Sunday Open Thread

Here is an open thread for the rest of the weekend. The Cubs and Cardinals are the ESPN Sunday Night Game, and Game Two of the NBA Finals will be on later as well. You folks know how these open threads work by now, so have at it.

Game 54: The One-Third Point

Two Aarons are better than one. (Tom Szczerbowski/Getty)
Two Aarons are better than one. (Tom Szczerbowski/Getty)

Today is the 54th game of the season, which means the Yankees are one-third of the way through their 2017 schedule. It’s flown by, hasn’t it? I guess that’s what happens when you’re having fun, and this Yankees team is most definitely fun. Been a while since I’ve enjoyed watching the Yankees this much. It’s not just the kids either. The veterans are part of that too.

Anyway, the Yankees have won two of the last three games against the Blue Jays, so this afternoon’s game is a chance to clinch an always difficult four-game series win. On the road against a division rival, no less. The two teams have their best starting pitchers on the mound this afternoon — or, at the very least, their starters with the lowest ERA — so of course they’ll combine for 24 runs and 38 hits. Here is the Blue Jays’ lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:

  1. LF Brett Gardner
  2. C Gary Sanchez
  3. RF Aaron Judge
  4. DH Matt Holliday
  5. 2B Starlin Castro
  6. CF Aaron Hicks
  7. SS Didi Gregorius
  8. 3B Chase Headley
  9. 1B Rob Refsnyder
    RHP Luis Severino

It’s raining in Toronto today, so the Rogers Centre roof is closed. The ball usually doesn’t fly as much with the roof closed. This afternoon’s series finale will begin a little after 1pm ET and both YES and MLB Network will have the broadcast. Enjoy the game.

Under the Radar

Get well soon, El Gary. (Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

After what he did last summer, it’s hard to imagine Gary Sanchez running a low profile. He burst onto the scene with an impressive display that almost won him AL Rookie of the Year honors over a pitcher who was successful in the league all year. Immediately, he endeared himself to the game with his powerful displays and came into 2017 with great expectations and the combination of talent and potential to back it up. And then he got hurt swinging a bat in Baltimore and missed a lot of time. While that was unexpected in and of itself, here’s another thing that I didn’t expect: Gary Sanchez is having the best season of any catcher in the American League.

Thanks to Aaron Judge being, well, Aaron Judge, Luis Severino doing his ace thing, Aaron Hicks emerging as a legit player, Brett Gardner and Matt Holliday hitting bald bombs all over the place, and Starlin Castro reestablishing his All-Star status, Sanchez has taken a bit of a backseat with regards to attention this year. Missing time with an injury will do that, sure, but the overall success of the team has sort of buried the lede on how good Sanchez has been this year.

In home runs, Sanchez’s six trail only Salvador Perez (11) and Alex Avila and James McCann with 7. Perez laps all catchers with 201 plate appearances; Avila (120) and McCann (125) have a handful more than Sanchez (119). In terms of wOBA, Sanchez is at .352, two points behind Russell Martin (.354) and a bunch behind Avila (.433!). wRC+ puts him behind Avila (176) and Martin (122), and tied with Evan Gattis at 121. He’s third in ISO (.190) behind Avila (.283) and Perez (.214). He’s tied for sixth in fWAR with Gattis (0.7), but has fewer games played than every player ahead of him AND every player behind him. What we should also note is that Alex Avila has played 20 games at catcher, but also 11 at first. He’s having a damn good season–seriously, I’d forgotten about his existence as a baseball player–but splitting time makes me give preference to the other guys on the list, especially Sanchez.

El Gary may not top the AL catching leaderboards in everything, but his combination of stats paints a fine, well rounded picture of a fantastic season. That this has slipped a bit under the radar speaks to a few things. Obviously, Sanchez’s teammates listed above have played a bit more and have shined, some of them unexpectedly. The team overall has been much more successful than anticipated and all of that has–somewhat rightly–overshadowed Sanchez’s solid, if not outwardly flashy, 2017 performance. Hopefully, the next few weeks net Sanchez some more attention and votes to get him to the All Star game. He deserves his first of what should be many.

DotF: Estrada and Andujar lead Trenton to a win

A few notes to pass along:

  • RHP Ernesto Frieri is still with Triple-A Scranton. He has used his opt-out, but according to D.J. Eberle, the Yankees have two days to add him to the roster before he becomes a free agent. Frieri can pitch for the RailRiders in the meantime.
  • OF Jake Cave (concussion) was activated off he Double-A Trenton disabled list while RHP Yefry Ramirez was placed on it, reports Matt Kardos. Ramirez has a relatively minor fingernail issue and the Yankees are playing it safe. There was some thought he’d made his next start.
  • RHP Erik Swanson was placed on the High-A Tampa disabled list, the team announced. Not sure what’s wrong with him. Swanson left last night’s start after only 2.1 innings and 46 pitches. He missed most of the 2015 season with a flexor strain.

Triple-A Scranton (2-0 loss to Toledo)

  • SS Tyler Wade: 1-2, 2 BB, 1 K, 1 SB, 1 CS — hitting .297/.372/.446 on the season
  • RF Dustin Fowler & DH Tyler Austin: both 0-4, 2 K
  • 3B Gleyber Torres: 0-3, 1 BB, 2 K — now 7-for-36 (.194) with 13 strikeouts in eleven Triple-A games, though he also has eight walks, which works out to a .356 OBP
  • LF Clint Frazier: 0-2, 1 BB, 2 K
  • CF Mason Williams: 0-3, 1 K
  • RHP Luis Cessa: 8 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 7 K, 9/3 GB/FB — 62 of 99 pitches were strikes … no more than two earned runs in seven of his ten Triple-A games this year

[Read more…]

Yankees power their way to a 7-0 win at Toronto

Good game. Would watch over and over. Jordan Montgomery had one of his best ML starts and the bats hit nothing but extra-base hits to rout the Blue Jays. The Yankees now stand at 32-21 with a .604 winning percentage.

(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Good Gumby

This is probably the best we’ve seen of Jordan Montgomery in his young career. He went 6 innings, allowed no runs, only 3 hits and struck out 5. Well, he also walked 3 but none of them ended up haunting the Yankees.

For what it’s worth, here is his pitch chart for the day:

bandicam-2017-06-04-05-12-53-007

What I see here is a lot of pitches towards the different edges of the strike zone (besides the up-and-in vs. RHB’s), which is good. Montgomery is not a guy who can overpower hitters by just throwing fastballs in the zone. It’s fun to watch him when he can locate with different pitches and fool hitters. Speaking of which, his curveball was absolutely working today. Per Brooks Baseball, batters whiffed on his curve 7 times, which may not sound like a lot but it’s good for a 29.2% rate. He’s not really a guy who gets swing-and-misses with his fastball (only 2 from today) so secondary pitches working like that is vital.

After today’s game, Montgomery’s ERA dropped to 3.67. His 3.54 FIP suggests that his peripherals reflect well on his basic stats. He’s been striking out close to a hitter per inning (8.47 K/9 IP) while limiting hits (50 allowed in 56.1 IP) and home runs (0.80 HR/9 IP). It’s really hard to ask more from a rookie starter. Montgomery is here to stay for awhile.

(Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)
(Tom Szczerbowski/Getty Images)

All the extra base hits!

The Aarons hit a pair of RBI doubles to give Joe Biagini a pair of unearned runs in the third inning. Rob Refsnyder reached on base with a Troy Tulowitzki error and stole second. He moved to third on a long fly out off Brett Gardner‘s bat. With two outs and runner on third, Aaron Hicks hit a bloop double dropped perfectly between the second baseman and right fielder (a hit probability of 9%). Aaron Judge, however, hit an absolute bullet double 116.2 mph off the bat to make it 2-0 Yankees. It was hit so hard that it deflected off of Kevin “Superman” Pillar’s glove. It seemed like he might have been able to make a Sportscenter-worthy jump catch but he just couldn’t come down with it.

The Yankees scored another run in the seventh thanks to doubles. Starlin Castro led off the inning with a bloop double to left. Didi Gregorius, not to be outdone, followed it up with another bloop double to left to drive Castro in, 3-0 Yankees. It was not left fielder Darwin Barney’s finest defensive inning. At that point, the Yankees had four base hits and all of them were doubles.

But wait, the fun was just starting. In the top of the eighth inning, the Jays brought in Jason Grilli to relieve Joe Biagini. Gardner led off the inning with his 12th HR of the year. That was also his 12th homer in the past 124 at-bats, which is mind-boggling. The calendar just barely flipped to June and the man’s way ahead on pace to shatter his career-high (17 in 2014). He’s also hitting .270/.356/.524 after today. Not a slash that you’d expect from Gardner. That’s awfully similar to Edwin Encarnacion’s from last year (.263/.357/.529). I have no idea how long Gardy will keep it up but I’m enjoying it.

Grilli went on to retire Hicks (line out) and Judge (strike out) … then all heck broke loose. Matt Holliday, Castro and Gregorius hit back-to-back-to-back home runs to make it 7-0 in a hurry. So many home runs! That was immensely fun to watch. Holliday jogging back to the dugout, yelling “I got you Gardy!” was a crowd pleaser as well. These guys are winning and having fun. What more could you want? On the flip side, Grilli became just the third reliever ever to allow four home runs in no more than 0.2 IP, per Diane Firstman.

(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Leftovers

Many things went right for the Yankees in this game and one of them was bullpen. Adam Warren, Tyler Clippard, and Dellin Betances worked quite flawlessly (3.0 IP, 0 H, 2 BB, 4 K’s combined) in a relatively stress-free ending to a game. Today was Betances’ first appearance since May 27 vs. the Athletics. It was not a save situation but I figured that Joe Girardi wanted to put him in for some work so he can stay sharp. Betances has been as good as any reliever this season – 33 strikeouts in 18.1 IP with only 1 ER allowed all season. Folks, he is… good.

Box score, standings and WPA graph

Here’s today’s box score, updated standings and WPA graph.


Source: FanGraphs


The Yankees have secured at least a split in this series. They will go for the series win tomorrow with Luis Severino on the mound. He will face off Marcus Stroman. Should be a good matchup. Have a good Saturday, everyone.

Saturday Open Thread

Here is an open thread for the rest of the day. I hope the weather wherever you are is as great as it is here in New York today. The Mets are playing later tonight and MLB Network will air a regional game later on as well. Game Three of the Stanley Cup Finals is on too. Talk about that stuff or anything else here. Just not religion or politics. Get that outta here.

Game 53: Due For A Win

(Tom Szczerbowski/Getty)
(Tom Szczerbowski/Getty)

The Yankees have alternated wins and losses for a week now, which I guess means they’re due for a win this afternoon. Go home, nothing to see here, game is already in the bag. If only, huh? The offense has come back to life — the Yankees have scored 40 runs in their last six games — and now it’s time to get the pitching back on track.

This afternoon the ball will go to rookie Jordan Montgomery, who hasn’t pitched all that well in three of his last four starts. General baseball randomness, or the league catching up to him? Whatever it is, he and the Yankees could use a good outing today. I’m not sure how many more duds Montgomery can manage with Chance Adams looming. Here is the Blue Jays’ lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:

  1. LF Brett Gardner
  2. CF Aaron Hicks
  3. RF Aaron Judge
  4. DH Matt Holliday
  5. 2B Starlin Castro
  6. SS Didi Gregorius
  7. 3B Chase Headley
  8. C Austin Romine
  9. 1B Rob Refsnyder
    LHP Jordan Montgomery

The Rogers Centre roof is going to be open this afternoon, which means it’s a lovely afternoon in Toronto. Today’s game will begin a little after 1pm ET and both YES and MLB Network will have the broadcast. Enjoy the game.

Injury Updates: Jacoby Ellsbury (concussion) has been shut down. His headaches have returned. He’ll see a neurologist when the Yankees get back to New York on Monday. I guess this solves the “Hicks has to play every day” problem for the foreseeable future. This stinks though. Brain injuries are no joke. Hopefully Ellsbury is okay … Aroldis Chapman (shoulder) threw a light 15-pitch bullpen session today. Joe Girardi estimated a return date of June 15th.