Via Mark Feinsand, setup man David Robertson and his wife became the parents of a baby boy earlier today. Believe it or not, David will actually be in uniform for tonight’s game, which is kinda nuts. Take a day, man. You just became a dad. No idea if he’s actually available to pitch, but he’ll be with the team anyway. Congrats to the Robertsons.
The Yankees plated just 18 runs during their six-game road trip through Chicago and Cleveland, and a third of those runs came in the very first game against the White Sox last Monday. They were held to three runs or fewer for four straight games before mustering four runs yesterday. Tough to win games when you’re scoring that little, which is why New York comes home today on the heels of a 2-4 trip.
The club’s two best hitters of late have been the one-two hitters in the lineup — Derek Jeter and Nick Swisher. That’s great not only because those two are coming to the plate more often than anyone else, and also because they’re giving the rest of the lineup opportunities to drive them in. Unfortunately, the other guys in the lineup haven’t held up their end of the bargain. Of those 18 runs scored on the road trip, 13 were either scored by or drive in by Jeter and Swisher. They did it all last week. Here’s a real quick breakdown of the offense during the last six games…
Jeter and Swisher were a two-man wrecking crew with the bats last week while everyone else contributed little. Robinson Cano and Curtis Granderson have started to break out of their slumps, but it’s been a slow process. Eric Chavez has cooled off in a big way (three hits in his last 22 at-bats dating back to the Rangers series) and Raul Ibanez is in a similar major rut (one hit in his last 22 at-bats). Ichiro Suzuki reached base four times in the six-game trip, Mark Teixeira is still working his way back from left wrist soreness, and the catching tandem has done much of anything all season. That’s a recipe for not scoring runs.
There’s nothing worse than half the lineup running into a cold stretch all at the same time, but the Yankees have managed to keep their heads above water — they lost just one game in the standings last week despite the 2-4 record — because Jeter and Swisher have been so great. Six games in seven days at home will hopefully wake some of these guys up, as will some dates with below-average pitchers. The Yankees need a little kick-start offensively, and this coming week will afford them every opportunity to get things going.
The Yankees have re-acquired Steve Pearce from the Astros for cash, the team announced. Brandon Laird was designated for assignment to clear room on the 40-man roster. No word on how they’ll get Pearce onto the 25-man roster just yet, but I wonder if they’ll be able to wait until tomorrow so they could just option David Phelps to the minors (following tonight’s start) before recalling him when the rosters expand in September. He wouldn’t miss a start thanks to Thursday’s off-day.
Joel Sherman first reported that they were close to bringing Pearce back to serve as a right-handed bat off the bench during the stretch drive. The outfielder/first baseman spent the first half of the season playing for Triple-A Empire State before exercising an opt-out clause in his contract in early-June. The Yankees traded him to the Orioles for cash rather than let him walk as a free agent, then Houston eventually claimed him off waivers from Baltimore.
Pearce, 29, has hit .254/.333/.396 (93 wRC+) in 158 big league plate appearances this season after destroying the Triple-A level (173 wRC+). He’s done a much better job against lefties than righties both this year (120 vs. 80 wRC+) and throughout his career (120 vs. 60 wRC+). Small sample size warnings apply through, the guy only has 679 career plate appearances in the show. Most of his time with the Astros and O’s was spent in the two corner outfield spots, though he has a ton of first base experience as well. Pearce has even played a little third base from time to time.
The 24-year-old Laird really didn’t have anywhere to go with the Yankees. He’s having a decent season repeating Triple-A (98 wRC+), but otherwise is a .256/.295/.409 career hitter in nearly 1,200 plate appearances at the level. Laird had a nice July but the Yankees opted to temporarily recall Ramiro Pena before acquiring Casey McGehee when Alex Rodriguez got hurt. That was a pretty clear indication that Laird had no future in the organization. I suspect he’ll either be traded away in a minor deal or claimed off waivers.
The Yankees have posted a solid 106 wRC+ against southpaws this year, down considerably from last season’s MLB-best 123 mark. Part of that decline has been Andruw Jones‘ inability to repeat last year’s success against lefties (92 vs. 151 wRC+) and Robinson Cano‘s suddenly drastic platoon split (71 wRC+ vs. LHP and 189 vs. RHP). The September schedule loaded with intra-division games (as usual), so the Yankees will see an awful lot of David Price, Matt Moore, Jon Lester, Wei-Yin Chen, Joe Saunders, Ricky Romero, and J.A. Happ down the stretch. Having a spare right-handed bat will definitely come in handy.
The Yankees have 35 total games left to play this season and whopping ten of them will be against the Blue Jays. They’ve won five of eight against Toronto already this season, and the first three of those final ten will be played in the Bronx this week.
What Have They Done Lately?
The Jays were rained out yesterday, sparing them a potential eighth consecutive loss. Toronto has won just five of 23 games this month, dropping them to 56-70 (-37 run differential) on the season. They’re 17 back of the Yankees in the loss column and have the third worst record in the league.
The Blue Jays average a bit more than 4.5 runs per game with a team 96 wRC+, so they’re pretty much right in the middle of the pack offensively. Jose Bautista (138 wRC+) recently came off the DL after missing more than a month with a wrist problem originally suffered on a swing taken against David Robertson, but he felt more discomfort in the wrist in his second game back and has since been placed back on the DL. The Yankees are catching a break and won’t have to see the game’s greatest homerun hitter this week.
Injuries have decimated Toronto, but they still have the very dangerous Edwin Encarnacion (160 wRC+) anchoring the heart of the order. Regulars Yunel Escobar (69), Kelly Johnson (86), Adam Lind (87), and Colby Rasmus (91) have avoided the injury bug for the time being but are still underperforming. Moises Sierra (98 wRC+) have done well with his opportunity and Rajai Davis (97 wRC+) has been fine, but Mike McCoy (66 wRC+) and Adeiny Hechavarria (16 wRC+) have not. The catching tandem of Jeff Mathis (76 wRC+) and Yorvit Torrealba (72 wRC+) doesn’t scare anyone, and neither does Omar Vizquel (35 wRC+). The Jays are rolling with a three-man bench these days because of all the injuries to the pitching staff.
Monday: RHP David Phelps vs. RHP Henderson Alvarez
When these two clubs met last month, Alvarez struck out a career-high six batters while allowing two runs in six innings. The 22-year-old has managed to stay healthy and make 24 starts this season, pitching to a 4.84 ERA (5.18 FIP). His 3.43 K/9 (8.8 K%) is the second lowest among all qualified pitchers this year, better than only current Yankee Derek Lowe. Alvarez’s walk (2.51 BB/9 and 6.4 BB%) and ground ball (56.5%) rates are pretty excellent, however. He’s a three-pitch pitcher, with a fastball that sits in the low-to-mid-90s and two mid-80s offspeed pitches (slider and changeup). Hopefully the Yankees make some adjustments from their last look at the young right-hander.
Tuesday: RHP Phil Hughes vs. LHP Ricky Romero
It’s been a disaster season for Romero, who in his last start became the first pitcher in four years and second pitcher in 21 years to walk eight while striking out zero. He owns a 5.63 ERA (5.17 FIP) with career worst strikeout (6.04 K/9 and 15.0 K%), walk (5.05 BB/9 and 12.9 BB%), and homer (1.05 HR/9) rates. His 54.1% ground ball rate is in line with career norms. Romero, 27, remains the same guy in terms of stuff — low-90s two- and four-seamer, low-80s changeup, upper-70s curveball — but his command has been awful and he’s making too many mistakes. The Yankees roughed him earlier this year and have seen enough of the southpaw in recent years to know what to expect.
Wednesday: LHP CC Sabathia vs. LHP J.A. Happ
The Jays acquired Happ as part of a ten-player swap last month to help cover for some of those injuries, and he’s allowed just two earned runs total in his last two starts (6 IP vs. Rangers and 7.1 IP vs. Tigers). You might remember that he stifled the Yankees for about five innings a few weeks ago before things fell apart late. The 29-year-old Happ owns a 4.68 ERA (4.13 FIP) overall this year with strong strikeout (8.62 K/9 and 22.3 K%) and walk (3.27 BB/9 and 8.5 BB%) numbers. The ground ball rate (44.3%) is decent enough, but the homer rate (1.27 HR/9) is pretty terrible. Happ is a four-pitch guy, using two fastballs (two- and four-seamer) right at 90 and two breaking balls (low-80s slider and upper-70s curve). His low-80s change is a distant fifth offering, so maybe call him a 4.5-pitch guy.
The rain out yesterday means manager John Farrell has a very fresh bullpen. They’re carrying eight relievers, highlighted by closer Casey Janssen (3.06 FIP) and the left/right setup duo of Darren Oliver (3.03 FIP) and Brandon Lyon (2.75 FIP). Second lefty Aaron Loup (1.87 FIP) has done well in his limited time, and the rest of the relief corps features right-handers Carlos Villanueva (4.96 FIP), Steve Delabar (4.64 FIP), and Brad Lincoln (3.79 FIP). The middle innings can be a little sketchy, but that late-game trio is sneaky good.
Joe Girardi went all-out for yesterday’s win, using Boone Logan, David Robertson, and Rafael Soriano for more than one inning apiece. Everyone else in the bullpen is well-rested, plus Robertson could be placed on the paternity list at any moment. Who the Yankees would call-up to replace him is anyone’s guess (Cory Wade just pitched yesterday). Check out our Bullpen Workload page for exact recent reliever usage, and then check out Drunk Jays Fans and Tao of Stieb for the latest and greatest on the Blue Jays.
You can save 25-50% off tickets for the homestand with this link. Just sign up if, find the section they’d like to sit in and make an offer based on the savings shown here. There won’t be any shipping fees or any other nonsense like that either.
Record Last Week: 2-4 (18 RS, 24 RA)
Season Record: 74-53 (615 RS, 516 RA, 75-52 pythag. record), 4.0 games up in AL East
Opponents This Week: vs. Blue Jays (three games, Mon. to Weds.), Thurs. OFF, vs. Orioles (three games, Fri. to Sun.)
Top stories from last week:
- The week opened the week with a miserable series in Chicago. Freddy Garcia and the bullpen got pounded in the opener on Monday, then Ivan Nova had another poor start the next day. Phil Hughes took the tough luck loss on Wednesday to complete the sweep.
- Following Thursday’s off-day, the Yankees headed to Cleveland and took the opener behind a healthy CC Sabathia. The bats didn’t give Hiroki Kuroda any support in Saturday’s loss, but the bullpen picked up the slack in yesterday’s win.
- Injury News: Nova (rotator cuff inflammation) was placed on the DL after Tuesday’s poor start. Mark Teixeira (wrist) is fine and has since returned to the lineup. Dellin Betances (shoulder tendinitis) was placed on the minor league DL and is likely to miss the rest of the season. Pedro Feliciano (shoulder) made two more minor league rehab appearances. David Aardsma (elbow) threw 35 pitches in a live batting practice session. Austin Romine (back) was activated off the DL and optioned to Triple-A.
- The Yankees were considering a demotion to Triple-A for Joba Chamberlain prior to Nova’s injury. Sabathia instead took Nova’s spot when he was activated for Friday’s start and Joba remains in the bullpen.
- Andy Pettitte hinted about a possible return in 2013 and Nick Swisher is reportedly seeking Jayson Werth money on the free agent market after the season. The Yankees didn’t have anyone watch Roger Clemens’ recent independent league outing.
- The Red Sox and Dodgers completed a nine-player blockbuster that shed the Red Sox of $260M in future payroll obligations while sending Josh Beckett, Adrian Gonzalez, and Carl Crawford to Los Angeles.
- Michael Pineda was arrested for DUI in Tampa.
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The stench of getting swept by the White Sox still lingers, but the Yankees did what they had to do this weekend by taking two of three from the Indians. Sunday’s win was yet another close game — just two of their last dozen games have been decided by more than three runs — and Joe Girardi leaned on his bullpen to get it done.
The Yankees often get accused of not playing enough small ball, but they play-the-game-the-right-way’d to three runs in the second inning against Ubaldo Jimenez. It all started with an Eric Chavez ground ball single to left and a Raul Ibanez walk, allowing Ichiro Suzuki to lace a run-scoring single off Ubaldo’s glove and into no man’s land. With one run already in, men on first and second with no outs, and a bad pitcher struggling, the Yankees did the sensible thing — Chris Stewart forfeited an out and bunted the runners up to second and third.
Thankfully, the club’s two most productive hitters capitalized. Derek Jeter put together a real hard-fought five pitch at-bat before grounding out to third, allowing the second run to score. Nick Swisher plated the third run with a solid two-out single to shallow left-center. Robinson Cano hit the ball hard but flew out to end the inning, but otherwise four of the first six men the Bombers sent to the plate in that second inning reached base while the two exceptions were
productive less-damaging outs.
These last two starts haven’t been great for Freddy Garcia, who’s labored both times out and failed to complete five innings of work. He pitched around a bases loaded jam in the third on Sunday, an inning in which he basically had to record six outs because Cano muffed a probably double play ball (instead getting zero outs) and a 2-2 pitch to Carlos Santana was called a ball when it should have been a strike. Here, look. Garcia retired Santana one pitch later to end the threat.
The fifth inning rally that took Freddy out of the game started with two outs. Jason Kipnis doubled to right to get it all started with two outs, then Garcia plunked Asdrubal Cabrera in the behind. A walk to Shin-Soo Choo brought Santana to the plate with two outs and bases loaded again, and this time he jumped on a first pitch fastball for a two-run ground ball single back up the middle. After 90 pitches and 14 outs, Freddy’s afternoon was done. He allowed just the two runs on four hits, two walks, and the hit-batsman while striking out six. Only one of his eight ball-in-play outs was on the ground.
Garcia is a fine fifth starter, but the middle relief isn’t good enough to keep picking him up if he’s going to be a five-and-fly guy. He’s completed six or more innings in five of his eleven starts since return to the rotation, and at least five innings nine times. The two exceptions are these last two starts.
It was pretty obvious that Girardi wanted to win this game based on his bullpen usage. He went right to Boone Logan in relief of Garcia, using his top left-hander to record five outs in the middle innings. Only one of the six men he faced reached base, and that was the final one. Girardi went to David Robertson with one out in the seventh, and he escaped the inning with just four pitches. After sandwiching two outs around a single in the eighth, Rafael Soriano came in for the four-out save. You’d think it was a playoff a game. Matt LaPorta flew out to really deep left to end the inning.
The ninth inning didn’t go all that smoothly, especially since leadoff man Jack Hannahan singled to bring the tying run to the plate almote immediately. Soriano retired the next three men to end the game, but not before Kipnis lined a comebacker off the base of his right hand. It looked like it got some glove and some forearm on the replay, but Soriano stayed in and said he was “a little sore” after the game. He expects to be fine. Twelve outs from Logan, Robertson, and Soriano isn’t something we’re going to see very often, but those three were excellent — allowed one single apiece with four total strikeouts.
Curtis Granderson gave the Yankees a little bit of breathing room with his sixth inning solo homer, though he slammed his bat in disgust because he thought it was a pop-up. They weren’t even in Yankee Stadium! It was a nice response a half-inning after the Tribe scored the two runs, and it was also the 200th homer of Granderson’s career. The Yankees now have eight guys with 200 career dingers on the roster, the most in baseball history. The 2008 Yankees were the only other club with seven.
Swisher continued his torrid streak with three singles while Cano singled, doubled, and walked (intentionally). He’s been slowly climbing out of his slump as the road trip has progressed. Those two combined to go 5-for-7 with the other seven hitters in the lineup went 6-for-27. The Yankees drew just two walks as a team, the 11th time they’ve done that in 24 games this month. In the other 103 games this season, they drew two or fewer walks just 14 times. That has a lot to do with Alex Rodriguez being gone.
The Indians ran wild on Chris Stewart, specifically Kipnis. He stole three bases in three attempts. Stewart did manage to gun down Michael Brantley, but overall he’s thrown out just seven of 32 attempts base-stealers this season (21.9%). The league average is about 27%, so the supposed defense-first backstop hasn’t exactly stood out with his arm.
David Robertson’s wife is due to give birth to the couple’s first child very soon — apparently the due date was last week sometime — so I wonder if Girardi was willing to use him earlier than usual knowing he’s going to spend a few days this week on paternity leave. Then again, that wouldn’t explain using both him and Soriano for four outs. Eh, whatever.
Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
MLB.com has the box score and video highlights, FanGraphs some other stats, and ESPN the updated standings. Both the Rays (Republican National Convention in St. Petersburg) and the Orioles (rain out) were off on Sunday, so the lead in the AL East remains four games in the loss column over both clubs. The magic number to clinch the division is down to 32.
The Yankees are coming back home to open a three-game series against the last place Blue Jays. David Phelps and Henderson Alvarez will kick the series off on Monday night. Check out RAB Tickets if you want to catch the game in person.
It certainly wasn’t the prettiest road trip in the world, but the Yankees were able to take two of three from the lowly Indians to wrap things up this weekend. Needless to say, they really need to take care of business during this upcoming six-game homestand. I’ll be pretty disappointed with anything less than four wins next week, this “flirting with .500 since the All-Star break” nonsense has to end already.
Anyway, here is your open thread for the evening. The ESPN Sunday Night Game is a good one, the Braves at the Giants (Hudson vs. Lincecum). The Jets are also playing a preseason game you can watch on NBC. Other than that, talk about whatever you like here. Go nuts.