Roster Moves: Warren, Igarashi, Pettitte

As expected, the Yankees have called up RHP Adam Warren and RHP Ryota Igarashi from Triple-A. They’re taking the place of LHP CC Sabathia (left adductor strain) and LHP Andy Pettitte (fracture left ankle), both of whom were placed on the DL. Pettitte was placed on the 60-day DL to clear a 40-man roster spot for Warren, so the earliest he can return is August 27th. Safe to say we won’t see him again until the rosters expand in September.

A look at the unlikeliest of sellers

The trade deadline is, according to RAB’s visitor statistics, the most popular part of the season for baseball fans. In the week leading up to July 31st we frequently record single-day traffic records. (No day has yet topped the failed Cliff Lee trade day in July, 2010.) While there are many aspects of the trade deadline to love, one has always particularly caught me: there’s always a player who, before the season, we couldn’t conceive would become available.

Sometimes, if not oftentimes, that player is of direct interest to the Yankees. Heading into last season no one thought Ubaldo Jimenez would become available. He was seemingly a fit for the Yankees, since they could have used a pitching upgrade or three. But his price was too high, and as it turns out they were probably better off for having passed.

This year the landscape is a bit different. The second Wild Card will surely have teams holding off longer than normal before selling. Instead of trying to get top dollar in early July, teams might hold off until the final few days before trading players for prospects. But come deadline we can still expect a number of players to change teams. As usual, the Yankees will play the role of buyers.

Instead of some unexpected player becoming available this year, we might instead see an unexpected team playing the role of seller. It actually lines up well. They’re floundering this season, and play in a relatively tough division. Their farm system has been decimated in recent seasons due to deadline buying, so they could use any replenishment they can find. But what makes them ideal sellers is that they have the chips that can bring back a decent return. Yes, the Philadelphia Phillies could sell significant reinforcements to any contender.

Where they stand

For those who don’t keep up with the NL, the Phillies currently sit nine games back in the NL East, and 7.5 games back in the NL Wild Card. Most teams in that position, especially when they’re five games below .500, will get into selling mode around this time. They might not jump on the market early, as truly terrible team such as the Cubs might. But by mid-month you’d normally see their names cropping up in trade discussions.

At the same time, the Phillies could be in for a rally. They recently got Chase Utley back from the DL, after missing him all season. Another season-long absentee, Ryan Howard, is about to start a rehab assignment. Roy Halladay has missed significant time, but should be back soon enough. With those three replacing their inferior understudies, the Phillies certainly could make a run at the Wild Card, if not the division. That makes their selling position a bit tougher.

The obstacle

The largest obstacle in the way of Phillies and the sellers pool is the way they’ve operated the past few years. At the last three trade deadlines they’ve made significant trades. In 2009 it was Cliff Lee. In 2010 they picked up Roy Oswalt. In 2011 they traded for Hunter Pence. They also spent significant money in free agency the past few seasons. In signing Lee, Jonathan Papelbon, and Jimmy Rollins they’ve signaled that they plan to contend into the future.

If the Phillies’ spending and trade habits signal a focus on winning now and winning in the future, they become less likely to sell at the deadline. After all, a 10-game win streak in August can change everything. But the Phillies don’t have to mortgage the future if they’re to sell at the deadline. They have a number of players who might be gone after the season anyway.

Expiring contracts

You don’t need to tell a Yankees fan that Cole Hamels becomes a free agent after this season. Most of us have already imagined how the 28-year-old will look in pinstripes, providing a second lefty ace behind CC Sabathia. The Phillies have put on a public display of optimism regarding a Hamels extension, but it’s a near certainty that he’ll file for free agency. Can the Phillies afford to dole out another huge contract, with all the other ones they have on the books?

Hamels will cost plenty in a trade — think the return the Mariners got for Lee in 2010 — but he could be worth it. Not only does he add another high-end arm, but there’s always the chance that the team trading for him has the upper hand in signing him. The Yankees might not be interested in that, not if they’re truly after the $189 million goal, but you never know. With Andy Pettitte out at least six weeks, perhaps the Yankees will seek a high-end replacement such as Hamels.

There’s also Shane Victorino. My personal feelings for him aside, he could provide some production in the outfield should Brett Gardner suffer yet another setback. Victorino isn’t hitting quite as well as he did during the 2011 season, but his numbers are still decent. He can play the outfield well enough, and presumably could handle left field at Yankee Stadium. His price tag likely won’t be that prohibitive, and he’d be a true rental; there’s little chance the Yankees would explore a long-term deal with him after the Phillies already got his prime years.

(There’s also Joe Blanton, but I just can’t see the Yankees at all being interested.)

1.5 season trades

In addition to having a pair of attractive trade options with expiring contacts, the Phillies also have a few players whose contracts expire after the 2013 season. This works for the Yankees, since they’re free of any contractual burden during that key 2014 season. The Phillies will be less likely to deal these players, since they clearly aim to contend in 2013. But with a rough farm system, perhaps they’d be open for the right package of prospects.

Hunter Pence could help the Yankees in two ways. First, he could take over a corner spot this year in case Brett Gardner isn’t ready. Even if Gardner is ready, Pence is plenty valuable in any role the Yankees can find for him. Next year he could take over in right for Nick Swisher, giving the Yankees one more year to find a more permanent replacement. His numbers on the road this year, considerably better than his numbers at home, suggest that he’s not merely a product of hitter-friendly Citizens Bank Park.

It sounds crazy, and I’m 99.9 percent certain the Phillies won’t even entertain the idea, but they could, if they so chose, deal Roy Halladay. He has a 2014 option that vests with 225 IP in 2013, and knowing Halladay he’ll reach that mark. He was ineffective this year, but if that was just a lingering injury, he could provide a year and a half of superb production. Even if the 2014 option does vest and the Yankees want to avoid paying it, they won’t have much trouble finding a trade partner. Again, I don’t expect this at all, but it’s one of those “so crazy the Phillies just might try it” things.

I’ve heard people mention the idea of trading for Cliff Lee. When first hearing that, I wondered why in the world the Phillies would trade Lee just so they’d have the money to sign Hamels long term. But then I remembered that Ruben Amaro once traded Cliff Lee so that he could trade for Halladay. Again, when you think, “that’ so crazy it might just work,” you have to immediately think of Ruben Amaro.

All of this is, of course, just thinking aloud. The Phillies, like the Yankees, don’t seem like a team that will ever truly become sellers. But this year is an odd one for Philadelphia, and they might take a step back now in order to build for 2013 and beyond. If that’s the case, it’s easy to see where the Yankees fit in.

Scouting The Trade Market: Francisco Liriano

The Yankees have been hit hard by the injury bug this season, and that was even before they lost CC Sabathia (left adductor strain) and Andy Pettitte (fractured left ankle) in the span of about five hours yesterday. The two veteran left-handers join Michael Pineda (torn labrum) as starting pitchers on the disabled list, meaning the team’s minor league pitching depth — specifically the trio of David Phelps, Adam Warren, and D.J. Mitchell — will really be tested in the coming weeks.

Thankfully Sabathia is scheduled to come back right after the All-Star break, so he’ll only be out of action for two starts. Pettitte’s injury could keep him out until September and is obviously much more severe. Brian Cashman made it clear that the Yankees will cycle through internal options first, but a trade before the deadline is always possible. While Zack Greinke and Matt Garza grab all of the attention, a deal for a smaller name and lesser pitcher seems more likely. That would include Francisco Liriano of the Twins, who has been on the block for about three years now. We last broke down the 28-year-old southpaw as a trade candidate over the winter, so let’s take an updated look…

The Pros

  • Since rejoining Minnesota’s rotation last month, Liriano has pitching to a 2.41 ERA (2.39 FIP) with 40 strikeouts and 14 walks in 37.1 innings across six starts. He’s held batters to a miniscule .157/.248/.236 batting line and has been simply dominant.
  • Liriano’s fastball velocity — both two-seamer and four-seamer — has bounced back this season, with more than a mile-an-hour returning after a similarly-sized drop last year. His slider and changeup have been unchanged for years, though he has scaled back usage of the latter this season.
  • Even when he’s struggled through the years, Liriano has always been a dominant strikeout and ground ball pitcher. He’s at 8.83 K/9 (22.4 K%) and 45.1% grounders this season, right in line with his career marks: 8.93 K/9 (23.3 K%) and 48.0% grounders.
  • The left-handed Liriano is as tough as it gets on same-side hitters. He’s held fellow lefties to a .205 wOBA this season with an 11.42 K/9 (33.9 K%) and 55.9% grounders. Just dominant. His career numbers — .268 wOBA against with 9.61 K/9 (26.0 K%) and 60.6% grounders — are just as strong.
  • A pure rental with limited risk, Liriano will earn $5.5M this season before becoming a free agent this winter. That works out to about $917k per month from here on out.

The Cons

  • The reason Liriano had to rejoin the rotation last month was because he was so bad earlier in the year that he had to be demoted to the bullpen. He pitched to a 9.45 ERA (6.55 FIP) with nearly as many walks (19) as strikeouts (21) in his first six starts and 26.2 innings before moving to relief. In five relief appearances, Liriano posted a 4.91 ERA (3.47 FIP) with seven walks and nine strikeouts in 7.1 innings.
  • For all those strikeouts and grounders, Liriano continues to hurt himself with walks. His 5.05 BB/9 (12.8 BB%) is a career worst and the fourth highest in baseball (min. 70 IP). Last season he was at 5.02 BB/9 (12.7 BB%), so we’re now over 200 innings (205.2 to be exact) with a walk rate over 5.0 BB/9 (12.5 BB%).
  • He might shut down lefties, but righties are a different story. Batters of the opposite hand have tagged Liriano for a .357 wOBA this season, and his strong strikeout rate (8.00 K/9 and 19.4 K%) is negated by a terrible walk rate (5.67 BB/9 and 13.7 BB%). His career performance isn’t a ton better (.328 wOBA against).
  • Liriano’s injury history is quite lengthy. Since having Tommy John surgery in 2007, he’s missed time with forearm and elbow swelling (2009), shoulder inflammation (2011), and a shoulder strain (2011).
  • Thanks to the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, any team that trades for him will not be eligible for draft pick compensation.

The Twins are certifiably terrible at 30-44 with baseball’s worst run differential (-95), and a few weeks ago they probably would have given Liriano away from free. He’s rebuilt some value since moving back into the rotation, but not enough to land Minnesota a quality prospect. The last three or four years aren’t going to be washed away by six nice starts, teams will still be skeptical about his ability to solidify their rotation down the stretch.

I am intrigued by Liriano’s potential as a shutdown left-handed reliever, which is a pretty great fallback option should the starting thing not work out (again). Then again, if the Yankees are going to trade for pitching help, I feel that they should trade for someone they know will be a clear upgrade and Liriano just isn’t reliable enough to say that. If the Twins are open to giving him away for a Grade-C prospect and salary relief while the Warrens and Phelpses and Mitchells prove ineffective, then the Bombers should probably get involved. Cashman & Co. won’t rush into any kind of panic move and even if they were, Liriano’s not a guy you acquire at all costs. The potential is tantalizing because you know there’s ace ability in there, but it doesn’t come out often enough.

6/28-7/1 Series Preview: Chicago White Sox

(REUTERS/Eric Miller)

The Yankees have played every AL team except for one this season, but that will change today. The White Sox and new manager/former Yankee Robin Ventura are in town for a four-game set, New York’s eighth consecutive series against a team with a winning record.

What Have They Done Lately?

Chicago just won two straight against the Twins and have won four of their past five games. Prior to that they had lost seven of nine. At 40-35 with a +40 run differential, the ChiSox sit atop the AL Central thanks in part to New York’s sweep of the Indians this week.

Offense

(Leon Halip/Getty Images)

The White Sox are a sneaky good offensive team, averaging 4.64 runs per game. That’s a top-ten mark in baseball and not all that far behind the Yankees (4.80 R/G). Paul Konerko (159 wRC+) has been their MVP yet again, but he had a minor wrist procedure earlier this month and has hit just .238/.314/.349 since. I wouldn’t take any solace in that, the man can still mash.

Adam Dunn (136 wRC+) is second in the AL with 24 homers while ranking first in walk (18.7%) and strikeout (37.8%) rate. He’s a three true outcomes machine. Dunn and Konerko have been one of the game’s best 3-4 combinations this season. Alejandro De Aza (109 wRC+) has shaken off the Quad-A tag to emerge as a legitimate leadoff man this year, and new addition Kevin Youkilis (91 wRC+) will put together some annoyingly good at-bats from the two-hole.

The rest of Ventura’s regular lineup features the enigmatic Alex Rios (125 wRC+), contract year A.J. Pierzynski (119 wRC+), the powerful Dayan Viciedo (93 wRC+), the slumping Alexei Ramirez (52 wRC+), and the disappointing Gordon Beckham (81 wRC+). The ChiSox don’t have much a bench, with backup catcher Tyler Flowers (67 wRC+), infielders Orlando Hudson (52 wRC+) and Eduardo Escobar (64 wRC+), and outfielder Jordan Danks (137 wRC+ in very limited time) doing the honors. Yes, Jordan is John’s brother.

Pitching Matchups

Thursday: RHP Ivan Nova vs. RHP Dylan Axelrod
The White Sox probably do a better job of turning random arms into serviceable big leaguers than any other team, and Axelrod is another guy they plucked off the scrap heap and inserted into their rotation. He’s taking the place of the injured Phil Humber. Axelrod has made two starts and two relief appearances this year, pitching to a 4.85 ERA with a 6.05 FIP. His strikeout (6.23 K/9 and 14.8 K%), walk (2.08 BB/9 and 4.9 BB%), and ground ball (42.2%) rates aren’t awful, but Axelrod has allowed three homers in his 13 innings so far. The 26-year-old former minor league free agent is a low-80s slider specialist, throwing the pitch more often than either of his upper-80s fastballs (two and four-seamer). He’ll also mix in a low-80s changeup and an upper-70s curveball.

Funky changeup grip. (Jonathan Daniel/Getty Images)

Friday: RHP Adam Warren vs. LHP Jose Quintana
At this time last year, Quintana was pitching for High-A Tampa and giving the Yankees something to think about. They declined to add him to the 40-man roster after the season and he signed with the ChiSox, who have used the 23-year-old southpaw to replace the injured John Danks. Like I said, they pluck the scrap heap as well as anyone. Quintana has pitched to a 1.25 ERA (2.96 FIP) in six starts and two relief appearances, relying more on his ability to limit walks (1.25 BB/9 and 3.7 BB%) than get strikeouts (4.98 K/9 and 14.8 K%) and grounders (41.1%). He is primarily a two-pitch pitcher — upper-80s fastball and low-80s slider — that will also throw an upper-70s curveball and once or twice a start, a mid-80s changeup. At some point his 0.42 HR/9 and 4.4% HR/FB will correct given his ground ball rate and home park, and hopefully the correction starts tomorrow.

Saturday: RHP Hiroki Kuroda vs. RHP Jake Peavy
No longer the Cy Young Award winning version of himself, Peavy is having a legitimately excellent season after battling injuries for the last few years. He’s among the league leaders in ERA (2.84) and FIP (3.13) thanks to rock solid strikeout (7.74 K/9 and 22.0 K%) and walk (2.06 BB/9 and 5.9 BB%) rates. Peavy is very fly ball prone (34.4% grounders), however. He’ll use six different pitches, including three fastballs (low-90s two and four-seamers plus a mid-80s cutter), two breaking balls (low-80s slider and upper-70s curve), and a low-80s changeup. Peavy has been death on righties this season (.223 wOBA against), so this wouldn’t be a bad game to rest Alex Rodriguez and start Eric Chavez.

Sunday: RHP Phil Hughes vs. RHP Gavin Floyd
It’s been a tough year for the former fourth overall pick, as Floyd has pitched to a 4.80 ERA and 4.43 FIP. His strikeout rate (8.40 K/9 and 22.1 K%) is a career high, though his homerun rate (1.50 HR/9) is a career worst. The walk (2.40 BB/9 and 6.3 BB%) and ground ball (44.1%) rates are in line with his career norms. Floyd loves his mid-80s cutter, using it heavily along with his low-90s four-seamer and knockout upper-70s curve. He’ll mix in a handful of mid-80s changeup as well. Floyd hasn’t allowed a run in either of his last two starts and he’s known for going on stretches of dominance once the weather warms up, which may or may not be bad news for the Yankees. We’ll find out this weekend.

(AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

Bullpen Status
Ventura’s bullpen is been decent this season (3.87 ERA), and yesterday they ran lefty specialist Will Ohman into the ground (two innings and 46 pitches) before designating him for assignment after the game. That means everyone on the current roster is fresh coming into the series, including rookie closer Addison Reed (2.76 FIP). He’s a high strikeout (10.00 K/9 and 25.6 K%) flame-thrower that will walk people (3.67 BB/9 and 9.4 BB%) and give up fly balls (29.7% grounders). Reed is setup by the hard-throwing veteran left-hander Matt Thornton (3.08 FIP).

The rest of their relief corps features some veteran guys you know — Jesse Crain (2.92 FIP) and former Yankee Brian Bruney (5.05 FIP in limited time) — and some guys you’ve probably never heard of before — righty Nate Jones (3.42 FIP) and lefty Hector Santiago (5.56 FIP). It’s unclear who the ChiSox are bringing up to replace Ohman, but based on their 40-man roster, odds are in favor of it being a rookie who will make his big league debut. The Yankees’ bullpen is kind of a wreck following Andy Pettitte‘s short start yesterday, so check out our Bullpen Workload page for the details. Rafael Soriano is unlikely to be available tonight after appearing in four of the last five games. For the latest and greatest on the White Sox, check out South Side Sox.

Sorting out the Sabathia & Pettitte-less rotation

(Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

In the span of about five hours yesterday, the Yankees lost their two best starting pitchers to injury. First CC Sabathia was placed on the DL with a left adductor strain, then Andy Pettitte was struck by a batted ball and suffered a fractured left ankle. Brian Cashman said Sabathia could have pitched through his injury if this was the stretch drive or postseason, but they decided to play it safe. Obviously they didn’t have the same choice with Pettitte.

“CC is due back right after the (All-Star break),” said Cashman after yesterday’s game. “Andy, you’re talking about a minimum of six weeks of healing, and as a starter you have to get him going again, so I’ll throw two months in there in Andy’s case. We’ll just have to figure it out and see what happens. I would prefer not to go outside. Obviously if we do go outside, we’ve done that before. This is part of the process. You have to have alternatives. This gives opportunities for people to step up. Just like some guys in the bullpen have allowed us to step up and withstand some injuries — that’s what Boone Logan, Clay Rapada, and [Cody Eppley] have done — we’re going to have to ask for some other guys to do that for the rotation, as well. Let’s play it out and see where it takes us.”

The plan right now calls for Adam Warren to start in Sabathia’s place on Friday — he started for Triple-A Empire State on Sunday and lines up perfectly for tomorrow — and for Freddy Garcia to take Pettitte’s place on Monday. Ryota Igarashi is coming up from Triple-A to take Garcia’s spot in the bullpen, leaving the team without a true long reliever for the time being. In the short-term, the rotation shakes out like this…

  • Thursday, 6/28 vs. White Sox: Ivan Nova
  • Friday, 6/29 vs. White Sox: Warren
  • Saturday, 6/30 vs. White Sox: Hiroki Kuroda
  • Sunday, 7/1 vs. White Sox: Phil Hughes
  • Monday, 7/2 @ Rays: Garcia
  • Tuesday, 7/3 @ Rays: Nova
  • Wednesday, 7/4 @ Rays: Warren
  • Thursday, 7/5: scheduled day off
  • Friday, 7/6 @ Red Sox: Kuroda
  • Saturday, 7/7 @ Red Sox (doubleheader): Hughes and Garcia*
  • Sunday, 7/8 @ Red Sox: Nova

* Garcia will be on regular rest for the July 7th doubleheader thanks to that scheduled day off.

That takes the Yankees right to the All-Star break, after which Sabathia is scheduled to return. Assuming all goes well with CC, he’ll take either Garcia’s or Warren’s spot depending on how each guy performs in their two-start audition. If both guys are performing poorly, the Yankees will also have the option of bringing David Phelps back, who will be five starts into his minor league stint by then and presumably able to throw 95+ pitches. There’s always D.J. Mitchell as well, but he could wind up taking Igarashi’s spot sooner rather than later if the braintrust feels a long man is needed. Given Garcia’s short leash due to his time in the pen and the general unpredictability associated with a young guy like Warren, having a long man would probably be a pretty good idea.

The Yankees don’t rush into panic moves, at least not under Cashman in recent years. They have enough arms to get them to the All-Star break, then they can re-evaluate things once Sabathia returns. If neither Garcia, Warren, Phelps, or Mitchell distinguishes themselves in the rotation, they’ll still have plenty of time to explore the trade market. They could go big (Cole Hamels, Matt Garza or Zack Greinke), go medium (Ryan Dempster or Wandy Dempster), or go small (Jeremy Guthrie or Francisco Liriano). I suppose it depends on Pettitte’s rehab and how Hughes is holding up because frankly, we have reason to doubt his ability to remain effective over the course of a full season.

The Bombers have the makings of a really strong rotation on the DL with Sabathia and Pettitte joining Michael Pineda, so their big league staff has been compromised. The starters have been carrying the team for the last six weeks or so and now the offense is going to have to return the favor a bit, simply because there is no reasonable way to expect anyone to replace the two guys the Yankees lost yesterday. The good news is that they’re in a better position to absorb these losses than at any point in the last like, ten years really. For a while there were no internal options — hence Aaron Small and Shawn Chacon and Sidney Ponson– now there’s several. The Yankees will cycle through them and tread water for a few weeks, at least until Sabathia gets healthy and maybe until the trade deadline.

Aside: Boy, did Manny Banuelos pick a good time to get hurt or what? Same with Dellin Betances. He’s supposed to be getting called up in this situation, not demoted down to Double-A. What a let down.

Yanks win game, lose Pettitte in sweep of Tribe

The Yankees pulled out a nail-biting 5-4 win to sweep the Indians on Wednesday — their fifth straight win and 15th in the last 18 games — but they lost quite a bit as well. Before the game the team announced that CC Sabathia was placed on the DL with a left adductor strain, and during the game Andy Pettitte was struck by a batted ball that fractured his ankle. Just like that, two-fifths of the rotation is gone.

(AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

Zombie

The Yankees forced Cleveland’s pitchers to throw a total of 83 pitches (!) in the first inning this series, but they were unable to capitalize on Ubaldo Jimenez’s two first inning walks on Wednesday. The Tribe took a one-zip lead in the second and Ubaldo settled a bit, retiring nine in a row before Robinson Cano singled with one out in the fourth. It was New York’s first hit of the game.

Mark Teixeira struck out on a nasty Bartolo Colon-esque inside two-seamer, but Raul Ibanez managed to work a walk before Eric Chavez drove a two-run, two-out double the other way into the left-center field gap. Maybe my memory is playing tricks on me, but I don’t remember Chavez hitting balls with this much authority last year. Last season it seemed to be an awful lot of ground ball singles and stuff like that, but now he’s driving the ball well and being rewarded with extra-base hits. His latest gave the Bombers a 2-1 lead.

The Bad Inning

(AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

Everything seemed to go wrong in the top of the fifth. The inning started with Pettitte’s injury, a hard-hit one-hopper that resulted in Casey Kotchman’s infield single. Joe Girardi went to Cody Eppley, but another infield single put two men on. A sac bunt moved them up to second and third with one out. Clay Rapada came in to get a ground ball to first, a ball that was hit hard enough for Chavez to make the throw home to keep the run from scoring.

Freddy Garcia — Friday’s scheduled starter at that point — was warming up in the bullpen but Girardi elected to keep Rapada in to face the switch-hitting Asdrubal Cabrera. I know he’s been quite good of late, but Rapada is awful against right-handed batters (career .439 wOBA against) and he predictably allowed the game-tying single. Jason Kipnis, a lefty, followed with a bloop single to give the Indians a 3-2 lead. I like that Girardi matched up in an effort to escape the jam in the middle innings, but he ended up having to bring Freddy into the game in the middle of the inning anyway. Garcia struck out Jose Lopez but the damage was done, both on the scoreboard and to Pettitte.

(Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

En Fuego

Cano has been his team’s hottest hitter of late, coming into this game with a .331/.407/.703 batting line in his last 46 games and six homers in his last nine games. He made it seven homers in ten games with a two-run shot in the sixth, a two-strike opposite field job off Ubaldo after Alex Rodriguez started the inning with a double to right. I didn’t think Robbie got enough of it for a homer, but it definitely looked like extra bases off the bat. The ball just kept carrying though, and it clanked off the front wall of the left field bleachers. It didn’t just sneak over the fence. Cano’s been coming up with some monster hits of late, and this one turned a one-run deficit into a one-run lead.

Shutdown

I feel like Garcia’s 2.1 innings are going to get lost in the mix of everything else that happened, but he was the unsung hero of the day. Pettitte was out of the game and Freddy retired all seven men he faced to give the offense a chance to get back in it. You know what this was? It was a vintage 2009 Al Aceves appearance. Garcia came in, soaked up some innings, and kept the Yankees in the game. He deserves some serious props for his effort on Wednesday, and his reward is a start in Pettitte’s place on Monday.

David Robertson took over in the eighth and threw a rare 1-2-3 inning, striking out two. The Yankees tacked on an insurance run in the bottom of the inning — Chavez singled in Teixeira, so a big day for him — and that run proved to be important because Rafael Soriano had a tough time in the ninth. Pitching for the fourth time in five days, he loaded the bases on two singles and a walk before walking in a run and escaping the jam on a Cabrera fly ball. He also struck out the oh-so-clutch Johnny Damon for the second out. It wasn’t pretty but it was effective.

Aaron Cunningham really wanted to get to second. (AP Photo/Frank Franklin II)

Leftovers

I feel like I should mention the defense a bit. A-Rod made a throwing error in the second that led to the first run of the game, though Jayson Nix made a sweet bare hand play on a slow chopper in the same inning. Nix also made a nice tag on the pickoff play you see above to end the inning. Chavez made a real nice stretch to corral an errant Cano throw to end the third, then he teamed up with Russell Martin for the play at the plate in the fifth. There was a little bit of good and a little bit of bad with the gloves, which is kinda par for the course these days.

The 3-7 hitters went a combined 7-for-17 with two doubles, a homer, and three walks. The other four lineup spots went a combined 0-for-14 with one walk, a stolen base (by Curtis Granderson after that walk) and seven strikeouts. As a team, the Yankees went 3-for-8 with runners in scoring position and 8-for-19 (.421) in the series. It’s almost like hitting .220-something in those spots with this lineup wasn’t going to last forever.

Yet again, MLB.com won’t let me embed it, but here is video of Wednesday’s HOPE Week event. The Yankees brought five-year-old Andy Fass to Yankee Stadium and played tee-ball with him after the game. Andy suffers from a rare disease called oculocutaneous albinism, which impacts his eyesight and skin pigmentation. He’s legally blind and has to avoid long exposure to the sun. Suddenly losing two starting pitchers in one day doesn’t seem so bad.

Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings

MLB.com has the box score and video highlights, FanGraphs the advanced stats, and ESPN the updated standings. The Red Sox won and the Rays lost, so the Yankees are currently seven games up in the loss column on both.


Source: FanGraphs

Up Next

The Yankees have played every AL team but one so far this season, and that will change Thursday night when the White Sox come to town for a four-game series. Ivan Nova will kick things off against rookie right-hander Dylan Axelrod. Check out RAB Tickets if you want to head up to the Stadium for that one.

Betances demotion headlines night on the farm

A trio of notes…

  • Big Story: RHP Dellin Betances was demoted to Double-A Trenton. Something had to be done here, the poor kid must have zero confidence left after these last three months. Hopefully getting away from the traveling circus in Triple-A and closer to home allows him to catch his breath for a bit and get back on track. RHP Preston Claiborne went from Double-A to Triple-A in a corresponding move.
  • Medium Story: RHP Adam Miller was released. I kinda called it after his latest dud outing last night. Miller was a very intriguing minor league free agent pickup as a former top prospect, but it just wasn’t working out. He wasn’t missing bats or consistently throwing strikes.
  • Small Story: Triple-A Empire State has just one All-Star representative: LHP Juan Cedeno. DH Jack Cust, UTIL Ronnie Mustelier, and RHP Ramon Ortiz all had great All-Star cases, though Mustelier may not have been with the team long enough. I guess they just wanted to go prospect-heavy for the first time in basically ever.

Triple-A Empire State (3-2 win over Gwinnett)
CF Chris Dickerson: 3-4, 2 R, 1 3B, 1 K, 1 SB — nine extra-base hits in 16 games since coming off the DL
C Frankie Cervelli & LF Ronnie Mustelier: both 1-3, 1 RBI, 2 K — Cervelli got hit by a pitch … Mustelier drew a walk
DH Jack Cust: 0-2, 2 BB, 1 K — up to 59 walks on the season
1B Russell Branyan & SS Doug Bernier: both 0-4 — Bernier struck out thrice and committed a throwing error
3B Brandon Laird: 2-4, 1 R, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 K — 22nd homer in 923 plate appearances at Triple-A after hitting 23 homers in 506 plate appearances at Double-A
RF Cole Garner: 3-4, 1 K, 1 CS
2B Ramiro Pena: 0-3, 1 BB, 1 K
RHP Ramon Ortiz: 6 IP, 6 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 2 K, 4/8 GB/FB — 63 of 100 pitches were strikes
LHP Juan Cedeno: 0 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 0 K — 11 pitches, six strikes
RHP Manny Delcarmen: 3 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 3 K, 4/2 GB/FB — 29 of 49 pitches were strikes (59.2%) … nice effort even though he Clip’d the win

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