Update: Ian Clarkin added to Arizona Fall League roster

(MLB.com screen grab)
(MLB.com screen grab)

September 24th: Well, there has been a change of plans. MLB Pipeline reports Clarkin is instead heading to the Arizona Fall League, not Instructional League. That’s a pretty big deal. The AzFL is much more competitive than Instructs and less informal too — Clarkin is returning to true game action. He must be perfectly healthy. Good news.

September 22nd: This is some pretty encouraging news. Left-handed pitching prospect Ian Clarkin has been added to this year’s Instructional League roster, reports Josh Norris. Here is the original Instructional League roster. Instructs started last week and they start playing actual games next week.

Clarkin, 20, did not pitch at all during the minor league season this year due to an ongoing elbow issue. He was shut down with elbow inflammation in Spring Training, reportedly returned to throw some innings in Extended Spring Training in May, but had to be shut down again at some point.

According to assistant GM Billy Eppler, Clarkin has been on a throwing program in recent weeks, which advanced as far as facing hitters in live batting practice. Clarkin even posted a photo of himself throwing off a mound four weeks ago. The elbow injury, whatever it is, did not require surgery.

The assignment to Instructional League means Clarkin is healthy enough to pitch in actual games now, which is a big deal after the lost season. It’s not much — Instructs only last about four weeks, so he’ll get maybe 15-20 innings, if that — but it’s better than nothing. He needs to get some innings under his belt this year. More than zero.

Clarkin was the third of the Yankees’ three first round picks in the 2013 draft, following Eric Jagielo and Aaron Judge. The southpaw had a 3.12 ERA (3.65 FIP) with a 24.7% strikeout rate and a 7.6% walk rate in 75 innings last year, almost all with Low-A Charleston. He did made one late-season spot start with High-A Tampa.

I ranked Clarkin has New York’s second best pitching prospect coming into the season because he’s a four-pitch lefty — low-90s heater, cutter, changeup, curveball — with a bat-missing breaking ball to go with good location and deception. He doesn’t necessarily have ace upside, but Clarkin is a no-doubt starter with few flaws. A boringly good prospect, I’d say.

Given how aggressively the Yankees have moved their prospects the last year or two, Clarkin might have made it to Double-A Trenton this summer, if healthy. That would have put him in position to help at the MLB level next year. Injuries happen, that’s part of pitching, so Clarkin’s development has hit a bump in the road. Hopefully next year he can pick right up where he left off in 2014.

Game 152: The Final Homestand


Welcome to the final homestand of the 2015 regular season. With any luck, the Yankees will play a few more games at Yankee Stadium in the postseason as well. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves though. There are still a bunch of eight home games against a pair of Soxes to play first.

The White Sox are in town for a four-game series, and while the Yankees are sitting pretty in the wildcard standings, they do need to actually win some games to make sure they clinch. The magic number for a postseason berth is seven and it would be cool to celebrate that at home during the homestand. Here is the White Sox’s lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:

  1. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  2. 3B Chase Headley
  3. DH Alex Rodriguez
  4. RF Carlos Beltran
  5. LF Chris Young
  6. C John Ryan Murphy
  7. 1B Dustin Ackley
  8. 2B Rob Refsnyder
  9. SS Brendan Ryan
    RHP Michael Pineda

It has been nice and sunny in New York today and it’ll be cool and clear tonight. Pretty much exactly what you expect in late-September. Tonight’s game will begin at 7:05pm ET and you can watch on YES locally and MLB Network nationally. Enjoy.

Wilkerman Garcia ranked among top 20 Gulf Coast League prospects by Baseball America

Garcia. (MLB.com screen grab)
Garcia. (MLB.com screen grab)

Baseball America’s breakdown of the top 20 prospects in each minor league continued today with the rookie level Gulf Coast League. As always, the list is free but the scouting reports are not. You need a subscription for those. Red Sox RHP Anderson Espinoza sits in the top spot and is followed by Nationals OF Victor Robles and Astros OF Kyle Tucker.

The Yankees have just one player on the GCL list: SS Wilkerman Garcia, who ranks sixth. Interestingly, Garcia is right smack in the middle of a group that includes 2015 first rounders Phillies SS Cornelius Randolph (tenth overall pick, ranked fifth in GCL), Rays OF Garrett Whitley (13th overall, seventh in GCL), and Tigers RHP Beau Burrows (22nd overall, eight in GCL).

“He’s a switch-hitter with a sound hitting approach from both sides, using all fields and showing good patience and bat-to-ball skills,” said the write-up of Garcia while noting he’s a very instinctive player. “While scouts from other clubs felt Garcia would fit better at second or third base, the Yankees were convicted he could play shortstop. He’s backed up their confidence by showing a plus arm, good hands and footwork along with a knack for slowing the game down.”

The Yankees signed the 17-year-old Garcia for $1.35M last summer as part of their massive international spending spree. That’s late first round money, so I guess it makes sense he’s ranked among a bunch of actual first round picks in the GCL top 20. Anyway, Garcia hit .281/.396/.347 (131 wRC+) with more walks (16.0%) than strikeouts (12.7%) in 37 games for the GCL Yanks this summer.

In the subscriber-only chat, Ben Badler said 3B Dermis Garcia “wasn’t really in the mix” for the top 20 despite receiving the largest bonus ($3.2M) among last year’s international haul. “He does have huge raw power and a big arm, but he’s still fairly crude as expected as a hitter and is going to have to keep his conditioning in check going forward,” said Badler. RHP Gilmael Troya, who signed for $10,000 last year, was considered for the list because his velocity jumped into the low-90s and he has a “chance for an above-average curveball and pretty solid feel for pitching.”

The next list of interest to Yankees fans is the Short Season NY-Penn League, which will be posted either tomorrow or early next week. RHP Domingo Acevedo is a lock for the NYPL top 20 and others like IF Thairo Estrada and SS Kyle Holder should receive consideration as well. First rounder RHP James Kaprielian and second rounder LHP Jeff Degano weren’t with the Staten Island Yankees long enough to qualify for the list.

Other league top 20s: Rookie Appalachian League

9/24 to 9/27 Series Preview: Chicago White Sox

Robin Ventura

It’s not often the Yankees play a non-AL East team this late in the season — they’ve played only six series against a non-division rival after September 20th since 2005 — but the final homestand of the season begins tonight with the first of four against the White Sox. There are only eight regular season games at Yankee Stadium remaining in 2015. Hopefully there will be many more in October. The Yankees took two of three from the White Sox in Chicago in early-August.

What Have The White Sox Done Lately?

The ChiSox just split four games with the Tigers — they won the first two games then lost the last two — and have won only three of their last eight games overall. Chicago is 72-80 with a -69 run differential on the season. Amazingly, the White Sox are still mathematically alive in the wildcard race. Barely alive, but alive nonetheless.

Offense & Defense

Runs have not come easily for the ChiSox this season. They average only 3.97 runs per game with a team 88 wRC+, both of which are bottom five marks in MLB. U.S. Cellular Field is pretty hitter friendly, remember. Manager Robin Ventura’s only injured player is 1B Adam LaRoche (78 wRC+), who is day-to-day while nursing a knee injury.

The Melkman. (Presswire)
The Melkman. (Presswire)

Ventura has had two even average hitters in his lineup all season: leadoff man OF Adam Eaton (114 wRC+) and three-hole hitter 1B Jose Abreu (133 wRC+). That’s it. OF Tryace Thompson (162 wRC+) has done quite well in a sample of 94 plate appearances. (Tryace is Klay’s brother.) Ex-Yankee OF Melky Cabrera (95 wRC+) started very slow but has been better in recent weeks, posting a 121 wRC+ since the All-Star break. OF Avisail Garcia (84 wRC+) doesn’t look like he’s ever going to live up those “mini-Miguel Cabrera” comparisons he got as a prospect.

SS Alexei Ramirez (72 wRC+) has had the worst season of his career in 2015. 2B Micah Johnson (62 wRC+ in limited time) and IF Carlos Sanchez (66 wRC+) are platooning at second and IF Mike Olt (63 wRC+ in limited time) has taken over as the everyday third baseman. IF Tyler Saladino (71 wRC+) started hot but has since played his way onto the bench, where he joins IF Gordon Beckham (59 wRC+) and OF J.B. Shuck (97 wRC+ in limited time). C Geovany Soto (96 wRC+) somehow gets fewer at-bats than C Tyler Flowers (71 wRC+). UTIL Leury Garcia and C Rob Brantly are the September call-ups.

The White Sox are also a sneaky bad defensive team. Eaton has a reputation for being good but the defensive stats hate him this year and have pretty much every season of his career aside from 2014. Melky has a strong arm but his routes are as bad as ever, and while Garcia has a penchant for robbing homers, he lacks range. Sanchez is a very good defender and Ramirez remains solid — not what he once was, but still solid — but otherwise the rest of the infield is below-average. For what it’s worth, Flowers rates exceptionally well as a pitch-framer. He’s also thrown out roughly one-quarter of attempted base-stealers, which is below-average.

Pitching Matchups

Thursday (7pm ET): RHP Michael Pineda (vs. CWS) vs. LHP Chris Sale (vs. NYY)
The Yankees almost missed Sale this series. Almost. He was scheduled to start yesterday’s game, but the ChiSox decided to give rookie righty Frankie Montas a spot start instead, so Sale goes tonight. For shame. Sale, 26, has a 3.47 ERA (2.67 FIP) in 29 starts and 194.2 innings this year. His strikeout rate (32.5%) leads qualified AL starters and is second in MLB to Clayton Kershaw (32.9%). Sale’s walk rate (5.0%) is very good while both his grounder (42.9%) and homer (0.97 HR/9) numbers are hovering around the league average. He has a negligible platoon split (.285 vs. 282 wOBA in favor of righties). Sale actually added velocity this year and now sits in the mid-90s with his two-seamer and will occasionally touch 97-98. He was more low-90s and touching 95-96 the last few years. Both his mid-80s changeup and upper-70s slider are swing-and-miss pitches. The relatively high ERA has more to do with the team defense than anything Sale has done. He’s tremendous.

Friday (7pm ET): LHP CC Sabathia (vs. CWS) vs. LHP Carlos Rodon (vs. NYY)
The White Sox selected the 22-year-old Rodon with the third overall pick in last summer’s draft, and he was in the big leagues by April. Rodon has a 3.78 ERA (3.81 FIP) in 133.1 innings spread across 22 starts and three relief appearances, and he’s been excellent of late, pitching to a 1.66 ERA (3.41 FIP) in his last seven starts and 48.2 innings. Chicago has been spacing out his starts to keep his workload down these last few weeks. Maybe that’s helping his performance. Anyway, Rodon walks too many batters (11.4%) but otherwise has good to great strikeout (23.3%), grounder (47.4%), and homer (0.74 HR/9) rates. He’s crushed lefties (.227 wOBA) and gotten crushed by righties (.354 wOBA). Rodon lives in the mid-90s with his two and four-seam fastballs, and his moneymaker is a filthy upper-80s slider. That’s the pitch that got him drafted so high. Rodon also throws a few mid-80s changeups per start. The Yankees pounded Rodon for eight runs in three innings in their meeting last month.

Rodon. (Presswire)
Rodon. (Presswire)

Saturday (4pm ET): RHP Adam Warren (vs. CWS) vs. LHP John Danks (vs. NYY)
The Yankees have Andrew Bailey on the roster trying to come back following shoulder capsule surgery. The 30-year-old Danks is a reminder Bailey may never get back to where he was before surgery. Danks had his shoulder capsule repaired in 2012 and has a 4.69 ERA (4.78 FIP) in 498.2 innings since returning, including a 4.59 ERA (4.57 FIP) in 28 starts and 166.2 innings this year. It was a 4.12 ERA (4.19 FIP) in 971.1 innings before the injury. Danks is actually one of the lucky ones. Many don’t make it back from a torn capsule at all. Anyway, Danks has a good walk rate (7.0%) but below-average strikeout (16.3%), grounder (38.7%), and homer (1.30 HR/9) numbers this year. Righties (.351 wOBA) have hammered him compared to lefties (.304 wOBA). Danks lives in the upper-80s with his two and four-seam fastballs post-shoulder surgery, and a notch below that with his cutter. A low-80s changeup is his go-to offspeed pitch, and he’ll also flip a few mid-70s curveballs per start as well. He held New York to one run in 5.2 innings last month. Danks always seems to pitch well against the Yankees, doesn’t he? The numbers are not as good as I expected though.

Sunday (1pm ET): RHP Luis Severino (No vs. CWS) vs. TBA
Chicago’s starter for Sunday is still listed as TBA, but in all likelihood it will be right-hander Jeff Samardzija, who is having a yucky walk year. The 30-year-old has a 5.04 ERA (4.18 FIP) in 31 starts and 207 innings this season, though to his credit, he chucked a one-hit shutout against the Tigers last time out. Only threw 88 pitches too. Samardzija’s walk rate (5.6%) is very good but his strikeout (18.1%), grounder (39.4%), and homer (1.17 HR/9) numbers are all below-average. He’s also been hit way harder by lefties (.356 wOBA) than righties (.302 wOBA). Samardzija operates with a mid-90s four-seamer and a low-90s cutter, which set up mid-80s sliders and splitters. The slider is for righties, the splitter for lefties. The Yankees scored nine runs in 4.2 innings against the former Notre Dame wide receiver back in August. If Samardzija doesn’t start Sunday, it figures to be either righty Erik Johnson or lefty Jose Quintana.

The Yankees, meanwhile, have listed Pineda, Sabathia, Warren, and Severino as their starters for this series in that order, though it’s possible they will change gears and re-insert Masahiro Tanaka into the rotation at some point. They have several options to get him lined up for the wildcard games. If Tanaka doesn’t pitch this series, then he figures to make just one final regular season tune-up start against the Red Sox in the next series.

Bullpen Status
Unsurprisingly, Ventura is working with a stinky bullpen. Former Yankee RHP David Robertson (3.34 ERA/2.47 FIP) is the closer, and although he’s struggled a little of late, he’s been pretty good overall. (The Yankees didn’t see him in Chicago a few weeks ago.) LHP Zach Duke (3.64/4.67) and RHP Nate Jones (3.44/4.94) are Robertson’s primary setup men. Former Yankees draft pick Jake Petricka (3.73/3.42) will see high-leverage work as well.

RHP Matt Albers (1.29/3.51), LHP Dan Jennings (4.15/3.57), and RHP Zach Putnam (3.91/4.21) are Ventura’s other regular relievers. The crop of September call-ups includes RHP Scott Carroll and RHP Daniel Webb. Carroll, Webb, Putnam, and Jennings all pitched yesterday. Our Bullpen Workload page can keep you updated on Joe Girardi‘s bullpen. Head over to South Side Sox for the latest and greatest on the ChiSox.

(GIF via @cjzero)

Yankeemetrics: It’s getting late early (Sept. 21-23)

(USA Today Sports Photo)
(USA Today Sports Photo)

Out of our Price range
The biggest takeaway from Monday’s crushing loss to the Blue Jays in the Most Important Series of the Year, is that there’s little doubt about the impact that David Price has made on this AL East race.

Since joining Toronto, Price is now 3-0 with a 1.71 ERA in four starts against the Yankees — and the only game he didn’t win (Aug. 14), he left with a 3-1 lead. A quick glance at the division standings shows that the Yankees are three games back of the Blue Jays in the loss column. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to do that math.

Price was brilliant again in this game, holding the Yankees to just two hits in seven scoreless innings. It was the second time this season he’s allowed no runs and no more than three hits against the Yankees (also on Aug. 8). The last left-handed pitcher with two starts like that against the Yankees in a single season was the Orioles Dave McNally in 1974.

The loss dropped to the Yankees to 5-12 against the Blue Jays this season. That’s their most single-season losses versus Toronto in franchise history.

Killing two Birds with one stone
A player that was in Double-A just a few months ago, in rookie ball the last time the Yankees made the playoffs, and in high school the last time they won the World Series — kept their hopes for a division title alive with one swing of the bat on Tuesday night.

Greg Bird’s dramatic tie-breaking, three-run homer in the 10th inning was the decisive blow in a game the Yankees simply couldn’t lose. Bird has had his share of True Yankee Moments, and this one etched his name in the record books. Here we go …

• he is the third Yankee age 22 or younger to hit an extra-inning home run. The others were a 21-year-old Melky Cabrera in 2006 against the Mariners and a 22-year-old Derek Jeter in 1996 versus the Royals;

• he joins Tino Martinez in 1997 as the only first baseman in franchise history with an extra-inning homer against the Blue Jays;

• and, now our Obscure Yankeemetric of the Week: he is the first Yankee infielder in the last 75 seasons with a multi-RBI, extra-inning homer in a September game.

Bird’s blast was also the third extra-inning three-run home run the Yankees have hit this season. If that sounds like a lot, well … In the past 75 years, this is the only time they’ve squeezed three three-run, extra-inning homers into a single season.

Bird wasn’t the only superstar in this game. Luis Severino tossed another gem with six innings of two-run, three-hit ball — the third time in nine starts he’s allowed no more than three hits. The only other Yankees in the Live Ball Era (since 1920) with at least three starts of three hits or fewer in a season as a 21-year-old or younger are Whitey Ford (1950), Tom Morgan (1951) and Bill Burbach (1969).

It’s not what you want
While Wednesday’s loss doesn’t officially eliminate the Yankees from the AL East race — we all know that it ain’t over til it’s over — but it does put a huge dent in their division title hopes. It’s awfully hard to make up three games in the loss column with 11 to play and no more head-to-head matchups against the team you’re chasing. Sigh.

In what has been a recurring theme against this Blue Jays team, the Yankees offense went into hibernation in the 4-0 loss. This was the third time they’ve been shut out by Toronto this season; the rest of baseball has pitched just three shutouts combined against the Yankees.

With the loss, the Yankees finished 4-5 at the Rogers Centre, their sixth straight sub-.500 record at the stadium. That’s their longest active streak of losing seasons at any American League ballpark.

Our old friend Russell Martin was responsible for all four of the Blue Jays runs, scoring the first one on Kevin Pillar’s RBI single in the sixth inning, and then driving in three more with a homer in the seventh inning. That gave him 17 RBIs as a catcher (and one as a pinch hitter) against the Yankees this season, the most by any backstop in the Divisional Era (since 1969).

Ending on a positive note, we’ve got one milestone alert for this game: A-Rod’s ninth-inning double was the 540th two-bagger of his career, matching Hall of Famers Joe Medwick and Dave Winfield for 35th place on the all-time list.

Yankees now have the flexibility to line Masahiro Tanaka up for wildcard game


Last night Ivan Nova, not Masahiro Tanaka, started the Yankees’ series finale against the Blue Jays. Tanaka suffered a Grade I right hamstring strain running the bases last Friday, and although he said he could have started last night, the Yankees played it safe. “I can’t say 100 percent, but I believe he will (make his next start),” said Brian Cashman to George King earlier this week. “He felt he could have pitched Wednesday.”

The Yankees are 3.5 games back of the Blue Jays in the AL East following last night’s loss (three in the loss column), and there are only eleven games remaining in the regular season. Catching (and passing) Toronto is not impossible, just very unlikely. FanGraphs puts New York’s odds of winning the division at a mere 6.2%, and those odds have taken an embarrassing tumble over the last few weeks:

ALE odds 092315

Sheesh. This just completed series in Toronto was the Yankees’ big chance to climb back into the AL East race and they didn’t take advantage. So it goes. The Blue Jays are the better team and they deserve the division title. That’s been made abundantly clear over the last few weeks.

The Yankees remain a postseason caliber team, however. They’re four games up on the Astros for the top wildcard spot (five in the loss column) and five games up on the Twins for a wildcard spot in general (also five in the loss column). The magic number to clinch a playoff spot is a mere seven. Even if the Yankees go 5-6 in their last eleven games, the Twins need to go 11-1 just to tie and force a Game 163 tiebreaker. Again, it’s not impossible, just really unlikely.

With the division title looking out of reach, the Yankees now have to focus on lining Tanaka up to start the wildcard game, assuming the hamstring is healthy, of course. The injury doesn’t seem like it will be a lingering issue — Tanaka will have a check-up today, then the Yankees will reportedly decide when to re-insert him into the rotation — but who knows with hamstrings. Hopefully Tanaka is back out there soon. It would be very bad if he wasn’t. He’s their most reliable starter by a mile.

Tanaka’s temporary hiatus does give the Yankees the freedom to re-insert him into the rotation whenever it is most convenient with regards to the wildcard game. The AL wildcard game is scheduled for Tuesday, October 6th, and given the way they’ve operated all season, I’m guessing the Yankees will want Tanaka to make that start with an extra day of rest. The numbers say he’s better on regular rest, but finding the extra day has been the priority all year.

Working backwards from the wildcard game, here’s what Tanaka’s schedule would look like with one extra day of rest for each start:

Thursday, September 24th vs. White Sox
Wednesday, September 30th vs. Red Sox
Tuesday, October 6th in wildcard game

So Tanaka would have to start tonight if the Yankees want to line him up for the wildcard game with an extra day of rest before each start. Obviously that won’t happen. He’s not pitching tonight. The Yankees could always “skip” tonight’s start against the White Sox and instead give Tanaka some extra time to let the hamstring heal, roll him out there against the Red Sox next Wednesday as a tune-up, then head into the wildcard game. That’s an option too.

Starting Tanaka on regular rest is another option and the Yankees have been more willing to do that down the stretch — he’s made his last two and three of his last four starts on normal rest after doing it just twice in his first 19 starts. Besides, Tanaka’s getting extra rest right now, right? The hamstring injury is giving him a little bit of a breather. An unintended breather, but a breather nonetheless. He might not need extra rest after this.

So again, working backwards from the wildcard game, here’s how Tanaka’s end-of-season schedule would shake out with each start coming on normal rest:

Saturday, September 26th vs. White Sox
Thursday, October 1st vs. Red Sox
Tuesday, October 6th in wildcard game

Of course, the Yankees could also let Tanaka make one start on extra rest and the other on normal rest. They’ve have to start Tanaka against the White Sox tomorrow to make that happen, then either start him next Wednesday (normal rest) or Thursday (extra rest) to line him up for the wildcard game.

The hamstring might dictate the team’s course of action down the stretch. My guess is the Yankees will want Tanaka to have extra rest at some point, either before his final regular season start or the wildcard game. He’d have to start tomorrow to make that possible. (Either that or Tanaka only makes one more regular season start, not two.) Will the hamstring allow that? The injury sounds minor but who knows. The last thing the Yankees need is Tanaka re-aggravating the injury and being unable to start the wildcard game.

Realistically, the Yankees have to focus on the wildcard game now. No, they’re not mathematically eliminated from the AL East yet, but a 3.5-game deficit with eleven to play is damn near impossible to make up. This series in Toronto was their best chance to get back into the race and it didn’t happen. So be it. Lining Tanaka up for the wildcard game is a priority now, and as long as the hamstring issue isn’t serious, the Yankees will be able to give him as much or as little rest as they want leading into the play-in game.

Yankee bats snapped like straws by Stroman in a 4-0 loss in Toronto

On a bright side, the Yankees won’t face the Blue Jays for rest of the regular season and, well, that’s pretty much it. Ivan Nova pitched 5.2 solid innings but the offense came up empty handed against Marcus Stroman and Jays bullpen to drop the series finale 4-0. Joe Girardi‘s gamble on inexperienced relievers didn’t work to New York’s favor either.

(Source: Getty)

Nova, not terrible this time

Nova didn’t look awful. In fact, this was his best outing since August 2 when he held the White Sox to two runs in six innings. His line tonight: 5.2 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 2 BB and 6 strikeouts. That’s good – especially against the lineup the Jays have.

His stuff looked good. At least to my naked eye, it seemed like his fastball and curve had more North-South depth to them, leading to a lot of chopped fouls, grounders and overall more weak contact. I don’t think he’ll be in line for the postseason rotation (if they were to go as far as ALDS and more) but tonight’s start, at least, gave some hope.

Bullpen management? 

The Yankee bullpen gave first. After Nova departed in the sixth following Russell Martin‘s walk, Girardi brought in lefty James Pazos to face lefty-hitting Ryan Goins. After getting ahead 0-2, Pazos allowed a single to center to make it two outs and runners on first and third. You might think, with division race at stake, Girardi would bring in someone like Justin Wilson to shut the inning down. Instead, he brought in Caleb Cotham – who, in my opinion, has fine stuff to be a future ML reliever but would I trust him wholeheartedly to hold the 0-0 tie? I’m not sure.

On Cotham’s first pitch, Kevin Pillar lined a single up the middle to give Jays a 1-0 lead. Pillar tormented the Yanks all series and this was just a slice from the highlight reel. Cotham issued a walk to PH Ezequiel Carrera to load the bases but induced a long fly out to Ben Revere to barely limit the damage to a run. Damage done, nonetheless.

So these bullpen guys are talented but not a lot of them have been ML-tested – especially in a high-stress situation against the best lineup in the league. Girardi put on a heck of a gamble by putting the names James Pazos, Caleb Cotham and Andrew Bailey to protect the pitching side of things of the game and it clearly didn’t work out that way.

To be fair, a lot of the main guys – Wilson, Betances, Miller, etc. – have been worked a lot and it’s important to keep them fresh for longer run for late in the season and, possibly, postseason. This could have been a different outcome had Masahiro Tanaka not tweaked his hamstring and be able to go deeper into the game. All I can say at this point is – it is what it is.

The new 6 god? (Source: Getty)

Wasted chances

Stroman was no straw man. He was quite nasty and did a lot to miss the Yankee bats – throwing different kinds of fastballs (cutting, sinking, straight, etc.), locating them very well, changing speeds, uncorking that nasty hard slider down and in against lefties, etc. – he had a lot going on. With his return, the Jays postseason rotation is suddenly looking formidable.

New York definitely had few shares of scoring chances. Greg Bird led off with a single in the fifth. Two pitches later, Chase Headley, in a bit of a cold streak, grounded into a double play to immediately kill the rally. Considering that Dustin Ackley followed that up with a deep double to right-center, that GIDP represented some big missed opportunity to get edge or New York.

The Yankees had another chance to rally in the top of seventh. Carlos Beltran walked with one out against Stroman but Bird flew out. Headley, who killed a potential rally earlier, singled to center to make it two outs and runners on first and second. Up came one of the hottest hitters in the lineup: Dustin Ackley.

Ackley had already doubled in the game and it wasn’t out of question he would do more damage against a tiring Stroman. He hit an offspeed offering from Stroman quite hard – maybe too hard as it went right into CF Kevin Pillar’s glove in no time. It was that kind of night for Yankee offense.

Bigger deficit

Andrew Bailey relieved Cotham to start the bottom seventh. He promptly allowed a leadoff double to Josh Donaldson on a hanging curve. Jose Bautista grounded out to advance Donaldson to third. The Yankees followed it up by intentionally walking Edwin Encarnacion. With one out, runners on corners, Bailey struck out Justin Smoak with a nasty curveball – a display reminiscent of his All-Star days.

Bailey almost got out of the inning scoreless – with two outs, on a 1-2 count against Martin, the righty threw a 95 mph fastball just off the corner, maybe an inch away from a called strike. However, the ump called it a ball and Martin drilled the next pitch – a 93-mph fastball right down the middle – for a three-run homer. 4-0 Jays.

The Yankees had another shot at rallying in top ninth against the Jays closer Roberto Osuna. A-Rod led off with a laser double. Brian McCann hit a grounder up the middle that almost nicked the base but that didn’t happen – Goins threw him out for the first out while A-Rod advanced to third. Osuna overpowered Slade Heathcott for a strikeout and Bird flew out to finish the shutout. The AL East deficit grew to 3.5 games again.

Box score, standings, highlights and WPA

Here’s tonight’s box score, updated standings, video highlights and WPA.

Source: FanGraphs

The Yankees return home to the Bronx to face the White Sox for a four-game series (it’s really four games this time, I checked). Chicago’s South Siders have not been a good team this season and the Yanks need to capitalize on this opportunity – they’ll need to tackle the White Sox staff ace Chris Sale tomorrow as Yankees turn to Michael Pineda.