No Merritt to this performance: Yankees get swept after a 9-4 loss to the Indians


Source: FanGraphs

So much for winning a game in this series at all. The Yankees suffered another listless loss n the second game of the doubleheader as they got swept by the Indians. They are now five games behind Boston in the AL East standings and have only a 1.5 game lead in the first AL Wild Card spot. Not what you want, folks! Following Mike’s example, we’re also doing it bullet-point style for this recap.

  • Another bad first inning: The game did not start too promisingly for the Yankees. Francisco Lindor singled off Jordan Montgomery to begin the top of the first and Austin Jackson worked a walk. A hitter later, Edwin Encarnacion squared an RBI single to center to make it 1-0 Indians. Carlos Santana followed it up with a double that bounced off the third base bag to drive Jackson in. With runners on second and third, Yandy Diaz hit a single to left to drive both of ’em in to make it 4-0. Not ideal at all. The Indians ended up batting around and Montgomery threw 42 pitches. All kinds of yikes here. Montgomery managed to last through four innings, which feels miraculous given that he spent half of his pitch limits in the first inning.
  • Bird is the word: The Yankees got a run in the bottom of the second thanks to… Greg Bird! Aaron Judge and Aaron Hicks got on base with a single each and Bird followed it up with one of his own to make it a 4-1 game. Fast forward to bottom of the ninth, well after Indians lefty Ryan Merritt was out of the game, with Todd Frazier (walk) and Hicks (single) on base, Bird crushed an inside fastball into the right field seats for a three-run homer. Not a lot of things to get excited about in today’s games but man, it is nice to see Bird hit in the majors. His 4 RBI’s today raised his season total up to 9. Hopefully this game gets things going for him because, with major bats slumping in the lineup, the Yankees need someone to step up.
  • Post-Monty: After Montgomery departed, Joe Girardi put in Chase Shreve in the top of the fifth to keep it a three-run game. However, Encarnacion immediately made it a four-run game with a massive solo home run into the left field seats. That was 2012-16 all over again, watching Encarnacion jog around the Yankee Stadium bases with an invisible parrot on his arm. Shreve surrendered another in the sixth. Erik Gonzalez doubled to lead off the inning. After Lindor grounded out, Jackson hit a deep fly into the center that bounced off Hicks’ reaching glove and resulted as an RBI double. It’s been that kind of a game. 6-1 Tribe. But wait, we’re not done there. With Caleb Smith pitching, the Indians tacked on three more on a Yan Gomes two-run HR in the seventh and a Lindor solo dinger in the eighth. Okay, it’s over.

Here are the box score, video highlights, updated standings and WPA. It was not a great display of baseball from the Yankees for the past three games, to say the least. Gotta hope that they turn it around quickly starting tomorrow because the Red Sox are coming to town for a four-game set. CC Sabathia will be on the mound against Eduardo Rodriguez tomorrow at 7:05 pm EST.

Game 132: Maybe Just Win One?

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

Not a good start to the doubleheader. The Yankees dropped the first game 2-1 and have already clinched the series loss to the Indians. All they can do now is salvage the series with a win in today’s second game and go into the four-game weekend series with the Red Sox feeling kinda sorta good about things. Here is the Indians’ lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup for the second game:

  1. LF Brett Gardner
  2. 2B Starlin Castro
  3. DH Gary Sanchez
  4. RF Aaron Judge
  5. SS Didi Gregorius
  6. CF Aaron Hicks
  7. 1B Greg Bird
  8. 3B Ronald Torreyes
  9. C Austin Romine
    LHP Jordan Montgomery

Same weather as this afternoon, meaning pretty much perfect. The second game of the doubleheader is tentatively scheduled to begin at 4:55pm ET. YES and MLB Network will have the broadcast again. Try to enjoy the game.

Roster Move: No one was sent down for Montgomery. He is the 26th man for the doubleheader.

Indians 2, Yankees 1: Sometimes two runs are too many to overcome


Source: FanGraphs

Well so much for winning two games in one day. The Yankees dropped the first game of Wednesday’s doubleheader despite allowing two whole runs. Can’t ask your pitchers to do much more than that, especially at cozy Yankee Stadium. The final score was 2-1 Indians. We’re not writing two full recaps in one day, so let’s bullet point this one:

  • A Bad First Inning: Two runs (one earned) in five innings plus one batter against a first place team? Hard to complain about that from your fifth starter. Jaime Garcia allowed both runs in the first inning on three singles and a pretty terrible Gary Sanchez passed ball. Cutter right down the middle and Sanchez couldn’t catch it. If it makes you feel better, the run would’ve scored anyway when the next batter singled. (Fallacy of the predetermined outcome, blah blah blah.) Garcia’s final line: 5 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 5 K. He got batter-to-battered in the sixth, when he walked the only man he faced. A perfectly cromulent outing otherwise.
  • One Run & Done: Pretty miserable showing for the offense. They scored their lone run against Trevor Bauer in the third inning, when Didi Gregorius looped a double the other way to drive in Aaron Hicks. Hicks drew a walk, moved up on Sanchez’s fielder’s choice, and moved up again on Trevor Bauer’s wild pitch. Bauer had one 1-2-3 inning, the fourth, so the Yankees had some baserunners. Brought just the one in though. The Yankees were so desperate for offense they gave Tyler Olson — Tyler Olson! — a free out with a sac bunt in the seventh. You will be surprised to learn it didn’t work. The final eight batters they sent to the plate made outs.
  • Leftovers: Eight batters, seven strikeouts for Chad Green …  Tommy Kahnle pitched around a walk and a ground ball single to get his four outs … every starter reached base at least once except Greg Bird and Jacoby Ellsbury. Hicks and Chase Headley were the only Yankees to reach twice though. They each had two walks … Bird went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts and swung threw several meaty fastballs, and that’s no good.

Here are the box score, video highlights, and updated standings. The Yankees and Indians will play the second game of the doubleheader pretty soon. The grounds crew will touch up the infield and starters Jordan Montgomery and Ryan Merritt will warm up, then they’ll get started.

Yankees will reportedly visit Philadelphia next year for first time since 2009 World Series

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

At some point next month MLB will release the 2018 regular season schedule, though bits and pieces are already starting to leak out. The Yankees are due to face the NL East during interleague play next year, and according to Ryan Lawrence, they are tentatively scheduled to visit the Phillies next summer. It’ll be the first time the Yankees visit Citizens Bank Park since the 2009 World Series.

The three-game series in Philadelphia is scheduled for Monday, June 25th, through Wednesday, June 27th. Aside from the 2009 World Series, the Yankees have visited Citizens Bank Park for an interleague series only once. They took two of three from the Phillies back in June 2006. The Yankees starting pitchers that series: Randy Johnson, Mike Mussina, and Jaret Wright. Prior to that, their last trip to Philly was to Veterans Stadium in 2001.

The Yankees and Phillies have played two series at Yankee Stadium since the 2009 World Series. The Phillies took two of three in June 2010 and again took two of three in June 2015. They also played three regular season games at Yankee Stadium in May 2009. The Phillies won two of three that series too. Eh, whatever. That has no bearing on what happens next year. (Also, kiss the ring.)

With the NL East on tap next year, the Yankees figure to get a firsthand look at Bryce Harper before his impending free agency, possibly even in Yankee Stadium. Harper went deep when the Nationals visited the Bronx back during his MVP season in 2015.

Chances are the Yankees will visit new SunTrust Park in Atlanta next year, a ballpark they helped open with an exhibition game back earlier this spring. Greg Bird hit the first (unofficial) home run at the new building. The Yankees play the Mets during the Subway Series every season, so that’s nothing new. Visiting the Phillies and getting to see Bryce Harper up close don’t happen to often for the Yankees, so that’ll be fun. If nothing else, at least interleague travel will be easy next year.

Game 131: Let’s Win Two

Pls bring Votto to NY to keep Reds reunion going. (Jim McIsaac/Getty)
Pls give Votto to Yankees to keep Reds reunion going thx. (Jim McIsaac/Getty)

Thanks to yesterday’s rainout, the Yankees and Indians will play a single admission doubleheader today. Second one of the season for the Yankees, and their third doubleheader overall. Can’t beat two games for the price of one. Yeah, it’s going to do a number on the pitching staff the day before the start of a hugely important four-game series with the Red Sox, but what can you do? At least reinforcements are coming Friday.

Winning two games today sure would be swell, but before you can win two, you have to win one. The Yankees got shut down by Corey Kluber on Monday and hey, it happens. Kluber is really good. Trevor Bauer though? That’s another story. I know he pitched well when these two teams met in Cleveland, but if you want to win a postseason spot, he’s the kinda guy you’ve got to beat up on. Here is the Indians’ lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:

  1. LF Brett Gardner
  2. RF Aaron Hicks
  3. C Gary Sanchez
  4. SS Didi Gregorius
  5. 1B Ha Cheese Lady
  6. DH Greg Bird
  7. 3B Todd Frazier
  8. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  9. 2B Ronald Torreyes
    LHP Jaime Garcia

Lovely weather in New York today. Doubleheader weather. Much better than all that rain yesterday. The first game of today’s doubleheader is scheduled to begin at 1:05pm ET, and you’ll be able to watch on YES locally and MLB Network out-of-market. Enjoy the game.

Injury Update: Aaron Judge (shoulder) feels better, though he continues to receive treatment. He’s going to play in the second game of the doubleheader. Judge has not had an MRI or a cortisone shot, though it has been discussed. I have no idea what the Yankees are waiting for. Between this and letting Bird play on a bad ankle for a month, they’re really Metsing it up with the injuries to their young guys this year.

Appeals Update: Joe Girardi said MLB has not yet scheduled appeal hearings for Sanchez and Austin Romine. That doesn’t mean it couldn’t happen tomorrow, but right now there’s nothing on the books. Sure sounds like the hearings won’t happen until after rosters expand Friday though. Sanchez was suspended four games and Romine two games for their roles in the brawl with the Tigers last week.

Recent elbow MRI yet another red flag for Aroldis Chapman

(Rich Schultz/Getty)
(Rich Schultz/Getty)

August is almost over and roster expansion is right around the corner, and at this point, it is completely clear the Yankees can not trust Aroldis Chapman in high-leverage situations. After giving Chapman the largest reliever contract in history over the winter, the Yankees have received 38.1 innings with a 4.23 ERA (3.08 FIP) in return, and have had to demote him out of the closer’s role. What a mess.

As you know, this isn’t simply a case of Chapman running into some bad luck with more bloops falling in and balls sneaking into the short porch for cheap Yankee Stadium homers. He looks basically nothing like the dominating Aroldis Chapman of the past six years. And it’s only getting worse. His swing-and-miss rate:

aroldis-chapman-swings-and-misses

Poor performance is one thing. Poor performance and injuries are another. Chapman missed roughly a month with shoulder inflammation earlier this year, and according to George King, Aroldis went for an MRI on his elbow Sunday. The MRI came back clean and Chapman was available to pitch Monday — “There was a little bit of discomfort. It was precautionary and they decided to do a test … It’s 100% fine,” he said to King — but still. Shoulder and elbow scares in year one of a five-year contract? Yikes.

Everyone is trying to figure out what’s wrong with Chapman and no one has the answer, not even the Yankees. They’re still searching. I don’t buy the “he’s getting hit harder because hitters are used to seeing 100 mph now” excuse for a second. How ridiculous is that? Luis Severino has no trouble throwing 98-99 mph heaters by hitters. Dellin Betances is still getting swings and misses with his fastball. I’ve heard a lot of silly baseball theories over the years. That one might be the silliest.

Last week Zach Kram, based on release point data and things like that, surmised Chapman might be pitching hurt. Maybe not hurt in the sense that he’s in pain and gutting through it. Hurt in that he’s not right physically even if there’s no real pain. It could be due to an underlying injury, or fatigue, or a World Series hangover, or general wear and tear. From Kram:

Throwing from a slightly lower arm slot, with a slightly more exaggerated elbow angle, is not per se an indicator of injury, and normally it could be attributed to a minor mechanical blip, the likes of which fellow Yankee—and new closer—Dellin Betances experienced earlier this summer. But combined with Chapman’s recent injury history, it represents a more serious sign of concern. In the book Complete Conditioning for Baseball, collegiate strength and conditioning coach Steve Tamborra writes, “There is no ideal angle between the arm and the head during the throwing motion, but pitchers tend to lower their angle when protecting a weak or injured shoulder.”

This is still just an observation, and it’s impossible to link it explicitly to Chapman’s struggles—again, his aggregate velocity and location are doing just fine, and both Chapman and Girardi contend that the lefty isn’t hurt. But it’s a new Chapman, and it’s a worse Chapman, so it’s reasonable to suppose that some connection exists.

Here’s the thing though: Chapman’s velocity and location are not doing just fine. There’s no way to measure location — Kram uses Chapman’s career high 54.3% zone rate as evidence his location is fine, which is dubious — but having watched him pitch all year, Chapman never hits his spot. He’s always been wild — that career 11.5% walk rate isn’t an accident — and this year it’s become more extreme. It seems like Aroldis has no real idea where the ball is going.

As for the velocity, the radar gun readings in general are fine. Chapman is averaging 100.1 mph with his fastball this season, which is down from 101.1 mph last year, but is right in line with the rest of his career. Now look at the fastball perceived velocity:

  • 2015: 100.8 mph (+0.7 mph from average)
  • 2016: 101.6 mph (+0.5 mph from average)
  • 2017: 100.4 mph (+0.3 mph from average)

Perceived velocity tells us how fast the pitch looks to the hitter when factoring in the pitcher’s extension and things like that. Chapman is a big guy, he’s listed at 6-foot-4 and 215 lbs., so he’s releasing the ball a little closer to the plate than the average hurler. For whatever reason though, his perceived velocity “gain” has been trending down.

In the grand scheme of things, losing 0.2 mph of perceived velocity from one year to the next might not be such a big deal, though the overall trend is disconcerting, and it’s one of those things that could be compounding Chapman’s issues. The lower release point and more exaggerated elbow angle (per Kram) combined with slightly lower velocity and shoulder and elbow woes is … unsettling. If not outright bad.

At this point, the hope is Chapman will get over whatever’s ailing him and contribute these final five weeks of the regular season and postseason. That’s the only way he can salvage what has been a pretty terrible first full season with the Yankees. And hopefully this recent elbow problem really is nothing, even if it might explain a whole lot.

DotF: Andujar and McKinney have big games in Scranton’s win

A few quick notes to pass along:

  • In case you missed it earlier, the Yankees are sending SS Thairo Estrada, OF Estevan Florial, 1B Chris Gittens, SS Kyle Holder, LHP Justus Sheffield, and RHP Dillon Tate to the Arizona Fall League this year. The Yankees still have two pitching spots TBA as well.
  • Florial was named the Most Outstanding MLB Prospect in the Low-A South Atlantic League, so that’s cool. He hit .297/.373/.483 (146 wRC+) with eleven homers and 17 steals in 91 games with Low-A Charleston before being promoted.
  • 2080 Baseball has write-ups on several lower profile Yankees prospects, including LHP James Reeves. “Reeves has the look of a future role Role 50 situational reliever, with additional utility as a solid change-of-pace look out of the bullpen who could give both righties and lefties fits in a middle-relief role,” says the write-up.

Triple-A Scranton (8-1 win over Rochester) they’ve already clinched the division title … their regular season ends next Monday, and their first round postseason series begins next Wednesday (opponent TBD)

  • SS Tyler Wade: 1-5, 1 R, 1 2B, 2 K, 1 E (fielding)
  • CF Jake Cave: 0-4, 1 BB
  • DH Matt Holliday: 1-4, 1 R — his rehab has been moved up here, obviously … Holliday told D.J. Eberle his goal is to rejoin the Yankees on Friday, conveniently the first day rosters expand
  • 3B Miguel Andujar: 2-4, 2 R, 1 3B, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 2 K, 1 E (fielding) — my dude
  • 1B Tyler Austin: 1-3, 1 2B, 1 BB, 2 K
  • RF Billy McKinney: 2-4, 2 R, 1 2B, 1 RBI — 11-for-32 (.344) in his last eight games, so he’s finishing strong
  • LHP Nestor Cortes: 5.2 IP, 7 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 5 K, 1 HB, 5/3 GB/FB — 64 of 87 pitches were strikes (74%) … making the spot start in place of Jordan Montgomery, who will start the second game of tomorrow’s doubleheader for the big league team

[Read more…]