It looks like Luis Torrens just may stick with the Padres

(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

A 21-year-old catcher with just 198 plate appearances in above short-season ball, should logically not make it through an entire season on a major league roster. It just doesn’t happen.

But with Luis Torrens and the 2017 San Diego Padres, it’s time to throw logic to the wind: The Yankees really might lose a solid catching prospect for nothing but $100K and a practically useless roster spot.

Surprisingly taken with the second pick of the Rule 5 draft by the Reds, Torrens was quickly dealt to the Padres. The Padres still have the top three picks from December’s Rule 5 draft on their 25-man roster and seem committed to keeping all three of Torrens, pitcher Miguel Diaz and utility man Allen Cordoba. Diaz is the oldest of the three at a whopping 22 years old, so keeping all three players is a lot of why the Padres have the youngest roster in baseball.

Just a few days past his 21st birthday, Torrens was the most puzzling pick of the three. Diaz is a hard throwing reliever with quality stuff. Cordoba, despite a lack of experience in the minors, brings potential at the plate and versatility in the field. You can work with that on a squad not built to compete this year, let alone the next few years.

Torrens? He’s a catcher. He missed all of 2015 with injury. He’s a quality player behind the plate but his bat is nowhere near big league ready. You have to be more than willing to accept a well below replacement level player on your roster to keep a 21-year-old inexperienced backstop on your roster all season in order to keep him.

But the Padres have the right situation in order to pull this off. Torrens is one of three catchers, playing behind starter Austin Hedges and backup Hector Sanchez. It was four before two-way player Christian Bethancourt was sent to Triple-A. The Friars are a team committed to losing, or at least not committed to winning in 2017, so they can accept having what is essentially a dead roster spot.

The question then becomes: Is it worth losing this roster spot and a full year of development just to get Torrens into your system? He already lost his entire age-19 season to injury and now he loses his age-21 season to, well, inactivity. He’s played just nine games thus far, gone into the field in just eight and started just three. He’s played all nine innings just once and is just 1 for 13 with a walk at the plate. Torrens will, for all intents and purposes, lose two years of at-bats and experience before he’s even gotten a full season of at-bats above Low-A. In reality, he hasn’t even had a full season AT Low-A because he’s only played 49 games there.

The ideal scenario for the Yankees would have been to have a 21-year-old Torrens in Single-A Tampa this season with the possibility of a promotion to Double-A Trenton if he took a major step forward. Will Torrens have to go all the way back to Single-A next year to restart his development? Can it truly be worth it to stash him on the roster for the year with the possibility that he won’t be really ready for the big leagues until 2020?

These questions would stop a lot of teams from stashing Torrens for a year. However, there is one benefit for Torrens: Big league coaching. Torrens gets a full year of top level coaching on his swing and a chance to work with MLB pitchers (if you can classify the Padres staff as such). That could be a big plus. Imagine if the Yankees were in the Padres’ position and could offer a young catcher a full year of coaching from Tony Pena, a catching guru.

And surely Torrens is relishing the opportunity to be in the big leagues. He was staring up at a Yankees system with Gary Sanchez as the presumed catcher of the future. Now he has an opportunity to be the guy in a new organization with the sacrifice of much-needed playing time. Plus MLB travel, nice hotels and the bright lights of the big leagues. It’s good work if you can get it.

Still, it’s tough to watch him lose this year of development. They don’t check IDs behind the plate, but it could be a serious setback to Torrens’ eventual hopes of becoming a viable everyday player. Furthermore, the Padres have a 24-year-old catcher starting for them right now in hopes of him being the future solution. Maybe this works out with Torrens pushing Hedges aside in a few years, but now it looks like the Yankees are losing a solid, young catching prospect while the Padres stash him on the bench for a season. And it all may be for nothing.

Yankeemetrics: Bronx Bombers invade Wrigley (May 5-7)

Air Gardy. (Presswire)
Air Gardy. (Presswire)

It Ain’t Over ‘Til Its Over
The Comeback Kings struck again as the Yankees pulled off yet another stunning late-game come-from-behind victory on Friday afternoon against the Cubs.

Trailing 2-0 in the top of the ninth with two men on base and two outs, Brett Gardner drilled a 2-2 slider into the right field bleachers to give the Yankees the lead; Aroldis Chapman got the final three outs to secure the most improbable win.

How unlikely was this rally? The last time the Cubs lost a game in this scenario – protecting a two-or-more-run lead in the ninth – was nearly three years ago, on May 21, 2014 at Wrigley Field … against the Yankees.

Or maybe it wasn’t so unlikely, given the refuse-to-lose mojo of the 2017 Yankees. Entering Saturday’s slate, they were one of just three teams this season with multiple wins when trailing by at least two runs entering the ninth inning (Padres and Angels were the others).

Before Gardner went deep, he was a pathetic 3-for-20 (.150) with zero extra-base hits after the sixth inning, and hitless in five at-bats in the ninth inning this season.

Gardner’s home run was not just shocking, it was one for the record books. Only six other times since 1930 has a Yankee hit a go-ahead homer in the ninth inning with two outs and trailing by at least two runs. That list includes: Mark Teixeira (2016), Alex Rodriguez (2010), Don Mattingly (1985), Chris Chambliss (1976), Bobby Murcer (1969) and Bobby Richardson (1962).

A-Rod‘s three-run homer in the top of the ninth on Sept. 17, 2010 in Baltimore is the only other instance in the last quarter-century that a Yankee pulled off that feat when down to their final strike, like Gardner.

And, finally, this was the third time in the last 75 years that the Yankees were one out away from being shut out, and then hit a go-ahead home run. Incredibly, the hero in the two previous games was the same guy – Bobby Murcer – who erased a 1-0 deficit on June 14, 1980 in Oakland and a 2-0 deficit on August 5, 1969 against the Angels with ninth-inning, game-changing homers.

Hot hot Hicksy. (EPA)
Hot hot Hicksy. (EPA)

No comeback needed
One night after perhaps the most dramatic win of the season, the Yankees authored one of their least dramatic wins of the season, taking a 5-0 lead in the top of the first inning en route to an 11-6 victory on Saturday. The win gave them their fourth straight series victory, something they never did last year.

Sure, the Yankees and Cubs don’t match up often, but it’s still fun to note that the last time the Yankees scored 11-or-more runs against the Cubs was in Game 4 of the 1932 World Series, a 13-6 series-clinching win at Wrigley Field. The 3-4 hitters in that lineup were Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig; for Ruth, it was the last World Series game of his Hall-of-Fame career (h/t Mark Simon, friend of Yankeemetrics).

The offensive explosion on Saturday was led by the top of the order as Aaron Hicks and Starlin Castro combined to go 7-for-9 with five runs and six RBIs. Castro was 3-of-4, notching his AL-best 15th multi-hit game of the season. In the last 40 years, only two other Yankees produced that many multi-hit games within the team’s first 28 contests: Derek Jeter (2012) and Alfonso Soriano (2002, 2003).

Hicks’ performance was the statistical highlight of the night, as he went 4-of-5, including a homer, while driving in three runs and scoring three runs. The last Yankee center fielder to put up those numbers in any game – at least four hits, a home run, three RBIs, three runs – was Mickey Mantle on Aug. 6, 1961 against the Twins.

Yes, miracles do happen. (Getty)
Yes, miracles do happen. (Getty)

It’s over, finally
After way too many innings, way too many hours, way too many pitches, way too many strikeouts … the Yankees finished off the sweep of the Cubs on Sunday night (actually Monday morning).

It marked their first sweep of the defending World Series champs since July 14-16, 2006 against the White Sox, and the first time they’ve done that on the road since July 29-31, 2003 in Anaheim against the Angels.

The 18-inning affair was the longest game in Interleague history, longest game ever on ESPN’s Sunday Night Baseball (which began in 1990), and the longest in the majors this season.

It is the sixth time in franchise history the Yankees won a game of at least 18 innings and the first time since September 11, 1988 vs. the Tigers. The only other time they won a game this long on the road was a 22-inning marathon on June 24, 1962 in Detroit.

With the game going 18 innings, you’d think there would be a few more records set … and you would be correct.

  • The Yankee batters struck out 22 times, breaking the previous single-game franchise record of 17. And the Yankee pitchers struck out 26 Cubs, also obliterating the previous single-game franchise record of 19. Hooray!
  • The 26 strikeouts by Yankee pitchers matched a major-league record, set by the 1971 A’s vs. the Angels and the 2004 Angels vs. the Brewers.
  • This is the first game in MLB history where both teams each whiffed at least 21 times.
  • The 48 combined strikeouts by both teams is also a new single-game major-league record.
  • Yankees are the first team in major-league history to have four players (Castro, Didi Gregorius, Austin Romine, Chase Headley) go 0-for-7 or worse at the plate. Yes, they still won the game.

So how did we get there?

Luis Severino delivered an absolute gem, allowing one run in seven stellar innings. Twenty of his 21 outs came either groundballs (11) or strikeouts (9), and the one out he got in the air was a liner by Cubs starter Jon Lester. His final pitching line (4 hits, 1 walk, 9 strikeouts, 1 run, 7 innings) gives us our #FunFact Yankeemetric of the Week:

Only one other visiting pitcher as young Severino (23 years, 76 days) struck out at least nine batters, gave up no more than one run and allowed five or fewer baserunners in a game at Wrigley Field: Reds right-hander Jim Maloney, who delivered two such outings on August 21, 1962 and July 23, 1963.

Aaron Judge broke out of his mini-slump and gave the Yankees a 2-1 lead in the seventh with a tie-breaking RBI triple. It was the first go-ahead triple by any Yankee in nearly four years, when Travis Hafner hit one on April 27, 2013 to break a 4-4 tie in the seventh against the Blue Jays. Of course it was Pronk, just as we all predicted.

Aroldis Chapman came on in the ninth to protect a three-run lead, but eventually blew the save when he hit Anthony Rizzo with the bases loaded to even the score at 4-4. Chapman is the only Yankee pitcher since at least 1930 to give up the game-tying run in the ninth inning via a bases-loaded hit by pitch.

Finally, Castro reached on a fielder’s choice groundout, scoring Aaron Hicks from third. So the guy who went 0-for-8 was the hero of the night with the game-winning RBI.

Fan Confidence Poll: May 8th, 2017

Record Last Week: 5-1 (39 RS, 30 RA)
Season Record: 20-9 (167 RS, 115 RA, 20-9 pythag. record)
Opponents This Week: @ Reds (two games, Mon. and Tues.), Weds. OFF, vs. Astros (four games, Thurs. to Sun.)

Top stories from last week:

Please take a second to answer the poll below and give us an idea of how confident you are in the team. You can view the interactive Fan Confidence Graph anytime via the Features tab in the nav bar above, or by clicking here. Thanks in advance for voting.

Given the team's current roster construction, farm system, management, etc., how confident are you in the Yankees' overall future?
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Yankees survive a 18-inning marathon, sweep the Cubs with a 5-4 win

(David Banks/Getty Images)
(David Banks/Getty Images)

Raise your hand if you had Yankees sweeping the Cubs at Wrigley. I certainly didn’t, but they went and did it. This game started as a nice pitching duel for the first six innings. The Yankee offense took a 4-1 lead into the ninth and, of course, Aroldis Chapman blew it. After another game’s worth of innings, New York finally took another lead in the top of the 18th and thankfully closed the game out. The Yankees are now 20-9, good for a .690 winning percentage. It’s (super way past) Sunday night so let’s do it bullet-point style.

  • Could have been more: Jacoby Ellsbury led off the game with a clean single to right … and then got picked off by Cubs catcher Willson Contreras. Ellsbury seemed to try to distract Jon Lester by having a pretty wide lead, but Contreras caught him way off-guard. Anyways, while it’s easy to wonder “what could have been,” that pickoff loomed large. Aaron Hicks followed it up with a walk and Matt Holliday singled to put runners on first and second. Both of them advanced on double steal and Starlin Castro‘s ground out brought in Hicks. The Yankees had a 1-0 lead coming out of the top of the first and it could have been more had Ellsbury not gotten picked off.
  • Luis Severino is… good: Severino did everything you could ask for him. He got strikeouts (9) and ground outs (10) and pretty much mowed down the Cubs lineup for seven innings. Who saw this coming after last year? The only flaw was the solo home run allowed to Javy Baez, which wasn’t even a bad pitch. Severino threw the fastball inside and Baez squared up on it quickly. Severino threw some mean heat today. Per Brooks Baseball, he averaged at 98.3 mph (!) and topped out at 100.6 mph (!!). I think, at some point in his career, he should learn to pitch with lesser velocity but this is very exciting to see. After tonight’s game, Severino has a 3.40 ERA with 10.21 K/9 IP and 1.59 BB/9 IP. Those are some pretty darn good numbers and I’m glad the Yankees have stuck with him in the rotation.
  • More offense!: With a 1-1 deadlock tie going into the top of the seventh, Castro got on second base with a Kris Bryant throwing error. Aaron Judge followed it up with a big triple over CF Jon Jay’s head for an RBI and a 2-1 Yankees lead. In the eighth, with RHP Justin Grimm relieving for the Cubs, Brett Gardner (pinch-hitting for Severino) got on base with a lead-off single and Ellsbury drove him with a two-run HR to make it 4-1. With the back end of NYY bullpen working, you’d think that the game is pretty much over at that point, right?
  • Blowing the lead: Bottom of ninth, the Yankees had a three-run lead and brought Aroldis Chapman out to pitch. And, for that frame, it seemed that the Fighting Spirit briefly fled towards the Cubs dugout. Chapman did not have his best command going and the Cubs hitters managed to hit ’em where they ain’t to get runners on base. Albert Almora Jr. and Baez both had an RBI single to make it a 4-3 nail-biter. With runners on second and third, Chapman struck out Kyle Schwarber to make it two outs. The Yankees intentionally walked Bryant (after Chapman fell behind to a 3-1 count) and had to deal with Anthony Rizzo with the bases-loaded … and Chapman hit him in the forearm on the first pitch. Tie game, 4-4. That was the end of Chapman’s night and Tyler Clippard mercifully got out of the inning with a Ben Zobrist ground out.
  • The second game of the doubleheader: After Chapman allowed three in the ninth, the Yankee bullpen managed to hold the Cubs lineup scoreless for rest of the way through. Clippard threw a scoreless inning in the 10th, Adam Warren followed it up with two scoreless and both Jonathan Holder and Chasen Shreve blanked the Cubs for three innings each. I definitely wasn’t confident that either would keep the Yankees in the game but what do I know? Shreve ended up with a well-earned win and Holder solidified his case to be a capable ML bullpen arm. Too bad that those two will be sent down to AAA (probably) tomorrow for another pair of fresh arms. Oh well, they’ll be back soon if that happens.
  • A lead!: Top of the 18th, Hicks led off bunting to try for a base hit. Contreras’ throw sailed out of first baseman’s reach and Hicks ended up at the second base. Ronald Torreyes followed it up yet another bunt for a sacrifice. The Yankees then had their best chance to go ahead with runner on third with one out. Castro, who was 0-for-7 in the game prior to that at-bat, hit a grounder toward Addison Russell. With Hicks charging towards home plate, Russell rushed to field and made an off-balance throw home that was way off the mark. Hicks scored and Yankees took a 5-4 lead, about two hours and 40 minutes after Chapman’s blown save. Shreve managed to keep the lead and close the game out (mercifully) for a Yankees victory and a Wrigley sweep.
  • Leftovers: Castro and Didi Gregorius both went 0-for-8 while Chase Headley and Austin Romine each had 0-for-7 nights. The Yankees and Cubs combined for 48 strikeouts total, which is a new MLB record. This was also the longest ever interleague game in MLB history. Records exist so they can be broken but I’m hoping that it’s some other AL team that goes for it the next time.

Here’s tonight’s box score, updated standings and WPA graph. The Yankees will head to Ohio for a two-game series against the Reds at the Great American Ball Park. If you’re not asleep right now, for whatever reason, get to bed soon!

Source: FanGraphs

Game 29: Blast from the Past

(Stacy Revere/Getty)
(Stacy Revere/Getty)

I’m not sure the first two games of this series could have gone any better. The Yankees won Friday’s game in dramatic come-from-behind fashion, then won a stress-free laugher last night. The series win is already in the bag. Tonight’s game is a chance for the sweep and gosh, it sure would be a fun to walk into Wrigley Field and take all three from the defending World Series champs, wouldn’t it?

To get the sweep tonight, the Yankees will have to beat Jon Lester, who they haven’t seen in a few years now after facing him nonstop for nearly a decade. A Sunday night game against Jon Lester? Been there, done that. Baseball is a flat circle. Tonight will be like the good ol’ days, I guess. Here is the Cubs’ lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:

  1. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  2. LF Aaron Hicks
  3. 1B Matt Holliday
  4. 2B Starlin Castro
  5. RF Aaron Judge
  6. SS Didi Gregorius
  7. 3B Chase Headley
  8. C Austin Romine
  9. RHP Luis Severino

Same weather as last night in Chicago. Clear skies but cold. Not that windy though. Tonight’s game will start at 8:05pm ET and you can watch on ESPN. Enjoy the game.

DotF: Mateo has a big game in Tampa’s win

RHP Chance Adams is now a top 100 prospect. Pirates RHP Tyler Glasnow graduated to the big leagues with today’s start, so removed him from their top 100 list, bumped everyone up a spot, and slid Adams in at No. 100.

Triple-A Scranton was rained out. They haven’t announced a makeup date yet

Double-A Trenton Game One (6-0 win over Erie in seven innings)

  • SS Thairo Estrada: 3-4, 1 R, 1 E (fielding) — 11-for-24 (.458) with three walks and two strikeouts during his little six-game hitting streak
  • RF Billy McKinney: 0-2, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 2 K
  • 2B Gleyber Torres: 0-4, 2 K
  • 1B Mike Ford: 2-4, 2 R, 2 2B, 1 RBI — 18-for-31 (.581) with three doubles, four walks, and two strikeouts in his last nine games
  • 3B Miguel Andujar: 2-4, 1 2B, 2 RBI — hitting .260/.287/.400 through 26 games
  • LF Jake Cave: 2-3, 1 R, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 K — 9-for-25 (.360) with three doubles and two homers in six games since coming back from the knee injury
  • RHP Ronald Herrera: 6 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 4 K, 6/1 GB/FB — 50 of 74 pitches were strikes (68%) … he’s started his season with 11.1 scoreless innings following the shoulder injury that sidelined him in April
  • RHP J.P. Feyereisen: 1 IP, zeroes, 3 K — eleven of 18 pitches were strikes (61%) … 7/2 K/BB in four innings since coming off the disabled list … he had a 1/3 K/BB in 4.2 innings before going on the shelf with a minor shoulder problem

[Read more…]

Sunday Open Thread

The Yankees and Cubs finish up their three-game series later tonight, in the ESPN Sunday Night Game. Here’s an open thread until then. The Mets are playing right now and MLB Network will have a regional game as well. There are also a bunch of NBA and NHL playoff games. You folks know how these things work by now, so have at it.