DotF: Ford, Mateo, and Sensley all hit home runs in wins

Earlier today MLB announced team assignments for the 2017 Arizona Fall League. Yankees prospects will play for the Scottsdale Scorpions this year. They’ll be on a team with Mets, Reds, Angels, and Giants prospects. High-A Tampa manager Jay Bell will manage the team. The AzFL rosters won’t be announced until the end of August.

Triple-A Scranton (5-4 win over Norfolk in ten innings)

  • CF Jake Cave: 1-4, 2 R, 1 RBI, 1 BB — hitting streak is up to 12 games
  • DH Mike Ford: 1-5, 1 R, 1 HR, 2 RBI — go-ahead two-run home run in the top of the tenth … he hit it off former Yankees farmhand RHP Matt Wotherspoon, who was traded to the Orioles for international bonus money earlier this month
  • 3B Miguel Andujar: 1-4, 1 RBI
  • RF Mason Williams: 2-4, 2 R, 1 SB — had been in a 4-for-36 (.111) slump
  • RHP Chance Adams: 7 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 7 K, 1 WP, 4/4 GB/FB — 64 of 102 pitches were strikes (63%) … vintage Chance Adams tonight … his last few starts were a bit weird
  • LHP Chasen Shreve: 1.2 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 3 K, 1/0 GB/FB — 17 of 27 pitches were strikes (63%)
  • RHP Ben Heller: 1.1 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 2 K, 1/1 GB/FB — 18 of 34 pitches were strikes (53%)

[Read more…]

Wednesday Night Open Thread

Nice little two-game series against the Reds. Gotta beat up on the bad rebuilding teams every chance you get. Anyway, with no Yankees game tonight, I suggest checking out David Laurila’s Q&A with various players and coaches about being a closer, and the idea that anyone can handle the ninth inning. Lots of current and former Yankees in there, coincidentally. The Q&A is from earlier this month, but it’s still worth the read.

Here is an open thread for the night. ESPN will have the White Sox and Cubs, MLB Network will have a regional game, and the Mets are playing later tonight out on the West Coast. Talk about those games, this afternoon’s win, or anything else here.

Another dominant start by Severino leads Yankees to 9-5 win over Reds

Good game, good series. The Yankees took care of business against the not very good at baseball Cincinnati Reds and swept the quick two-game series. Wednesday’s final score was 9-5. The Yankees have now won five of their last six games and six of their last eight games. Love this team.

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Cy Sevy
It wasn’t until the seventh inning that the Reds put together something resembling a rally against Luis Severino. He dominated the first six innings. Well, he dominated everyone other than Joey Votto. Votto went 2-for-2 with a walk against Severino, and he saw 20 total pitches. The rest of the Reds went 1-for-23 with a walk and saw 92 pitches. Votto is just that damn good. Severino plowed through everyone else while Votto worked him hard.

Didi Gregorius opened the door for the Reds in the seventh inning when he booted Scott Schebler’s ground ball leading off the frame. Eugenio Suarez followed with a double into the left field corner to score Schebler and snap Severino’s shutout streak at 17 innings. A wild pitch and a ground ball later, Suarez crossed the plate for Cincinnati’s second run. The Yankees were leading 4-0 at the start of the inning, so they had some breathing room.

Overall, Severino finished with two runs allowed (both unearned) on three hits and two walks in seven innings. He struck out nine and generated a whopping 20 swings and misses, the second highest total of his career. Severino faced 27 batters and five hit the ball out of the infield. Five. (Two were Votto’s singles.) His afternoon ended when he swagged out and barehanded a high chopper and threw to first. Here’s video. Sevy’s season: 3.03 ERA (2.94 FIP) in 127.2 innings. Yup.

He's not going down. (Presswire)
He’s not going down. (Presswire)

Build A Lead With Singles
Considering Reds starter Homer Bailey went into Wednesday’s game with an 8.56 ERA (6.18 FIP) and a .371/.443/.621 batting line against in 27.1 innings, the Yankees didn’t exactly knock him around the park. They got to him for four runs (two earned) on eight hits in the first six innings, and all eight hits were singles. I’d say four of them were really well-struck. Runs are runs though, and the Yankees were able to build a 4-0 lead.

The first two runs came on nearly identical rallies. Two-out single by Ronald Torreyes, two-out single by Brett Gardner, two-out run-scoring single by Clint Frazier. Once in the third and again in the fifth. Frazier’s first single was a little jam shot to right, and the second was a hard ground ball through the hole on the left side. The Yankees were able to string together three straight two-out hits on two occasions to score their first two runs.

The next two runs were a bit messy. Gregorius reached second with one out in the sixth because shortstop Jose Peraza threw a ball away. Chase Headley drove Didi in with a single. Later in the inning Votto’s throw to second pulled Peraza off the bag so, rather than runners on the corners with two outs, the Yankees had the bases loaded with one out. Pretty big swing there. Torreyes grounded out weakly to get the fourth run in.

It wasn’t until the seventh inning that the Yankees really broke the game open. Frazier drew a leadoff walk and Gary Sanchez brought him with a double into the left field corner. Matt Holliday followed with a single to score Sanchez, then Gregorius cranked a two-run home run into the short porch on reliever Tony Cingrani’s first pitch. Todd Frazier followed with his first Yankees homer two batters later. The five-run seventh put the game out of reach.

White cleats? (Presswire)
White cleats? I like it. (Presswire)

Leftovers
Once the Yankees broke the game open, David Robertson sat down and Luis Cessa came in. He allowed the dumbest three-run rally in the eighth. Strikeout/wild pitch, walk to Votto, three-run home run by Adam Duvall just inside the foul pole in the short porch. It might have been the shortest home run at Yankee Stadium so far this season. So dumb. Robertson had to come in for the ninth and he retired the side on seven pitches.

Every starter had a hit except fourth outfielder Jacoby Ellsbury, who went 0-for-4 with a strikeout and a double play. Gonna have to do better than that to stay in the lineup, Jake. Gardner and the superior Frazier each had two hits and a walk. Torreyes had two hits out of the nine-hole as well. The Yankees didn’t clobber Bailey, but it was a good afternoon for the offense overall.

Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
For the box score and updated standings, head over to ESPN. MLB.com has the video highlights and we have a Bullpen Workload page. Here’s the win probability graph:


Source: FanGraphs

Up Next
The Rays are coming to the Bronx next for a pretty important four-game weekend series. These two teams are fighting for both a division title and a wild card spot. Neither club is sitting comfortably in a postseason spot right now. CC Sabathia and Chris Archer are Thursday night’s scheduled starting pitchers. Want to catch that game at Yankee Stadium? RAB Tickets can get you there.

The qualifying offer will be set at $18M this offseason, which doesn’t mean much to the Yankees

(Stephen Brashear/Getty)
(Stephen Brashear/Getty)

According to Buster Olney, teams have been informed the qualifying offer will be worth approximately $18M this offseason, possibly $18.1M. In that range. The qualifying offer is a one-year deal set at the average of the top 125 salaries in baseball. Make a free agent the qualifying offer, and you get a draft pick when he leaves. Simple as that.

For the Yankees this year, the qualifying offer is essentially meaningless. Not one of their impending free agents is a qualifying offer candidate. Here’s the list:

CC Sabathia
Matt Holliday
Todd Frazier (not eligible for the qualifying offer because he was traded at midseason)
Michael Pineda

That’s it. Pineda blew out his elbow earlier this month and needed Tommy John surgery, and since he’s going to spend just about all of next season rehabbing, there’s no reason to make him the qualifying offer. Right now Pineda is looking at a little one or two-year “rehab and prove yourself” contract a la Nathan Eovaldi last year. He’d accept the qualifying offer in a heartbeat. I’m not sure the Yankees would have made Pineda the qualifying offer even before his elbow game out.

The Yankees could very well have interest in retaining Sabathia beyond this season, though not at an $18M salary. Bartolo Colon signed a one-year deal worth $12.5M last winter. That’s probably Sabathia’s price range. Not $18M. Holliday is on a one-year deal worth $13M this year. Make him the qualifying offer and he’d take it. Frazier and any other rental the Yankees bring aboard isn’t eligible for the qualifying offer. All pretty simple, right? Right.

That all said, the Yankees do have one qualifying offer candidate this year: Masahiro Tanaka. If he opts out after the season, the Yankees could and should make him the qualifying offer. Tanaka would be walking away from three years and $67M by opting out. He’s not going to accept a one-year deal worth $18M. And you know what? Even if he did take the qualifying offer for some weird reason, good! I’d take him back on a one-year deal in a heartbeat.

The new Collective Bargaining Agreement changed the free agent compensation rules pretty dramatically. All first round picks are protected now, and what you give up to sign a qualified free agent and what you receive when you lose a qualified free agent are tied to your team’s payroll. Here’s the bucket the Yankees fall into this coming winter:

  • Sign a qualified free agent: Forfeit second and fifth highest draft picks, plus $1M in international bonus money.
  • Lose a qualified free agent: Receive a compensation draft pick after the fourth round.

It’s pretty straightforward for the Yankees because they’re going to pay luxury tax this year. Things are much more complicated for teams that do not pay luxury tax. That’s where the Yankees hope to be next season, under the luxury tax threshold. So, if Tanaka does opt-out and reject the qualifying offer, the Yankees would get a dinky draft pick after the fourth round. Not much, but better than nothing.

Game 99: Stay Hot

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

The Yankees have won four of their last five games and they’re starting to snap out of their month long funk. Hooray for that. You know what’s crazy too? As terrible as the Yankees played during those few weeks, they’re still only one game back of the Red Sox in the AL East. They’re actually a game up in the loss column. The division is right there for the taking.

Anyway, the Yankees will have their best starting pitcher on the mound this afternoon as they look to wrap up a quick little two-game sweep against the rebuilding Reds. The Rays are coming to town for a pretty important four-game series this weekend. It would be cool to pick up another win and create some more distance in the standings. Here is the Reds’ lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:

  1. LF Brett Gardner
  2. RF Clint Frazier
  3. C Gary Sanchez
  4. DH Matt Holliday
  5. SS Didi Gregorius
  6. 1B Chase Headley
  7. 3B Todd Frazier
  8. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  9. 2B Ronald Torreyes
    RHP Luis Severino

Just a perfect day for baseball in New York. The sun is out, there are only a few puffy clouds in the sky, and the temperatures are in the mid-70s. Couldn’t ask for a better day. This afternoon’s game will begin a little after 1pm ET, and you’ll be able to watch on YES locally and MLB Network nationally. Enjoy.

Why Isn’t Clint Frazier Walking?

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

The emergence of Clint Frazier as one of the Yankees’ best outfielders this year is a microcosm of the Yankees’ 2017 in general. We expected steps forward for the Yankees, but not necessarily in terms of winning games; rather, we expected them to forward the development of young players at the Major League level — like Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez, Greg Bird, and Luis Severino — while fostering the same thing in minor leaguers like Gleyber Torres and, of course, Frazier. And for Frazier, we expected him to be with the big club, but not until late in this year at the earliest. Instead, somewhat like his team and organization itself, he jumped those expectations and arrived earlier than the schedule originally intended.

Following Tuesday night’s action against the Reds, Frazier is hitting .277/.284/.569 with a .347 wOBA (117 wRC+). Of his 18 hits, 11 have gone for extra bases. As Katie pointed out on Twitter, that’s just two fewer XBH than Jacoby Ellsbury has in 137 fewer at bats. The good ol’ eye test also tells us that Clint stings the hell out of the ball, thanks to his incredibly quick hands that generate great bat speed; the numbers back that up, too. Among players with at least 40 batted ball events, Frazier ranks 28th in the majors, with an average exit velocity of 90.7 MPH. The only wrinkle in Clint’s game, it seems, has been a lack of walks (one in 67 plate appearances). It’s not as if that’s gotten in the way of his production, but it’s still curious.

Aside from his 30-game stretch at AAA last year, split between the Yankees and Cleveland’s organization, Frazier has always tallied respectable walk rates in the minors. His 2013 stint in rookie ball — and the aforementioned 2016 AAA stint — is the only time he failed to put up a double digit walk rate; even then, it was 8.7%. We could definitely chalk it up to armchair psychological factors: rookie jitters, wanting to impress, the feeling of needing to hit instead of walk to earn a spot on the team. Clint’s not necessarily going up there hacking, though. He’s seeing 3.96 pitches per plate appearance and, again with the eye test, does seem to have a plan when he’s up at the plate. There are numbers, aside from P/PA, to back this up as well.

If we look over Frazier’s swing data from FanGraphs, the first thing we notice is a low out-of-zone swing rate of 21.7%. The league average is usually around 30ish, so that’s great. In terms of pitches in the zone, he’s swinging at 71.5% of those pitches, compared to the average of around 67%. A low O-Swing% and a high Z-Swing% would seem to point to a lot of walks, but that’s not the case here. Perhaps, then, the answer can be found in the fact that Frazier sees more pitches in the zone — 54.4% — than the league average of around 45%. Given that number and his high in-zone swing rate, it’s a bit easier to see why Frazier isn’t taking his walks. Take a look at his heat map, also from FanGraphs:

clint-frazier-heat-map

 

Look at all that red in the zone, especially in the middle portion. Pitchers are pounding him there and he’s taking advantage by swinging. Additionally, pitchers are throwing lots of fastballs to Clint. Per Brooks, 196 of the 252 pitches he’s seen have been fastballs. Lots of fastballs. Lots of in the zone pitches. A hitter with remarkably quick hands. This isn’t too hard to figure out.

As the league adjusts to Frazier, I image he’s going to see more pitches out of the zone and more pitches with some wrinkles to them. Given he’s done so in the minors and does seem to have a good approach at the plate, I think we’ll see him laying off more pitches and taking his walks. Until then, let’s enjoy his bat and rejoice that he’s taken the “singles are for the weak” approach to hitting.

Yankees beat Reds 4-2 in series opener behind Gregorius and Montgomery

Home sweet home. The Yankees returned home to Yankee Stadium on Tuesday for the first time since before the All-Star break, and they celebrated with a 4-2 win over the Reds. They’ve now won four of their last five games. I’m glad things are finally starting to turn around. Love this team, you guys.

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Three Outs, One Run
One inning into the game, it looked like the Yankees were in for a long night. Reds rookie Luis Castillo was throwing fire — his fastball averaged 96.8 mph and topped out at 99.6 mph in this game — and locating just well enough to keep the Yankees off balance. He does not look like a fun at-bat. Then, eight pitches into the second inning, the Yankees had the bases loaded with no outs. Things turned around pretty quickly.

Three singles built that second inning rally. Matt Holliday went to right-center field, Didi Gregorius went to right field, and Chase Headley went the other way to left field. Single single single. It came together quick. That brought Todd Frazier, who had half of Toms River in the stands, to the plate. Frazier has struggled as a Yankee so far. He looks like he’s pressing. It happens. He’ll be fine. Eventually. I think.

Anyway, when you’re struggling, bases loaded with no outs is an opportunity to do some damage and start feeling pretty good about yourself. Frazier got ahead in the count 3-1, put a good swing on the ball, and drove a run in. With a 6-3-5-6 triple play. For reals. Look at this thing:

Where was Didi going? He had to think that little soft line drive was going to be caught on the fly, right? Had to. Once it was clear the ball was not caught, Gregorius should have just kept going to third. Forget about the rundown. The run had scored already. Eh, whatever. Frazier, by the way, has now driven in two runs with the Yankees. One with a double play and one with a triple play. Not very efficient, Todd.

Montgomery’s Gem
The month of July had not been too kind to Jordan Montgomery prior to Tuesday night. In his first four starts this month the rookie left-hander allowed 14 runs on 30 baserunners in 19.2 innings. Yikes. On Tuesday, Montgomery took a no-hitter into the sixth inning and faced the minimum through five. It wasn’t until Scott Schebler led off that sixth inning with a double into the gap that Cincinnati broke into the hit column.

Montgomery finished the night having allowed one run — Schebler scored after advancing to third on a long fly ball and came home on a ground ball — on two hits and one walk in 6.2 innings. He struck out six. I’m a little surprised to see the one walk. Montgomery was behind in the count a bunch and went to a three-ball count on seven of the 22 batters faced, so roughly one out of every three. A better team would have done a little more damage. Overall though, real nice outing for Montgomery. Sign me up for this every fifth day the rest of the season.

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Four Relievers For Seven Outs
Between Frazier’s run-scoring triple play (lol) and Schelber’s trip around the bases in the sixth, the Yankees added two insurance runs. Aaron Judge singled to right to open the fourth, advanced to second on a ground, advanced to third on a balk, and scored on a Gregorius sac fly. Then, in the fifth, Tyler Wade reached on a fielder’s choice and scored all the way from first on Austin Romine‘s double into the right field corner. Boy can Wade fly.

All that gave the Yankees a 3-1 lead going into the seventh inning, and had the Yankees not traded for Tommy Kahnle and David Robertson last week, I’m guessing Joe Girardi would have stuck with Montgomery a little longer. Instead, he yanked Montgomery following an Adam Duvall two-out single with his pitch count sitting at 85. That’s the luxury of having a deep bullpen. You don’t need to push your rookie starter through the lineup a third time in a close game.

Kahnle closed out that seventh inning with a fly ball, and rather than stick with him in the eighth, Girardi went to eighth inning guy Dellin Betances. I don’t really love burning Kahnle to get one out on four pitches, but whatever. Betances made things interesting with two walks and a booming double to right by Billy Hamilton (?!?), and had to be bailed out by Adam Warren, who struck out Eugenio Suarez to end the inning with the tying run at third and go-ahead run at second. Good thing Zack Cozart is dealing with a quad injury, otherwise he would have scored from first on Hamilton’s double.

So, rather than use Kahnle in the eighth, the Yankees wound up using three relievers to get four outs spanning the seventh and eighth inning. Inefficient! Aroldis Chapman came in for the ninth with a 4-2 lead — Gregorius gave the Yankees a much appreciated insurance run with a solo homer in the eighth — and needed only eight pitches to retire the side. Fly ball, ground out, fly ball. Outs are outs, but Chapman has now struck out only four of the last 29 batters he’s faced, or 13.8%. Eh.

Dude, stop walking dudes. (Presswire)
Dude, stop walking dudes. (Presswire)

Leftovers
How locked in is Gregorius right now? Sir Didi went 2-for-3 with a homer and a sac fly in this game, and is now 14-for-25 (.560) with four homers during his seven-game hitting streak. With Holliday and Gary Sanchez both struggling at the moment, it might not be a bad idea to bump Didi up to the cleanup spot for a few games. Either way, go Didi. He’s been awesome. He missed a month and is still third among all shortstops with 15 homers. Only Carlos Correa (20) and Corey Seager (16) have more.

Every starter had a hit except Clint Frazier and Wade. Frazier ripped a line drive right at the left fielder and Wade did reach on a fielder’s choice and score the team’s second run. His speed came in handy. Brett Gardner, Judge, and the lesser Frazier each had a single and a walk. Too bad Gregorius hit that home run in the eighth after Betances did his best to try to improve the team’s record in one-run games, eh?

And finally, the Yankees hit into a triple play for the first time since September 2011, when Russell Martin banged into a 5-4-3 triple play against the Rays. I was at that game. True story. This was also the first triple play to score a run since the Mariners managed to do it in 2006, and only the seventh since 1930. Here’s the list. Oh, and it was the first triple play turned by the Reds since 1995.

Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
Head on over to ESPN for the box score and updated standings, and MLB.com for the video highlights. We have a Bullpen Workload page too. Here’s the win probability graph:


Source: FanGraphs

Up Next
The Yankees and Reds wrap up this quick little two-game series Wednesday afternoon. That’s a 1pm ET getaway day. Luis Severino and Homer Bailey are the scheduled starting pitchers. RAB Tickets can get you in the door for that game, or any of the other seven games remaining on the homestand.