Severino dominates as Yankees earn 3-0 win over Royals

Good game, would watch again. The Yankees rebounded from Tuesday night’s deflating loss with a crisp 3-0 win over the Royals on Wednesday. Great pitching, good enough hitting. It works!

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Stellar Sevy
Ho boy. What an outing by Luis Severino. Starts like this show you exactly why the Yankees resisted the urge to keep Severino in the bullpen after last season, why he zoomed through the minors in less than three years, and why he should at least be discussed as a possible All-Star. Severino thoroughly manhandled the Royals in this game, holding them to four hits and one walk in eight shutout innings. He struck out seven.

Kansas City only had one runner reach second base against Severino — Brandon Moss yanked a double into the right field corner with two outs in the fifth — and never once had a runner reach third base. No jams at all. Severino threw first pitch strikes to 19 of 28 batters, and only four of those 24 batters saw a hitter friendly 2-0 or 3-1 count. He generated 14 swings and misses out of 114 total pitches, and check out his velocity (via Brooks Baseball):

luis-severino-velocity

There’s no decline there. Severino’s final pitch of the night was a 98.4 mph fastball. We’ve seen this all year too. Severino loses nothing off his fastball. He’s similar to peak Justin Verlander in that sense. Pitch count over 100? No big deal, here’s a 98 mph heater. It’s amazing. Severino also used his changeup and especially his slider effectively in this game, getting outs on both pitches.

Following these eight dominant innings, Severino now owns a 3.11 ERA (3.29 FIP) with 61 strikeouts and only 14 walks in 55 innings this season. He’s had some clunkers, most notably that dud against the Astros two weeks ago, but gosh, Severino had been totally dominant at times too. He’s the only Yankees starter to complete eight innings twice this season — heck, Masahiro Tanaka is the only other guy to do it once — and each time he’s had a tough outing, he’s bounced back to dominate next time out. Severino looks nothing like he did last year. It’s awesome. Go Sevy.

Three Runs Are Enough
I wouldn’t say the offense broke out Wednesday night, though they did get three runs on the board, and they did it in three different ways. Didi Gregorius opened the scoring with a solo home run to right field in the third inning. Dingers are always great. Love dingers. Gregorius has quietly — or maybe not so quietly? — been excellent since coming back from his shoulder injury. He’s hitting .330/.359/.474 (127 wRC+) on the season.

The Yankees scored their second run thanks to noted speed demon Gary Sanchez. He led off the sixth inning with a single, stole second (!) and moved to third when the throw sailed in center field, then scored on Matt Holliday‘s well-struck sac fly to the right field warning track. In the eighth, Gregorius smacked a ground rule double, moved to third on Chris Carter‘s ground out, then scored on Brett Gardner‘s two-strike single. Matt Strahm struck Gardner out on the previous pitch, but home plate Jerry Layne missed the call, and Gardner took advantage.

Three runs on seven hits and two walks isn’t a whole lot, but it was more than enough to win this game. The Yankees have still scored only 22 runs in their last seven games, and prior to the Holliday sac fly, they had scored their last nine runs on home runs. The offense is fighting it right now. This’ll happen a few times during the season. You just have to hope the pitching can pick up the bats, and it sure did Wednesday night.

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Leftovers
Dellin Betances was absolutely untouchable in the ninth inning. He struck out all three batters he faced on 13 total pitches, and geez, they stood no chance. Betances was overwhelming. He was throwing his fastball by hitters and locking them up with the breaking ball. Total domination. As good as you’ll see Dellin look all season. Too bad he’s #notacloser.

Gregorius was the only Yankee with multiple hits. Gardner, Sanchez, Holliday, Aaron Judge, and Aaron Hicks had one hit each. Carter and Judge drew the walks. The Yankees went 1-for-3 with runners in scoring position, so yeah, they didn’t exactly have a boatload of opportunities. When they did though, they capitalized. A solo homer, a sac fly, and an RBI single. Hooray offensive diversity.

And finally, if you missed it earlier, Jacoby Ellsbury had to leave the game with a concussion and a neck strain. He crashed into the wall making a catch on the very first pitch of the game. Joe Girardi already confirmed Ellsbury is going on the seven-day disabled list. Stinks.

Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
ESPN has both the box score and updated standings. MLB.com has the video highlights. RAB has a Bullpen Workload page. Here is the win probability graph:


Source: FanGraphs

Up Next
The end of this series, finally. Thursday afternoon the Yankees will play their first last game against a team this season. That make sense? If the Yankees play the Royals again this year, it’ll be in the postseason. Tanaka and young Miguel Almonte are the scheduled starting pitchers. Almonte will be making his first MLB start after debuting out of the bullpen. That’s a 1pm ET getaway day start. RAB Tickets can get you in the door if you feel like catching the midweek matinee.

DotF: Wade, Fowler, and Frazier all homer in Scranton’s win

Two quick notes to start the night:

  • 1B Ji-Man Choi (hamstring) was activated off the Triple-A disabled list, according to Donnie Collins. 1B Mike Ford was sent back to Double-A Trenton to clear a roster spot. Ford went 11-for-36 (.306) with four doubles and four homers in nine games with the RailRiders.
  • Make sure you check out 20-80 Baseball’s recent evaluations of OF Dustin Fowler, OF Clint Frazier, and SS Tyler Wade from a series earlier this month. The reports are glowing.

Triple-A Scranton (5-0 win over Columbus)

  • SS Tyler Wade: 2-5, 2 R, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 K — three homers in 40 games this year after hitting five in 133 games last year
  • CF Dustin Fowler: 2-5, 1 R, 1 HR, 2 RBI — eight homers in 40 games this year after hitting 12 in 132 games last year … like Wade, he’s benefited from getting out of Trenton’s AT&T Park as a left-handed hitter
  • 3B Gleyber Torres: 0-3, 2 BB, 1 SB — that’s four straight games at third base … hmmm
  • 2B Rob Refsnyder: 2-4, 1 2B, 1 BB, 1 K — my guess is he gets the call tomorrow to replace the injured Jacoby Ellsbury
  • LF Clint Frazier: 2-5, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 CS — 17 singles and 23 extra base hits (15 doubles and eight homers)
  • RF Mason Williams: 2-4, 1 R, 1 BB, 2 SB
  • RHP Domingo German: 7 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 10 K, 4/3 GB/FB — 65 of 95 pitches were strikes (66%) … got roughed up a bit in his Triple-A debut last time out (five runs in 6.2 innings), so good to see him bounce back well this time out … 54/15 K/BB in 46.2 innings
  • RHP Gio Gallegos: 2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 4 K, 1 WP, 0/2 GB/FB — 24 of 39 pitches were strikes (62%)

[Read more…]

Update: Jacoby Ellsbury suffers concussion crashing into wall

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

8:24pm ET: Ellsbury has indeed suffered a concussion, the Yankees announced. He also has a sprained neck. Ellsbury will presumably be placed on the 7-day concussion disabled list, meaning he’ll have to be cleared by MLB’s doctors before he can be activated. Mason Williams, Clint Frazier, and Dustin Fowler are the Triple-A outfielders. Williams is the only one on the 40-man roster, though the Yankees do have an open spot.

7:38pm ET: Jacoby Ellsbury exited tonight’s game after crashing into the center field wall making a catch on the very first pitch of the game. Here’s video. Trainer Steve Donohue looked at him and Ellsbury did stay in the game to complete the inning. He was removed in the second, however. His lineup spot did not come up in the bottom of the first.

Earlier this season Ellsbury missed one game with a pinched nerve in his elbow after another wall-crashing catch. This time they were focused more on his head and neck, so obviously the concern is a concussion. Ellsbury has never had a concussion in pro ball. The internet tells me he suffered one crashing into the wall making a catch in college though.

Ellsbury, 33, came into the game hitting .281/.349/.422 (113 wRC+) with four home runs and eight stolen bases in 38 games this season. The Yankees have a really great fourth outfielder in Aaron Hicks, plus several great outfield prospects in Triple-A, though losing Ellsbury would still stink. The more good players, the better.

The Yankees have not yet released an update on Ellsbury, so stay tuned.

Game 44: Waiting For The Offense To Come Back

(Mike Stobe/Getty)
(Mike Stobe/Getty)

Last night’s loss stunk, huh? Bullpen meltdowns are going to happen from time to time. Whatever. I’m more annoyed by the recent lack of offense. The Yankees have scored only 19 runs in their last six games, and only nine runs in their last three games. That’s not going to fly. The Yankees are still second in baseball in runs per game (5.53), so they have the ability to score runs. They’re just in a little bit of a funk right now.

Prior to this 19 runs in six games stretch, the Yankees scored at least seven runs in their four previous games, and one of those four games came against tonight’s opposing starter, Royals righty Jason Hammel. The Yankees scored five runs in six innings against Hammel last week. I could go for a repeat performance tonight. Runs are cool. I like runs. Here is the Royals’ lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:

  1. LF Brett Gardner
  2. C Gary Sanchez
  3. DH Matt Holliday
  4. 2B Starlin Castro
  5. RF Aaron Judge
  6. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  7. 3B Chase Headley
  8. SS Didi Gregorius
  9. 1B Chris Carter
    RHP Luis Severino

Not a bad weather day in New York. It was cloudy much of the day, and the same will be true tonight. Cloudy and cool. Tonight’s game will start at 7:05pm ET. You can watch on YES locally and MLB Network nationally. Enjoy the game.

Injury Updates: Greg Bird (ankle) continues to progress with his rehab. He is hitting, fielding grounders, running the bases, the whole nine. Joe Girardi said the tentative plan is to send Bird to Tampa on Sunday, have him play in one Extended Spring Training game, then begin a minor league rehab assignment with High-A Tampa. My guess is he’ll play a good amount of rehab games to make sure he gets all the way back on track after his miserable start to the season. We might not see Bird until the Yankees come back for their next homestand on June 6th … Aroldis Chapman (shoulder) will see a doctor for a checkup Friday, and if all goes well, he could begin a throwing program Saturday.

HOPE Week: Today the Yankees held an event at the Saturday Night Live studios to help benefit Comedy Kids, an organization started by two young boys who tell jokes to raise money for pediatric brain cancer research. Awesome stuff. Here’s a video.

2017 Draft: Brendon Little

Brendon Little | LHP

Background
The 20-year-old Little grew up outside Philadelphia and was a 36th round pick out of high school by the Giants in 2015, though he didn’t sign. He got buried on a deep North Carolina pitching staff as a freshman last spring — Little threw four innings last year — so after pitching well in the Cape Cod League last summer, Little transferred to the State College of Florida. So far this spring he has a 2.53 ERA with 133 strikeouts and 33 walks in 85.1 innings. Because he’s now at a junior college, Little is draft-eligible again this spring.

Scouting Report
At 6-foot-2 and 195 lbs., Little has good size and athleticism. His fastball sits 92-94 mph and he’s run it up as high as 97 mph this spring. Little’s breaking ball is a hard power curveball that misses plenty of bats. He also throws a changeup, but it lags far behind his other two pitches at the moment. His arm is loose and he generates his velocity with ease. Little does run into command issues at times, and there’s also some concern his short stride makes his stuff play down, pointing to a future in the bullpen.

Miscellany
In his latest rankings, Keith Law (sub. req’d) ranked Little as the 17th best prospect in the 2017 draft class. MLB.com and Baseball America ranked him 35th and 36th, respectively. The Yankees hold the 16th overall pick. Lefties with good velocity and an out-pitch breaking ball are always in demand, though my guess is the Yankees would prefer to nab Little (or someone like him) with their second round pick, 54th overall, than their first rounder.

“The Judge’s Chambers” is awesome, so of course people are complaining about it

Uh oh, fans are having fun. (Elsa/Getty)
Uh oh, fans are having fun. (Elsa/Getty)

When the Yankees returned home from their road trip Monday, a new feature at Yankee Stadium awaited them. The team unveiled a new 18-seat cheering section for Aaron Judge in right field named, for obvious reasons, The Judge’s Chambers. His name is just so damn punnable. People have been showing up to games in robes and wigs the last few weeks. Now they have a dedicated section.

Personally, I love it. I am for anything that injects some life and excitement into the ballpark. My only complaint is The Judge’s Chambers is kinda hidden. It’s tucked under the second deck in right field. Maybe move it over a section or two so everyone can see it? Otherwise it’s a great idea. The Yankees give out robes and styrofoam gavels, and everyone has a grand old time.

Naturally, some people don’t like the new ballpark feature. Many people, really. I’ve seen folks on Twitter and in the RAB comments say it’s too soon. It’s a distraction. So on and so forth. Billy Witz said it’ll become a punch line if Judge doesn’t keep hitting. Mike Mazzeo said the Yankees are “guilty of overhype.” Michael Kay said on his radio show he couldn’t imagine something like “Jete’s Seats” in 1996.

While I respect those guys and their opinions, man I couldn’t disagree more. The Judge’s Chambers is not about Aaron Judge or the Yankees. It’s about the fans and having fun. I know people like to think the Yankees hold themselves to a higher standard and wouldn’t stoop to such gimmicks, but come on. Have you seen the ballpark? It’s half-empty every night. Things have changed. It’s time for a new way of thinking.

These are the facts. One, The Judge’s Chambers is not a money grab because the Yankees are giving the 18 tickets to youth groups and other programs. Two, Judge is an extremely humble and down to Earth kid. (You should read this.) I couldn’t be any less concerned about this going to his head. And three, have you noticed how much fun the fans out there are having? YES showed a clip yesterday with a bunch of kids going nuts in The Judge’s Chambers. How is that bad?

What’s the worst case scenario here? Judge stops hitting and The Judge’s Chambers looks silly, so the Yankees remove it? I think the franchise will survive. It’s not like they wouldn’t hear constant reminders about Judge flaming out anyway. (See: Maas, Kevin.) Should they wait until Judge plays a full season? Okay. But why not wait two years? Or five? Or until he wins a World Series just to be safe? Why is any of that a better time than right now? We can always come up with a reason not to do something. Doing it is the hard part.

The Yankees are full speed ahead with their youth movement and Judge is at the center of that. He’s a great two-way player who represents the franchise well is an already very popular. The Yankees should foster that popularity and fan excitement. It helps improve the relationship between the team and the fans. The Yankees wouldn’t have had “Jete’s Seats” in 1996? Well, maybe they should have. This is baseball. It’s a game and it’s a fun. Don’t take it so seriously.

Why are the Yankees sticking with eight relievers?

(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

For the last 15 days, the Yankees have had eight men in their bullpen.

At first, it was out of necessity. The team was coming off an 18-inning marathon with the Cubs and had to play a two-game series starting the next day. Making a move to add a long reliever — in this case Chad Green — was a prudent move after everyone but Tommy Layne was used on that Sunday night/Monday morning vs. the Cubs.

But two days later, the team had an off-day. They had optioned Rob Refsnyder, the obvious 25th man, to make room for Green, so he wasn’t available for a call-up. However, the team still had/has Mason Williams ready to call-up and an open 40-man roster spot to utilize for an extra position player, should they see the need.

By this time, it’s obvious they don’t see the need. They’re fine with a three-man bench as it provides them the luxury of eight relievers. It’s likely they’ll go back to a four-man bench with Tyler Austin comes off the 60-day DL either later this month or in early June, but that would mean another week or so with this peculiar arrangement. And it truly is a luxury as they aren’t all necessary.

When you look at the composition of the bullpen right now, there are the guys that are being used consistently and with purpose; Dellin Betances, Tyler Clippard, Adam Warren and Jonathan Holder each have their roles right now and are minimally influenced by another man in the bullpen. Chad Green has taken on Warren’s long-man-in-close-game role and has been quite solid in said role.

But beyond those five guys, there hasn’t been much to do. Tommy Layne and Chasen Shreve, the two lefties, have thrown just 4 1/3 and five innings, respectively, over a combined nine appearances. With few lefty-laden lineups with which to deal, there simply isn’t much work for the duo. They’ve pitched in the same game twice, mostly as mop-up guys.

Giovanny Gallegos was used in a similar fashion, taking mop-up innings and helping the team get by during the Astros doubleheader. He’s more of a 1-2 inning guy anyway, so the team called up Bryan Mitchell in his spot.

Mitchell (Adam Hunger/Getty Images)
Mitchell (Adam Hunger/Getty Images)

This seems like a poor use for Mitchell. Mitchell had been getting stretched out in Triple A and would be ready to call on as a spot starter. With the rotation’s struggles, that seems like it may be on the horizon, particularly with few off-days upcoming. And with an eight-man bullpen, an extra long reliever is superfluous. Green and Warren can both go multiple innings. Even if you say that Warren is now a one-inning reliever, the nominal ‘7th-inning guy’, you still have both Shreve and Layne sitting in the bullpen with little recent mileage most nights. They can take the long relief on any given night. With the current arrangement, Mitchell neither has a role nor a chance to develop further despite his ability to be either a solid back-end starter or quality reliever if given the opportunity.

The main reason to keep the eight-man bullpen going would be with the struggles in the rotation. Masahiro Tanaka has had a few short starts in a row, same with Luis Severino, while Michael Pineda and CC Sabathia have been the ones getting consistently through 6-7 their last few times out. The rotation has gone from 5.93 innings per start in April to 5.45 this month. This opens up about an inning every other game, yet that seems hardly enough to justify an extra reliever when the team was still barely using its last reliever when they had seven in April. If the innings trend continues to go down, both this season and in the future, an eight-man bullpen may become more of the norm to help spread innings among a taxed bullpen, but that isn’t the Yankees reality right now.

Eight relievers were fully necessary during the doubleheader, but the team was also allowed to call up an extra man for the roster. If the team wants another long reliever but needed an extra position player right now, they could either jettison Layne or option Shreve to call up Tyler Webb, who has been effective in Scranton since he was returned from his Rule 5 stint with the Pirates, and use Mitchell’s spot for a position player. Still, you run into the same issues with Webb that you did with Mitchell, as the team already has capable long men and at least one other lefty ready to go.

The question does need to be asked: Would the spot be better utilized for another position player? Ultimately, it seems like there hasn’t really been a role for an extra position player. Perhaps they should have had Kyle Higashioka up vs. Tampa last Friday with Gary Sanchez feeling off — thereby allowing them to pinch hit for Austin Romine in a big spot — but a roster spot for one at-bat, maybe a couple innings of defense, doesn’t seem like a better use than 4 1/3 innings.

So with the last 15 days, the Yankees have shown how little they utilize the 25th spot on their roster at the moment. With Greg Bird and Tyler Austin out and few ready-to-use and effective position players on the 40-man roster, the team seems more than content to get by the eighth reliever. Perhaps, this is a glimpse into the future of baseball yet, for now, it doesn’t seem like an efficient use of resources, although there may not be a better use within simple reach.