Monday Night Open Thread

The internet tells me 18,852 men have played Major League Baseball. Aaron Judge has now hit more home runs as a rookie than the other 18,851. Judge swatted his 49th and 50th home runs of the season this afternoon — would’ve been his 50th and 51st if not for that stupid triple! — breaking Mark McGwire’s rookie record. Big Mac hit 49 with the A’s in 1987. What an unbelievable season for Aaron. This is so damn fun.

Here is an open thread for the rest of the evening. The Mets are playing tonight and MLB Network is showing two regional games. The Cowboys and Cardinals are the Monday Night Football Game, plus all three local hockey teams are playing preseason games, if that’s your thing. It’s my thing. Sometimes, anyway. Talk about anything here that isn’t politics or religion. Thanks in advance.

Judge hits 49th and 50th home runs, breaks McGwire’s rookie record in 11-3 win over Royals

Is baseball fun? Yes, baseball is extremely fun. The Yankees had to play a makeup game with the Royals on Monday, and they turned that makeup game into an 11-3 win. Aaron Judge made rookie history along the way. The Yankees will clinch homefield advantage in the Wild Card Game with one more win or one more Twins loss. Whatever comes first.

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Move Over, Big Mac
Holy crap Aaron Judge has hit more home runs than any other rookie in baseball history. That is insane. What would you have been happy with from him this season? I’d have signed up for .250/.340/.450 with 25 dingers in a heartbeat going into Spring Training. Instead, Judge is hitting .283/.414/.620 (169 wRC+) overall this year, and on Monday afternoon he smacked his 49th and 50th — 49th and 50th! — home runs of the season, tying then breaking Mark McGwire’s rookie record.

The record tying blast was a classic Judge at-bat. He worked a full count — going into the game, his 167 plate appearances with a full count were far and away the most in baseball (Edwin Encarnacion was second with 145) — against Royals rookie Jake Junis, then drove a fastball at the top of the zone the other way into the right field seats for a two-run home run. Perfect. The dinger gave the Yankees a 3-0 lead in the inning.

Four innings later, after the Yankees increased their lead to 6-3, Judge went deep again, this time to break McGwire’s record. Trevor Cahill started Judge with two curveballs, one for a ball and one for a swinging strike. He set up a changeup with a high fastball for ball two, but the changeup was a little too up in the zone, and Judge roped it out to left field. One dinger to right, one dinger to left.

That is now seven home runs in the last seven games for Judge, and 13 home runs in 22 games in September. Remember his post-All-Star Game slump? I do. It was ugly for a while there. Safe to say Judge has snapped out of it though. He’s crushing the ball to all fields and he looks confident at the plate. He looks like First Half Aaron Judge, and it is beautiful to see. With the Yankees at home the rest of the regular season, Aaron needs to hear M! V! P! chants every at-bat. Make it happen.

Six Good Innings, One Bad Inning
CC Sabathia went from six shutout innings to a bare minimum quality start real quick Monday. It took eight pitches, in fact. Sabathia cruised through the first six innings, holding the Royals scoreless on three hits and a walk. Kansas City had just one runner make it to third base and only three get as far as second base in those six innings. CC was on cruise control.

The wheels came off a bit in the seventh inning. Joe Girardi sent Sabathia out for the seventh with a 6-0 lead and his pitch count at 72, and hey, that’s what I wouldn’t done. Eric Hosmer started that seventh inning with a single, then Salvador Perez got the Royals on the board with a high and far two-run home run to left field. Sabathia caught a little too much of the plate with a high changeup. Blah. Mike Moustakas then followed with a solo homer deep to right field. That ended Sabathia’s afternoon and cut the lead to 6-3.

Sabathia’s final line: 6 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 4 K on 80 pitches. He was better than that line indicates though. Sabathia faced 24 batters and it wasn’t until batters 22, 23, and 24 that the Royals really started to square him up. Next time Girardi should look into his managerial crystal ball so he knows to pull his not at all struggling starter before things start to fall apart. What are they paying this guy for? Geez. (I kid, I kid.)

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Tack-On Runs
Fortunately, the Yankees had built up plenty of breathing room before Sabathia’s little seventh inning implosion. They scored their first run of the afternoon in the very first inning. Brett Gardner dunked a leadoff single to right-center, Judge flew out to deep center field (even his outs are hard-hit these days), Gary Sanchez poked a double into the right field corner, and Didi Gregorius got the run home with a grounder to first base. The Yankees were up 1-0 only 12 pitches into the bottom of the first. Judge then made it 3-0 in the third.

The sixth inning is when the Yankees really broke things open. Gregorius stroked a one-out single to left then, while at first, he tripped on the base and fell down when he stepped back on a pickoff throw. It looked kinda bad at first, but Didi was laughing at himself the entire time and stayed in the game with no problem. I know this because he scored all the way from first base on Matt Holliday‘s double to left field to stretch the lead to 4-0. Losing Gregorius to an injury on a stupid pickoff throw would be awful. Thankfully, it didn’t happen.

Know who else is red hot aside from Judge? Greg Bird. He followed Holliday’s double with a two-run home run into the second deck in right field to give the Yankees a 6-0 lead and officially blow this one open. Bird is now 6-for-14 (.429) with three doubles and two homers in his last four games, and, most importantly, he looks more comfortable at the plate than he has all season. Took a while to get over last year’s shoulder surgery and this year’s ankle surgery, but it appears Bird is now over them, and not a moment too soon.

Two home runs for Judge and one home run for Bird must’ve had Sanchez feeling a little left out, so he added a home run as well. The crowd was still giving Judge a standing ovation following his 50th home run curtain call — that was the loudest I’ve heard Yankee Stadium since Alex Rodriguez‘s farewell game last year — when Sanchez lined a dinger into the left field seats for an 8-3 lead. Third time this month Judge and Sanchez have gone back-to-back, I do believe. Once against the Rangers, once against the Orioles, and once against the Royals (I think).

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

But wait! There’s more. The Yankees added a three more runs in the eighth inning thanks to a silly Torreyes hit — a bloop dunked in along the right field line, then the ball got away from Alcides Escobar when he tried to apply the tag at second base, allowing Toe to get to third — and a Gardner double into the corner. Gregorius then singled in another run and Holliday plated another with a sac fly. Judge had a chance to hit his third homer of the game that inning, but alas, he was walked for the 120th time this season. L-O-L. Love this team, guys. Love them with all of your baseball heart.

Leftovers
Judge, Bird, and Sanchez combined to go 6-for-13 (.462) with four home runs, one double, and two walks. First time — and hopefully not the last time — those three have gone deep in the same game. Three hits for Sanchez, Gregorius, and Torreyes. Two hits for Gardner and Judge. The wraparound 9-1-2-3-4 portion of the lineup went a combined 13-for-22 (.591) with three doubles and four homers. That’ll do.

Chad Green replaced Sabathia after the seventh inning mini-meltdown and pitched around a walk. He struck out one and now has 102 strikeouts in 67.1 innings this season. Remember, he started the season in minors. Green didn’t play his first MLB game until May 9th this year. David Robertson, who was already warmed up before Judge and Sanchez provided insurance runs in the bottom of the seventh, threw a clean eighth and Tommy Kahnle handled the ninth. Nice and easy.

And finally, thanks to today’s game, Judge has now homered against every single AL team this season. Well, except the Yankees. The Royals completed the set. I have no idea how to look this up, but hitting a home run against every other team in the league — again: against every other team in the league! — sounds incredibly hard to do. At least in the expansion era.

Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
Head over to ESPN for the box score — their redesigned box scores suck so much and I haven’t yet found an alternative to my liking — and updated standings, and MLB.com for the video highlights. We have a Bullpen Workload page. Here’s the win probability graph:


Source: FanGraphs

Up Next
The Royals are heading out now that the makeup game is over, and the Rays are coming to town for a three-game series. One Yankees win will eliminate Tampa Bay from postseason contention. Blake Snell and Jordan Montgomery are the scheduled starting pitchers for Tuesday night’s opener.

McKinney and Carroll added to Arizona Fall League roster

The Yankees have assigned outfielder Billy McKinney and right-hander Cody Carroll to the Arizona Fall League, the league announced last week. They’ll join fellow Yankees prospects infielder Thairo Estrada, outfielder Estevan Florial, first baseman Chris Gittens, infielder Kyle Holder, lefty Justus Sheffield, and righty Dillon Tate in the desert this year.

Back when the AzFL rosters were announced, the Yankees had two pitching spots left open, and it appears they managed to swap one of those pitching spots for another outfield spot for McKinney. That’s not too uncommon. Teams will barter roster spots. I need an extra outfield spot and you need an extra pitching spot, so let’s trade. That kinda thing.

McKinney, who came over in the Aroldis Chapman trade last year, will reportedly begin working out at first base in Instructional League, and I assume he’ll continue working there in the AzFL. The Yankees are planning to add him to the 40-man roster after the season. As a bat-first corner outfielder, adding the ability to play first base to his skill set will only help.

As for Carroll, the 24-year-old threw 67.1 relief innings with a 2.54 ERA (3.04 FIP) to go with 32.1% strikeouts and 10.8% walks for High-A Tampa and Double-A Trenton this year. He was the team’s 22nd round pick in the 2015 draft and really broke out this year. MLB.com ranks him as the 26th best prospect in the system right now. Here’s a snippet of their scouting report:

Carroll worked in the low 90s as a college starter but now operates at 96-98 mph and reaches triple digits with his fastball. Hitters can’t afford to sit on his heater because he also has a hard breaking ball that can reach the upper 80s, pairing slider velocity with curveball depth … Despite a relatively easy delivery, he didn’t throw a lot of strikes in college and hasn’t as a pro.

The Yankees are sending a really strong crop of prospects to the AzFL this year. Of course, Sheffield and Tate are going to make up for innings lost to injuries, and that’s never great. Still, Florial and McKinney makes for a pair of interesting position player prospects, and Holder tore the cover off the ball in the second half. Would be cool to see him continue it out in the desert.

The 2017 AzFL season begins Tuesday, October 10th and will end with the Championship Game on Saturday, November 18th. Yankees prospects will be on the Scottsdale Scorpions with players from the Angels, Giants, Mets, and Reds organizations.

Game 156: The Final Week

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

Welcome to the final week of the 2017 regular season. The Yankees have already clinched a postseason spot, so they know they’ll be playing beyond this coming Sunday. Will they win the AL East (nope) or host the Wild Card Game (yup)? The next few days will decide that.

Today was supposed to be an off-day, but instead, the Yankees will host the Royals for a quick makeup game. The two teams were rained out on May 25th and, technically, today is a chance to win the series. That was a four-game set and the Yankees won two of the first three games. I remember that series as the series it became clear Luis Severino was in for a special season. Anyway, here is the Royals’ lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:

  1. LF Brett Gardner
  2. RF Aaron Judge
  3. C Gary Sanchez
  4. SS Didi Gregorius
  5. DH Matt Holliday
  6. 1B Greg Bird
  7. 3B Todd Frazier
  8. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  9. 2B Ronald Torreyes
    LHP CC Sabathia

It is a hot and sunny day in the Bronx. Pretty much mid-summer weather for the matinee. Today’s game will begin at 1:05pm ET and both YES and MLB Network will have the broadcast. Enjoy the game.

Injury Updates: There are no injuries. No new ones, anyway. Just a day off for Starlin Castro. Gregorius will probably get tomorrow off, Joe Girardi said. The regular outfielders, who have played a ton the last few weeks, are going to get some time off their feet as well this week. No surprise there.

Yankeemetrics: Welcome to October (Sept. 22-24)

(AP)
(AP)

Bad News Yankees
Instead of building on the positive momentum from their sweep of the Twins early in the week, the Yankees opened their weekend series in Toronto with a mistake-filled blowout loss, 8-1, to the Blue Jays.

This road trip north of the border has been a nightmare for the Bombers in recent years. Following Friday’s defeat, they guaranteed themselves yet another season-series loss in Canada. The last time the Yankees had a winning record at the Rogers Centre was 2009.

Much of the blame for this embarrassing loss falls on the brutal performance by Masahiro Tanaka. Terrible Tanaka was in peak form as he coughed up eight runs (seven earned) on six hits, three of which cleared the fences. Here’s a quickish recap of the ugly numbers after his latest disaster outing:

  • 35 homers allowed are tied with Phil Hughes (2012) for the second-most in Yankees history, behind Ralph Terry’s 40 in 1962. Oh, how times have changed: Terry was an All-Star, started 39 games, threw 298 2/3 innings and even got a few MVP votes that season, while Tanaka is at 29 starts and 177 1/3 innings.
  • Five games with three or more homers allowed leads MLB this season, and is tied with Catfish Hunter (1977) for the most in a season in Yankees history.
  • Five games with at least seven earned runs matches the most in a season by any Yankee pitcher, a mark he shares with A.J. Burnett (2010) and Red Ruffing (1934). Remember, folks, Tanaka had never given up more than six earned runs in any of his 75 career starts entering this year.

The final pitch he threw was a hanging 0-2 slider with the bases loaded in the sixth inning, that Ryan Goins drilled into the seats in right-center. It was the second grand slam he’s surrendered this year, and – you guessed it – he had never given one up prior to 2017. Even worse is the fact that Goins was 0-for-22 against Tanaka entering that at-bat, and had never even hit a flyball or line drive in his career against him!

Finally, there’s this stat that sums up Tanaka’s Jekyll-and-Hyde 2017 campaign: Through Friday, he was the only pitcher in MLB this season that had five games with at least three homers allowed. He was also the only pitcher in the majors that had thrown multiple games with at least 13 strikeouts and no walks.

Aaron Judge was a one-man offensive machine, producing the team’s only run and two of their three hits. His 469-foot booming shot into the second deck in the first inning was the longest homer at the Rogers Centre this season, and tied for his second-longest of the season. Through Friday, he was the only player in baseball to hit three homers of 469-plus feet this year.

(New York Post)
(New York Post)

The clinching
It’s official. The Yankees punched their ticket to the postseason party with a comeback win, 5-1, on Saturday afternoon.

It was fitting that the clinching victory came in a game where the Yankees had to rally, after the Blue Jays took a 1-0 lead in the third inning. This was the Yankees 34th win when their opponent scored first, tied for the most in the majors through Saturday.

Sonny Gray tossed six strong innings and limited Toronto to one run on four hits, as he continued his six-week stretch of gutty performances on the road. It was his ninth road start in a row with two earned runs or fewer allowed, the longest streak among AL pitchers this season.

Greg Bird earned the hero’s cape when he golfed a 91-mph cutter into the right-field seats in the fifth inning, putting the Yankees ahead 3-1. Bird is no stranger to delivering big hits: eight of his 17 career homers have given the Yankees the lead. Among Yankees with at least 10 home runs since Bird’s debut in 2015, his “go-ahead homer percentage” of 47.1% is the second-best, trailing only … Jacoby Ellsbury (47.8%)!

We’ll also give Bird our Obscure Yankeemetric of the Series: This was the second time he’s hit a clutch homer on the road against the Blue Jays; the only other Yankee first basemen with multiple go-ahead homers in Toronto are Jason Giambi and Don Mattingly.

[Because this is a stats post, I’ll note that Aaron Judge reached the 200-strikeout mark in the first inning, breaking the rookie record set by Kris Bryant in 2015. I’ll also mention that Bryant won the Rookie of the Year Award that season.]

(Getty)
(Getty)

The post-clinching
Less than 24 hours after a rousing playoff-clinching victory, the Yankees played like they were still hung over from the late-night celebration. Not only did they lose the rubber game of the series, but the loss also gave them a disappointing 40-41 record on the road this season as they head home for the final week of games.

This is the second year in a row they’ve been below .500 away from the Bronx, the first time in more than two decades they’ve done that. The last time it happened came during the dark ages, a seven-season stretch of road mediocrity from 1987-93.

Jaime Garcia put the Yankees in an early hole, giving up a home run to Teoscar Hernandez on the second pitch he threw. It was the 10th lead-off bomb the Yankees have surrendered this season, the most they’ve ever allowed in a single season in franchise history.

Garcia remains winless in eight starts as a Yankee, tied for the second-longest such streak by any pitcher to begin his pinstriped career over the last 100 seasons. The only longer streak belongs to Steve Trout, who failed to get a win in his first nine starts after a mid-season trade in 1987.

To say that Garcia lacked command would be an understatement. Not only did he throw a wild pitch and walk three of the 14 batters he faced, but more than half (33 of 60) of his pitches were called balls. His strike percentage of 45 percent is the lowest by any Yankee starter that threw 60-plus pitches in an outing since at least 2000 (as far back as we have complete pitch-by-pitch data).

Once again Aaron Judge was the lone shining star in the lineup, belting his 47th and 48th homers this season. He’s now one shy of the major-league home run rookie record set by Mark McGwire in 1987, and also continued his climb up some impressive franchise leaderboards:

  • The only Yankee right-handed batter to hit more longballs in a season is A-Rod, who hit 54 during his 2007 MVP campaign.
  • The 48 homers are the third-most by a Yankee in his age-25 season or younger, trailing Babe Ruth (54 in 1920) and Mickey Mantle (52 in 1956).
  • At the age of 25 years and 151 days, he is the second-youngest Yankee to reach six multi-homer games in a season, behind a 24-year-old Mickey Mantle in 1956.
  • He now has 11 homers in September, the third time this season he’s hit double-digit longballs in a calendar month. The last Yankee to match that feat was Roger Maris in 1961, who had four months with at least 10 homers during his record-setting 61-homer campaign.

Fan Confidence Poll: September 25th, 2017

Record Last Week: 4-2 (29 RS, 24 RA)
Season Record: 86-69 (822 RS, 643 RA, 95-60 pythag. record) 5.0 GB in ALE
Opponents This Week: vs. Royals (one game, Mon.), vs. Rays (three games, Tues. to Thurs.), vs. Blue Jays (three games, Fri. 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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Blue Jays 9, Yankees 5: Judge homers twice in final road game


Source: FanGraphs

If the Yankees play another road game this season, it’ll be in the ALDS. The closed out their road regular season schedule with a 9-5 loss to the Blue Jays on Sunday afternoon. The Yankees looked very much like a team still hungover from celebrating Saturday’s postseason clincher. Let’s recap this one with bullet points, shall we?

  • Bad Jaime, Bad Bryan: Starter Jaime Garcia and reliever Bryan Mitchell combined to retire eight of 21 batters faced. Mitchell retired just one of the seven batters he faced. Those two were charged with all nine runs (four for Garcia in 2.1 innings and four for Mitchell in 0.1 innings) and the game was out of reach early. The other four relievers combined for the following line: 4.1 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 5 K. At least some pitchers were good Sunday.
  • All Rise x2: Aaron Judge is now one home run away from tying Mark McGwire’s rookie home run record. He swatted homers No. 47 and 48 on Sunday, the first a solo shot and the second a two-run shot. Both snuck over the wall. They weren’t typical Judge bombs. That’s now eleven homers in the last 19 games for Judge. He’s hit 48 home runs, been robbed of two others (Melky Cabrera and Jackie Bradley Jr.), and had one incorrectly called a triple. His batting line: .281/.416/.610 (166 wRC+). Too late to get back in the AL MVP race, or is it all Jose Altuve at this point?
  • Leftovers: Dellin Betances hit a batter and struck out a batter in his scoreless inning. He was very clearly working on his fastball. He threw 15 pitches and ten were heaters. He usually throws more breaking balls than fastballs … Judge drove in three of the team’s five runs. Didi Gregorius (single) and Greg Bird (double) drove in the others … two hits for Judge and Starlin Castro and one each for Chase Headley, Gregorius, Jacoby Ellsbury, Bird, and Austin Romine.

Here are the box score, video highlights, postseason odds, and updated standings. Here’s our Bullpen Workload page. The Yankees were supposed to have an off-day Monday, but they’ll instead play a makeup game against the Royals at Yankee Stadium. That’s the makeup game of their May 25th rainout. CC Sabathia and someone named Jake Junis are the scheduled starters. That’s a 1pm ET game.