Game 82: The Start of the Second Half

Bat flips for America. (Denis Poroy/Getty)
Bat flips for America. (Denis Poroy/Getty)

The first half of the 2016 season is in the books, and it did not go well for the Yankees. They’re 40-41 on the season, which means they have to go 47-34 the rest of the way to match last year’s record. That’s a 94-win pace for half a season. Are these Yankees capable of that? Never say never, but I find it tough to believe. Hopefully the second half brings a little a lot more success. Here is the White Sox’s lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:

  1. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  2. LF Brett Gardner
  3. DH Carlos Beltran
  4. C Brian McCann
  5. 2B Starlin Castro
  6. SS Didi Gregorius
  7. 3B Chase Headley
  8. RF Aaron Hicks
  9. 1B Rob Refsnyder
    LHP CC Sabathia

It’s cool and cloudy in Chicago this afternoon, and there is some rain in the forecast, though it looks like it’ll hold off until later tonight. It shouldn’t be a problem for the game. This afternoon’s series opener will begin at 2:10pm ET and you can watch on YES. Enjoy.

Injury Update: Carlos Beltran (hamstring) is not yet return to return to the outfield. Joe Girardi said there’s a chance he won’t play the field at all this series … Mark Teixeira had the day off because the Yankees are trying to manage his knee. He’s not hurt, it’s just part of their plan to get him off his feet a little more often.

Bullpen Update: Nathan Eovaldi is available in relief and will be the seventh and eighth inning guy today, Girardi said. It’s his throw day and the bullpen is worn out. Chad Green is going to start in Eovaldi’s place Friday and they’ll determine when Eovaldi will make his next start based on his usage this afternoon. Girardi said the move to the bullpen is only temporary.

7/4 to 7/6 Series Preview: Chicago White Sox

Is that a Joe Crede statue?! (Presswire)
Is that a Joe Crede statue?! (Presswire)

Time for the second city of this ten-game, three-time zone road trip. The Yankees are on Chicago’s south side for three games with the White Sox this week. These two teams played three games in Yankee Stadium in mid-May. That was Aroldis Chapman‘s second series back from his suspension. The Yankees won two of three to the surprise of everyone.

What Have They Done Lately?

The ChiSox got off to an excellent start this season (23-10), then they slumped for a few weeks (10-26), and now they’re back to playing well again (9-4). They took two of three from the Astros this weekend. The Second City’s second team is 42-40 overall with a -10 run differential on the season. They’re in fourth place in the AL Central and two games back of a postseason spot.

Offense & Defense

Despite their big offseason additions, the White Sox have had a below-average offense this season. They’ve averaging 4.17 runs per game with a team 90 wRC+. The ChiSox are without two ex-Yankees: CF Austin Jackson (77 wRC+) is on the DL with meniscus tear and LF Melky Cabrera (112 wRC+) is day-to-day with a mild wrist sprain. He hasn’t played since last Tuesday but it sounds as though he could return to the lineup any day now.

Anderson. (Bob Levey/Getty)
Anderson. (Bob Levey/Getty)

The White Sox have made a change at shortstop since the Yankees last saw them in May. Top prospect SS Tim Anderson (108 wRC+) has replaced veteran SS Jimmy Rollins (67 wRC+), who was released. Manager Robin Ventura has been using Anderson as his leadoff hitter, with RF Adam Eaton (102 wRC+), 1B Jose Abreu (98 wRC+), and 3B Todd Frazier (98 wRC+) following as the 2-3-4 hitters. Melky had been hitting fourth with Frazier hitting fifth before his wrist issue.

2B Brett Lawrie (99 wRC+) typically follows the top four (top five when Melky is healthy) hitters in the lineup. C Alex Avila (97 wRC+) and C Dioner Navarro (70 wRC+) split catching duties, and with Cabrera and Jackson hurt, CF J.B. Shuck (69 wRC+) and LF Avisail Garcia (78 wRC+) have been getting regular playing time. IF Tyler Saladino (84 wRC+), IF Carlos Sanchez (7 wRC+), and OF Jason Coats (39 wRC+) are the White Sox’s other bench players. They’re carrying a normal four-man bench, which I guess isn’t so normal these days.

Defensively, the White Sox made huge upgrades over the winter with Frazier and Lawrie. Replacing Rollins with Anderson has been a big help as well. Eaton, who moved from center to right in deference to Jackson, has been very good at his new position. Shuck is a capable replacement for Jackson, though going from Melky and Jackson to Shuck and Garcia is a net downgrade. You can run on Avila and especially Navarro.

Pitching Matchups

Monday (2:10pm ET): LHP CC Sabathia (vs. CWS) vs. RHP James Shields (vs. NYY)
Boy are the Yankees catching a break this series. They’re playing three games against the ChiSox and won’t face Chris Sale or Jose Quintana. That is a gift from the baseball gods. Shields, now 34, actually started this season well, but he’s now allowed 36 runs and 63 baserunners in his last six starts and 23 innings. His last two starts were decent too (three runs in five innings, one run in 6.2 innings). Goes to show how bad he was before that.

Overall, Shields has a 5.85 ERA (5.23 FIP) in 16 games and 87.2 innings between the Padres and White Sox this year. His grounder rate (44.4%) is right in line with his career norms, but his strikeouts are down (17.8%), his walks are up (10.4%), and he’s giving up a ton of homers (1.54 HR/9). Not a good combination there. As you’d expect, Shields is getting hammered by both righties and lefties this year. These days Shields sits 90-91 mph with his four-seamer and in the mid-80s with his cutter. His trademark changeup is still in the mid-80s, and he also throws an upper-70s curveball. The Shields we saw all those years with the Rays is no more. His stuff is down across the board. Years of throwing 200+ innings have taken their toll.

Tuesday (8:10pm ET): RHP Masahiro Tanaka (vs. CWS) vs. LHP Carlos Rodon (vs. NYY)
I still can’t believe the Marlins didn’t take Rodon with the second pick in the 2014 draft. They took high school righty Tyler Kolek instead, and he had a disappointing 2015 season before blowing out his elbow this spring and needing Tommy John surgery. Rodon was close to MLB ready and he’s a local kid from Miami, plus his family is from Cuba, and that appeals to a large portion of the Marlins fan base given the large Cuban community in South Florida. Instead, the Marlins took Kolek and the ChiSox grabbed Rodon with the third pick. He was in their rotation nine months later.

Anyway, the 23-year-old Rodon is having a serviceable sophomore season, pitching to a 4.24 ERA (4.22 FIP) in 15 starts and 87 innings. His strikeout (23.1%), walk (79%), and grounder (45.5%) numbers are all promising, though he has been really home run prone (1.34 HR/9). Righties have crushed him, both this year and last year. Rodon’s money maker is a devastating mid-to-upper-80s slider …

Carlos Rodon slider

… that is truly Andrew Miller-esque. Rodon sets the slidepiece up with mid-90s sinkers and four-seam fastballs. He also throws a mid-80s changeup that is clearly his third pitch. When push come to shove, Rodon’s going to throw the slider. It’s by far his best pitch and the pitch he’ll use to get out of tight spots. His slider is so good that he could tell you it’s coming and you still might not be able to hit it.

Wednesday (8:10pm ET): RHP Michael Pineda (vs. CWS) vs. RHP Miguel Gonzalez (vs. NYY)
The Yankees tried and failed to sign the 32-year-old Gonzalez this spring, after the Orioles cut him loose because his velocity was down so much in Spring Training. He opted to join the White Sox because there was a clearer path to a spot in their rotation. Sure enough, John Danks got hammered early in the season and a rotation spot opened up. Gonzalez has made eleven starts (and one relief appearance) with Chicago so far, and he has a 4.88 ERA (4.47 FIP) in 62.2 innings. For the most part his underlying performance (17.6 K%, 9.5 BB%, 43.0 GB%, 1.01 HR/9) is in line with his career averages, and once again his platoon split is small. That’s because Gonzalez has a great mid-80s splitter that neutralizes southpaws. His four-seamer and sinker sit in the low-90s, and, not surprisingly, he’s added a mid-80s cutter this year. ChiSox pitching coach Don Cooper has a reputation for developing cutters. Gonzalez also has an upper-70s curveball that he’ll use a handful of times per outing. Unlike Shields and Rodon, the Yankees did face Gonzalez when these clubs met back in April. They touched him up for three runs in 4.2 innings.

Awww D-Rob. (Jonathan Daniel/Getty)
Awww D-Rob. (Jonathan Daniel/Getty)

Bullpen Status

I would stop short of saying the White Sox have a great bullpen, but it has been good overall, and their setup/closer tandem doesn’t get enough credit for being one of the best in baseball. Here is the relief crew Ventura is working with these days:

Closer: RHP David Robertson (3.28 ERA/3.22 FIP)
Setup: RHP Nate Jones (2.61/3.08)
Middle: LHP Zach Duke (3.08/2.75), RHP Matt Albers (5.17/5.72), LHP Dan Jennings (1.85/3.75)
Long: RHP Chris Beck (5.79/4.88), RHP Michael Ynoa (3.00/3.50)

I’m so old that I remember when Michael Ynoa was Michel Inoa. He was arguably the highest profile international amateur free agent ever, and the Athletics gave him a then-record $4.25M bonus back in 2008. The Yankees tried to sign him but fell short, and of course they were crushed for it. Ynoa got hurt and stalled out in the minors, and the A’s eventually traded him to the White Sox in the Jeff Samardzija deal last year. He finally made his MLB debut this season.

Anyway, Robertson and Jones are Ventura’s big end-game arms, and both Duke and Albers will also see high-leverage work from time to time. The other three guys are there because, well, someone has to throw innings when you’re losing. Both Jones and Robertson pitched Saturday and Sunday. Head over to our Bullpen Workload page for the status of Joe Girardi‘s relief crew.

Yankeemetrics: Stay classy, San Diego [July 1-3]

(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Not enough in the ninth
The Yankees late-game magic disappeared on Friday night as their wild ninth-inning rally fell just short in a 7-6 loss to the Padres. Down 7-2 entering the final frame, they scored four runs and got the tying run on third base before Brett Gardner grounded out to end the game.

It was just the second time in his career that Gardner has made the final out of the game with his team trailing by a run and a man on third base; he also did it in a 2-1 loss to the Royals on June 8, 2014.

Nathan Eovaldi‘s June swoon continued into the month of July with the inconsistent right-hander getting tagged for six runs on seven hits, including two homers. Over his last six starts he’s allowed a whopping 31 runs, 45 hits and 12 home runs allowed in 30 1/3 innings (and a bloated 9.20 ERA).

In this stretch he’s allowed at least four earned runs and a homer in each of those six starts, the longest such streak in franchise history. Eovaldi has now surrendered 19 longballs in 91 innings this season, a rate of 1.88 homers per nine innings would be the highest by any Yankee that qualified for the ERA title.

One of Eovaldi’s biggest bugaboos during his free fall over the past month has been a flat and ineffective splitter, a pitch that batters are hitting .311 and slugging .556 against since June 1; opponents were just 6-for-40 (.150) with no extra-base hits in at-bats ending in his splitter in May.

A significant reduction in both the horizontal and vertical movement of the pitch — he’s getting an inch less of arm-side run and it’s also dropping an inch less in June/July compared to May — has made his signature splitter way too hittable over his last several outings.

Miller’s mistake
Just a couple days removed from back-to-back thrilling last at-bat wins at Yankee Stadium, the Yankees were on the wrong side of a walk-off celebration on Saturday night in San Diego. Melvin Upton Jr. hit a solo homer on the first pitch he saw from Andrew Miller in the bottom of the ninth inning to hand the Yankees their second straight loss on the west coast.

It was the fourth time they’ve lost an Interleague game on a game-ending longball: the Nationals’ Ryan Zimmerman has beaten them twice (May 19, 2015 and June 18, 2006) and Todd Zeile also hit a walk-off home run against the Yankees in Denver on June 20, 2002.

The loss clinched a losing first-half record for the Yankees for only the second time in the last 20 seasons. The 2007 team was 40-41 at the halfway mark and then rebounded to win two-thirds of their games the rest of the way and clinch a Wild Card berth. That’s the only time in franchise history they managed to make the playoffs after having a sub-.500 record through 81 games.

Thanks to a dormant offense and a rare hiccup by Miller, the Yankees wasted a solid performance from the struggling Ivan Nova. The righty had posted a 6.92 ERA in his previous seven starts entering Saturday night, but rebounded to allow just one run on four hits in 5 1/3 innings in San Diego.

Nova’s curve was a key weapon for him in finishing off the Padres hitters, who whiffed on six of their eight swings against the curve and went 0-for-6 with five strikeouts in at-bats ending in the pitch.

(AP)
(AP)

Milestone Tex Message
The Yankees averted what would have been a historically awful sweep, winning the third game of the three-game series in San Diego. Since Interleague play began in 1997, the Yankees have only been swept in series of three or more games twice: June 19-21, 2007 by the Rockies and Sept 1-3, 1997 by the Phillies.

Even with the win the Yankees have some ground to make up in order to avoid their worst ever Interleague mark. They are now 3-7 (.300) halfway through the schedule; their lowest Interleague win percentage in a season is .333, when they went 5-10 in 1997.

Didi Gregorius‘ scorching hot bat gave the Yankees a 2-1 lead in the fourth inning en route to the 6-3 victory. Each of the past four homers that he’s hit since June 16 have either tied the game or given the Yankees the lead. In that span, no other Yankee has hit more than two go-ahead/game-tying home runs.

Mark Teixeira gave the Yankees an insurance run in the eight inning with a milestone Tex message – the 400th longball of his career – and then added No. 401 in the next frame.

He is the fifth switch-hitter in the 400-homer club (Chipper Jones, Eddie Murray, Mickey Mantle, Carlos Beltran), and the 55th player in MLB history to hit that many homers. He’s also the ninth player to reach the milestone in Yankee pinstripes. The rest of the group are Babe Ruth, Lou Gehrig, Mantle, Reggie Jackson, Gary Sheffield, A-Rod, Alfonso Soriano, and, of course, Beltran.

Overall, of the 55 players to hit 400 homers, Teixeira is the 27th to do in his 14th season or earlier; but the only other switch-hitter to join the club this early into his career was Mickey Mantle. Among first baseman, he is one of just nine to compile 400 homers in their first 14 seasons: Carlos Delgado, Frank Thomas, Jim Thome, Gehrig, Jimmie Foxx, Jeff Bagwell, Albert Pujols and Mark McGwire are the others.

Fan Confidence Poll: July 4th, 2016

Record Last Week: 3-4 (31 RS, 36 RA)
Season Record: 40-41 (335 RS, 365 RA, 37-44 pythag. record)
Opponents This Week: @ White Sox (three games, Mon. to Weds.), @ Indians (four games, Thurs. 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 on 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?

DotF: Dermis Garcia goes deep twice in Pulaski’s win

Here’s a must read piece from Grace Raynor on IF Angel Aguilar. Aguilar is trying to make it with the Yankees while his mother deals with the extreme poverty and crime back home in Venezuela. Make sure you check it out.

Triple-A Scranton (3-2 win over Buffalo)

  • CF Ben Gamel: 1-5, 1 R
  • 2B Donovan Solano: 4-5, 1 2B, 1 RBI — hitting .302/.333/.403 on the season
  • C Gary Sanchez: 0-5, 1 RBI, 2 PB
  • DH Tyler Austin: 0-4, 1 BB, 1 K
  • RHP Kyle Haynes: 7 IP, 7 H, 2 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 6 K, 11/1 GB/FB — 64 of 95 pitches were strikes (67%)
  • RHP Kirby Yates: 1.2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 1 K, 1/3 GB/FB — 27 of 40 pitches were strikes (68%) … Yates has been one of the most dominant relievers in the International League over the years, so he should be a nice boost for the RailRiders as they look to remain in first place and get to the postseason

[Read more…]

Green’s solid outing, dingers lead the Yanks to a 6-3 win over the Padres

(Getty)

Imagine being swept by the Padres. Not a good thought, right? Thankfully, the Yankees didn’t suffer another one-run heartbreaker today. Youngster Chad Green tossed a solid outing and the offense backed him up with a bunch of dingers for his first career ML win. Its the weekend so let’s do it bullet-point style.

  • A Run!: The game started well for the Yankee offense. Jacoby Ellsbury and Brett Gardner reached on base in the first with a single and walk, respectively. Mark Teixeira followed it up with a strikeout, Brian McCann flew out and Starlin Castro struck out as well to immediately kill the chance. However, they did score in the next inning. Didi Gregorius led off with an error by Alexei Ramirez. Aaron Hicks snared a single to center to put the runners on corners. The next hitter, Ronald Torreyes, grounded into a double play, which scored a run. 1-0 Yanks.
  • Another One!: In the fourth, Didi did it again. The Yankees’ hottest hitter not named Carlos Beltran went deep on a 86-mph slider that had some break, but Didi reached down low enough to drill it to right field seats. That’s his ninth homer of the year. It’s halfway through the year so a 15~20 HR year isn’t a dream for Gregorius if he keeps it up. In this bleh Yankee season, Didi’s offense has been one of the bright spots. Oh, and the Yankees led 2-1 thanks to the dinger.
  • Seeing Green?: Starting pitcher Chad Green has had a solid season down in Triple-A, In 14 starts, he had a 1.54 ERA and the peripherals suggest it to be legit – 9.04 K/9, 2.09 BB/9 and 0.22 HR/9. He had a start with the Yankees earlier this year and, well, he took a loss against the D’Backs. Today was a different story. Green threw six solid innings, allowing only three hits and one run (on former Yankee great Yangervis Solarte’s solo HR) while striking out eight and walking none. I know I shouldn’t buy into young pitchers too easily but I think the Yanks should give him more chances in rotation.
  • Tex Back: Boy, has this season been a struggle for Teixeira or what? Coming into tonight, he had a .187/.273/.290 slash line, which is “good” for a 52 wRC+. Dreadful. Today, however, he hit two homers – both of them coming against two loopy curveballs versus Carlos Villanueva and Kevin Quackenbush. The first one was his 400th dinger and it had a 48 degree launch angle, which, according to Statcast, is the highest of all the homers hit this year. If you’re gonna hit a milestone homer, why not make it special? Congrats Tex. His second homer in the top of ninth made the game pretty much out of reach by giving New York a 6-1 lead.
  • Hicks Hits Good: Aaron Hicks, who has struggled mightily this season, reached base four times today. He had two singles and a ground-rule double (oh, and a walk). I thought it was probably the best day for him in terms of squaring the ball up. He’s also been a much better second-half hitter in ML career so should we expect something special from him? We’ll see.
  • Ninth Inning: With a five-run lead in the ninth, Girardi brought in Anthony Swarzak to face the Padres. Swarzak immediately made it a game by giving up a single to Solarte and a dinger to Alex Dickerson. 6-3 Yanks. A save situation! The Yanks didn’t waste much time bringing in Aroldis Chapman and he retired the side for a Yankee victory.

Here’s tonight’s box score, video highlights, WPA and updated standings.


Source: FanGraphs


The Yankees fly out to Chicago next to face the south siders for a three-game series. Happy Fourth of July weekend, you guys.

Game 81: Halfway Home

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

The season is halfway complete, or at least it will be in a few hours. Today is the 81st game of the season, and because they are 39-41, the Yankees have already clinched a losing record in the first half. The Yankees were 40-41 the last two times they finished the first half with a losing record (1992, 2007), and the last time they lost 42+ of their first 81 games was 1990. They were 30-51 in the first half that year.

Rookie right-hander Chad Green is making a spot start today — the Yankees pushed CC Sabathia back a day to avoid having him hit and run the bases on his balky knee — and this is a pretty big game for him. Ivan Nova pitched well last night but has generally stunk this season, plus Nathan Eovaldi‘s been getting smacked around lately too. A strong effort tonight and could land Green another start before the All-Star break. Here is the Padres’ lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:

  1. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  2. LF Brett Gardner
  3. 1B Mark Teixeira
  4. C Brian McCann
  5. 2B Starlin Castro
  6. SS Didi Gregorius
  7. RF Aaron Hicks
  8. 3B Ronald Torreyes
  9. RHP Chad Green

The weather is great in San Diego, I assume. This afternoon’s game will begin at 4:40pm ET and you can watch on YES. Enjoy.