Game 62: Stop the Streak

(Rob Carr/Getty)
(Rob Carr/Getty)

Man, the 2015 Yankees are so streaky, and right now they’re stuck in a three-game losing streak. That’s after winning seven straight and eleven of 14, which followed ten losses in eleven games. And that came after an 18-6 streak. These Yankees are either very good or very bad at any given point in time. There seems to be no middle ground.

The Yankees are looking to salvage their series with the Orioles this afternoon after getting roughed up the last two days. The bullpen has allowed ten runs in 6.2 innings in the series, but of the five relievers that pitched, two are already off the roster (Jacob Lindgren and Esmil Rogers) and a third probably isn’t too far behind (Sergio Santos).

New York needs some length out of Adam Warren this afternoon and lately he’s provided that. He’s gotten at least one out in the seventh inning in each of his last five starts despite throwing 100+ pitches just once during that stretch. Going straight from Warren to the Chasen Shreve, Justin Wilson, and Dellin Betances portion of the bullpen today would be a nice change from these last two games. Here is the Yanks’ lineup:

  1. LF Brett Gardner
  2. 3B Chase Headley
  3. DH Alex Rodriguez
  4. 1B Mark Teixeira
  5. RF Garrett Jones
  6. 2B Stephen Drew
  7. SS Didi Gregorius
  8. C John Ryan Murphy
  9. CF Mason Williams
    RHP Adam Warren

Now, the bad news. Or maybe it’s good news? It’s supposed to rain in Baltimore this afternoon, starting around 3pm ET and continuing pretty much all night. Hopefully it holds off long enough for them to get the game in. Either that or the rain comes with the Yankees leading after five innings. This afternoon’s game will begin at 1:35pm ET and can be seen on YES. Try to enjoy.

Sunday Links: Harper, McCann, Old Timers’ Day, Draft

(Mike McGinnis/Getty)
(Mike McGinnis/Getty)

The Yankees and Orioles wrap up their three-game series later this afternoon. Until then, here are some miscellaneous links to help you pass the time.

Future Yankee Bryce Harper?

It was inevitable. When the Nationals visited the Bronx to play the Yankees last week, Bryce Harper was asked about his hardly imminent free agency and whether he would consider signing with the Yankees. Harper grew up a Yankees fan because of his father, a big Mickey Mantle fan, and famously said he wants to “play in the pinstripes” in his 2009 Sports Illustrated feature.

“I enjoy playing for the Nationals,” said Harper to Dan Martin last week, astutely avoiding the question about the Yankees. “We try to win a World Series, just like every other team. If I could bring that back to DC, bring that back to the city, that’s what I want to do. I’ve said it for a long, long time. That’s something that I want to do … We have such a great team here. I look at every single day as a new day. I go in and have the same mentality. DC is a great place to play. It’s a monumental town.”

Harper won’t be a free agent until after the 2018 season, when he will still be only 26 years old. He’s already one of the best players in the game and figures to be in position to smash contract records when he hits the open market a la Alex Rodriguez in 2000. Sure, the Nationals have one of the wealthiest owners in sports and could sign Harper to an extension at some point, but Giancarlo Stanton set the bar at $325M, and I’m sure Scott Boras will look to top that with Harper. (Stanton signed his deal at roughly the same service time level Harper will be at after the season.)

It both is and is not too early to look ahead to Harper’s free agency. It is early because geez, it’s still three and a half years away, but it isn’t because Harper is so talented and will be such a hot commodity. He’s a can’t your eyes off him superstar in every way. Buster Olney (subs. req’d) recently wrote it “would be shocking if Harper isn’t wearing a Yankees uniform on Opening Day in 2019,” in fact. Most of the team’s huge contracts will be off the books by then and the Yankees will be in position to go huge for Harper, who might command 12 years and $400M+ come 2018.

(Jason O. Watson/Getty)
(Jason O. Watson/Getty)

How McCann stopped popping up

During his first season with the Yankees, Brian McCann was a pop-up machine, hitting weak fly ball after weak fly ball, which resulted in a disappointing .232/.286/.406 (96 wRC+) line with a .231 BABIP. All those weak fly balls were easy outs, hence the low BABIP. McCann has been one of the team’s best hitters this season though, coming into the weekend with a .264/.327/.447 (122 wRC+) line that is right in line with the 121 wRC+ he put up during his healthy seasons with the Braves from 2009-13.

How did McCann improve this year? He stopped popping up, as Eno Sarris explains. McCann credits former hitting coach Kevin Long for some mechanical adjustments late last season. “Last year, for whatever reason, my hands weren’t taking a direct route to the ball,” said McCann to Eno. McCann averaged about 4.0% infield pop-ups from 2006-03, but that jumped to 5.0% last year, and it doesn’t take into account all the weak fly balls to the outfield. This year he’s down to a 0.8% pop-up rate (!), one of the lowest in the game. Fewer pop-ups, more hard contact, better McCann.

Old Timers’ Day attendees announced

Earlier this week the Yankees announced the list of former players, coaches, and personnel who will attend Old Timers’ Day next Saturday. Here is the full list. No Derek Jeter, no Jorge Posada, no Andy Pettitte, and no Mariano Rivera. Also no Mike Mussina or Hideki Matsui either this year. Lame. Oh well, it’ll still be fun. The Yankees will honor Willie Randolph with a plaque in Monument Park that night as well.

Several 2015 draft picks en route to Tampa

According to his Twitter feed, LHP Jeff Degano (2nd round) traveled to Florida earlier this week, which usually indicates he has a deal in place and will sign soon. Bryan Hoch and Jeff Hartsell say 3B Donny Sands (8th) and LHP James Reeves (10th) will turn pro as well. Also, RHP Kolton Montgomery (16th) and 1B Kale Sweeney (29th) told ABC 4 Sports and Norm Sanders, respectively, they are signing with the Yankees and will report to Tampa. The team’s mini-camp for draftees actually started Thursday, so these guys are probably already in uniform working out.

And finally, scouting director Damon Oppenheimer confirmed to Chad Jennings the Yankees will sign RHP Alex Robinett (32nd). Robinett is a second lieutenant and a staff ace at West Point, and will have to finish his military commitment after playing this summer. “Hopefully we can keep him in some kind of baseball shape when he’s able to finish that commitment and come back after serving his country,” said Oppenheimer. Earlier this season Cardinals righty Mitch Harris became the first military academy graduate to play in MLB in nearly a century.

Law’s team-by-team draft breakdowns

Keith Law posted his AL and NL draft reviews earlier this week (subs. req’d). He didn’t hand out grades or anything like that, just said which picks he liked and didn’t like. Law says the Yankees “wanted a bat with their first pick, but all the candidates went before them,” which is what I wondered the other day. He also says Degano has “first-round stuff, but slipped because he hadn’t pitched in more than two years due to Tommy John surgery and will turn 23 this fall,” and that RHP Drew Finley (3rd) “was a steal.” The Yankees reportedly had interest in Finley for their supplemental first round pick, the 30th selection, but they were able to get him with the 92th pick. Neat.

Also make sure you check out Draft to the Show’s review of New York’s draft class.

Game 61: Sabathia the streak-stopper?

(Leon Halip/Getty)
(Leon Halip/Getty)

So, let’s just forget about last night’s game, okay?

Good.

Even with this mini two-game slide, the Yankees have won seven of their last nine games and are 11-5 since May 25. The only AL team with a better record in that span is the red-hot Toronto Blue Jays. Everyone feeling a little better now?

CC Sabathia is on the mound tonight, and is on a bit of a roll right now, with a tidy 3.09 ERA in his first two June outings. He’s pitched into the sixth inning and hasn’t allowed more than two runs in each of those games. That’s great, but Sabathia hasn’t had much luck recently pitching in Baltimore. He’s 0-5 with a 5.48 ERA in his last seven starts in the Charm City, including a loss on April 14 this season. Time to right the ship!

Here is the Orioles lineup and here is your New York Yankees lineup:

1. Brett Gardner LF
2. Chase Headley 3B
3. Alex Rodriguez DH
4. Mark Teixeira 1B
5. Brian McCann C
6. Carlos Beltran RF
7. Didi Gregorius SS
8. Stephen Drew 2B
9. Mason Williams CF
LHP CC Sabathia

It was hot and humid today in Baltimore, and it looks like the possibility of showers and thunderstorms should hold off until midnight. Tonight’s game will start at 7:15 pm ET and can be seen nationally on FOX. Enjoy the broadcast and the game, wherever you are.

(Not)Milestone watch: A-Rod is now one RBI away 2,000 for his career, and six hits away from 3,000. #AROD3K

Roster Update: The Yankees signed Sergio Santos to a major-league contract this morning and added him to the bullpen. He will take the spot of Esmil Rogers, who was outrighted to Triple-A last night. Also, Jose Ramirez has been recalled and is listed in the Yankees bullpen; Jacob Lindgren was sent back down to Scranton to make room for Ramirez on the roster.

Nova’s return coming at just the right time for the Yanks

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Nothing is set in stone yet, but all signs point to Ivan Nova rejoining the Yankees after making his second minor league rehab start with Triple-A Scranton later today. The Yankees do need to see how he feels after that start, how his arm bounces back, all that stuff, but so far his rehab has gone very well and by all indications Nova will be activated off the DL very soon.

“We’re pretty encouraged with where he’s at right now. The sink on his fastball, his changeup, his curveball, we’re pretty encouraged. I didn’t say he would be ready after (today). I said we would evaluate him,’’ said Joe Girardi to George King earlier this week. “I think you evaluate where he is after each start, how built up he is. He should be able to give you 90 pitches the next time, 85 to 90 pitches, and then you just look at his stuff.”

Fitting Nova back onto the roster is one of those problems that isn’t a problem because there’s no such thing as too much pitching. The Yankees don’t have an obvious candidate to take out of the rotation because the five guys in the rotation have been pretty good for a few weeks now. The easy move would be sticking Adam Warren back in the bullpen, especially now that Andrew Miller is on the DL, but man, he’s been so good as a starter of late. I’d hate to see them pull the plug on Warren in the rotation when he’s pitching so well.

There’s also the six-man rotation option, which the Yankees have been talking about since before Spring Training and might now have the necessary pieces to pull it off. We weren’t even sure if they had five viable starters back in March. Remember that? Four of their five starters have been league average-ish or better and the fifth has a massive contract that ensures he’ll remain in the rotation until his arm falls off. Like it or not, CC Sabathia is not losing his rotation spot to Nova.

The Yankees started a stretch of 20 games in 20 days yesterday, and they’ve already skipped Michael Pineda once this season to control his innings. Warren’s innings have to be monitored as well and, as good as he’s been, the Yankees still have to be careful with Masahiro Tanaka. Giving him an extra day whenever possible is a good idea, and now the Yankees can possibly do that thanks to Nova’s return.

“We know that we’re going to need to insert a starter somewhere. We know that,” said Girardi to Chad Jennings earlier this week when asked about using a sixth starter to give the other starters extra rest during this stretch of 20 games in 20 days. “Do you do it twice? Maybe. Maybe we have to do it twice. We just have to see how the guys are doing and how they’re responding.”

Assuming Nova comes back well and a six-man rotation is a viable strategy during this stretch of games, the only concern would be making it work with the roster. The Yankees aren’t going to shed a reliever and use a six-man bullpen, everything they’ve done over the last few years shows they prefer having extra arms, which means a three-man bench. A backup catcher (John Ryan Murphy), a backup infielder (Brendan Ryan), and a backup outfielder (Garrett Jones or Mason Williams).

Williams has minor league options, Jones doesn’t, and that’s pretty much the deciding factor there. The Yankees don’t figure to cut Jones for Williams no matter how well Williams performs in the next week or so before Nova returns. Jones has started hitting of late after that brutal April. A three-man bench is less than ideal, though it might only be temporary until the Yankees get through these next 20 days.

“We just know we have a number of different guys that we’ve got to find ways to protect,” said Brian Cashman to Maria Guardado. “There’s other avenues to do it. If everybody’s healthy, you could always play with a six-man rotation, if Nova’s back and everyone’s in line. But we’re just trying to find ways to manage it properly so everybody keeps that full tank of gas and doesn’t have fatigue set in too easily, because when fatigue sets in, injuries can happen.”

Either way, Nova’s return is imminent and that’s a positive. The Yankees have some workloads to control this year and having him around to chew up innings will come in handy. And if the Yankees do stick Warren in the bullpen to replace Miller, as unfair as that would be, they have Nova ready to step in to the rotation spot. The rotation hasn’t been a weakness, but Nova’s return comes at a very convenient time for the Yankees. He gives them some options going forward, including a six-man rotation.

“There’s no strict plan as much as find ways at times to give people blows is basically what we’re going to try to do,” added Cashman. “But how we’re going to do it, we’re not sure just yet.”

O’s rough up Big Mike, bury Yankees 11-3 in series opener


Source: FanGraphs

Remember when the Yankees had the bases loaded with no outs in the first inning? That was fun. Then they scored zero runs and that was less fun. The Yankees couldn’t get out of their own way in Friday night’s series opening 11-3 beatdown by the Orioles. Oy vey. It’s Friday night, so let’s recap with bullpen points:

  • Well-Rested: Somewhat predictably, Michael Pineda‘s command was a big issue in his first start in eleven days. He walked the first batter of the game, struggled to throw strikes all night, and couldn’t get his slider to behave like he wanted. The result: six runs (five earned) on nine hits and two walks in 4.1 innings. No, his defense didn’t help him much, but Big Mike was giving up loud contact all night. He was not sharp at all. Lose the battle, win the war. The Yankees have to watch Pineda’s workload this year.
  • Mason Arrives: On the bright side, Mason Williams made his MLB debut in style, clubbing a no-doubt two-run home run in his second at-bat. Here’s the homer and here’s his mom talking about it. Williams was then lifted for a pinch-hitter in his next at-bat because platoon splits rule everything around me. Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira each had two hits, which was cool, but the Yankees went 2-for-12 with runners in scoring position, which is less cool. They left the bases loaded twice.
  • Offensive Defense: The Yankees have not played up to expectations defensively this season and this might have been their worst game yet. They were charged with only two errors (Chase Headley and Teixeira) but it could have easily been more. Brett Gardner and Carlos Beltran let a ball fall between, Beltran again came up short on a foul pop-up, Williams misread a line drive and let it sail over his head, Brendan Ryan muffed a ground ball, Teixeira couldn’t get the ball out of his glove to complete a 3-1 put out … it was ugly.
  • Leftovers: Headley was charged with his career-high 14th error and left the game feeling nauseous after taking a ball to the groin. No joke … Teixeira’s error was his first in 109 games … Jacob Lindgren allowed his third homer in seven big league innings after allowing none in his minor league career … Esmil Rogers allowed four runs (one earned) and was dropped from the 40-man roster after the game … A-Rod is now six hits away from 3,000 … did I mention the Yankees had the bases with no outs in the first and didn’t score?

Here are the box score, video highlights, updated standings, Bullpen Workload page, and Announcer Standings page. CC Sabathia and Bud Norris will be the pitching matchup in the second game of the series Saturday night.

DotF: Refsnyder goes deep, benches clear in Scranton’s win

The Yankees have signed UMass Lowell OF/RHP Geoff DeGroot as an undrafted free agent, according to Justin Soderberg. DeGroot both pitched and played the outfield in college, but I don’t know what he’ll do as a pro. He hit 274/.369/.319 this spring and had a 4.74 ERA with a 22/10 K/BB in 47.1 innings.

Also, UTIL Jonathan Galvez was released from the Triple-A Scranton roster, according to Chad Jennings. IF Ali Castillo was called up from Double-A Trenton to fill the roster spot.

Triple-A Scranton (13-3 win over Rochester)

  • CF Ben Gamel: 2-4, 2 R, 1 RBI, 1 BB — threw a runner out at second
  • LF Jose Pirela: 3-4, 3 R, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 1 K
  • DH Rob Refsnyder: 4-5, 2 R, 1 2B, 1 HR, 4 RBI, 1 K — second homer in his last six games after hitting two homers in his first 50 games
  • C Austin Romine: 0-0, 1 HBP — left the game after taking a pitch to the head in the first inning … the benches cleared after that
  • RF Ramon Flores: 1-5, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 1 K
  • LHP Jose DePaula: 5.2 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 2 K, 1 HB, 6/6 GB/FB — 51 of 77 pitches were strikes (66%)
  • RHP Nick Rumbelow: 1 IP, zeroes, 2/1 GB/FB — half of his 12 pitches were strikes … he and manager Dave Miley were ejected for an unknown reason

[Read more…]

Yankees outright Esmil Rogers off 40-man roster

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

10:58pm: Chad Jennings says Rogers has already cleared waivers, which means the move has been in the works for a while. It’s now up to Esmil whether he wants to report to Triple-A or elect free agency.

10:48pm: Following tonight’s game, the Yankees outrighted Esmil Rogers off the 40-man roster, the team announced. Joe Girardi said they’re hopeful he will clear waivers and accept the assignment to Triple-A Scranton so he can work on some things and stay with the organization.

Rogers, 29, has a 6.27 ERA (4.65 FIP) in 33 innings this season. He allowed four runs (one earned) in two innings tonight, though, to be fair, his defense didn’t help him out much. Still, just two of Esmil’s last eleven appearances have been scoreless. Two of eleven! That’s bad.

Chris Capuano will take over as the long man now, I assume. Prior to tonight’s game we heard the recently acquired Sergio Santos was a candidate to be added to the roster this weekend, and I guess he’ll join the team and replace Rogers tomorrow.