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.

Mailbag: First Round Picks, Mussina, Tanaka, Extensions

I was planning to make this a shorter than usual mailbag because the regular season has started and there are game recaps and DotF to worry about, yet I still managed to answer eleven questions. Go figure. The “For The Mailbag” form in the sidebar is the best way to send us questions each week. We get to as many as we can.

The "G" face mask is so boss. (Presswire)
The “G” face mask is so boss. (Presswire)

Jeff asks: Your first round pick analysis got me thinking. Can you provide some players that were drafted after the Yankees’ picks that would have been a better choice knowing what we know now?

Sure, but let me be clear: this is no kind of serious analysis. “They took this guy when they should have taken that guy,” is the worst kind of “analysis” you’ll find. It’s pure hindsight and it foolishly assumes the player would have developed the same exact way in a different organization. They’re almost always going to be someone better. We can do this for just about any team, any year.

Alright, so anyway, let’s just look back at the star players the Yankees passed on in the draft in recent years. I’m only going to look at the five-year stretch from 2005-09 because a) this is a lot of work, and b) we don’t have as much information on players drafted more recently. The 2005-09 crop includes players who should be in MLB by now. Here’s the table:

NYY top pick Shoulda took!
2005 C.J. Henry (17th pick) Jacoby Ellsbury (Red Sox, 23rd)
2006 Ian Kennedy (21st) Jeff Samardzija (Cubs, 149th)
2007 Andrew Brackman (30th) Giancarlo Stanton (Marlins, 76th)
2008 Gerrit Cole (28th) Craig Kimbrel (Braves, 96th)
2009 Slade Heathcott (29th) Kyle Seager (Mariners, 82nd)

That 2006 draft is debatable because you could argue Kennedy was (gasp!) the right pick there considering how long it took Samardzija to figure things out. Chris Tillman (Mariners, 49th) and Jon Jay (Cardinals, 74th) are other non-Kennedy options.

The 2007 draft really stood out. In addition to Stanton, some other players picked after Brackman include Todd Frazier (Reds, 34th), Josh Donaldson (Cubs, 48th), Jordan Zimmermann (Nationals, 67th), Jonathan Lucroy (Brewers, 101st), and Corey Kluber (Padres, 134th). That group shows just how unpredictable this player development thing can be. Donaldson and Kluber both changed organizations before breaking out and Donaldson had to move from catcher to third base for his bat to blossom. Stanton was a high school first baseman with major swing-and-miss issues. Hindsight is great though, isn’t it?

Rob asks: Two related questions about Ty Hensley. Do you think because he’s a pitcher he’d be less hurt by all that lost development time than a position player? Second, how will this impact the timing of the Yankees decision on if they have to add him to the 40 man roster? Do they get any time back from him being on the DL?

I’ll answer the second question first: no. The injuries don’t change his Rule 5 Draft timetable at all. Hensley will be Rule 5 Draft eligible following next season, and unless he comes back from Tommy John surgery and looks like Matt Harvey, I don’t think the Yankees will add him to the 40-man roster. He’s missed way too much development to think he can stick at the MLB level in 2016. This is a decision that is two years away though, so who knows.

As for the lost development time question, yes I think his chances of coming back are better than they would be if he were a position player. Historically, coming back from a long break as a hitter is very tough because hitting is so repetition based. Swings can be lost easily but not as easily found. That’s why most conversions are hitters who become pitchers, not the other way around. Rick Ankiel wasn’t particularly good in the second phase of his career (92 OPS+), but to do what he did was remarkable.

Tom asks: Did the Red Sox spend $95 Million for the worst 3rd baseman in the AL East?

Maybe! But you have to cherry-pick the stats to make it work. Here are four, you pick which ones you like the most. These cover the 2012-14 season:

2015 Season Age OPS+ wRC+ bWAR fWAR
Josh Donaldson 29 127 129 16.9 15.6
Chase Headley 31 123 123 13.6 15.3
Evan Longoria 29 125 125 12.6 12.3
Manny Machado 22 104 104 10.4 9.8
Pablo Sandoval 28 116 115 8.2 7.6

So Sandoval has been the worst of the five over the last three seasons. Does that mean he will be the worst over the next four years too? Who in the world knows. He’s a unique player because of his offensive profile — contact-oriented switch-hitter who’s much weaker from the right side — and his physique. You don’t see players his size all that often, and certainly not playing a position like third base. Sandoval’s really good! But the AL East is full of good third basemen and I don’t think it’s unreasonable to ask if he’s the worst of the five.


Rich asks: Looking back at the 2008 off-season, if Mike Mussina had not retired and made 30-34 starts in 2009, how would the Yankee’s rotation have looked? Would they have signed A.J. Burnett? Plus, how would the post-season rotation look?

I think they would have signed Burnett anyway, but that’s just me. Joba Chamberlain was the fifth starter to start 2008 and I think he would have wound up either in the bullpen or in Triple-A had Moose returned. Chien-Ming Wang went down pretty quickly with injury that year and the Yankees never did have a fifth starter after that — they cycled through Phil Hughes, Sergio Mitre, and Chad Gaudin for most of the year. Assuming Mussina pitched the way he did in 2008 (a big assumption, but let’s roll with it), I think they would have gone with a four-man rotation in the postseason with Moose as the fourth starter. Who knows how that would changed things. As much as I love Moose, it’s hard to see how bringing him back in 2009 would have made things better given how that season played out.

Mark asks: How do the Yankees claim such pride over having a hard throwing bullpen when at the same time they say velocity is not important when it comes to Masahiro Tanaka/CC Sabathia?

Have they said velocity is not important for Tanaka and Sabathia? I don’t think they did. They’ve said they feel those two can be successful without mid-90s gas. Either way, throwing hard is better than not throwing hard. No one will argue otherwise. The harder you throw, the fewer runs you’re likely to allow. The Yankees had the opportunity to rebuild their bullpen this winter, so they loaded up on hard-throwers. If they could have dumped Tanaka and Sabathia for healthier hard-throwers, they would have. But they couldn’t, so they’re stuck talking about how they can be successful without mid-90s velocity.

Joe A. asks: If Tanaka’s new style proves to be ineffective 2 or so months into season, do you see them scrapping new style and just telling him to throw, elbow be damned?

Sure, but it’s not really their choice. Ultimately Tanaka is throwing the pitches and he’ll decide whether he really cuts it loose or not. I’m hopeful this is just a comfort thing, and as the season progresses and Tanaka and gets more comfortable with his elbow, he’ll start letting it loose a little more. That’s a process Tommy John surgery guys go through during their rehab, getting over that fear of throwing like they used to before surgery. There’s a mental wall to break through. I don’t know if that’s the case with Tanaka, I just hope it is.

P.J. asks: How long before one or two of these extensions for players that still are under team control for years come back to bit the team on the butt?

They already have! Several pitcher deals haven’t gone so well, which isn’t surprising because pitchers break. That’s part of the risk. Brett Anderson’s deal with the Athletics and Scott Kazmir’s deal with the Rays stand out. They didn’t work out too well. Nick Blackburn’s deal with the Twins was a total disaster, same with Ricky Romero and the Blue Jays.

On the position player side, the Elvis Andrus contract — which just started this year, by the way — looks pretty bad. He’s gone backwards the last two years. The Vernon Wells and Alex Rios extensions didn’t go as hoped for the Blue Jays and Nick Markakis just stopped developing and plateaued soon after signing long-term with the Orioles. Core guys are the ones I think you focus on signing, not complementary players. Sign Stanton but not Adeiny Hechavarria if you’re the Marlins, know what I mean?

Nathan asks: With Yordano Ventura and Kluber getting locked up long term, should the Yankees look into extending Pineda this season and if he looks good, Nova?

Pineda. (Presswire)
Pineda. (Presswire)

I don’t think the Ventura and Kluber deals change anything for the Yankees*. Neither of those guys was due to hit free agency anytime soon and they didn’t change the market all that much, if at all. If anything, the Rick Porcello contract changed the market. I like him, but I don’t see him as a $20M+ a year pitcher. I think I said this in a mailbag a few weeks ago: if the Yankees want to go long-term with Michael Pineda, they have the flexibility to wait another year to see how he holds up physically. He’s already had major shoulder surgery and he’s under control through 2017, and the Yankees can afford to pay him anything. Unless he’s willing to take a total sweetheart deal (five years, $35M?), I say wait another year and see where he’s at.

* The Ventura deal is one of the few I really love. He has legitimate ace upside and the Royals got him for roughly the same guaranteed money the Phillies paid Kyle Kendrick through arbitration for the same five years of his career.

Brian asks: It seemed like Joe Girardi was heading toward choosing a closer then backed off. Is it likely that he had chosen Dellin Betances before the Spring, but he effectively lost the job based on performance? (Props to Girardi for handling the Spring if that’s the case… it comes off looking like less of a stumble by Betances).

Girardi was talking about using co-closers even before the start of Spring Training and I don’t think he dropped any hints about leaning one way or the other during camp, so this isn’t something that came out of the blue. Dellin’s rough spring could have absolutely played a role in not naming a closer, but the Yankees have shown they aren’t a team that obsesses over spring results all that much. If Girardi was really concerned about Betances, I don’t think he’d be willing to use him in close game early this season, which he’s done already. My guess is they were planning to go co-closers all along unless either guy got hurt.

John asks: Do you think Hal Steinbrenner’s patience is wearing thin with Brian Cashman and do you think a change in that position will occur if the Yankees don’t make the playoffs for a third straight year?

Cashman just signed a new contract this offseason, so no, I don’t think Hal’s patience is wearing thin. If it was, he wouldn’t have re-signed him. Now, does that mean Cashman will be safe if the Yankees miss the postseason again? Of course not. Someone will take the fall, and this stuff usually goes up the ladder. The hitting coach was fired last year, so the manager is next in line to go, then the GM is next to go after that. That’s just how it usually works; I’m not saying that’s what will happen. Unless the Yankees have a disaster season, like 70-92 or something, I expect Cashman to be back next year.

Steven asks: Obviously Rob Refsnyder‘s fielding is a legitimate enough concern to send him to the minors, but could another factor be service time, a la Kris Bryant? Also, would the Yankees do the same thing if in the Cubs’ situation?

I think every team in baseball would do the same thing if they were in the Cubs’ shoes. It’s a no-brainer. You get an extra year of Bryant’s peak and, even if he falls short of expectations and is merely good instead of great, that age 29 season is really valuable. Trading two weeks of Bryant now for a full year of him down the road is an easy choice. I hate the system, but the system is the system, and teams have to do what’s best. It’s a easy call.

As for Refsnyder, manipulating his service time could be a factor, though I think it’s just a fringe benefit more than anything. The Yankees truly seem committed to giving Stephen Drew a chance to show last year was an anomaly, plus Refnsyder obviously needs more seasoning defensively, so Drew it is. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: I see Refsnyder’s career starting like Brett Gardner‘s, meaning he goes up and down a few times before sticking for good. In that case, his service time it what it is.

DotF: Ramon Flores hits for the cycle to open 2015

Okay, now the 2015 season has really begun. The minor league season opened today, so I suppose I have to announce OF Aaron Judge won this year’s Prospect Watch poll rather convincingly. He received almost exactly half of the 2,900+ votes that were cast. Here are the full results. I’ll get the Prospect Watch up either later tonight or tomorrow. Now let’s get to some season-opening notes:

  • LHP Daniel Camarena either already has or will soon make a trip to New York to have his elbow looked at. Apparently Tommy John surgery is likely. RHP Jared Burton (lat), LHP Jose DePaula (shoulder), and C Juan Graterol (arm) are all starting the season on the Triple-A DL. UTIL Ali Castillo (hand) and RHP Zach Nuding are also hurt. [Josh Norris, Donnie Collins, Matt Kardos]
  • RHP Felix Santiago, C Roybell Herrera, C Bismar Nunez, C Daniel Vavrusa, 3B Juan Lorenzo, SS Melvin Aquino, SS Allison Reyes, OF Hector Asencio, and OF Adolfo Morillo have all been released. Morillo ($50k) and Nunez ($10k) signed as international amateurs last July. Vavrusa was signed out of the Czech Republic back in 2011. Also, IF John Murphy and RHP Chris Smith were released, the two announced on Twitter. [Matt Eddy]
  • Judge (No. 5) and 1B Greg Bird (No. 10) were ranked as two of the ten best power prospects in the game by Chris Crawford (subs. req’d). Judge “should be hitting 20-plus homers a year in Yankee Stadium as soon as 2016,” wrote Crawford, who said Bird “has the potential to hit 30 homers in his prime, with 20-plus more likely.”
  • And finally, Double-A Trenton was named the eighth most talented team in the minors by Norris. “Starting the year with two Top 100 Prospects is excellent in its own right, but Trenton will have even more sock in its lineup with the additions of Greg Bird, Gary Sanchez and Eric Jagielo to complement Judge,” wrote Norris.

Now for the game recaps. Since it’s the first game of the year, here are the full lineups and results.

Triple-A Scranton (8-3 win over Syracuse)

  • CF Slade Heathcott: 2-5, 1 R, 1 RBI, 1 K — hopefully his strong spring carries over into the season (and hopefully he stays healthy)
  • LF Ramon Flores: 4-4, 3 R, 1 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 BB — Opening Day cycle? awesome
  • 2B Rob Refsnyder: 2-4, 1 R, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 1 K
  • 1B Kyle Roller: 3-5, 1 K
  • RF Tyler Austin: 1-4, 3 RBI
  • DH Jonathan Galvez: 0-5, 3 K — only guy who didn’t get invited to the party
  • 3B Cole Figueroa: 1-4, 1 R
  • SS Nick Noonan: 2-4, 1 R, 1 2B
  • C Eddy Rodriguez: 1-4, 1 R, 1 K — Austin Romine just cleared waivers yesterday, so he’s probably not with the team yet … he has something like 72 hours to report I believe
  • RHP Bryan Mitchell: 3.2 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 3 K, 6/2 GB/FB — 48 of 83 pitches were strikes (58%) … Bad Mitchell showed up on Opening Day
  • RHP Danny Burawa: 1.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 2 K, 0/2 GB/FB — 13 of 23 pitches were strikes (57%)
  • LHP Tyler Webb: 1 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 2 K — 12 of 21 pitches were strikes (57%)
  • RHP Nick Rumbelow: 1.2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 1 K, 2/1 GB/FB — only 13 of 27 pitches were strikes (48%)
  • LHP Jacob Lindgren: 0.1 IP, zeroes, 1/0 GB/FB — three pitches, two strikes … it’ll be interesting to see how they use him since most relief prospects work on a set schedule, but if he throws with no apparent schedule, they’ll prepping him for a call-up and use in any situation
  • RHP Jose Ramirez: 1 IP, zeroes, 2 K, 1/0 GB/FB — ten pitches, seven strikes

[Read more…]

Bad second inning sinks Sabathia, Yankees; Blue Jays take rubber game 6-3

New season, same ol’ story. The Yankees have lost their first series of the season for the fourth consecutive year thanks to Thursday night’s 6-3 rubber game loss to the Blue Jays. Good starts are overrated anyways. Or at least I think they are. Can’t remember many of ’em. The Yankees have had the lead for a total of one half-inning in their three games so far this season.

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

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Sabathia
Gosh, what an uneven start for CC Sabathia. Outside of the second inning, he allowed three singles and one unearned run in 4.2 innings, striking out seven and getting five other outs on the ground. Sabathia was sharp from the third through fifth inning, striking out six and allowing just a single. I can’t remember seeing a stretch like that last year before he got hurt.

Unfortunately, the second inning happened, and in that second inning the Blue Jays scored four runs on five singles and two run-scoring ground outs. Four of the five hits were ground balls through the infield (one was an infield single) but the underlying problem was Sabathia’s inability to put hitters away while pitching from the stretch. He was ahead in the count to four of the batters who either singled or drove in a run with a ground out. Sabathia was striking dudes out left and right from the windup. But from the stretch, the swing-and-miss ability wasn’t there for whatever reason. Maybe it was just one of those things on one of those nights.

The Blue Jays scored a fifth run with Sabathia on the mound in the sixth inning that was sorta dopey. Josh Donaldson reached on an infield single then scored all the way from first on a Danny Valencia ground ball single and some defensive hilarity. Carlos Beltran‘s throw from right hit Donaldson as he slid into third and the ball got by Chase Headley, and Sabathia wasn’t in position backing up third base, so Donaldson trotted in to score. That run doesn’t count against CC’s ERA (error charged to Beltran) but it was his fault for not backing up.

All told, Sabathia allowed the five runs on eight hits (all singles) and no walks in 5.2 innings. He struck out eight and threw 68 of 95 pitches for strikes, including 15 swings and misses. That’s pretty good! But the inability to limit the damage in the second inning was a killer. There was no put-away pitch that inning and balls kept finding holes. Maybe they’ll find fielders next time.

Turn Back The Clock
For one brief, five-minute window in the sixth inning, we got a look back at an era when the Yankees could hit. Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira both went deep off Daniel Norris, cutting what was then a four-run deficit in half. It was the first homer of the season for both guys and the 655th of A-Rod‘s career. He’s five away from tying Willie Mays and triggering that first $6M bonus. Dingers. Remember when the Yankees hit too many of those?

The Yankees didn’t stop there though. Chris Young was awarded first base after being grazed by a pitch, and John Ryan Murphy dunked his second double of the game into the left field corner. Joe Girardi wisely pinch-hit for Gregorio Petit — aside: platoons have gone too far when you’re giving Petit at-bats — but chose Stephen Drew over three superior options in Brett Gardner, Brian McCann, and Garrett Jones.

I can kinda sorta understand why Girardi wouldn’t pinch-hit one of those guys — they’d burn three players (Petit, the pinch-hitter, then Drew to play second) in one move — but I don’t like it. The tying run was in scoring position and runs for this team are at a premium. I’m willing to give Drew time to show he’s better than last year, but choosing to use him off the bench in that spot over those other guys? Nah. I’d have hit Gardner. In the sixth inning with a rookie pitcher on the mound? That was too good a chance to go with someone other than your best available hitter.

Chances, But No Runs
Before the two homers, the Yankees scored a run in the fifth inning when Didi Gregorius singled — his first hit as a Yankee and it was off a lefty! — in Murphy, who doubled into the left field corner. The serial killer killed it in his first start of the year. Of course, these are the 2015 Yankees, so Gregorius got caught making too big a turn at first base and was thrown out on the single. Three games, two bad base-running blunders for the new shortstop. Growing pains, yo.

The Yankees had other opportunities to score though. They had the leadoff man on base in the fourth (A-Rod walk) and seventh (Gregorius walk) innings but did not score. The fourth inning was particularly gross — Beltran doubled to left following A-Rod’s walk to put runners at second and third with no outs, yet the Yankees still failed to score. Teixeira hit a tough luck liner right at Donaldson, Headley turned a 3-0 count into a backwards K, and Young popped up. A ground out and two strikeouts followed Didi’s walk in the seventh.

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

I usually write these things bit by bit during the game, and no joke, I was about to write something saying Esmil Rogers did a nice job keeping the Yankees close after Sabathia exited when he hung that slider Edwin Encarnacion hit off the back wall of the visitor’s bullpen for a solo homer. One run in 2.1 innings is okay, right? Okay fine, no. (David Carpenter retired all three batters he faced in the ninth.)

Everyone in the starting lineup reached base at least once except for Petit, who got two-at bats before being lifted for Drew. A-Rod (tater, walk), Gregorius (single, walk), Murphy (double double), and Young (walk, hit-by-pitch) reached base twice. The Yankees went 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position and just one of the last ten men they sent to the plate reached base. That non-Gardner at-bat was killer. It proved to be their last real chance to get back in it.

Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
Here are the box score and video highlights, and here are the updated standings. It’s way too early to be scoreboard watching though. Also make sure you check out our Bullpen Workload page and our brand new Announcer Standings pages. The Bullpen Workload page is useful. The other one … not so much. But it’s fun, so why not. Here’s the win probability graph:

Source: FanGraphs

Up Next
The Yankees are finished with the Blue Jays for now and will welcome the Red Sox to the Bronx for a three-game weekend series starting Friday night. Nathan Eovaldi and Wade Miley will both be making their first starts for their new teams. Check out RAB Tickets if you want to catch any of the games live.

Game Three: The Return of CC Sabathia


For the first time since May 10th of last season, CC Sabathia will be on the mound in a regular season game for the Yankees tonight. He missed most of last year due to knee surgery and had an ugly spring in which he emphasized health over results. For a veteran guy who’s been doing this as long as Sabathia, that makes sense.

This is the regular season though, and results matter. The Yankees and Blue Jays have split the first two games of this three-game series, and New York is trying to win their first season-opening series since 2011. Yeah, it’s been a while. How about a strong start from Sabathia and some offensive rallies that involve more than one ball being hit out of the infield? Modest goals for tonight. Here is the starting lineup:

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

Joe Girardi said the regulars who aren’t starting (Brett Gardner, Brian McCann, Stephen Drew) are all healthy, they’re just sitting against the lefty Daniel Norris. Here is Toronto’s starting lineup.

The weather is the same as last night, basically. Cold with some very slight rain, though it isn’t as windy. Tonight’s game is scheduled to begin at 7:05pm ET and will be broadcast on YES. Enjoy the game.

RAB on CBS: Nathan Eovaldi’s secretly elite skill

When the Yankees acquired Nathan Eovaldi this past offseason, they acquired a 25-year-old with a big arm and some things to iron out. Eovaldi’s strikeout rate doesn’t match his stuff and he led the NL in hits allowed last season. He’s not a finished product.

In Eovaldi, the Yankees also acquired the best right-handed pitcher in baseball at shutting down the running game. Eovaldi has allowed only two stolen bases and six stolen base attempts over the last two seasons, which is roughly one steal attempt every 51 innings. Adam Wainwright is a distant second among righties at 33 innings between steal attempts, and Wainwright has the advantage of throwing to Yadier Molina.

Thanks to the magic of BBWAA membership, I spoke to Eovaldi about his ability to shut down the opposing team’s running game yesterday, and he made it clear it was no fluke. He takes pride in keeping runners close to first base and has worked hard to learn how to keep runners on their heels, specifically with a quick slide step and by varying his times to the plate.

You can read about Eovaldi’s slide step skills at CBS’s Eye on Baseball. He’ll make his first start of the season on Friday night, against a Red Sox team without many stolen base threats.

Yanks have 18th best farm system in Baseball America’s organizational rankings


Early last week, Baseball America released their annual farm system rankings, which are predictably topped by the Kris Bryant-led Cubs. The Red Sox and Dodgers round out the top three while the Angels, Orioles, and Tigers claim the bottom three spots. The farm rankings and write-ups are free. You don’t need a subscription.

The Yankees are ranked 18th overall, which, believe it or not, is actually down from 13th last year, when the Yankees had that miserable 2013 season. That’s because Baseball America considered Masahiro Tanaka a prospect last year — he was fourth on their 2014 top 100 prospects list — and he’s graduated to the big leagues. I guess the massive international spending spree doesn’t make up to Tanaka’s graduation. Anyway, here’s the blurb on New York’s farm system:

How They Got Here: The Yankees got breakout seasons from Luis Severino and Aaron Judge, who are opposites physically. However, the Yankees have failed to develop in-house young replacements for an aging roster that has missed the playoffs in back-to-back seasons. New York’s unprecedented July 2 international spending ($17.3 million) brought in impressive depth, obviously with risk that is ameliorated by the depth.

High-Ceiling Sleeper: The system is full of them, but a spring candidate who was emerging was 21-year-old Domingo Acevedo, a big-bodied Dominican signee who is starting to coordinate the long levers in his 6-foot-7, (listed) 190-pound frame. His fastball was sitting in the 94-96 mph range during the spring and reaching higher, and it was still just March. He’s headed for his full-season debut.

2015 Rookies: A concussion this spring interrupted 2B Jose Pirela’s chase for a utility role or to compete with Rob Refsnyder for the second-base job. LHP Chasen Shreve and RHP Bryan Mitchell competed for staff roles in spring training, with Mitchell headed back to the minors to start the year in a rotation role.

Acevedo continues to get a lot of love this spring. A strong year with Low-A Charleston should shoot him up prospects lists. Also, I’m surprised Jacob Lindgren was not mentioned as a top 2015 rookie in the write-up, but whatever. We know he’ll be up at some point and that’s all that matters.

Baseball America is the high man on the Yankees’ farm system this spring, though not really. Keith Law had them 20th and Baseball Prospectus had them 21st, and there’s not really much of a difference between 18th and 21st. It’s a matter of personal preference at that level, not quality or quantity of talent. As I’ve been saying all winter, the farm system figures to take a big step forward this summer thanks to the international talent haul. That’s a lot of talent added at once.