2015 Midseason Review: The Non-LOOGYs

The Yankees overhauled their bullpen this offseason, so much so that just one reliever was on both the 2014 and 2015 Opening Day rosters. That, of course, was Dellin Betances. The Yankees had a new closer, a new long reliever, and a new middle innings crew to start this season, and they were heavy on left-handers for the first time in years. Two of those southpaws haven proven to be way more than the average Lefty One Out GuY.

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

The Lefty They’ve Been Waiting For

By my count the Yankees made five trades involving bonafide MLB caliber players this past offseason, and the very first one sent Francisco Cervelli to the Pirates for lefty Justin Wilson. To date it has been a perfect win-win trade — the Pirates got a starting catcher to replace Russell Martin while the Yankees beefed up their bullpen and cleared the backup job for John Ryan Murphy. Both teams have to be pleased with the return halfway through the 2015 season.

Wilson came to New York with a reputation for throwing hard and not always throwing strikes, which is pretty much exactly what he’s done during his first three and a half months in pinstripes. His fastball has averaged 95.0 mph this season — only the inhuman Aroldis Chapman (99.6 mph!) has a higher average fastball velocity among lefty relievers — and he’s walked 10.9% of batters faced. Last year those numbers were 95.0 mph and 11.7%, respectively.

The walks are annoying, but Wilson excels at missing bats (24.8 K% in 2014 after 23.8 K% last year) and keeping the ball on the ground (50.0 GB% after 51.3 GB% last year). That’s a good combination. I’ll take my chances with a guy who misses bats and gets grounders, even if he walks a few too many. Wilson is also effective against righties, which is huge. Righties are hitting .159/.266/.246 (.240 wOBA) against him with a 26.6 K% and a 53.2 GB%. That’s after Wilson held righties to a .279 wOBA last year and a .258 wOBA the year before.

The success against righties is not new and Joe Girardi is aware of that — he’s used Wilson as a full-inning reliever for weeks now. That wasn’t the case in April because Wilson walked way too many righty batters out of the gate, but Andrew Miller‘s injury forced Girardi to use Wilson for full innings and he’s responded in a big way. He has a 1.23 ERA (2.76 FIP) with 27.2 K% and a manageable 8.6 BB% in 22 innings over the last two months. That works!

With all due respect to Boone Logan, who had some solid years for the Yankees, Wilson is the kind of left-handed reliever the club has been trying to acquire since Mike Stanton left as a free agent. Hard-throwing, strikeout and ground ball heavy, able to get righties out. No one’s perfect, he does walk too many, but otherwise Wilson has every quality you want in a late-inning reliever. He’s a legitimate setup man. He just happens to throw lefty.

Chasin’ Shreve

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

The last of those five offseason trades brought the relatively unknown Chasen Shreve to the Yankees in January. I’m a total baseball nerd and even I hadn’t heard of Shreve at the time of the trade. The Yankees decided it was time to stop waiting for Manny Banuelos, so they turned him into Shreve and David Carpenter, the latter of whom flopped spectacularly in pinstripes.

Shreve was on the verge of getting pushed out of baseball last year when he reinvented himself as a hard(er) thrower, and while the extra velocity is nice, he’s emerged as a trusted reliever in New York because of his split-finger fastball. That’s the pitch that has allowed him to post a 2.02 ERA (3.27 FIP) with 26.8 K% in 35.2 innings this year, his first extended taste of big league action. Shreve doesn’t have great walk (9.4%) or ground ball (39.5%) numbers, but they haven’t hurt him yet.

Like Wilson, Shreve has been ultra-effective against right-handed hitters this season. Wilson does it with velocity, Shreve with the splitter. Righties have put up a .141/.224/.260 (.215 wOBA) batting line with a 23.3 K% against Shreve so far this year, and Girardi has regularly brought him into games to put out fires. Ten of his last 21 appearances have come mid-inning with men on base. Eight of those appearances have come with the score separated by no more than two runs. Shreve in inherited 15 runners in those eight games and one scored. One!

As Katie explained recently, Shreve’s splitter has been a difference-maker for him and the Yankees. There was a question of whether he would even make the team out of Spring Training — Shreve had a 4.76 ERA in camp and was especially yucky in late-March — and then once the season started, he really didn’t have a role. Well he did have a role, he was the last guy out of the bullpen, but Shreve continued to get outs and has become a critical part of the relief crew.

* * *

Both Wilson and Shreve pitched their way into the Circle of Trust™ in the first half thanks in large part to their work when Miller was sidelined. They both stepped up and assumed high-leverage innings, and the Yankees didn’t miss a beat. With Miller back, Wilson and Shreve will now be Girardi’s go-to middle innings weapons. That they both throw left-handed but can get right-handed hitters out is a bonus.

More pitching depth a must at the trade deadline even if it creates a roster squeeze

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Know who the Yankees miss? Chase Whitley. Don’t get me wrong, he’s was exactly a critical part of the pitching staff, but Whitley was the de facto spot sixth starter and a useful depth arm. Joe Girardi admitted the team’s plan for Whitley this year was to keep him stretched out in Triple-A and use him as a spot starter to give the regular rotation members extra rest on occasion. They haven’t been able to do that since Ace Whitley blew out his elbow.

Thanks in part to Whitley’s injury, as well as the general injury risk in the rotation, the Yankees should look to add pitching depth at the trade deadline. I mean, every team should, right? That is especially true for these contending Yankees because guys like Masahiro Tanaka (elbow), Michael Pineda (shoulder), and CC Sabathia (knee) carry more injury risk than most other starting pitchers. Ivan Nova has been rather uneven in his return from Tommy John surgery as well.

The question is not whether they should add pitching depth, but how do they fit it on the roster? Sabathia isn’t coming out of the rotation, and even if he did, the Yankees would simply move him to the bullpen and not off the roster entirely. Same with Nathan Eovaldi. He’s in the rotation. The only flexible spots in the bullpen belong to Bryan Mitchell and Chris Capuano, and I get the feeling the Yankees aren’t going to cut ties with Capuano only because he’s fine for the long man role and could always start if necessary.

With Whitley out, you could argue New York’s sixth (Adam Warren), seventh (Capuano), and eighth (Mitchell) starters are in the big league bullpen. That leaves either Luis Severino or Esmil Rogers as the next in line spot starter whenever one is needed. That’s … not ideal. Severino has dominated Triple-A but he’s not someone you want to jerk around. Whitley was perfect for that spot starter role because he could go up and down with no real concern for his long-term development.

So the Yankees have something of a roster crunch on their hands. They could always option Mitchell to clear a roster spot — man, hasn’t he looked great in short relief though? — but otherwise there’s not much flexibility, not if the Yankees are committed to Sabathia as a starter. The should definitely acquire an extra starter to protect themselves against injury down the stretch, but where does that guy fit? Trading for, say, Johnny Cueto means either Sabathia or Eovaldi (or Nova?) goes to the bullpen and that seems so very unlikely.

This of course is a dumb problem. Making room for a good pitcher is not a “problem.” It’s a minor nuisance. Someone’s feelings will be hurt and you move on. Warren went through it already. The Yankees do need to acquire more pitching at the trade deadline; the guys in the rotation have too many healthy questions to ignore. If that means someone undeserving like Mitchell gets squeezed to Triple-A, so be it. These things always have a way of working themselves out and you’d rather have “too much” pitching than not enough.

DotF: Beltran reaches three times in first rehab game

Dellin bobble

Just a heads up, the Staten Island Yankees are holding a Dellin Betances Bobblehead Night this Saturday (the bobblehead above!). The first 2,500 fans in attendance will receive once. It’s also FDNY Appreciation Night and there will be postgame fireworks. Click here for tickets and make sure you use the promo code “FDNY” so the proceeds go to John G. Chipura Foundation and Joseph Grzelak Fund. You get a hot dog, a drink, and a Staten Island Yankees hat all for $20. Can’t beat it. Here are some other quick notes:

  • Turns out the Yankees signed 12th rounder OF Terrance Robertson to an overslot $170,000 bonus, reports Jim Callis. Because he was picked after the tenth round $70,000 of that counts against the draft pool. With RHP James Kaprielian signed, the Yankees exceeded their draft pool by nearly $700,000 this year and fell just $18,565 short of having to forfeit next year’s first round pick.
  • SS Tyler Wade and LHP Nestor Cortes were named the High-A Florida State League Player of the Week and Rookie Appalachian League Pitcher of the Week, respectively, so congrats to them.

Triple-A Scranton is off until tomorrow for the All-Star break. The International League beat the Pacific Coast League by the score of 4-3 in the All-Star Game tonight. Here’s the box score.

  • PH-1B Kyle Roller: 2-2, 2 RBI 1 BB — entered the game in the sixth … two-run single in the top of the ninth tied the game at three, with earned him the IL Top Star honor
  • PH-C Austin Romine: 0-1, 1 BB — entered the game in the seventh

Double-A Trenton is off until tomorrow for the All-Star break. The All-Star Game was played time and the score was tied 4-4 after nine innings, so they went to a Home Run Derby shootout. Each player got one swing and they alternated sides until someone homered. Reading DH Brian Pointer won it in the 11th round for the Eastern Division team. Neat!

  • C Gary Sanchez: 0-2 — started and batted fifth … busy few days for him between this and the Futures Game
  • RF Jake Cave: 0-3, 1 RBI, 3 K — started and batted eighth
  • RHP Brady Lail: 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 0 K, 2/1 GB/FB — ten of 13 pitches were strikes (77%) … pitched the second inning
  • RHP Eric Ruth: 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 1 K, 1/1 GB/FB — 13 of 25 pitches were strikes (52%) … pitched the fifth

[Read more…]

Wednesday Night Open Thread

The two days after the All-Star Game are the two slowest sports day of the year. Nothing is going on at all. It’s nice. Refreshing. I’ve learned the enjoy the time away from baseball as I’ve gotten older. So talk about whatever you want here tonight. Have at it.

Update: Yankees agree to sign first round pick UCLA RHP James Kaprielian

(Los Angeles Times)
(Los Angeles Times)

6:00pm: The Yankees have announced the signing of Kaprielian, so it’s a done deal. Officially official.

1:53pm: The Yankees have agreed to sign first round pick UCLA RHP James Kaprielian to a $2.65M bonus, reports Jim Callis. Slot money for the 16th overall pick was $2,543,300. The signing deadline is this coming Friday and Kaprielian is a Scott Boras client, and Boras usually takes his top clients right down to the final days to squeeze every last penny out of teams.

As our 2015 Draft Pool Tracker shows, the Yankees had $2,668,565 in bonus pool space to sign Kaprielian before getting hit with penalties, including forfeiting next year’s first round pick. The Yankees signed 35 of their 41 draft picks this summer, which is an unusually large number. Most teams sign 25-30 players each year. You can see all New York’s picks at Baseball America.

Kaprielian, 21, had a 2.02 ERA with 114 strikeouts and 33 walks in 106.2 innings as UCLA’s ace this spring. He also threw the first nine-inning no-hitter in school history. Kaprielian’s velocity reportedly ticked up later in the spring, supposedly to the point where he was sitting 93-95 mph in his last few starts. Everything you need to know about him is right here.

UCLA’s baseball season ended six weeks ago, so I’m guessing Kaprielian will report to Tampa for a few tune-up innings before joining one of the minor league affiliates. A short stint with the Rookie GCL Yanks and a few weeks with Short Season Staten Island could be the plan for Kaprielian this year, with High-A Tampa the logical destination to start next season.

2015 Midseason Review: The Risky, High-Upside Rotation

Boy, the rotation was such a big concern coming into the season. We were talking about every scrap heap starter imaginable in Spring Training — Felix Doubront, Jacob Turner, Randall Delgado, Erasmo Ramirez, yikes — as if they would be some kind of upgrade. The Yankees never did add another starter in camp, and while the staff as a whole has been just okay (4.24 ERA and 3.75 FIP), they’ve stayed relatively healthy and have the potential to be much better in the second half. Nathan Eovaldi is both frustrating and evolving. The rest of the rotation? Let’s review.

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Elbow Holding Up, Pitches Left Up

Needless to say, Masahiro Tanaka‘s elbow was the single biggest injury risk the Yankees had heading into the 2015 season. He’s their ace, he was one of the ten best pitchers in baseball before getting hurt last year, and now the partially torn ligament in his elbow is like a storm cloud looming over every pitch. You can’t help but let it linger in the back of your mind.

So far this season Tanaka’s elbow has stayed in one piece — he spent a month on the DL with wrist tendinitis and a minor forearm strain, and of course forearm strains are synonymous with elbow problems — but his performance has been uneven. He’s had some truly great starts and some truly awful ones as well. The end result is a 3.63 ERA (3.60 FIP) with strikeout (24.9%), walk (4.8%), and ground ball (47.6%) rates right in line with last year (26.0%, 3.9%, and 46.6%, respectively).

Tanaka’s start-to-start performance has been much more unpredictable, however. Last year he had an average Game Score of 63.4 with a standard deviation of 13.3. This year it’s an average of 56.3 with a standard deviation of 18.7, which means Tanaka’s starts this season are deviating from his average Game Score by a larger margin. So when he’s good, he’s really good, but when he’s been bad, he’s been really bad. Tanaka has some terrible starts earlier this season, no doubt about it.

The common thread whenever Tanaka has a subpar start seems to be his location, particularly leaving pitches up in the zone. Not so much his fastball, but his slider and splitter. Tanaka’s split-piece is world class, that thing is devastating, but if it’s left up in the zone rather than buried in the dirt, it’s basically a batting practice fastball. It’s no surprise then that Tanaka’s home run rate has climbed from 0.99 HR/9 (14.0 HR/FB%) last year to 1.34 HR/9 (15.4 HR/FB%) this year.

No, Tanaka has not been as good as he was last season before the injury, but overall he’s been solid for the Yankees this year and at times spectacular. The Yankees want to see more of the spectacular Tanaka in the second half and they’re going to need him to get to the postseason. So far his elbow is holding up — his velocity is fine and his swing-and-miss rate is still top notch — and that ace ability exists. More start-to-start consistency and fewer grooved pitches are the key going forward.

(Presswire)
That’s quite the wingspan. (Presswire)

Large Michael

Okay, so I knew Michael Pineda had been pretty awesome in the first half, but holy smokes, I didn’t realize how good his rates are: 25.2% strikeouts, 3.0% walks, 50.3% grounders. That is insane. Among the 97 qualified starters that is the 14th best strikeout rate, the fourth best walk rate, and the 22nd best ground ball rate. Holy smokes. Only Max Scherzer (10.71) has a better K/BB ratio than Pineda (8.54). Gosh.

Alright, now that that’s out of the way, we have to talk about Pineda’s good but not great 3.64 ERA (109 ERA+) and those 115 hits he’s allowed in 106.1 innings. The peripherals are fan-friggin-tastic, but there’s a disconnect here. The 1.01-run gap between Pineda’s ERA and FIP is the fifth largest gap among qualified starters and by far the largest among pitchers with a sub-4.00 ERA. When Pineda is on, he does things like this …

… but when he’s off, he can’t command his slider and runs short on weapons. Pineda’s slider is absurd when it’s on. It’s an unhittable pitch. But when he doesn’t have it working, Pineda almost becomes a one-pitch pitcher because his changeup, while improved, isn’t a consistent weapon yet. His low-to-mid-90s fastball is really good, it’s just less good when hitters don’t have to honor the slider.

Like Tanaka, Pineda has had his fair share of brilliant starts and duds this year, though Pineda’s duds were bunched together — he had a 6.10 ERA (4.09 FIP) in the seven starts immediately following the 16-strikeout game. Big Mike had a 2.68 ERA (1.89 FIP) in six starts before the 16-strikeout game and he had a 1.25 ERA (1.74 FIP) in his last three starts before the break. So it was seven really bad starts sandwiched between two excellent stretches. Maybe he overextended himself during the 16-strikeout game and it threw him out of whack a bit.

Either way, the biggest concern with Pineda going forward is his workload. He’s on pace for 195 innings after throwing 76.1 innings last year, 40.2 innings the year before, and none the year before that due to shoulder surgery. The Yankees already skipped one of his starts and they will inevitably do it again in the second half. They have no choice. His right arm is too special and it already broke once. They can’t push it again. Like Tanaka, Pineda has ace upside at his best, though the Yankees will have to rein in his excellence in the second half to keep him healthy.

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

End Of The Line

Believe it or not, I picked CC Sabathia to win the AL Comeback Player of the Year before the season. That was pure homerism, me foolishly thinking he would get back on track — not necessarily be an ace again, but serviceable — following knee surgery, but nope. It hasn’t happened. Quite the opposite in fact.

Sabathia’s late-career decline has continued this season with a 5.47 ERA (4.52 FIP) in 100.1 innings. He isn’t walking anyone (4.6%), so that’s good, but he’s giving up a ton of homers (1.70 HR/9) and getting annihilated by right-handed batters (.325/.367/.565 and .397 wOBA). His dominance of left-handed batters (.189/.198/.258 and .198 wOBA) would be more useful if he faced more than 91 of ’em in the first half.

It feels like every Sabathia start plays out the same way: a good first inning that gives you hope he’ll have a good start, a three or four-run second inning that knocks you back to reality, then zeroes the rest of the night that leave you wondering why the One Bad Inning can never be avoided. That’s the Sabathia formula in 2015. It feels like it happens every time out.

The Yankees have already made it known Sabathia will not be losing his rotation spot anytime soon, obviously because of his contract. That’s fine, they’re not the only team giving an undeserving player a lot of playing time because of money, but the Yankees are making life harder on themselves by leaving CC in the rotation. He has been one of the worst pitchers in baseball in 2015, there’s no slicing and dicing the numbers to make it look better, and getting to the postseason will be tougher because of him.

Too Good To Start

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

When the Yankees pulled Adam Warren from the rotation a few weeks ago, he was leading the starters with a 3.59 ERA and had just started to look comfortable in that role. April wasn’t all that good for Warren, who looked very much like a reliever masquerading as a starter, but he got into a groove in the middle of May and was the team’s most reliable starter for a good stretch of time.

Warren lost his starting job through no fault of his own. He pitched well, but the Yankees had a need for a right-handed reliever after David Carpenter flopped and Warren has had success out of the bullpen, plus the team was unwilling to remove Sabathia from the rotation when Ivan Nova returned from Tommy John surgery. Warren did not deserve to move to the bullpen but man, life isn’t fair.

I’m not sure the 14-start stint told us much about Warren we didn’t already know. He threw five pitches regularly, which is something he did even in relief, so it’s not like we had to see if he had the weapons to go through a lineup multiple times. Warren did show he could hold his velocity deep into games, so I guess that’s something we learned:

Adam Warren velocity by inning

His strikeout (16.0%) and ground ball (44.6%) rates as a starter this year certainly weren’t as good as they were as a reliever last year (23.5% and 45.4%, respectively), which isn’t surprising. Every pitcher sees their performance tick up on a rate basis when they move into a short relief role. Warren’s no different. He wasn’t an ace, far from it, but he was a perfectly competent Major League starting pitcher.

It’s easy to forget Warren only made the rotation because Chris Capuano got hurt in Spring Training. He was the sixth starter — if the Yankees are to be believed, he was competing for the sixth starter’s job with Esmil Rogers, which, lol — who got a rotation spot thanks to injury. Capuano’s quad gave Warren an opportunity and he took advantage. He showed he can start in the big leagues. His move to the bullpen says more about the team’s decision-making than it does Warren’s performance.

2015 Midseason Review: The Frustrating and Evolving Nathan Eovaldi

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Despite all the injury concerns in the rotation, the Yankees made just one significant pitching addition this past offseason. They acquired Nathan Eovaldi from the Marlins in a trade that saw a starting pitcher (David Phelps) go the other way. Heck, they traded away two young-ish starters (Phelps and Shane Greene) and acquired just one (Eovaldi) over the winter. That was unexpected.

Eovaldi, who turned 25 two months after the trade, came to New York with the classic “the results don’t match the stuff” reputation. He throws extremely hard but doesn’t miss bats and is too hittable. That was the scouting report. Eovaldi had a 3.77 FIP in 199.2 innings for Miami last year. That’s good! He also had a 4.37 ERA (86 ERA+) with only 142 strikeouts and an NL-leading 223 hits allowed. That’s bad.

The Yankees weren’t buying Eovaldi hoping he would be the pitcher he was with the Marlins last year. They acquired him because they believe he can be better in the future through natural development with an assist from pitching coach Larry Rothschild, who has a history of helping pitchers improve strikeout and walk rates. Eovaldi was 24 at the time of the trade. He wasn’t a finished product.

So far Eovaldi has continued to be the pitcher he was with the Marlins. He’s been freakishly consistent year-to-year, actually. His strikeout (16.5%) and walk (6.0%) rates are nearly identical to last year (16.6% and 5.0%, respectively), and his home run rate (0.63 HR/9 vs. 0.73 HR/9) hasn’t jumped a whole lot considering the shift from spacious Marlins Park to homer happy Yankee Stadium. That’s encouraging.

Eovaldi remains extremely hit prone, however. His hit rate this year (11.3 H/9 and 3.55 BABIP) is actually higher than last year (10.1 H/9 and .323 BABIP), and I swear, I’ve never a pitcher allow more dinky little hits than Eovaldi this year. The Red Sox’s three-run rally in the third inning this past Sunday is a perfect example:

Nathan Eovaldi Red Sox rally2

That’s one legitimate line drive single and four seeing-eye ground ball singles. The worst! Whenever that sort of rally happens to any other pitcher, you just kinda chalk it up to baseball being baseball. Sometimes the ground balls find holes and it stinks. But it happens with Eovaldi all the time! Like once or twice a start. The batted balls keep finding grass. It’s so unbelievably frustrating.

Eovaldi’s overall numbers with the Yankees aren’t anything special — 4.50 ERA (88 ERA+) and 3.55 FIP in 98 innings — though things are skewed a bit by that one disaster start in Miami. He’s been much better over the last six or seven weeks than his overall numbers would lead you to believe. But still, Eovaldi has been frustrating and he struggles to pitch deep into games (six full innings just seven times in 18 starts). It’s not a good combination.

And yet, Eovaldi continues to evolve with the Yankees. He’s actually throwing harder this season (96.1 mph) than last (95.5 mph) — Eovaldi’s the hardest throwing starter in baseball this year by half-a-mile an hour — and he continues to work on a splitter he started to pick up late last year. Well, maybe it’s a splitter. It might be a forkball. It depends who you ask. Either way, it’s a pitch he’s working on and has incorporated more often as the season has progressed:

Nathan Eovaldi pitch selection

Eovaldi was using that splitter or forkball — how about we call it a sporkball? — 10% of the time or less until early-June, when he suddenly started using it more than 20% of the time. Only once in his last eight starts did he throw it less than 19% of the time. The extra sporkballs have come at the expense of his fastball mostly, though he’s also thrown fewer sliders as well.

The increased sporkball usage isn’t even the most interesting part. Look at how hard Eovaldi is now throwing that pitch:

Nathan Eovaldi splitter velocity

For some reason the sporkball added about five miles an hour four starts ago. It just jumped dramatically from one start to the next. The pitch averaged 91.1 mph in Boston on Sunday according to PitchFX. Averaged. I have no idea what to make of that. It seems impossible to throw a splitter that hard, and yet Eovaldi has done it four starts in a row now, and very effectively I might add. He has a 2.91 ERA in those four starts and opponents have swung and missed at the sporkball 25.4% of the time (14.9% league average for splitters).

Of course, Eovaldi has also allowed 23 hits in 21.2 innings in those last four starts, which brings us back to his hittability problem. As he has continued to use the sporkball more and more, Eovaldi’s ground ball rate has climbed steadily …

Nathan Eovaldi ground ball rate… and those dinky little seeing eye hits are happening just as often. His ground ball improvement is tremendous — Eovaldi’s gone from a 43.8% grounder rate in 2013 to 44.8% in 2014 all the way up to 50.3% in 2015 — and ground balls are good, as long as they aren’t getting through for base hits as often as they have for Eovaldi. His BABIP on grounders is .311. The AL average is .243. (Blame some of that on the team’s remarkably consistent ability to get burned by the shift.)

Quality of contact could certainly be an issue, but both Eovaldi’s soft contact (19.0%) and hard contact (30.4%) rates rank middle of the pack and are in line with the league averages (18.6% and 28.5%, respectively). And yet, the balls keep falling in for base hits.

Nathan Eovaldi soft contact vs BABIP

There’s obviously something going on beyond the numbers here. Eovaldi’s fastball isn’t straight — according to PitchFX he gets more way more horizontal movement (-6.7 inches) than the league average fastball (-1.8 inches) — so hitters either pick the ball up well out of Eovaldi’s hand or they can easily read the spin or he gets too predictable in certain counts. Maybe it’s all of the above. I can’t explain it and that’s part of the reason why he’s so frustrating.

Overall, Eovaldi has been somewhere in the range of serviceable and okay this season. Not exactly a ringing endorsement. His biggest issue more than anything is being unable to pitch deep into games, though part of that is a function of Joe Girardi‘s perpetual quick hook. Eovaldi is evolving as the season continues though. He has increasingly relied on the splitter and his ground ball rate is jumping. His numbers are similar to last year but his pitching style has changed.

Girardi likes to say Eovaldi is a “work in progress” and he’s right, but Eovaldi is also a pretty important part of the pitching staff by virtue of being in the five-man rotation. The Yankees want results and they want to see development. The sporkball isn’t a put-away pitch now and it may never be, but it won’t become one without using it in games, and Eovaldi is certainly doing that now. Trying to develop and win at the same time is not an easy task, though that’s what the Yankees and Eovaldi have tried to do in the first half and will continue to do after the All-Star break.