Saved by the Big Three: Bullpen carries Yankees to a 2-1 win over White Sox

Now that’s how you rebound. The Yankees suffered a tough loss Friday night and they lost Luis Severino to an arm injury as well, but they shook it off, came to the park Saturday, and beat a really good pitcher. The final score was 2-1 Yankees. They’ve won six of nine on the homestand.

(Al Bello/Getty)
(Al Bello/Getty)

Two Unlikely Runs
The Yankees built two runs out of nothing in the second inning. Jose Quintana got two quick outs to start the inning and was ahead in the count 0-2 on Chase Headley, so the odds of scoring were really low. Headley was able to battle back to work a walk, then Aaron Hicks drove him in with a loud double over Adam Eaton in right field. Headley’s slide into home was hardly textbook — it was more of a flop than a slide — but hey, whatever works.

Didi Gregorius was able to plate Hicks with a ground ball single through the right side to give his team a 2-0 lead. The Yankees caught a really tough break when Austin Romine‘s line drive into the right-center field gap hopped over the wall for a ground rule double, forcing Gregorius to stop at third. He was going to score pretty easily. Replays showed Didi was just about to round third as the ball was hopping over the fence.

I know I’m going to sound like a homer, but I feel like that’s one of those plays where the runner should be allowed to score from first on the ground rule double. Gregorius was running on contact with two outs and the ball was just still in the field of play as he approached third. Plays like this aren’t going to be made reviewable — instant replay is for black and white plays (fair or foul, safe or out, etc.), not judgment calls — but the umpires can use a little common sense, right? Whatever.

(Al Bello/Getty)
(Al Bello/Getty)

Ivan The (Ground) Baller
Ivan Nova has given the Yankees a really nice lift in his two starts so far. Last time out he held the Royals to one run in 4.2 innings while on a pitch count, then, on Saturday, he limited the White Sox to one run in 5.2 innings. The run came on a solo homer by Todd Frazier and it was pretty much Nova’s only mistake of the game. He left a first pitch fastball up and Frazier smacked it into the first row in left field. It sounded like it was going to go about 15 rows back. It happens.

Nova recorded 17 outs Saturday and 13 were on the ground, and only two of the final 14 batters he faced hit the ball out of the infield. Those two were Frazier’s homer and a stranded double by Brett Lawrie. Nova got quick outs too. Twelve of the 22 plate appearances against him were over within three pitches. One run, four hits, one walk, two strikeouts, 13 grounders, two fly balls? Pretty excellent.

Because he was so efficient, Nova threw only 74 pitches in his 5.2 innings, but Joe Girardi opted to go to his big three relievers with the Yankees up by one. I was actually surprised Girardi let Nova face Frazier in that sixth inning after he went deep last time up. Ivan walked him to put the tying run on base — Nova threw him two nice curveballs, but Frazier spit on them for balls, they were good pitches — and that was end of his day. You done good, Ivan.

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

Saved By The Big Three
The Yankees had some chances to tack on runs but just couldn’t do it. Most notably, Gregorius led off the fifth with the double, and the team stranded him with a line out and two strikeouts. Romine hit a ball awfully hard to right field, but Eaton reeled it in with a nice sliding catch. Romine has been hitting lasers all over the field lately. How about that?

So, with the one-run lead and ten outs to go, Girardi went to Dellin Betances with the tying run on first. Betances struck out Melky Cabrera to end the sixth and then he struck out the side in the seventh. That’ll work. Andrew Miller came in for the eighth and struck out two in a scoreless frame. Jose Abreu took two ridiculously hopeless swings to strike out to end the inning. The tying run was on base at the time. Miller wrecked him.

The ninth inning went to Aroldis Chapman and he fanned two in a perfect inning. PitchFX says he topped out at 102.5 mph. Frazier was the first hitter Chapman faced. Kinda cool. They were teammates with the Reds all those years. Betances, Miller, and Chapman combined to strike out eight of eleven batters faced. Miller allowed a single and a fielder’s choice in the eighth. Cut him.

(Al Bello/Getty)
(Al Bello/Getty)

Leftovers
The 7-8-9 hitters (Hicks, Gregorius, Romine) went a combined 5-for-9 (.555) with three doubles. Didi went 3-for-3 with a double against Quintana, which is hella impressive. Meanwhile, the top six hitters went combined 0-for-19 with two walks and five strikeouts. Yuck. Headley and Carlos Beltran drew the walks. The bottom of the lineup carried them against Quintana.

Just for the record, I was totally on board with pulling Nova after only 74 pitches. Like I said, I didn’t even think he would face Frazier. The back-end relievers were rested, the Yankees had a chance to steal a game against a great pitcher, and they have their ace going Sunday. Good time to max out the big three relievers for ten outs.

Jacoby Ellsbury, who has been out a week with a hip problem, returned to the field in the eighth inning. He took over in center and Hicks slid over to right for defense. He wasn’t tested because the bullpen was striking everyone out.

Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
The box score and updated standings are at ESPN and the video highlights are at MLB.com. Make sure you click on over to our Bullpen Workload and Announcer Standings pages as well. Here’s the ol’ win probably graph:


Source: FanGraphs

Up Next
The Yankees and White Sox will wrap up this series with the rubber game Sunday afternoon. Masahiro Tanaka and former Oriole Miguel Gonzalez will be on the bump. The Check out RAB Tickets if you want to catch the final game of the homestand live at the ballpark.

Game 35: A New Day

(Elsa/Getty)
(Elsa/Getty)

Last night’s game went about as poorly as possible. Not only did the Yankees lose the game itself, they also lost Luis Severino to an arm injury and taxed their bullpen. Getting humbled by Chris Sale was no fun either. Today is a new day though. The Yankees have to continue to dig themselves out of this hole, and they’ll have to do it against another tough pitcher in Jose Quintana this afternoon. Here is the White Sox’s lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:

  1. LF Brett Gardner
  2. 2B Starlin Castro
  3. 1B Mark Teixeira
  4. RF Carlos Beltran
  5. C Brian McCann
  6. 3B Chase Headley
  7. CF Aaron Hicks
  8. SS Didi Gregorius
  9. DH Austin Romine
    RHP Ivan Nova

It’s a bit cloudy in New York today and there is rain in the forecast a little later on. Nothing that should impact the game unless it goes long or into extra innings. This afternoon’s game is going to start a bit after 1pm ET and you can watch on YES. Enjoy.

Injury Updates: Jacoby Ellsbury (hip) is available today and the plan is to have him in tomorrow’s starting lineup … Severino (triceps) will make at least one minor league rehab start, according to Brian Cashman. Cashman also seemed to indicate Severino is not guaranteed a rotation spot once he’s healthy.

Roster Moves: As expected, the Yankees called up Chad Green today. They also called up Conor Mullee, which is pretty awesome. The 28-year-old has had his elbow rebuilt three times and now he gets affordable health care for life. Awesome. To make room on the 25-man roster, Severino was placed on the 15-day DL and Gary Sanchez was sent down to Triple-A. I assumed the Sanchez call-up was a short-term thing, but not this short-term. Whatevs. Greg Bird and Bryan Mitchell were transferred to the 60-day DL to clear 40-man spots for Green and Mullee.

Yankees acquire J.R. Graham from Twins

(Joe Robbins/Getty)
(Joe Robbins/Getty)

The Yankees have acquired right-hander J.R. Graham from the Twins for cash or a player to be named later, the team announced. He’s been optioned to Double-A Trenton. Mason Williams was transferred to the 60-day DL to clear a 40-man roster spot.

Graham, 26, stuck with the Twins as a Rule 5 Draft pick from the Braves last year. He has a 5.10 ERA (4.63 FIP) in 65.1 career big league innings, all with Minnesota since the start of last season. Graham is a mid-90s fastball guy with a mid-80s slider that is his go-to offspeed pitch. He also has a changeup. Here’s some video.

Fun fact: Graham wears old school stirrups on the mound because his mother is legally blind, and they help her pick him out on the field. That’s sweet.

The Yankees have been hit hard by upper level pitching injuries early this year. A quick list of the walking wounded: Luis Severino (triceps), CC Sabathia (groin), Bryan Mitchell (toe), Nick Rumbelow (Tommy John surgery), Branden Pinder (Tommy John surgery), Jacob Lindgren (elbow), Tyler Cloyd (elbow), Kyle Haynes (lat), and Vinnie Pestano (unknown). Yeesh.

The Twins designated Graham for assignment a few days ago as part of a roster shake-up and the Yankees picked him up to help cover for all those injuries. He’s a warm body for depth. That’s all. I wouldn’t be surprised to see the team pick up a few more scrap heap arms in the coming weeks.

Yankees calling up righty Chad Green

(Newsday)
(Newsday)

According to the Twitter feed of minor league lefty Josh Rogers, the Yankees are calling up right-hander Chad Green on Saturday. (Here’s a screen grab in case the tweet gets deleted.) Green was scheduled to start for Triple-A Scranton tomorrow, so he’ll be available to throw a ton of innings in long relief, if necessary.

Green, 24, came over from the Tigers in the Justin Wilson trade over the winter. He has a 1.22 ERA (2.11 FIP) in seven starts and 37 innings for the RailRiders this year. Green has three pitches: low-90s sinker as well as a slider and splitter. He was in big league camp as a non-roster player this year.

It’s entirely possible Green will be one of two call-ups tomorrow. The Yankees are going to place Luis Severino on the DL, allowing them to bring Tyler Olson back. They could also send Nick Goody down for Green after Goody threw 3.1 innings tonight. Or they could keep it simple and call up Green to replace Severino. We’ll see.

The Yankees will have to make room on the 40-man roster for Green, but that’s no big deal. Greg Bird, Bryan Mitchell, and Mason Williams are all 60-day DL candidates. Green would have been Rule 5 Draft eligible after the season.

Yankees lose Severino to injury, game to White Sox 7-1

Well that game was a major buzzkill. After winning five of seven and six of nine, the Yankees ran into arguably the best pitcher in the league Friday night, and they also watched their prized young pitcher exit the game after grabbing his elbow. Bummer. The final score was 7-1 White Sox in the series opener.

(Elsa/Getty)
(Elsa/Getty)

Adding Injury To Insult
On a night the Yankees did not have a long reliever available, Luis Severino needed 81 pitches to record eight outs. Included within those 81 pitches were a home run, three doubles, three singles, four walks, a hit batsman, and seven runs. A few loud outs too. (And two strikeouts.) It would have been even worse had Ronald Torreyes not saved Severino’s bacon with a nice diving stop to end the first inning.

The poor performance will only go down as only a footnote, however. Severino left the game with what was eventually diagnosed as a mild right triceps strain. He is going to be placed on the DL and will not pick up a baseball for 5-7 days. Here’s the video of the injury. Severino grabbed his elbow while talking to the trainer on the mound and that is scary as hell. I wouldn’t necessarily call a triceps strain good news, just less bad news.

Injuries are always bad, but perhaps this triceps issue explains Severino’s season long command issues. Then again, Joe Girardi said Severino had not previously complained of anything, so this only popped up during the start Friday night. Not a good night for Severino and the Yankees. Losses happen. Whatever. Losing your prized young pitcher to an arm injury too? Barf.

Runs Not For Sale (I’m so sorry)
There’s not a whole lot to say about the offense. Chase Headley drilled a solo home run in the second inning — his second in two days! — and that was the only real mistake made by Chris Sale. He was his typically brilliant self, carving the Yankees up with mid-90s heaters and filthy sliders. Gary Sanchez was called up from Triple-A to help out against lefties this weekend, and this was the end of his first at-bat:

Chris Sale Gary Sanchez

El oh el. They don’t throw sliders like that in Scranton, Gary. The Yankees had six base-runners on the night: Headley’s homer and singles by Aaron Hicks, Starlin Castro, Mark Teixeira (two), and Brett Gardner. That’s all. Teixeira ripped two line drives — one was a single, the other was caught — and they were his two hardest hit balls in about a week. I guess that’s the silver lining. The Yankees could use the real Mark Teixeira sooner rather than later.

Sale struck out six and threw only 99 total pitches (71 strikes!). Only once did he throw more than 13 pitches in an inning and that was 15 in the first. Dominant and efficient. That’s why Sale is one of the best, folks. The Yankees have really struggled to score runs this year — even with their recent winning streak, they came into Friday 21st in runs per game (3.85) — but I am perfectly fine with them tipping their cap to Sale in this one. He was absurdly good.

Up. Hit the ball up, Gary. (Elsa/Getty)
Up. Hit the ball up, Gary. (Elsa/Getty)

Leftovers
Unsung hero: Nick Goody. He came out of the bullpen and soaked up 3.1 innings following Severino’s injury. Did it on only 37 pitches too. The longest outing of his career prior to that had been 2.2 innings back in Triple-A last year. Chasen Shreve (two innings) and Kirby Yates (one inning) cleaned up the rest of the game. The three relievers held the White Sox scoreless.

Even with the extended outing, Goody might not wind up in Triple-A for a fresh arm Saturday. Severino going on the DL means the Yankees can bring Tyler Olson back, so he can serve as the long man. Phil Coke should be good to go too. They could still send Goody down for another fresh arm, though it doesn’t seem absolutely necessary.

And finally, Sanchez went 0-for-4 with a strikeout in the game. It was his first career big league start, as I mentioned earlier. He did rip a line drive to left field in his third at-bat that was caught. Sanchez didn’t look overwhelmed. He just looked like a rookie facing Chris Sale.

Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
Head on over to ESPN for the box score, MLB.com for the video highlights, and then back to ESPN for the updated standings. We have Bullpen Workload and Announcer Standings pages too. Now for the graph that tells you each team’s chances of winning at any point in the game based on historical data:


Source: FanGraphs

Up Next
The Yankees and White Sox will be back at it Saturday afternoon in the middle game of this three-game series. There is rain in the forecast, but not until later in the afternoon, so they should be able to get the game in. Ivan Nova and Jose Quintana will be the pitching matchup. Nova should be good for 90 pitches or so in his second start out of the bullpen. The Yankees only play three of their next 20 games at home following the end of this homestand, so if you want to catch Saturday’s or Sunday’s game at the ballpark, RAB Tickets can get you in the door.

DotF: Refsnyder’s hitting streak snapped in Scranton’s win

Got a bunch of notes:

  • A non-update on RHP James Kaprielian: he is still shut down as he deals with elbow inflammation, per Anthony Rieber. Kaprielian has been shut down a little short of three weeks now. Seems longer, doesn’t it? He was placed on the High-A DL on April 25th.
  • SS Jorge Mateo has been working out at second base, Brian Cashman told George King. He’ll play some games there before being moved up to Double-A Trenton. Sure seems like they’ll have Mateo and SS Tyler Wade split time on the middle infield with the Thunder. I thought they would slide Wade over to second in deference to Mateo, but Wade’s a legit shortstop prospect himself, so it makes sense to split time. Nothing wrong with letting Mateo try out another position.
  • Mateo was included in this month’s Prospect Heat Check, so check that out. “He’s still got 80 speed, but he can’t just get away with it anymore,” said a scout. I’m not quite sure what that means. I think the scout is trying to say Mateo is still a burner, though he needs to improve his reads and instincts as he climbs the ladder?
  • LHP Ian Clarkin‘s ten strikeout game last night earned him a spot in today’s Prospect Report. The report says he’s working with a lower arm slot than in the past, but his stuff is back to where it was before last year’s elbow injury, and that’s most important. Clarkin has always had a high arm slot anyway (2014 video), so a little drop should be no big deal.
  • The new-ish site 20-80 Baseball recently wrote up scouting reports on LHP Jordan Montgomery and RHP Matt Wotherspoon. Here are the links: Montgomery and Wotherspoon. Check ’em out.

Triple-A Scranton (4-2 win over Indianapolis)

  • CF Ben Gamel: 1-4, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 RBI
  • LF Jake Cave: 1-4, 1 R, 2 RBI
  • RF Rob Refsnyder: 0-4, 1 K — the hitting streak ends at 16 games
  • DH Nick Swisher: 1-4, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 2 K
  • RHP Luis Cessa: 6 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 6 K, 6/2 GB/FB — 64 of 100 pitches were strikes … with Luis Severino hurt, there’s a pretty good chance Cessa’s next start will in the big leagues
  • RHP Diego Moreno: 1.2 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 3 K, 1/1 GB/FB — 19 of 28 pitches were strikes (68%)
  • LHP James Pazos: 0.2 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 1/0 GB/FB — 16 of 24 pitches were strikes (67%)
  • RHP Mark Montgomery: 0.2 IP, zeroes, 1 K, 1/0 GB/FB — nine pitches, six strikes

[Read more…]

Update: Severino exits Friday’s game with triceps strain

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

10:32pm: Severino has been diagnosed with a mild right triceps strain, the team announced. He will be shut down 5-7 days and is going to be placed on the DL. All things considered, good news. Or at least better news than expected.

9:22pm: Severino left the game with “soreness in the back of his right elbow,” the Yankees announced. He’s going for an MRI tonight.

9:09pm: Luis Severino left tonight’s game in the third inning with an unknown injury. The YES cameras did catch Severino grabbing at his elbow while talking to the trainer on the mound. Here’s the video and here’s Severino’s final pitch:

Luis Severino injury

Welp, the shake of the arm and the grimace on his face and the grab at the elbow during the mound meeting is all pretty disconcerting. Not ideal! For what it’s worth, Severino’s final pitch of the night was a 95 mph fastball per PitchFX.

Severino threw 81 pitches (!) and recorded only eight outs Friday. He allowed seven runs and was hit pretty hard all evening. Severino has struggled big time with his command all season and bad location is a common indicator the elbow ain’t right. It’s worth noting his workload increased nearly 50 innings (~43%)  from 2014 to 2015.

The Yankees are already without CC Sabathia (groin) and Bryan Mitchell (toe), so their rotation depth has been thinned out. Luis Cessa is the logical candidate to replace Severino; the Yankees rearranged their Triple-A rotation recently to line Cessa and Severino up in case they had to send Severino to Triple-A.

We’re getting ahead of ourselves though. The Yankees have not yet released an update on Severino, so stay tuned. Fingers crossed.