Yankees must make tough, yet necessary decision with CC Sabathia


The Yankees lost to the Angels last night, mostly because the bats didn’t show up, but also because CC Sabathia allowed four runs in 7.1 innings against one of the lowest scoring teams in baseball. And the worst part? When Sabathia walked off the mound after being pulled in the eighth, I found myself saying he wasn’t all that bad. That’s where things are right now with the team’s former ace.

Last night’s loss has Sabathia sitting on a 5.59 ERA (4.58 FIP) in 95 innings. The 5.59 ERA ranks 94th out of the 98 qualified starters in baseball this season. That’s after Sabathia ranked 76th out of 81 qualified starters with a 4.78 ERA back in 2013, his last full healthy season. He now has a 5.06 ERA in his last 352 innings dating back to Opening Day 2013. No, ERA isn’t the only or best way to evaluate a pitcher, but the goal is to keep runs off the board, and CC hasn’t done it for three years now. We should all be able to agree on that.

The Yankees are 6-10 when Sabathia starts this season and 35-26 when anyone else starts. Sometimes that happens because a guy isn’t getting any run support and is a tough luck loser a bunch of times, but that isn’t the case here. Sabathia has pitched poorly and his starts are rarely winnable. He’s the weak link in a six-man rotation that will soon be trimmed down to five. It couldn’t be any more obvious.

There is no indication the Yankees are considering removing Sabathia from the rotation — late last night the team announced Nathan Eovaldi, not Adam Warren, will start Wednesday, indicating Warren’s going to the bullpen — and that’s a problem. His enormous contract is dictating his roster spot, not his performance, which to be fair is not unique to the Yankees and Sabathia. It’s happening elsewhere around the league. Still, the AL East is incredibly tight …

AL East Standings 062915

… and it sure looks like it will remain that way all season. This is going to be a really fun race, and the Yankees are hurting themselves by keeping Sabathia in the rotation. It’s going to hard enough to contend against the Orioles, Rays, and Blue Jays as it is. But doing it while running one of the worst starting pitchers in baseball out there every fifth day? When a better option — Warren has a 3.59 ERA (109 ERA+), lowest in the rotation! — is available? It’s illogical.

Removing Sabathia from the rotation is a difficult move from a personal standpoint — he’s done a lot of good for the Yankees over the years and, by all accounts, he’s a leader in the clubhouse, and it’s never easy to demote a player like that to a lesser role. It’s embarrassing. It’s also necessary sometimes. The Giants sent Tim Lincecum to the bullpen last summer and are likely to do it again in the coming days, for example. The Yankees are at that point with Sabathia.

Perhaps there’s a compromise to be made here. Perhaps the best move in the short-term is a phantom DL trip to give Sabathia a little 15-day vacation. Who knows, maybe he’ll welcome it and see it as an opportunity to work on some things. It’s not just a physical break either, it’s a mental break from what I’m sure has been a very tough season (tough few seasons, really). A two-week breather could do some good. Of course, unless the DL trip is a magic cure and helps Sabathia turn the clock back to 2012 or so, all it does it delay the inevitable. It’s not a real solution.

Either way the Yankees are rapidly approaching a breaking point with Sabathia. Actually, I’d say they’re already there and have been since Ivan Nova returned and legitimately gave the Yankees five starters better than Sabathia. This is an organizational failure. It’s not on Joe Girardi. It’s on Brian Cashman and perhaps those above him if Hal Steinbrenner & Co. want Sabathia in the rotation because of his contract. Girardi can’t be expected to make the decision and carry out the plan on his own. Not with someone like Sabathia. The brain trust has to be involved.

For now, Sabathia is not helping the Yankees win games and they don’t have the luxury of giving him time to straighten things out. They’ve already given him too much time. Sabathia is not much of an asset to the Yankees any more, he’s a sunk cost, and if the team wants to put itself in the best position to return to the postseason, he shouldn’t be in the rotation at all. The sooner they’re willing to swallow that pill, the better off they’ll be.

Offense lifeless again in series opening 4-1 loss to Angels

Source: FanGraphs

Outside of the beatdown they laid on Brett Oberholtzer the other day, the Yankees’ offense has been dormant during the current road trip. They were held to one lonely run in Monday night’s 4-1 loss to the Angels, their sixth loss in their last nine games. It’s a West Coast night game, so this one gets a bullet point recap:

  • Beat by Trout: Mike Trout is the best player in the world and it was obvious on Monday night. Not only did he hit the go-ahead solo home run, he also robbed Chris Young of two extra-base hits with men on base. Young crushed both balls to center and Trout was able to reach out and run both down. He legitimately saved three runs with those catches. The man is a game-changer. What can you do?
  • Sad-bathia: For the sixth time in his last eight starts, CC Sabathia failed to give the Yankees a quality start. A quality start isn’t even good! It’s a 4.50 ERA. Sabathia allowed four runs in 7.1 innings to the Angels on Monday night, with two runs coming on solo homers by Trout and C.J. Cron. Trout? Fine, whatever, he’ll do that. But Cron? Yuck. It certainly wasn’t a disaster start, we’ve seen plenty of those this year, but Sabathia couldn’t contain a below average offense while working with a pretty big strike zone.
  • NOffense: Yes, Trout robbed some hits, but the Yankees also went 1-for-10 with runners in scoring position and had all sorts of opportunities to score. Runner at second with no outs in the first, runner at first with no outs in the second, bases loaded with two outs in the third, runner at second with one out in the fifth, runner at first with no outs in the sixth, runners at first and second with no outs in the seventh, runner at first with one out in the eighth … nada. Zero runs scored from those opportunities.
  • Leftovers: Sabathia now leads the league with 19 home runs allowed … Brett Gardner went 3-for-5 with two doubles and is up to .305/.377/.502 (144 wRC+) on the season … the rest of the offense went 5-for-27 (.185). Carlos Beltran and Didi Gregorius each had two hits … and finally, home plate umpire Manny Gonzalez had a huge strike zone. Look at this mess. Good grief.

Here are the box score, video highlights, updated standings, Bullpen Workload, and Announcer Standings pages. The Yankees and Angels continue this series Tuesday night, when Ivan Nova and Andrew Heaney toe the slab. Hopefully the bats show up.

DotF: Ellsbury goes hitless in first rehab game with Tampa

According to Joel Sherman, RHP Luis Severino is next in line to be called up whenever the Yankees need another starter. Severino has a 1.73 ERA (2.45 FIP) in 36.1 innings since being promoted to Triple-A Scranton and hasn’t really been challenged yet, though, to be fair, the Yankees have moved him through the minors so quickly that he’s yet to go through a league multiple times. Also, Sherman says C Gary Sanchez, 3B Eric Jagielo, and 1B Greg Bird are expected to be promoted to Triple-A in the coming weeks.

Triple-A Scranton (8-1 loss to Lehigh Valley)

  • CF Ben Gamel: 0-3, 2 BB, 1 K — threw a runner out at third
  • RF Aaron Judge: 1-5, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 1 K
  • LF Ramon Flores: 1-4, 1 BB
  • 2B Rob Refsnyder: 2-4, 1 K, 1 HBP — five hits in his last eleven at-bats (.455)
  • C Austin Romine: 1-4 — 14-for-35 (.400) during his nine-game hit streak
  • LHP Jose DePaula: 2 IP, 8 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 1 BB, 1 K, 2/1 GB/FB — 30 of 53 pitches were strikes (57%)
  • RHP Danny Burawa: 2 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 0 K, 4/1 GB/FB — 22 of 33 pitches were strikes
  • LHP James Pazos: 2 IP, zeroes, 4 K, 2/0 GB/FB — 21 of 34 pitches were strikes (62%) … 17/0 K/BB in 16.1 innings since coming back from his mystery injury
  • RHP Jose Ramirez: 2 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 4 K, 1/0 GB/FB — 24 of 42 pitches were strikes (57%) … eight runs allowed in his last 19.2 innings at this level

[Read more…]

Game 78: LAnaheim

(Jim McIsaac/Getty)
(Jim McIsaac/Getty)

The Yankees are on the West Coast for the final time this season even though it’s only June. That’s always nice. They just split a four-game series in Houston, and while that would have been disappointing the last few years, that’s a good outcome now because the Astros are good. Baseball is 2015 is weird, man.

CC Sabathia is getting the ball in tonight’s series opener against the Angels. Needless to say, Sabathia has to start pitching better. The Yankees are keeping him in the rotation because of his contract, which is dumb, so he needs to improve on his 5.65 ERA (4.49 FIP) to give the team a chance to make the postseason. I love Sabathia, he’s an all-time fave, but man he is just brutal right now. Here is the Halos’ lineup and here is the Bombers’ lineup:

  1. CF Brett Gardner
  2. LF Chris Young
  3. DH Alex Rodriguez
  4. 1B Mark Teixeira
  5. RF Carlos Beltran
  6. 3B Chase Headley
  7. 2B Jose Pirela
  8. C John Ryan Murphy
  9. SS Didi Gregorius
    LHP CC Sabathia

Pretty much a perfect night for baseball in Anaheim. Temperatures in the low-80s, nice and sunny, no humidity, just gorgeous. Tonight’s game is scheduled to begin at 10:05pm ET and can he seen on YES. Try to enjoy.

Injury Updates: We had a bunch of injury updates earlier, in case you missed it. Most importantly, Jacoby Ellsbury (knee) started a minor league rehab assignment with High-A Tampa. I assume the goal is to get him back off the DL when the homestand starts Friday.

Awards Update: Brett Gardner was named the AL Player of the Week, MLB announced earlier today. He’s the third Yankee to win the Player of the Week award this year, joining Mark Teixeira in April and Michael Pineda in May, and it’s Gardner’s third time winning it. He was also named Player of the Week in June 2013 and August 2014. Yay Brett.

Monday Night Open Thread

Earlier today MLB released the final All-Star Game voting updates. Here are the AL and NL. No Yankees are in position to start the game, not even close really, but at least some Royals players are falling out of the top spots at their positions. Mike Trout, Miguel Cabrera, Josh Donaldson, and Nelson Cruz are in line to start the game now. That’s better than Trout and eight Royals, which was the case a few weeks ago. Voting ends Thursday. Here’s the ballot. The All-Star Game starters will be announced Sunday and the rest of the rosters Monday.

Here is your open thread for the night. The Yankees are playing the Angels later tonight, so the regular game thread will be along in a few hours. ESPN is showing the Rangers and Orioles, and that’s about it. Talk about that game, the All-Star Game voting, or anything else right here.

Injury Updates: Ellsbury, Miller, Clarkin, DeCarr, Jagielo


The Yankees begin their three-game series with the Angels later tonight (much later tonight), so, until then, here are some updates on a few injured Yankees via Meredith Marakovits, Marly Rivera, Joel Sherman, and the Yankees themselves.

  • Jacoby Ellsbury (knee) traveled to Tampa following yesterday’s game and will begin playing in minor league rehab games at some point later this week. “I’m excited to get back. (I’ll be) playing in games sometime this week and I can’t wait to get back to big league club,” he said.
  • UPDATE: Ellsbury will start a rehab assignment with High-A Tampa today, the team just announced. My guess is the Yankees hope to have him back in the lineup for the start of the homestand on Friday. Fingers crossed.
  • Andrew Miller (forearm) is scheduled to throw a bullpen session on Wednesday. He played catch the last few days and will do it again today. Miller will long-toss tomorrow before getting up on a mound Wednesday. Can’t imagine he’ll need much time to get ready after that as a short reliever.
  • Ian Clarkin (elbow) has not had Tommy John surgery. Not yet, anyway. Clarkin was shut down in Spring Training with elbow tendinitis and he reportedly pitched in an Extended Spring Training game in May, but we haven’t heard anything since. This non-update is the latest.
  • Austin DeCarr (elbow) did have Tommy John surgery, however. Not sure when when he had it — last week? last month? March? makes a difference! — but he had it. DeCarr was the team’s third round pick last year and I had him as their 16th best prospect coming in the season.
  • This isn’t really an injury, but I’m not sure where else to put it: Eric Jagielo was diagnosed with diabetes late last year. It’s manageable and hasn’t impacted his career in any way to this point. But still, geez. This has been a bad year for minor league injuries and this adds the lolwtf factor.

6/29 to 7/1 Series Preview: Los Angeles Angeles


Time for the final West Coast trip of the season. That’s right, after this three-game series with the Angels, the Yankees are completely done with the West Coast. Heck, just ten of their final 83 games of 2015 are in the Central Time Zone. Travel gets much easier from here on out. The Yankees swept three from the Halos in the Bronx earlier this month, by the way.

What Have The Angels Done Lately?

The Angels beat the Mariners yesterday thanks to a walk-off wild pitch, which is always wacky. They took two of three from Seattle and are 7-7 in their last 14 games. Anaheim is 39-37 with a -4 run differential overall, good for second place in the AL West.

Offense & Defense

Last season manager Mike Scioscia’s team had the best offense in baseball, one which averaged 4.77 runs per game. This year they’re one of the lowest scoring teams in MLB. The Angels are averaging just 3.89 runs per game with a team 95 wRC+. SS Erick Aybar (78 wRC+) is day-to-day with a hamstring problem and OF Collin Cowgill is out for a while with a wrist injury.

Pujols. (Presswire)
Pujols. (Presswire)

As always, Scioscia’s offense is led by OF Mike Trout (167 wRC+), the best all-around player in baseball. He is quietly on pace for 41 homers this season. 1B Albert Pujols (147 wRC+) leads the league with 23 homers but doesn’t hit for average (.265) or get on base (.334) like he did in his prime. Still, he’s really dangerous. Personal fave OF Kole Calhoun (101 wRC+) hasn’t been able to repeat last season’s success (125 wRC+).

3B David Freese (103 wRC+), 2B Johnny Giavotella (94 wRC+), OF Matt Joyce (67 wRC+), and C Chris Iannetta (64 wRC+) are the rest of the regulars. OF Daniel Robertson (48 wRC+ in limited time) and UTIL Efren Navarro (82 wRC+ in limited time) are splitting time in left with Joyce at DH for the most part. C Carlos Perez (68 wRC+), IF Taylor Featherston (7 wRC+), and IF Kyle Kubitza (36 wRC+) round out the bench with their small sample size stats.

Overall, the Angels have a good defensive club led by Trout and Iannetta. They’re studs with the glove. Pujols is good around the bag — his range is nonexistent at this point — and Calhoun is fine in right. So is Giavotella at second. Freese and Joyce are disasters in the field. Aybar is good when healthy and Robertson can really go get it in left.

Pitching Matchups

Monday (10pm ET): LHP CC Sabathia (vs. LAA) vs. LHP C.J. Wilson (vs. NYY)
The Angels tried to trade the 34-year-old Wilson this offseason but had no luck. Now he is arguably their most consistent starting pitcher, pitching to a 3.92 ERA (3.80 FIP) in 15 starts and 96.1 innings with strikeout (21.1%) and walk (7.3%) rates in line with his career norms. He is getting fewer ground balls (43.1%) than usual and is giving up more home runs as well (0.93 HR/9). Go figure. Wilson has close to no platoon split this season (.301 vs. .295 wOBA in favor of lefties) but has historically been much more effective against same-side hitters. Wilson throws six pitches, including five at least 10% of the time. He offers low-90s two and four-seamers, an upper-80s cutter, a mid-80s changeup, a low-80s slider, and an upper-70s curveball. The cutter is the sixth pitch. That one he’s thrown only 7% of the time this year. The Yankees roughed Wilson up for six runs in seven innings earlier this month.

Tuesday (10pm ET): RHP Ivan Nova (vs. LAA) vs. LHP Andrew Heaney (vs. NYY)
Heaney, 24, was the ninth overall pick in the 2012 draft. He was traded twice in one day this offseason — first from the Marlins to the Dodgers for Dee Gordon, then from the Dodgers to the Angels for Howie Kendrick. So Heaney was teammates with Giancarlo Stanton, Clayton Kershaw, and Trout all in one day. Cool. Anyway, he was just called up, and he limited the Astros to one run in six innings last time out. Heaney had a 4.71 ERA (3.08 FIP) in 78.1 Triple-A innings this season with okay strikeout (20.9%) and walk (7.1%) rates. He’s a three-pitch command lefty with a low-90s fastball, a sweepy upper-70s slider, and a sinking low-80s changeup. Heaney’s not a blow-you-away type. He just locates well and keeps everyone off balance.

Heaney. (Presswire)
Heaney. (Presswire)

Wednesday (7pm ET): RHP Adam Warren (vs. LAA) vs. RHP Matt Shoemaker (vs. NYY)
The 28-year-old Shoemaker finished second in the AL Rookie of the Year voting last season — narrowly edging out Dellin Betances! — but man, he crashed back to Earth and hard this season. I guess that’s not surprising considering his Triple-A performance was never all that good to start with. Shoemaker has a 5.03 ERA (4.62 FIP) in 14 starts and 78.2 innings this year — to be fair, his last six starts have been much better (3.41 ERA and 3.13 FIP) — with an average strikeout rate (20.5%), a good walk rate (5.4%), a below-average ground ball rate (38.7%), and an awful home run rate (1.72 HR/9). He also has no platoon split (.337 vs. .332 wOBA in favor of righties) this year after getting hit around a bit by lefties last year. Shoemaker has upper-80s two and four-seam fastballs, and he backs them up with mid-80s changeups, low-80s sliders, and a slow mid-70s curveball. The changeup is his go-to offspeed pitch. The Yankees didn’t see Shoemaker earlier this month. In fact, the Angels used some off-days to skip his start that series because they didn’t want to run him out there in Yankee Stadium with his homer problems.

Bullpen Status
The Mariners did the Yankees a solid and forced Scioscia to use both closer RHP Huston Street (3.10 FIP) and setup man RHP Joe Smith (2.18 FIP) each of the last two days. Street blew the save yesterday. RHP Trevor Gott (1.96 FIP in very limited time) also pitched yesterday. He is their Nick Rumbelow. The 2013 mid-round pick who flew through the minors with great numbers.

LHP Cesar Ramos (3.33 FIP) and LHP Jose Alvarez (3.71 FIP) are Scioscia’s two lefties but neither is a matchup guy. They’re both starters by trade who can pitch full innings if necessary. RHP Cam Bedrosian (4.38 FIP) and RHP Fernando Salas (3.07 FIP) fill out the relief crew. Joe Girardi‘s bullpen is in good shape thanks to Michael Pineda‘s eight-inning complete game yesterday. Still make sure you check out our Bullpen Workload page for recent workloads. Then head over to Halo Hangout for updates on the Angels.