In his latest look at the minor league system, Josh Norris spoke to a scout who recently covered both Double-A Trenton and High-A Tampa. The scout sang the praises of OF Slade Heathcott, saying he prefers him to OF Mason Williams because he’s a more disciplined hitter. He also sees LHP Nik Turley as a future big league starter and raved about C Gary Sanchez’s opposite field power. LHP Matt Tracy also received a positive report while others like OF Zoilo Almonte and OF Tyler Austin weren’t so lucky. The post is well worth your time, make sure you check it out.
The Yankees have yet to visit Minnesota, Cleveland, and Chicago this season, but they’ll get the latter two out of the way this week. The Bombers are in the Windy City for a three-game series after splitting four with the White Sox in the Bronx back in late-June.
What Have They Done Lately?
The White Sox lead the Tigers by two games in the AL Central with a 65-55 record (+64 run differential). They nearly got no-hit by Jeremy Guthrie yesterday, completing a three-game sweep at the hands of the Royals. They’d won three straight prior to that. The ChiSox have won just five of their last dozen games, so they’re scuffling a bit.
With an average of 4.7 runs per game, Chicago has a sneaky good offense that can really hit the ball out of the park. Paul Konerko (141 wRC+) recently came off the seven-day concussion DL and joins MLB homer king Adam Dunn (121 wRC+) to give the club 55 dingers in the middle of the order. Thirty-five of those bombs belong to Dunn, who should see a whole lot of Clay Rapada and Boone Logan these next three days — 101 wRC+ vs. LHP and 134 vs. RHP.
Outside of those two, rookie manager and former Yankee Robin Ventura has been getting excellent production from A.J. Pierzynski (133 wRC+) and Alex Rios (125 wRC+). Both Kevin Youkilis (104 wRC+) and Alejandro De Aza (101 wRC+) have been solid as well, though both are battling nagging injuries — Youk a sore knee, De Aza a sore oblique. Both are day-to-day at the moment. Taking De Aza’s spot in center field (and atop the lineup) for the time being is former Yankee Dewayne Wise (121 wRC+ in limited time). As you may recall, his bunt turned the season around.
The rest of the roster is filled out by flawed but occasionally useful hitters. Dayan Viciedo (93 wRC+) has power, Alexei Ramirez (67 wRC+) makes a lot of contact, and Gordon Beckham (64 wRC+) … really doesn’t do much of anything. Tyler Flowers (79 wRC+) is the backup catcher and Ray Olmedo (7 wRC+ in very limited time) is the backup infielder. Chicago employs a 13-man pitching staff and with the Youkilis and De Aza injuries, they’re a little short on healthy bodies at the moment.
Monday: RHP Freddy Garcia vs. RHP Gavin Floyd
It’s been a bit of a tough year for the 29-year-old Floyd, who spent some time on the DL with flexor tendinitis in his elbow and has seen his ERA (4.43) rise for the fourth consecutive season. His walk (3.22 BB/9 and 8.2 BB%) and homer (1.32 HR/9) rates are the highest they’ve been since becoming a full-time starter for the ChiSox, though his strikeout numbers (7.52 K/9 and 19.2 K%) are among his career bests. Floyd is using his mid-80s cutter more than three out of every ten pitches this year, by far the highest rate of his career. His four- and scantily-used two-seamer both sit in the low-90s and his trademark curveball is an upper-70s hammer. It is very underappreciated in the pantheon of baseball’s great pitches. He’ll also use a low-80s changeup. The Yankees tagged Floyd for four runs with more walks (five) than strikeouts (three) in 5.1 innings earlier this year.
Tuesday: RHP Ivan Nova vs. LHP Francisco Liriano
One of three deadline pickups, Liriano has actually been pretty good for the ChiSox. He threw a total dud against the Athletics last week (six runs in 3.1 IP), but otherwise has thrown at least five innings and allowed no more than two runs in his other three outings since the trade. The 28-year-old southpaw’s numbers are all over the place, with strong strikeout (9.85 K/9 and 24.9 K%) and ground ball (44.2%) rates but an ugly walk (4.77 BB/9 and 12.1 BB%) percentage. Pretty much a microcosm of his career. Liriano is a two-seamer (low-90s) and slider (mid-80s) machine, throwing the two pitches just about 75% of the time. A mid-80s changeup is his other offering.
Wednesday: RHP Phil Hughes vs. LHP Chris Sale
When these two clubs met for four games earlier this year, the 23-year-old Sale was the one pitcher the Yankees did not see. The left-hander is a legitimate Cy Young candidate in his first full year as a starter, pitching to a 2.72 ERA (3.18 FIP) with dynamite peripherals — 8.48 K/9 (23.8 K%), 2.17 BB/9 (6.1 BB%), and 44.4% grounders. Sale employs both two- and four-seamers that run from the low-to-mid-90s, and he backs them up with a wipeout upper-70s slider that is just death on lefties (.229 wOBA against). His low-80s changeup is an effective second offspeed pitch. Sale has slowed down a bit of late, allowing at least four runs in three of his last five outings, leading to questions about his workload (career-high 145.1 IP) and fatigue.
Ventura has eight pitchers in the bullpen and right now four of them are rookies, including closer Addison Reed (3.17 FIP). He’s being setup by a pair of veterans — right-hander Brett Myers (4.05 FIP) and left-hander Matt Thornton (3.24 FIP) — with another veteran guy in the middle innings (Jesse Crain, 3.19 FIP) and another in long relief (Phil Humber, 5.54 FIP). Obviously things have gone downhill since the perfect game. Rookie left-handers Donnie Veal (1.00 FIP in very limited time) and Hector Santiago (5.25 FIP) join righty Nate Jones (3.69 FIP) in the middle innings.
Former Yankees farmhand Jose Quintana gave the ChiSox seven innings in yesterday’s loss, so their bullpen is pretty fresh. Veal and Jones have pitched in each of the last two games, so they might be unavailable tonight. Crain pitched yesterday for the third time in four games, so he might be off limits as well. Other than that, their late-inning guys are good to go. The Yankees are in good bullpen shape as well thanks to Hiroki Kuroda’s eight innings last night, but check out our Bullpen Workload page for exact recent reliever usage. South Side Sox is the best White Sox blog around, so check that out for the latest and greatest on the opponent for the next three days.
Record Last Week: 5-2 (31 RS, 23 RA)
Season Record: 72-49 (597 RS, 492 RA, 72-49 pythag. record), 5.0 games up in AL East
Opponents This Week: @ White Sox (three games, Mon. to Weds.), Thurs. OFF, @ Indians (three games, Fri. to Sun.)
Top stories from last week:
- The week opened with four games at home against the Rangers. David Phelps and Derek Lowe combined to give New York a win on Monday, then Hiroki Kuroda tossed a two-hit, complete-game shutout on Tuesday. Freddy Garcia secured the third win of the series on Wednesday, but Ivan Nova and the bullpen were unable to finish off the sweep in the finale.
- The Red Sox came to town for three weekend games, and Jayson Nix got the big hit in Friday’s win. The Yankees couldn’t do much against Jon Lester in Saturday’s loss, but Kuroda dominated again in yesterday’s win.
- Injury News: CC Sabathia (elbow) felt fine after Saturday’s bullpen session and will thrown another one on Tuesday before potentially returning to the rotation on Friday. Alex Rodriguez (hand) and Andy Pettitte (leg) are healing well per the latest round of x-rays. Mark Teixeira (wrist) has missed a few games with lingering soreness. Robinson Cano (neck) missed two games but has since returned to the lineup. Pedro Feliciano (shoulder) made two more minor league rehab appearances.
- The Yankees officially signed Lowe on Monday and will use him strictly out of the bullpen. Right-hander Ryota Igarashi was outrighted to Triple-A, removing him from the 40-man roster.
- OF Slade Heathcott, IF David Adams, and C Austin Romine are all headed to the Arizona Fall League. RHP Danny Burawa (oblique, ribs) could join them if he gets healthy in time.
- The Yankees signed undrafted free agent outfielder Daniel Aldrich (at least $150k) as well as Nicaraguan left-handers Corby McCoy ($150k) and Luis Garcia ($50k).
- MLB will test out a new expanded replay system for fair-or-foul calls in Yankee Stadium and CitiField for the rest of the season. The results will not be made public, but if all goes well, the system could be officially implemented at all 30 parks next season.
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11:24pm: Both Pettitte and A-Rod got positive news from their checkups. Andy is not quite ready to get back up on a mound, but he will ramp up his flat ground work. A-Rod should be able to swing a bat by the weekend.
5:31pm: Via Josh Thomson, both Andy Pettitte (leg) and Alex Rodriguez (hand)) will have x-rays later tonight to check up on their fractures. Mark Teixeira hasn’t swung a bat all weekend, but he will take ground balls and run through some drills tonight in anticipation of returning to the lineup tomorrow. I’m willing to bet he gets another day off just to be safe; no reason not too really.
We’re starting to reach the point where we have to discuss Hiroki Kuroda’s Cy Young Award candidacy, no? I don’t think he should win at the moment, but he probably deserves some top-five consideration. His win over the Red Sox on Sunday was his latest gem in a season full of them, giving the Bombers just their second Yankee Stadium series win over Boston since the start of the 2010 season. Let’s recap…
- 2.96 ERA: The most impressive part of Kuroda’s outing wasn’t the eight innings of one-run ball, it was that he retired Pedro Ciriaco all three times he faced him. I may or may not be serious. Either way, Kuroda was brilliant yet again, with the only blemish on his line being a late-inning solo homer from Adrian Gonzalez. He struck out four, walked zero, and got a dozen ground ball outs compared to just six in the air. Outside of the dinger, the Red Sox didn’t hit much if anything with authority. Hiroki Kuroda, 37-year-old hurler transitioning to the AL East, is the proud owner of a 2.96 ERA with a little more than a month left in the season. Amazing.
- The Derek & Ichiro Variety Hour: The two most veteran of veterans carried the offensive torch on Sunday. Derek Jeter doubled twice — including to leadoff the very first inning — and came around to score both times, then Ichiro Suzuki did him one better by hitting a pair of solo homers off Josh Beckett. Two homers! From Ichiro! File that under “you can’t predict baseball.” That’s it, those two accounted for pretty much all the scoring. Great job, fellas.
- Leftovers: Curtis Granderson doubled in Jeter in the first to continue his resurgence, and it took a wild pitch to get the Cap’n in the second time … Robinson Cano broke an ugly 0-for-16 skid with a single, his first hit since facing J.A. Happ last Sunday … the offense didn’t do much else, a combined 0-for-19 with a walk (Nick Swisher). Casey McGehee managed to go 0-for-4 with a strikeout on just eight pitches. That’s why he doesn’t play much against righties … Rafael Soriano made things ever so slightly interested in the ninth by allowing a leadoff single to Carl Crawford, but a Dustin Pedroia double play ended the threat in short order. Gonzalez struck out to end the game.
MLB.com has the box score and video highlights, FanGraphs the nerd score, and ESPN the updated standings. Both the Rays and Orioles won on Sunday, so they remain five and six games back in the loss column, respectively. Boston is 14 games back and the magic number to clinch the AL East crown is down to 37. The Yankees are off to Chicago for three games against the White Sox, starting with Freddy Garcia and Gavin Floyd on Monday.
Triple-A Empire State (6-0 win over Rochester)
LF Darnell McDonald: 0-3, 1 R, 2 BB, 2 K
2B Corban Joseph: 3-3, 4 RBI, 2 BB — eight hits in his last 13 at-bats (62%) … 60/61 K/BB in 95 games
SS Eduardo Nunez & DH Frankie Cervelli: both 0-4 — Nunez drove in a run and struck out … Frankie walked, scored a run, and struck out twice
1B Brandon Laird, C Austin Romine & CF Melky Mesa: both 1-5 — Laird and Romine struck out twice … Mesa doubled, walked, scored a run, and whiffed three times
RF Kosuke Fukudome: 1-2, 2 R, 2 BB, 1 K — 3/9 K/BB in his last seven games
3B Ramiro Pena: 1-3, 1 R, 1 BB, 1 K
RHP John Maine: 6 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 4 K, 1 HB, 11/1 GB/FB — 61 of 99 pitches were strikes … very nice job by the veteran, they needed a solid start like this as they push towards the playoffs after being on the road all season
LHP Lee Hyde: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 0 K, 1/2 GB/FB — 13 of 23 pitches were strikes (57%)
RHP Chase Whitley: 2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 0 K, 4/2 GB/FB — 17 of 24 pitches were strikes (71%)
Did you know that the Red Sox have won 13 of the last 18 games they’ve played at the new Yankee Stadium dating back to the second half of 2010? Granted, the Yankees are 15-8 at Fenway Park during that time, but still. Gotta protect the home turf, you know? The two clubs split the first two games of this weekend set and the Bombers have a chance to celebrate just their second (!) series win over the BoSox in the Bronx since last winning the World Series. Here’s the starting nine…
SS Derek Jeter
1B Nick Swisher
2B Robinson Cano
CF Curtis Granderson
3B Eric Chavez
LF Raul Ibanez
C Russell Martin
RF Ichiro Suzuki
DH Casey McGehee
RHP Hiroki Kuroda
It’s a nice cool, autumnal evening in New York. The game is scheduled to start a little after 8pm ET and can be seen on ESPN. Enjoy.