After a throwing program, a setback, and another throwing program, Carlos Beltran returns to right field today for the first time since May 11th. A bone spur in his throwing elbow limited him to DH duties over the last three months.
I’m not sure playing the defensively challenged Beltran in the outfield actually helps the Yankees, but this is year one of a three-year deal, so if they can avoid sticking him at DH full-time, they should do it. You can bet the Rays will test his arm this afternoon. Here is Tampa’s lineup and here is the Yankees lineup:
- LF Brett Gardner
- DH Derek Jeter
- CF Jacoby Ellsbury
- 1B Mark Teixeira
- RF Carlos Beltran
- 3B Chase Headley
- 2B Martin Prado
- C Frankie Cervelli
- SS Brendan Ryan
RHP Shane Greene
The Tropicana Field roof is coming in handy this series because it’s raining again in St. Petersburg. This afternoon’s game will begin a little after 4pm ET and you can watch on YES locally and Fox Sports1 nationally. Here are the Fox Sports1 channel listings. Try to enjoy the game.
Injury Update: Brian McCann (concussion) is expected to be activated off the 7-day disabled list and play in tomorrow’s series finale. He is not active today.
As expected, Masahiro Tanaka threw 25 fastballs in the bullpen this afternoon, his first time throwing off a mound since suffering a partially torn elbow ligament in early-July. “Today I was able to throw the way I wanted to,” he said to Marly Rivera. “I felt very good and all is headed in the right direction.”
According to Rivera, pitching coach Larry Rothschild cautioned they have to “see how he feels in a few days” before deciding on the next step. Tanaka indicated he would like to throw breaking balls next time out. Rothschild also said the “way the team plays has no impact on his rehab, cause it’s not worth it,” and he’s right. The Yankees have to do what’s best for Tanaka long-term and not grasp at the last straws of contention by rushing him back. · (33) ·
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Via Joel Sherman: The Yankees are viewed as “major players” for Cuban free agent Rusney Castillo. They are said to like him more as a second baseman while most teams view him as an outfielder. The 27-year-old Castillo is finished with private workouts and is currently sorting through contract offers. He could sign as soon as next week.
According to Sherman, teams have a lot of urgency to get Castillo signed quickly for a few reasons. One, needs a work visa and they want to start that process as soon as possible. Two, he has to be in the organization by August 31st to be postseason eligible. Three, there is a little more than two weeks left in the minor league season and teams want Castillo to get in as many games as possible before considering him for a September call-up. The Yankees should be focused on 2015 at this point, so if they’re going to sign Castillo, the sooner they get him into the organization the better. · (269) ·
Make it five straight losses to both the Rays and all teams in general. The Yankees were shut out 5-0 by Tampa in their series opener on Friday night as the offense continues to fold like a lawn chair during what was an important stretch of the season. Now it doesn’t look like there will be many important games left this year.
I missed tonight’s game and I ain’t mad about it. I’ve been told Brandon McCarthy was once again solid, falling victim to some shaky defense early and broken bat bloopers late. He was around the plate all night, throwing 84 of his 110 pitches for strikes (76%) and a first pitch strike to 23 of 28 batters faced. Seven strikeouts, ten ground ball outs, and two fly ball outs. That’s work just fine. McCarthy isn’t part of the problem.
The offense put one runner at third base all night, and that came with one out in the eighth inning, after they were already down four runs. Jacoby Ellsbury and Mark Teixeira, aka the three-four hitters, both struck out with the bases loaded to squash that rally. The Yankees actually had the leadoff man reach base in five innings, so I guess that means they made Alex Cobb work hard? Based on his pitching line, it doesn’t look like it.
Derek Jeter and Teixeira both had two hits while Chase Headley, Frankie Cervelli, and Drew had one each. Brett Gardner drew the only walk. Esmil Rogers came out of the bullpen and served up a solo homer to James Loney — apparently he tried to quick-pitch him — for the Rays’ totally unnecessary fifth run. The Yankees have scored seven runs during the five-game losing streak, two of which scored when Manny Machado hit Carlos Beltran in the head with a throw.
MLB.com has the box score and video highlights, FanGraphs some other stats, and ESPN the updated standings. The Yankees are now eight games back in the AL East and 4.5 games back to Robinson Cano‘s Mariners for the second wildcard spot. FanGraphs puts their postseason odds at 5.8% and shrinking. They’ll try to score a run or two against lefty Drew Smyly during Saturday afternoon’s probable loss. Shane Greene will be on the bump for the Yankees.
Minor League Update: All of the night’s box scores can be seen in one place at MLB Farm. RHP Bryan Mitchell struck out three in five shutout innings, OF Tyler Austin had two doubles and a single, LHP Jacob Lindgren struck out five in two scoreless innings, and C Luis Torrens doubled. Not much else to see there.
The last four days for the Yankees have gone heart-breaking loss, off-day, heart-breaking loss, off-day. That pattern needs to change tonight. I’m not really in the mood for another soul-crushing loss to a division rival. Besides, the Yankees do still have a chance to win the second wildcard spot, albeit a small one. It would be nice to see them stay in the hunt a little longer to keep things interesting. Here is the Rays lineup and here is the Yankees lineup:
- LF Brett Gardner
- SS Derek Jeter
- CF Jacoby Ellsbury
- 1B Mark Teixeira
- DH Carlos Beltran
- 3B Chase Headley
- 2B Stephen Drew
- RF Martin Prado
- C Frankie Cervelli
RHP Brandon McCarthy
It’s humid as hell and pouring in St. Petersburg, so good thing Tropicana Field has a roof. Tonight’s game is scheduled to start at 7:10pm ET and you can watch on YES. Enjoy the game.
Metal detectors will be in place and operation at the various Yankee Stadium entrances starting August 19th, the Yankees announced. There will be MLB-mandated metal detectors at every ballpark starting next season. Fans who opt not to go through the walk-through metal detector can be checked manually with a wand. Here is the full press release. We’re all going to have to start getting to the ballpark a little earlier than usual. Not a fan of this, but it is what it is. · (45) ·
4:01pm: Tanaka played catch again today and he will throw a 25-pitch side session in the bullpen tomorrow, according to Meredith Marakovits. It will be the first time he throws off a mound since getting hurt.
12:30pm: Via George King: Masahiro Tanaka could get back up on a mound and throw in the bullpen as soon as tomorrow. “It will be in the next few days if he continues to progress,’’ said pitching coach Larry Rothschild. That fits into the six-week timetable that was initially reported when he got hurt.
Tanaka, who has been out since early-July with a partially torn elbow ligament, threw ten fastballs off flat ground during Wednesday’s throwing session and everything went fine. He’s continuing to progress well with no pain and that is the most important thing. If Tanaka comes back in September, great. But at this point the focus should be on 2015. · (108) ·
A few weeks ago, this series looked it would be a battle for postseason position. Instead it’s a trade deadline seller against an almost non-contender. The AL East isn’t what it once was, folks. The Yankees have lost seven of ten games to the Rays this season. They split four games at Tropicana Field back in April.
What Have They Done Lately?
The Rays just took three of four from the awful Texas Rangers and went 6-4 on their ten-game road trip overall. At 60-61 with a +21 run differential, Tampa is in fourth place in the AL East, two games behind the Yankees. The Bombers have to win at least one game this weekend to avoid falling into fourth place.
With an average of 3.99 runs per game and a team 104 wRC+, the Rays are both below-average and above-average offensively at the same time. They’re getting hits, just not bunched together. Tampa is currently without OF Wil Myers (94 wRC+) and OF David DeJesus (134 wRC+), who are on the disabled list with wrist and shoulder injuries, respectively. Myers is on a rehab assignment but is not expected to rejoin the team this weekend. C Ryan Hanigan (88 wRC+) is also on the disabled list with an oblique problem and IF Desmond Jennings (106 wRC+) is day-to-day with a shoulder issue.
As usual, manager Joe Maddon’s lineup is built around 3B Evan Longoria (103 wRC+), though he is having a very down year by his standards. His six-year, $100M extension doesn’t kick in until 2017. They better hope this year is just a blip. OF Matt Joyce (130 wRC+) is having a strong year, ditto 2B/OF Ben Zobrist (128 wRC+). OF Kevin Kiermaier (130 wRC+) has been a pleasant surprise since coming up to replace Myers. 1B James Loney (105 wRC+) is having a typical James Loney year, which means not 2013.
C Jose Molina (31 wRC+) splits catching duty with C Curt Casali (41 wRC+ in limited time) now that Hanigan is on the disabled list. OF Brandon Guyer (111 wRC+) backs up in the outfield while UTIL Sean Rodriguez (111 wRC+) and UTIL Logan Forsythe (94 wRC+) play just about everywhere. Rodriguez destroys the Yankees, as I’m sure you know. SS Yunel Escobar (91 wRC+) is the everyday shortstop. Tampa Bay is carrying only three bench players at the moment.
Friday: RHP Brandon McCarthy (vs. TB) vs. RHP Alex Cobb (vs. NYY)
With David Price traded away and Matt Moore out following Tommy John surgery, the 26-year-old Cobb is the team’s de facto ace. He has a 3.41 ERA (3.43 FIP) in 18 starts and 108.1 innings this year while missing a few weeks with an oblique strain. His strikeout (8.47 K/9 and 22.5 K%), walk (2.66 BB/9 and 7.1 BB%), homer (0.75 HR/9 and 10.6 HR/FB%), and ground ball (57.5%) rates all range from very good to excellent. Thanks to his knockout mid-80s changeup, lefties (.266 wOBA) have actually had less success against Cobb (.315 wOBA) than righties. His two and four-seamers sit in the low-90s and he’ll also throw a bunch of low-80s curveballs. The Yankees have not faced Cobb this year.
Saturday: RHP Shane Greene (No vs. TB) vs. LHP Drew Smyly (vs. NYY)
Smyly, 25, was part of the Price trade, arguably the centerpiece. He has a 3.73 ERA (3.84 FIP) in 118.1 innings across 20 starts and three relief appearances in 2014, though only his walk rate (2.74 BB/9 and 7.2 BB%) stands out. His strikeout (7.91 K/9 and 20.9 K%), homerun (1.06 HR/9 and 9.6 HR/FB%), and ground ball (37.0%) numbers are nothing to write home about. Righties (.376 wOBA) have hit him a ton harder than lefties (.208 wOBA). Smyly has one of the biggest platoon splits in the game. He operates with a mid-80s slider and three fastballs: low-90s four-seamers, upper-80s two-seamers, and mid-80s cutters. He’ll also throw a handful of low-80s changeups per start. Smyly has not faced the Yankees this year and he went three runs in 5.1 innings and 7.2 shutout innings in his first two starts with the Rays.
Sunday: RHP Hiroki Kuroda (vs. TB) vs. RHP Jeremy Hellickson (vs. NYY)
Elbow surgery kept the 27-year-old Hellickson on the shelf until early last month, so he’s only made five starts and thrown 26.2 innings this year. His walk rate (2.03 BB/9 and 5.5 BB%) is low, as are his strikeout (6.75 K/9 and 18.4 K%) and ground ball (30.5%) rates. Aside from 2013, Hellickson has consistently outperformed his peripherals because he’s adept at getting infield pop-ups and other weak contact. His homer rate (1.01 HR/9 and 7.3 HR/FB%) is about average and lefties (.274 wOBA) have had a tougher time against him than righties (.330 wOBA). Hellickson works with both a four-seam and two-seam fastball at right around 90 mph, and his go-to secondary pitch is an upper-70s changeup. He’ll also throw some mid-70s curves per start. Hellickson has failed to complete five full innings of work in three of his five starts off elbow surgery.
RHP Grant Balfour (4.16 FIP) has struggled this year, so Maddon has been using a closer by committee for several weeks now. LHP Jake McGee (1.22 FIP) has been outstanding and gets the ball in the most important spots regardless of inning. Sometimes the seventh, sometimes the eighth, sometimes the ninth. RHP Joel Peralta (3.73 FIP) and RHP Brad Boxberger (2.66 FIP) also work the late innings.
The rest of the bullpen includes LHP Jeff Beliveau (3.92 FIP in limited time), RHP Brandon Gomes (5.34 FIP), RHP Kirby Yates (3.00 FIP), and LHP Cesar Ramos (4.25 FIP). McGee, Boxberger, and Beliveau all pitched yesterday. The Yankees had two of the last three days off, so their bullpen is generally well-rested. Dellin Betances might not be available tonight after his extended outing on Wednesday, but that’s it. Check out our Bullpen Workload page for recent reliever usage, then check out The Process Report for everything you need to know about the Rays.
Got seven questions for you this week. The best way to send us anything throughout the week is via the Submit A Tip box in the sidebar.
Joe asks: Should the Yankees target Arismendy Alcantara from the Cubs in the offseason? With all of Chicago’s infield prospects it seems like he will be the one left out, and may not have too high of a cost.
Yes, though there is no indication the Cubs are willing to move him. I love Alcantara. He hit .271/.352/.451 (132 wRC+) with 15 homers and 31 steals in Double-A last year, then hit .307/.353/.537 (127 wRC+) with ten homers and 21 games in Triple-A this year before being called up a few weeks ago (80 wRC+ in 32 MLB games). Alcantara is a 22-year-old switch-hitter with some power and a lot of speed, and although he can play shortstop, his best position is either second base or center field (he’s played both for Chicago).
Baseball America ranked Alcantara as the 33rd best prospect in baseball in their midseason update, one spot ahead of Luis Severino. Keith Law (subs. req’d) ranked him as the 71st best prospect in the game before the season, saying he has “upside as a potential All-Star at second base” and “might be a candidate for a Tony Phillips-type super-utility role.” Like I said, I love Alcantara since he’s a power-speed switch-hitter who can do no worse than hold his own at three up-the-middle positions. Plus he has a cool name.
He doesn’t get the same attention as some of Chicago’s other top prospects, but Alcantara is very good. The Cubbies are definitely looking for high-end pitching at this point, and unless the Yankees are willing to talk Masahiro Tanaka (lol nope) or Michael Pineda (maybe), it’s hard to see them swinging a deal for Alcantara. David Phelps or fresh off elbow reconstruction Ivan Nova ain’t getting it done. I’d love to see him in pinstripes though.
Mickey asks: Chances Brendan Ryan is the starting shortstop for the Yankees next year? Also, fill in the blank: if Brendan Ryan is the starting shortstop next year, the Yankees are _______?
I would say very small, less than 5%. I think the only way Ryan is the starting shortstop next year is if ownership completely clamps down on spending and prevents the front office from going out and signing one of the many free agent shortstops who will be available this winter (Hanley Ramirez, J.J. Hardy, Jed Lowrie, Stephen Drew, etc.). Even then, I still think they’d try to make a trade. I see Ryan as Plan E or F at shortstop. The last resort. As for filling in that blank, I would say both “very bad” and “still looking for an upgrade.”
Stettinius asks: Y or N: Give David Robertson a qualifying offer, but not a contract offer. If he takes it, great, we’ve got an elite closer. If not, we’ve got two top 40 draft picks, Dellin Betances as closer, and Jacob Lindgren and his 10 K/BB knocking on the door.
Definite N for me. Make the qualifying offer and a contract offer. Offense has fallen around the league and every game is close these days, meaning a strong and deep bullpen is more important than ever before. Robertson isn’t irreplaceable but he’s not far off. Elite relievers who have shown they can close in New York and have no history of arm problems are rare and the Yankees should make every effort to keep him. I wouldn’t say they should keep him at any price, there’s always a point where you walk away, but there is plenty of room out in that bullpen for Robertson, Betances, Lindgren, and whoever else they dig up. Robertson’s a long-term keeper in my book.
Stimson asks: With Pineda pitching 171 innings in 2011 and only 20+ so far this year (including Wednesday’s game), assuming he stays healthy, does he have any innings limit for the rest of this season? 2015? If not, should he?
The Yankees claimed Pineda did not have an innings limit this year, but I didn’t fully buy that. You have to watch a guy’s workload after he misses two years with major shoulder surgery. The same will apply next year. If he stays healthy the rest of the year, Pineda will get up to about 50 innings this year, so we’re talking 50 big league innings in the span of three years. I don’t know if they’ll set a hard number on it — he won’t throw more than 170 innings, for example — but they will have to be careful with him (like they were in April) and pay extra attention for any signs for fatigue. I know Pineda will be turn 26 over the winter and will be out of the so-called “injury nexus,” but that doesn’t mean they should turn him loose. He physically might not be up for it. I expect it them to
monitor his workload watch him like a hawk all season.
JonS asks: What is the actual reasoning behind expanding rosters in September?
No one actually knows. Ted Berg spoke to MLB historian John Thorn (a must follow on Twitter) about this a few years ago, but not even Thorn knew how September call-ups originated. Here’s what he said:
I can only speculate that as minor-league seasons tended to close earlier than major-league ones, September seemed to be a good time to reward high-performing aspirants perhaps less expensively than inviting them to spring camp. The extra-manpower feature surely was not as important in the early days, when staring pitchers tended to complete a high percentage of their games.
Every year there is a big debate about expanded rosters and whether they’re fair and all that, but I am all for them. As long as every team is allowed to call up the same number of players, it’s fair to me. It’s not, for example, the Yankees problem if they call up eleven extra players while the Orioles only call up seven. Reward the teams that have better depth later in the season.
Phil asks: For the next mailbag, can you take a look at opposite-field power? I’m talking about HR’s specifically. I feel like I’ve watched every game this season, and I’m having a hard time remembering one opposite field HR. I remember when our RH bats could use the short porch, and when our LH bats were so awesome, they could put a pitch on the outside corner out of anywhere but YS.
The Yankees have hit 108 total homers this year, and of those 108, only three (!) were hit to the opposite field. Three! Mark Teixeira hit one (video), Frankie Cervelli hit one (video), and Alfonso Soriano hit one (video). That’s it. Both Teixeira’s and Cervelli’s literally hit the top of the wall and hopped over while Soriano’s made the seats. That’s nuts. Giancarlo Stanton (who else?) leads MLB with eight opposite field taters this year. Here are some more numbers on New York’s opposite field power production:
|NYY Total HR||NYY Oppo. HR||NYY Oppo. HR%||NYY Oppo. ISO||AL Oppo. ISO|
Even last season the Yankees were more or less an average team when it came to hitting the other way for power. This year they aren’t particularly close. That stems from their lack of power hitters in general, but especially righties who are able to take advantage of the short porch in right field. I mean, their best right-handed power hitter right now is Francisco Cervelli. That is something they have to address this offseason. The ability to hit the ball with authority the other way is nonexistent this year.
Shaya asks: Has Gardner hit enough this year to win a Gold Glove? I know he isn’t flashy out there, but he gets to just about everything so he doesn’t really need to exert himself like other flashier fielders. Who would be his main competition?
It’s possible, sure. Offense shouldn’t be part of the Gold Glove process but it’s no secret the managers and coaches who vote each year factor it in. A sabermetric component was added a few years ago, but that only counts for 25% of the vote. Gardner is hitting well (125 wRC+) and the various defensive stats say he’s been good but not great in left (+2 DRS, +3.6 UZR, +3 Total Zone, -1.2 FRAA). Remember, they now give Gold Gloves to the specific outfield spots, so Gardner will be up against other left fielders. That includes Alex Gordon (120 wRC+ and +20 DRS) and Michael Brantley (155 wRC+ and -1 DRS). Gardner is awesome, but Gordon deserves to win. He’s outstanding in left.