Yankees will reportedly visit Philadelphia next year for first time since 2009 World Series

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

At some point next month MLB will release the 2018 regular season schedule, though bits and pieces are already starting to leak out. The Yankees are due to face the NL East during interleague play next year, and according to Ryan Lawrence, they are tentatively scheduled to visit the Phillies next summer. It’ll be the first time the Yankees visit Citizens Bank Park since the 2009 World Series.

The three-game series in Philadelphia is scheduled for Monday, June 25th, through Wednesday, June 27th. Aside from the 2009 World Series, the Yankees have visited Citizens Bank Park for an interleague series only once. They took two of three from the Phillies back in June 2006. The Yankees starting pitchers that series: Randy Johnson, Mike Mussina, and Jaret Wright. Prior to that, their last trip to Philly was to Veterans Stadium in 2001.

The Yankees and Phillies have played two series at Yankee Stadium since the 2009 World Series. The Phillies took two of three in June 2010 and again took two of three in June 2015. They also played three regular season games at Yankee Stadium in May 2009. The Phillies won two of three that series too. Eh, whatever. That has no bearing on what happens next year. (Also, kiss the ring.)

With the NL East on tap next year, the Yankees figure to get a firsthand look at Bryce Harper before his impending free agency, possibly even in Yankee Stadium. Harper went deep when the Nationals visited the Bronx back during his MVP season in 2015.

Chances are the Yankees will visit new SunTrust Park in Atlanta next year, a ballpark they helped open with an exhibition game back earlier this spring. Greg Bird hit the first (unofficial) home run at the new building. The Yankees play the Mets during the Subway Series every season, so that’s nothing new. Visiting the Phillies and getting to see Bryce Harper up close don’t happen to often for the Yankees, so that’ll be fun. If nothing else, at least interleague travel will be easy next year.

Game 131: Let’s Win Two

Pls bring Votto to NY to keep Reds reunion going. (Jim McIsaac/Getty)
Pls give Votto to Yankees to keep Reds reunion going thx. (Jim McIsaac/Getty)

Thanks to yesterday’s rainout, the Yankees and Indians will play a single admission doubleheader today. Second one of the season for the Yankees, and their third doubleheader overall. Can’t beat two games for the price of one. Yeah, it’s going to do a number on the pitching staff the day before the start of a hugely important four-game series with the Red Sox, but what can you do? At least reinforcements are coming Friday.

Winning two games today sure would be swell, but before you can win two, you have to win one. The Yankees got shut down by Corey Kluber on Monday and hey, it happens. Kluber is really good. Trevor Bauer though? That’s another story. I know he pitched well when these two teams met in Cleveland, but if you want to win a postseason spot, he’s the kinda guy you’ve got to beat up on. Here is the Indians’ lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:

  1. LF Brett Gardner
  2. RF Aaron Hicks
  3. C Gary Sanchez
  4. SS Didi Gregorius
  5. 1B Ha Cheese Lady
  6. DH Greg Bird
  7. 3B Todd Frazier
  8. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  9. 2B Ronald Torreyes
    LHP Jaime Garcia

Lovely weather in New York today. Doubleheader weather. Much better than all that rain yesterday. The first game of today’s doubleheader is scheduled to begin at 1:05pm ET, and you’ll be able to watch on YES locally and MLB Network out-of-market. Enjoy the game.

Injury Update: Aaron Judge (shoulder) feels better, though he continues to receive treatment. He’s going to play in the second game of the doubleheader. Judge has not had an MRI or a cortisone shot, though it has been discussed. I have no idea what the Yankees are waiting for. Between this and letting Bird play on a bad ankle for a month, they’re really Metsing it up with the injuries to their young guys this year.

Appeals Update: Joe Girardi said MLB has not yet scheduled appeal hearings for Sanchez and Austin Romine. That doesn’t mean it couldn’t happen tomorrow, but right now there’s nothing on the books. Sure sounds like the hearings won’t happen until after rosters expand Friday though. Sanchez was suspended four games and Romine two games for their roles in the brawl with the Tigers last week.

Recent elbow MRI yet another red flag for Aroldis Chapman

(Rich Schultz/Getty)
(Rich Schultz/Getty)

August is almost over and roster expansion is right around the corner, and at this point, it is completely clear the Yankees can not trust Aroldis Chapman in high-leverage situations. After giving Chapman the largest reliever contract in history over the winter, the Yankees have received 38.1 innings with a 4.23 ERA (3.08 FIP) in return, and have had to demote him out of the closer’s role. What a mess.

As you know, this isn’t simply a case of Chapman running into some bad luck with more bloops falling in and balls sneaking into the short porch for cheap Yankee Stadium homers. He looks basically nothing like the dominating Aroldis Chapman of the past six years. And it’s only getting worse. His swing-and-miss rate:

aroldis-chapman-swings-and-misses

Poor performance is one thing. Poor performance and injuries are another. Chapman missed roughly a month with shoulder inflammation earlier this year, and according to George King, Aroldis went for an MRI on his elbow Sunday. The MRI came back clean and Chapman was available to pitch Monday — “There was a little bit of discomfort. It was precautionary and they decided to do a test … It’s 100% fine,” he said to King — but still. Shoulder and elbow scares in year one of a five-year contract? Yikes.

Everyone is trying to figure out what’s wrong with Chapman and no one has the answer, not even the Yankees. They’re still searching. I don’t buy the “he’s getting hit harder because hitters are used to seeing 100 mph now” excuse for a second. How ridiculous is that? Luis Severino has no trouble throwing 98-99 mph heaters by hitters. Dellin Betances is still getting swings and misses with his fastball. I’ve heard a lot of silly baseball theories over the years. That one might be the silliest.

Last week Zach Kram, based on release point data and things like that, surmised Chapman might be pitching hurt. Maybe not hurt in the sense that he’s in pain and gutting through it. Hurt in that he’s not right physically even if there’s no real pain. It could be due to an underlying injury, or fatigue, or a World Series hangover, or general wear and tear. From Kram:

Throwing from a slightly lower arm slot, with a slightly more exaggerated elbow angle, is not per se an indicator of injury, and normally it could be attributed to a minor mechanical blip, the likes of which fellow Yankee—and new closer—Dellin Betances experienced earlier this summer. But combined with Chapman’s recent injury history, it represents a more serious sign of concern. In the book Complete Conditioning for Baseball, collegiate strength and conditioning coach Steve Tamborra writes, “There is no ideal angle between the arm and the head during the throwing motion, but pitchers tend to lower their angle when protecting a weak or injured shoulder.”

This is still just an observation, and it’s impossible to link it explicitly to Chapman’s struggles—again, his aggregate velocity and location are doing just fine, and both Chapman and Girardi contend that the lefty isn’t hurt. But it’s a new Chapman, and it’s a worse Chapman, so it’s reasonable to suppose that some connection exists.

Here’s the thing though: Chapman’s velocity and location are not doing just fine. There’s no way to measure location — Kram uses Chapman’s career high 54.3% zone rate as evidence his location is fine, which is dubious — but having watched him pitch all year, Chapman never hits his spot. He’s always been wild — that career 11.5% walk rate isn’t an accident — and this year it’s become more extreme. It seems like Aroldis has no real idea where the ball is going.

As for the velocity, the radar gun readings in general are fine. Chapman is averaging 100.1 mph with his fastball this season, which is down from 101.1 mph last year, but is right in line with the rest of his career. Now look at the fastball perceived velocity:

  • 2015: 100.8 mph (+0.7 mph from average)
  • 2016: 101.6 mph (+0.5 mph from average)
  • 2017: 100.4 mph (+0.3 mph from average)

Perceived velocity tells us how fast the pitch looks to the hitter when factoring in the pitcher’s extension and things like that. Chapman is a big guy, he’s listed at 6-foot-4 and 215 lbs., so he’s releasing the ball a little closer to the plate than the average hurler. For whatever reason though, his perceived velocity “gain” has been trending down.

In the grand scheme of things, losing 0.2 mph of perceived velocity from one year to the next might not be such a big deal, though the overall trend is disconcerting, and it’s one of those things that could be compounding Chapman’s issues. The lower release point and more exaggerated elbow angle (per Kram) combined with slightly lower velocity and shoulder and elbow woes is … unsettling. If not outright bad.

At this point, the hope is Chapman will get over whatever’s ailing him and contribute these final five weeks of the regular season and postseason. That’s the only way he can salvage what has been a pretty terrible first full season with the Yankees. And hopefully this recent elbow problem really is nothing, even if it might explain a whole lot.

DotF: Andujar and McKinney have big games in Scranton’s win

A few quick notes to pass along:

  • In case you missed it earlier, the Yankees are sending SS Thairo Estrada, OF Estevan Florial, 1B Chris Gittens, SS Kyle Holder, LHP Justus Sheffield, and RHP Dillon Tate to the Arizona Fall League this year. The Yankees still have two pitching spots TBA as well.
  • Florial was named the Most Outstanding MLB Prospect in the Low-A South Atlantic League, so that’s cool. He hit .297/.373/.483 (146 wRC+) with eleven homers and 17 steals in 91 games with Low-A Charleston before being promoted.
  • 2080 Baseball has write-ups on several lower profile Yankees prospects, including LHP James Reeves. “Reeves has the look of a future role Role 50 situational reliever, with additional utility as a solid change-of-pace look out of the bullpen who could give both righties and lefties fits in a middle-relief role,” says the write-up.

Triple-A Scranton (8-1 win over Rochester) they’ve already clinched the division title … their regular season ends next Monday, and their first round postseason series begins next Wednesday (opponent TBD)

  • SS Tyler Wade: 1-5, 1 R, 1 2B, 2 K, 1 E (fielding)
  • CF Jake Cave: 0-4, 1 BB
  • DH Matt Holliday: 1-4, 1 R — his rehab has been moved up here, obviously … Holliday told D.J. Eberle his goal is to rejoin the Yankees on Friday, conveniently the first day rosters expand
  • 3B Miguel Andujar: 2-4, 2 R, 1 3B, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 2 K, 1 E (fielding) — my dude
  • 1B Tyler Austin: 1-3, 1 2B, 1 BB, 2 K
  • RF Billy McKinney: 2-4, 2 R, 1 2B, 1 RBI — 11-for-32 (.344) in his last eight games, so he’s finishing strong
  • LHP Nestor Cortes: 5.2 IP, 7 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 5 K, 1 HB, 5/3 GB/FB — 64 of 87 pitches were strikes (74%) … making the spot start in place of Jordan Montgomery, who will start the second game of tomorrow’s doubleheader for the big league team

[Read more…]

Tuesday Night Open Thread

The Yankees and Indians have a makeshift off-day today thanks to the storm in the New York. They’re going to play a doubleheader tomorrow. Doubleheaders are fun! Doubleheaders immediately prior to a massively important four-game series with the Red Sox are less fun. What can you do though? That’s baseball. Win two tomorrow, then win four over the weekend. Sounds good to me.

Here’s an open thread for this sudden Yankees baseball-less night. The Mets are playing tonight and MLB Network will air regional games at 7pm ET and 10pm ET. Talk about those games or anything else here, as long as it’s not religion or politics.

Tonight’s game rained out, Yankees and Indians will play a straight doubleheader tomorrow

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Tonight’s game with the Indians has been rained out, the Yankees announced. The two teams will play a single admission doubleheader tomorrow beginning at 1:05pm ET. Joe Girardi said Jaime Garcia will start the first game and Jordan Montgomery will come up from Triple-A to start the second game.

The weather forecast in New York is ugly and has been all day. It’s been raining for several hours and it’s supposed to continue raining right until tomorrow morning. Playing tonight was never really an option. The Yankees and Indians do not have any common off-days remaining this season, and since Cleveland will not visit Yankee Stadium again, a doubleheader tomorrow was the only real option.

Needless to say, playing a doubleheader immediately prior to a hugely important four-game series with the Red Sox is less than ideal, but what can you do? Could be worse. The Indians have to play a doubleheader tomorrow and another one Friday. Anyway, here is the ticket information, if you were planning to go tonight or tomorrow. Today’s tickets are not good for the doubleheader.

Because the doubleheader was scheduled less than 48 hours in advance, the Yankees and Indians can add a 26th player for the second game only. I imagine Montgomery will be the 26th man, which means he’ll have to go right back to Triple-A Scranton after the game. And then he’ll be back once rosters expand Friday. Montgomery might not even go back to Scranton. He might stick around New York.

Thanks to the rainout, the Yankees will now start CC Sabathia, Sonny Gray, Masahiro Tanaka, and Luis Severino in the four games against the Red Sox. The rainout pushes everyone back a day and conveniently lined up New York’s four best pitchers for the series with Boston. That’s good. I’d rather the Yankees not play the doubleheader and push everyone back by starting Montgomery tomorrow, but that’s not an option. Alas.

Tomorrow’s doubleheader will be the third of the season for the Yankees. They split two games with the Astros on May 14th, and split two games with the Red Sox on July 16th. The Yankees last played three doubleheaders in one season back in 2014 (Cubs, Pirates, Orioles). It’s worth noting the Yankees have a makeup game with the Royals scheduled for September 25th, though that’s one game, not a doubleheader. The two teams gave up an off-day.

Florial, Sheffield, Tate among Yankees prospects heading to the Arizona Fall League

Tate in the AzFL last year. (Presswire)
Tate in the AzFL last year. (Presswire)

The Arizona Fall League has released their rosters for the 2017 season, and six Yankees prospects are heading to the desert this year: SS Thairo Estrada, OF Estevan Florial, 1B Chris Gittens, SS Kyle Holder, LHP Justus Sheffield, and RHP Dillon Tate. This is the second AzFL assignment for the Tate. Everyone else is a first-timer. Here is the full Scottsdale Scorpions roster. The AzFL season begins October 10th and will wrap up November 18th.

Florial, Sheffield, and Tate are the headliners and three of the ten best prospects in the farm system. The 19-year-old Florial is in the middle of a breakout season, one in which he’s hit .294/.371/.469 (142 wRC+) with 12 home runs in 22 steals in 105 games split between Low-A Charleston and High-A Tampa. He represented the Yankees at the Futures Game and popped up on top 100 lists at midseason.

Both Sheffield (oblique) and Tate (shoulder) are going to the desert to make up for time lost to injury this season. The 21-year-old Sheffield threw 90.1 innings (3.09 ERA and 4.54 FIP) with Double-A Trenton before getting hurt. He’s pitching in rehab games in rookie ball right now. Tate, 23, has a 2.81 ERA (3.95 FIP) in 83.1 innings with High-A Tampa and Double-A Trenton since making his season debut in June.

Estrada will be Rule 5 Draft eligible this winter and is on the 40-man roster bubble. The Yankees will be able to continue evaluating him during the AzFL season before deciding whether to protect him from the Rule 5 Draft. The 21-year-old is hitting .300/.354/.394 (108 wRC+) in 118 games with Double-A Trenton this year. If the Yankees don’t protect Estrada, I think the chances of a team taking a shot on him as a utility infielder are pretty darn high.

The 23-year-old Holder has hit .267/.312/.336 (89 wRC+) in 99 High-A games this season, though he’s been much better the last few weeks, hitting .358/.401/.450 (151 wRC+) in 36 games since returning from the disabled list on July 12th. Gittens, 23, is hitting .264/.373/.459 (146 wRC+) with eleven homers in 67 games for High-A Tampa this season. He had huge power, but it comes with a lot of swings and misses.

In addition to the six players heading to the AzFL, the Yankees also have two pitching spots listed as TBA, so two others are going too. I don’t think they’re going to be significant prospects, however. It’s not often teams send top pitching prospects to the AzFL. It’s very hitter friendly and most pitchers are bumping up against their innings limits. Sheffield and Tate will be there because they got hurt.

This is just a guess, but LHP James Reeves seems like a possible candidate for one of those final two roster spots. He missed time with an elbow sprain earlier this year and the Yankees like him enough to bring him to camp as a non-roster player this spring. The 24-year-old lefty reliever has a 1.99 ERA (2.22 FIP) with 26.5% strikeouts and 4.8% walks in 45.1 innings with High-A Tampa and Double-A Trenton since coming back from the elbow injury. Maybe he’ll get one of the last two roster spots. We’ll see.