strikeout. New York’s lineup is very top heavy. They rely an awful lot on that Ellsbury-Gardner-Rodriguez-Teixeira foursome. It would be nice if some other guys got going.

The Yankees had eight hits, five for extra bases: McCann homered, A-Rod tripled, and Gardner, Teixeira, and Beltran each doubled. A-Rod tripled off the very top of the wall in right-center. It looked the ball glanced off the glove of a leaping Adam Jones before rolling away from Snider. The Yankees have five triples this year: McCann, A-Rod, Beltran, Chase Headley, and Garrett Jones. Go figure.

Gardner threw Machado out at the plate to end the first inning — it was a really bad send, Gardner was scooping the ball before Machado even got to third — for the team’s fifth outfield assist of the season. It’s the first runner they’ve thrown out at the plate this year. Don’t ask me why I looked that up. Even I’m not sure.

Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
Here are the box score, video highlights, and updated standings. Also make sure you check out our Bullpen Workload and Announcer Standings pages. Important stuff going on there. Here’s the win probability graph:


Source: FanGraphs

Up Next
Same two teams on Saturday afternoon, in the third game of this four-game series. Chase Whitley and Wei-Yin Chen will be the pitching matchup in the matinee. If Whitley wants to go out and throw a complete game, that would be swell. Check out RAB Tickets if you want to catch that game or Sunday’s game live. The Yankees won’t be back in the Bronx until May 22nd after this weekend.

DotF: Roller goes deep in Scranton’s win

What do you want first, the good news or the bad news? Okay, the good news: OF Aaron Judge placed seventh in this week’s Prospect Hot Sheet. He came into tonight 12-for-28 (.429) with two homers and two doubles during his six-game hitting streak.

Now, the bad news: 1B Greg Bird has been placed on the Double-A DL with a right shoulder injury, the team announced. Josh Norris says he’s heading for an MRI. Bird has a history of back issues but this is his first shoulder trouble as far as I know. 1B Matt Snyder was bumped up from High-A Tampa to Trenton to take Bird’s spot on the roster.

Triple-A Scranton (5-4 win over Indianapolis)

  • RF Slade Heathcott & DH Ramon Flores: both 1-4, 1 BB — Heathcott scored a run, stole a base, and threw a runner out at second … Flores struck out thrice
  • 2B Rob Refsnyder: 0-3, 1 R, 2 BB, 1 K — snaps his ten-game hitting streak
  • 1B Kyle Roller: 2-4, 2 R, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 BB — third homer in the last seven games
  • LF Tyler Austin: 2-4, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 1 K — came into the game in an 0-for-15 slump
  • C Austin Romine: 1-3, 1 RBI
  • LHP Matt Tracy: 5.2 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 2 K, 1 Balk, 7/1 GB/FB — 52 of 84 pitches were strikes (62%)
  • RHP Jared Burton: 1 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 2 K, 1/0 GB/FB — 12 of 17 pitches were strikes (71%)
  • RHP Jose Ramirez: 1 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 1/0 GB/FB — 19 of 26 pitches were strikes (73%)

[Read more…]

Game 30: Hit the Split

There's the grip. (Presswire)
There’s the grip. (Presswire)

Three weeks ago Orioles right-hander Miguel Gonzalez dominated the Yankees, allowing one run in seven innings and striking out a career-high ten. He did it mostly with his splitter-changeup hybrid, getting 17 swings and misses, the second highest total of his career. The Yankees had no chance against his split-change that night — Gonzalez threw 27 of them, the Yankees swung at 20, and missed ten times. Yikes.

Tonight’s challenge will be to hit that splitter-changeup thing. Joe Girardi swapped out Stephen Drew for Jose Pirela in the lineup, which should help — Gonzalez throws the split-change roughly three times as often to lefties than righties. Plus, you know, pretty good chance Pirela is a flat out better hitter than Drew at this point of his career. Here is the Orioles’ lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:

  1. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  2. LF Brett Gardner
  3. DH Alex Rodriguez
  4. 1B Mark Teixeira
  5. C Brian McCann
  6. RF Carlos Beltran
  7. 3B Chase Headley
  8. 2B Jose Pirela
  9. SS Didi Gregorius
    RHP Adam Warren

Another gorgeous day in New York and a perfect night for baseball. More weather like this, please. Tonight’s game will begin at 7:05pm ET and can be seen on YES locally and MLB Network nationally, depending on where you live. Enjoy the game, folks.

Injury Update: Masahiro Tanaka (wrist, forearm) played catch for the second straight day, this time making 60 throws at 90 feet after making 50 at 60 yesterday. Everything went well. Tanaka will take tomorrow off and throw again Sunday.

2015 Draft: Baseball America’s Mock Draft v1.0

Kaprielian. (Don Liebig/UCALA)
Kaprielian. (Don Liebig/UCALA)

The 2015 amateur draft begins one month from today, which means we’re now entering mock draft season. John Manuel at Baseball America released his first mock draft today — he’s going to publish a new one every Friday — and it’s free for everyone. You don’t need a subscription to read. The picks aren’t guesses either. They’re based on industry chatter and whatnot.

Manuel has the Diamondbacks taking UC Santa Barbara RHP Dillon Tate with the first overall pick but I’m guessing we’re going to see several different names in this spot in future mock drafts. There is no consensus top pick this year. The Astros and Rockies follow with Vanderbilt SS Dansby Swanson and Florida HS SS Brendan Rodgers with the second and third picks in the mock draft, respectively.

The Yankees have the 16th overall pick this year and Manuel has them selecting UCLA RHP James Kaprielian. Scouting director Damon Oppenheimer, a Southern California guy himself, has a known affinity for Southern California pitchers. LHP Ian Clarkin, RHP Ian Kennedy, and RHP Gerrit Cole are the most notable examples. Kaprielian fits right in. Here’s a snippet of his free MLB.com scouting report:

He didn’t have the best stuff in a U.S. collegiate national team rotation that included Louisville’s Kyle Funkhouser and Vanderbilt’s Carson Fulmer last summer, but Kaprielian did have the best “pitchability” and is the safest bet to become a mid-rotation starter in the big leagues. He works with an 89-92 mph fastball as a starter, and he’s effective at that velocity because he can locate it.

Kaprielian’s best pitch is his changeup, and he also has a solid slider and a curveball to give batters a different look. With his command and strong frame, he’s built to be a starter.

Kaprielian is a big dude who’s listed at 6-foot-4 and 200 lbs. on UCLA’s site. He has a 2.35 ERA with 91 strikeouts and 22 walks in 76.2 innings this spring. Kaprielian isn’t a huge upside guy but he’s a no-doubt first rounder and the type of pitcher who tends to go higher than expected because he’s considered “safe.” Teams eat up this profile.

Oppenheimer confirmed last year the Yankees lean towards college players these days because they get to MLB quicker and don’t have as much development ahead of them, so the connection to Kaprielian makes sense. The Yankees also pick 30th overall this year — that’s the compensation pick for David Robertson — and could roll the dice with an upside play there. That’s what they did in 2013, when the took 3B Eric Jagielo with the 26th pick before shooting for the moon with OF Aaron Judge as the 32nd pick.