After a throwing program, a setback, and another throwing program, Carlos Beltran returns to right field today for the first time since May 11th. A bone spur in his throwing elbow limited him to DH duties over the last three months.
I’m not sure playing the defensively challenged Beltran in the outfield actually helps the Yankees, but this is year one of a three-year deal, so if they can avoid sticking him at DH full-time, they should do it. You can bet the Rays will test his arm this afternoon. Here is Tampa’s lineup and here is the Yankees lineup:
- LF Brett Gardner
- DH Derek Jeter
- CF Jacoby Ellsbury
- 1B Mark Teixeira
- RF Carlos Beltran
- 3B Chase Headley
- 2B Martin Prado
- C Frankie Cervelli
- SS Brendan Ryan
RHP Shane Greene
The Tropicana Field roof is coming in handy this series because it’s raining again in St. Petersburg. This afternoon’s game will begin a little after 4pm ET and you can watch on YES locally and Fox Sports1 nationally. Here are the Fox Sports1 channel listings. Try to enjoy the game.
Injury Update: Brian McCann (concussion) is expected to be activated off the 7-day disabled list and play in tomorrow’s series finale. He is not active today.
As expected, Masahiro Tanaka threw 25 fastballs in the bullpen this afternoon, his first time throwing off a mound since suffering a partially torn elbow ligament in early-July. “Today I was able to throw the way I wanted to,” he said to Marly Rivera. “I felt very good and all is headed in the right direction.”
According to Rivera, pitching coach Larry Rothschild cautioned they have to “see how he feels in a few days” before deciding on the next step. Tanaka indicated he would like to throw breaking balls next time out. Rothschild also said the “way the team plays has no impact on his rehab, cause it’s not worth it,” and he’s right. The Yankees have to do what’s best for Tanaka long-term and not grasp at the last straws of contention by rushing him back. · (33) ·
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Via Joel Sherman: The Yankees are viewed as “major players” for Cuban free agent Rusney Castillo. They are said to like him more as a second baseman while most teams view him as an outfielder. The 27-year-old Castillo is finished with private workouts and is currently sorting through contract offers. He could sign as soon as next week.
According to Sherman, teams have a lot of urgency to get Castillo signed quickly for a few reasons. One, needs a work visa and they want to start that process as soon as possible. Two, he has to be in the organization by August 31st to be postseason eligible. Three, there is a little more than two weeks left in the minor league season and teams want Castillo to get in as many games as possible before considering him for a September call-up. The Yankees should be focused on 2015 at this point, so if they’re going to sign Castillo, the sooner they get him into the organization the better. · (269) ·
Make it five straight losses to both the Rays and all teams in general. The Yankees were shut out 5-0 by Tampa in their series opener on Friday night as the offense continues to fold like a lawn chair during what was an important stretch of the season. Now it doesn’t look like there will be many important games left this year.
I missed tonight’s game and I ain’t mad about it. I’ve been told Brandon McCarthy was once again solid, falling victim to some shaky defense early and broken bat bloopers late. He was around the plate all night, throwing 84 of his 110 pitches for strikes (76%) and a first pitch strike to 23 of 28 batters faced. Seven strikeouts, ten ground ball outs, and two fly ball outs. That’s work just fine. McCarthy isn’t part of the problem.
The offense put one runner at third base all night, and that came with one out in the eighth inning, after they were already down four runs. Jacoby Ellsbury and Mark Teixeira, aka the three-four hitters, both struck out with the bases loaded to squash that rally. The Yankees actually had the leadoff man reach base in five innings, so I guess that means they made Alex Cobb work hard? Based on his pitching line, it doesn’t look like it.
Derek Jeter and Teixeira both had two hits while Chase Headley, Frankie Cervelli, and Drew had one each. Brett Gardner drew the only walk. Esmil Rogers came out of the bullpen and served up a solo homer to James Loney — apparently he tried to quick-pitch him — for the Rays’ totally unnecessary fifth run. The Yankees have scored seven runs during the five-game losing streak, two of which scored when Manny Machado hit Carlos Beltran in the head with a throw.
MLB.com has the box score and video highlights, FanGraphs some other stats, and ESPN the updated standings. The Yankees are now eight games back in the AL East and 4.5 games back to Robinson Cano‘s Mariners for the second wildcard spot. FanGraphs puts their postseason odds at 5.8% and shrinking. They’ll try to score a run or two against lefty Drew Smyly during Saturday afternoon’s probable loss. Shane Greene will be on the bump for the Yankees.
Minor League Update: All of the night’s box scores can be seen in one place at MLB Farm. RHP Bryan Mitchell struck out three in five shutout innings, OF Tyler Austin had two doubles and a single, LHP Jacob Lindgren struck out five in two scoreless innings, and C Luis Torrens doubled. Not much else to see there.
The last four days for the Yankees have gone heart-breaking loss, off-day, heart-breaking loss, off-day. That pattern needs to change tonight. I’m not really in the mood for another soul-crushing loss to a division rival. Besides, the Yankees do still have a chance to win the second wildcard spot, albeit a small one. It would be nice to see them stay in the hunt a little longer to keep things interesting. Here is the Rays lineup and here is the Yankees lineup:
- LF Brett Gardner
- SS Derek Jeter
- CF Jacoby Ellsbury
- 1B Mark Teixeira
- DH Carlos Beltran
- 3B Chase Headley
- 2B Stephen Drew
- RF Martin Prado
- C Frankie Cervelli
RHP Brandon McCarthy
It’s humid as hell and pouring in St. Petersburg, so good thing Tropicana Field has a roof. Tonight’s game is scheduled to start at 7:10pm ET and you can watch on YES. Enjoy the game.
Metal detectors will be in place and operation at the various Yankee Stadium entrances starting August 19th, the Yankees announced. There will be MLB-mandated metal detectors at every ballpark starting next season. Fans who opt not to go through the walk-through metal detector can be checked manually with a wand. Here is the full press release. We’re all going to have to start getting to the ballpark a little earlier than usual. Not a fan of this, but it is what it is. · (45) ·
4:01pm: Tanaka played catch again today and he will throw a 25-pitch side session in the bullpen tomorrow, according to Meredith Marakovits. It will be the first time he throws off a mound since getting hurt.
12:30pm: Via George King: Masahiro Tanaka could get back up on a mound and throw in the bullpen as soon as tomorrow. “It will be in the next few days if he continues to progress,’’ said pitching coach Larry Rothschild. That fits into the six-week timetable that was initially reported when he got hurt.
Tanaka, who has been out since early-July with a partially torn elbow ligament, threw ten fastballs off flat ground during Wednesday’s throwing session and everything went fine. He’s continuing to progress well with no pain and that is the most important thing. If Tanaka comes back in September, great. But at this point the focus should be on 2015. · (108) ·
A few weeks ago, this series looked it would be a battle for postseason position. Instead it’s a trade deadline seller against an almost non-contender. The AL East isn’t what it once was, folks. The Yankees have lost seven of ten games to the Rays this season. They split four games at Tropicana Field back in April.
What Have They Done Lately?
The Rays just took three of four from the awful Texas Rangers and went 6-4 on their ten-game road trip overall. At 60-61 with a +21 run differential, Tampa is in fourth place in the AL East, two games behind the Yankees. The Bombers have to win at least one game this weekend to avoid falling into fourth place.
With an average of 3.99 runs per game and a team 104 wRC+, the Rays are both below-average and above-average offensively at the same time. They’re getting hits, just not bunched together. Tampa is currently without OF Wil Myers (94 wRC+) and OF David DeJesus (134 wRC+), who are on the disabled list with wrist and shoulder injuries, respectively. Myers is on a rehab assignment but is not expected to rejoin the team this weekend. C Ryan Hanigan (88 wRC+) is also on the disabled list with an oblique problem and IF Desmond Jennings (106 wRC+) is day-to-day with a shoulder issue.
As usual, manager Joe Maddon’s lineup is built around 3B Evan Longoria (103 wRC+), though he is having a very down year by his standards. His six-year, $100M extension doesn’t kick in until 2017. They better hope this year is just a blip. OF Matt Joyce (130 wRC+) is having a strong year, ditto 2B/OF Ben Zobrist (128 wRC+). OF Kevin Kiermaier (130 wRC+) has been a pleasant surprise since coming up to replace Myers. 1B James Loney (105 wRC+) is having a typical James Loney year, which means not 2013.
C Jose Molina (31 wRC+) splits catching duty with C Curt Casali (41 wRC+ in limited time) now that Hanigan is on the disabled list. OF Brandon Guyer (111 wRC+) backs up in the outfield while UTIL Sean Rodriguez (111 wRC+) and UTIL Logan Forsythe (94 wRC+) play just about everywhere. Rodriguez destroys the Yankees, as I’m sure you know. SS Yunel Escobar (91 wRC+) is the everyday shortstop. Tampa Bay is carrying only three bench players at the moment.
Friday: RHP Brandon McCarthy (vs. TB) vs. RHP Alex Cobb (vs. NYY)
With David Price traded away and Matt Moore out following Tommy John surgery, the 26-year-old Cobb is the team’s de facto ace. He has a 3.41 ERA (3.43 FIP) in 18 starts and 108.1 innings this year while missing a few weeks with an oblique strain. His strikeout (8.47 K/9 and 22.5 K%), walk (2.66 BB/9 and 7.1 BB%), homer (0.75 HR/9 and 10.6 HR/FB%), and ground ball (57.5%) rates all range from very good to excellent. Thanks to his knockout mid-80s changeup, lefties (.266 wOBA) have actually had less success against Cobb (.315 wOBA) than righties. His two and four-seamers sit in the low-90s and he’ll also throw a bunch of low-80s curveballs. The Yankees have not faced Cobb this year.
Saturday: RHP Shane Greene (No vs. TB) vs. LHP Drew Smyly (vs. NYY)
Smyly, 25, was part of the Price trade, arguably the centerpiece. He has a 3.73 ERA (3.84 FIP) in 118.1 innings across 20 starts and three relief appearances in 2014, though only his walk rate (2.74 BB/9 and 7.2 BB%) stands out. His strikeout (7.91 K/9 and 20.9 K%), homerun (1.06 HR/9 and 9.6 HR/FB%), and ground ball (37.0%) numbers are nothing to write home about. Righties (.376 wOBA) have hit him a ton harder than lefties (.208 wOBA). Smyly has one of the biggest platoon splits in the game. He operates with a mid-80s slider and three fastballs: low-90s four-seamers, upper-80s two-seamers, and mid-80s cutters. He’ll also throw a handful of low-80s changeups per start. Smyly has not faced the Yankees this year and he went three runs in 5.1 innings and 7.2 shutout innings in his first two starts with the Rays.
Sunday: RHP Hiroki Kuroda (vs. TB) vs. RHP Jeremy Hellickson (vs. NYY)
Elbow surgery kept the 27-year-old Hellickson on the shelf until early last month, so he’s only made five starts and thrown 26.2 innings this year. His walk rate (2.03 BB/9 and 5.5 BB%) is low, as are his strikeout (6.75 K/9 and 18.4 K%) and ground ball (30.5%) rates. Aside from 2013, Hellickson has consistently outperformed his peripherals because he’s adept at getting infield pop-ups and other weak contact. His homer rate (1.01 HR/9 and 7.3 HR/FB%) is about average and lefties (.274 wOBA) have had a tougher time against him than righties (.330 wOBA). Hellickson works with both a four-seam and two-seam fastball at right around 90 mph, and his go-to secondary pitch is an upper-70s changeup. He’ll also throw some mid-70s curves per start. Hellickson has failed to complete five full innings of work in three of his five starts off elbow surgery.
RHP Grant Balfour (4.16 FIP) has struggled this year, so Maddon has been using a closer by committee for several weeks now. LHP Jake McGee (1.22 FIP) has been outstanding and gets the ball in the most important spots regardless of inning. Sometimes the seventh, sometimes the eighth, sometimes the ninth. RHP Joel Peralta (3.73 FIP) and RHP Brad Boxberger (2.66 FIP) also work the late innings.
The rest of the bullpen includes LHP Jeff Beliveau (3.92 FIP in limited time), RHP Brandon Gomes (5.34 FIP), RHP Kirby Yates (3.00 FIP), and LHP Cesar Ramos (4.25 FIP). McGee, Boxberger, and Beliveau all pitched yesterday. The Yankees had two of the last three days off, so their bullpen is generally well-rested. Dellin Betances might not be available tonight after his extended outing on Wednesday, but that’s it. Check out our Bullpen Workload page for recent reliever usage, then check out The Process Report for everything you need to know about the Rays.