Yankees get walloped in Baltimore, lose 8-0 to Orioles

(Getty)

To put it succinctly, this game was not good. An 8-0 loss is, surprisingly enough, the worst ever shutout loss for the Yankees at Camden Yards. The lineup managed only two hits total while Chad Green exited early with a right elbow pain. No bueno. Aside from the fact that Jonathan Holder had a pretty nice debut inning, let’s forget this game happened.

Green = hurt

After a hit-or-miss first in which he loaded the bases but also struck out the side and allowed no runs, Green allowed the first run of the day in the second. He allowed a double to J.J. Hardy (which Jacoby Ellsbury got a bad jump to start with but I don’t think he was getting there anyway) and two batters later, an RBI single to Adam Jones to give O’s a 1-0 lead.

A batter later, Pedro Alvarez hit a fastball right down the middle for a 424 ft two-run homer. 3-0 Orioles. After walking Manny Machado, Gary Sanchez and Didi Gregorius saw something wrong with Green. Joe Girardi immediately took him out and replaced him with Nick Goody. Yikes. Goody didn’t fare that well either. He gave up a dingers Chris Davis and Mark Trumbo back-to-back. The Yankees allowed six runs after two outs, which is not what you want.

Losing Green is a bummer. He’s still a young guy but has shown flashes of brilliance in several starts. I think he can he a long-term ML pitcher but if this injury turns out to be a serious one – fingers crossed that it’s not – it could throw a wrench into the progress.

(Getty)

Bullpen arms = brought in 

As I mentioned, the Yankee bullpen had to absorb tons of innings after Green left after only 1.2 IP. Goody came in and promptly allowed back-to-back jacks. The following inning was kinder to Goody – a scoreless frame with a strikeout and a double allowed. He doesn’t strike me as a potentially dominant ML relief guy. He doesn’t have overpowering stuff and is frequently guilty of leaving pitches up to be prone to homers. Sure, he can develop and fix some of the bad habits but I don’t see a high ceiling in him.

Kirby Yates came in the fourth and took care of two innings. Like Goody, he was pretty ho-hum mediocre. While striking out two in two frames, he also allowed a two-run dinger to Manny Machado, making it 8-0 in the bottom of fourth.

The silver lining of the game happened in the sixth. Jonathan Holder, who had an incredible season in minors (13.9 K/9 and 1.0 BB/9 with 1.65 ERA across three levels), made his ML debut. Against the first hitter faced in ML – Adam Jones – Holder made it look rather easy by striking him out swinging with three fastballs. Not so shabby. He also went on to retire Alvarez and Machado to make it a clean 1-2-3 inning. I have no idea how good of an ML reliever he could be but YankeeSource guy thinks he has a ceiling of David Robertson. Any comparison to a guy like D-Rob warrants some kind of skepticism but hey, drink the kool-aid while it’s cold.

After Holder, Luis Severino and Blake Parker came in and each pitched a scoreless one. Nope, I don’t have a take about Severino being a bullpen arm long-term. He sure does look better there right now but he’s still too young to give up being an ML starter.

Leftovers

The Yankees had two hits the entire game. One of them was a Brett Gardner leadoff single in the 1st (he went on to be picked off almost immediately) and another was an Ellsbury single in the third that put their only runner in RISP all game. They did work Dylan Bundy for four walks but failed to threaten anything major.

To be fair, Bundy is a talented young guy and is capable of shutting down lineups. He will be pain in other AL East teams’ sides for a long while as long as he’s healthy.

Box Score, Highlights, WPA and Standings

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


Source: FanGraphs


Tomorrow is another day. CC Sabathia will take the mound against Kevin Gausman, who will look to give the O’s the series win. For now, enjoy this incredible photo of Camden Yards at dusk today by Patrick Smith of Getty Images.

(Getty)

DotF: Sheffield strikes out nine in Double-A debut

Got some notes to pass along, including a bunch of chain reaction roster moves:

  • In case you missed it earlier, the Yankees called up RHP Luis Severino, RHP Nick Goody, RHP Kirby Yates, UTIL Rob Refsnyder, OF Eric Young Jr., and RHP Jonathan Holder earlier today as their first round of September call-ups.
  • RHP Matt Wotherspoon, RHP J.R. Graham, RHP Mark Montgomery, UTIL Jose Rosario, and OF Mark Payton were all bumped up from Double-A Trenton to Triple-A Scranton, reports Matt Kardos. They’ll fill-in for the September call-ups.
  • LHP Justus Sheffield, RHP Matt Marsh, and RHP Eric Ruth were promoted from High-A Tampa to Trenton, the team announced. The Sheffield move was reported Wednesday, but now it’s official.
  • RHP Domingo German was activated off the High-A DL and both OF Tito Polo and LHP Stephen Tarpley have officially been added to the Tampa roster, the team announced. Polo and Tarpley came over as the players to be named later in the Ivan Nova trade a few days ago.
  • Holder, meanwhile, claimed the top spot in the final Prospect Hot Sheet of the regular season. That’s what happens when you strike out 12 batters during a four-inning postseason-clinching save. Quite a week for Holder.
  • And finally, 2B Nick Solak made Baseball America’s Prospect Team of the Month for August, so congrats to him.

Triple-A Scranton (2-1 win over Buffalo, walk-off style) their season ends Monday … they’ve already clinched a postseason spot

  • CF Mason Williams: 0-3, 1 RBI — drove in the game-tying run with a sac fly in the eighth
  • RF Mark Payton: 1-3, 1 BB, 1 SB — threw a runner out at the plate in his Triple-A debut
  • 3B Donovan Solano: 1-4, 2 K
  • 1B Chris Parmelee: 1-3, 1 R, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 1 K — walk-off home run
  • C Kyle Higashioka: 0-3, 2 K
  • LF Jake Cave: 0-3, 1 K
  • RHP Bryan Mitchell: 5.1 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 6 K, 1 HB, 7/2 GB/FB — 57 of 91 pitches were strikes (63%) … so does he make Chad Green‘s start in five days?
  • LHP James Pazos: 0.2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 0 K, 1/0 GB/FB — seven pitches, four strikes
  • RHP Gio Gallegos: 2 IP, zeroes, 4 K, 1/1 GB/FB — 17 of 27 pitches were strikes (63%) … 103/17 K/B in 75.2 innings
  • RHP J.R. Graham: 1 IP, zeroes, 1 K, 0/1 GB/FB — eight of ten pitches were strikes

[Read more…]

Game 133: Control What You Can Control

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Let’s do some quick math. Right now the second wildcard spot has a .541 winning percentage, which works out to 88 wins across a full season. The Yankees need to go 19-11 the rest of the get to reach 88 wins. Their best 30-game stretch this season is 18-12 from July 9th through August 13th, so it’s not impossible for this group. Long shot? Yes. But not impossible.

Here’s where it gets complicated: the Tigers have tied the Orioles for the second wildcard spot, and the Yankees don’t play Detroit the rest of the season. They’re going to need help from the Indians and Royals and, sigh, the White Sox and Twins. The Yankees have a brutal schedule this month. The Tigers have it pretty easy. There’s nothing the Yankees can do about that though. They can only control what they can control, and that starts with tonight’s game against the Orioles. Here is the O’s lineup and here is the Yanks’ lineup:

  1. LF Brett Gardner
  2. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  3. C Gary Sanchez
  4. 1B Mark Teixeira
  5. SS Didi Gregorius
  6. 2B Starlin Castro
  7. DH Brian McCann
  8. 3B Chase Headley
  9. RF Aaron Judge
    RHP Chad Green

It is cool, cloudy, and humid in Baltimore. Not exactly baseball weather, but it’ll do. Tonight’s game is scheduled to begin at 7:05pm ET and you can watch on YES. Enjoy the game.

Injury Update: Aaron Hicks (hamstring) has a Grade II strain, Joe Girardi told reporters this afternoon. He hurt himself running out a ground ball last night. The Yankees won’t place Hicks on the disabled list because there’s no need with expanded rosters, but this is going to keep him out a few weeks. Crud.

Guest Post: Aaron Hicks in August

The following is a guest post from Carlo Macomber, who goes by CoryWadeDavis in the comments. He’s previous written guest posts about Masahiro Tanaka, Didi Gregorius, and Jacoby Ellsbury.

(Christopher Pasatieri/Getty)
(Christopher Pasatieri/Getty)

From April through July, Aaron Hicks struggled mightily in his first season with the Yankees. There are no two ways about it. Hicks hit .187/.251/.287 (41 wRC+) in 232 relatively sporadic PAs. That is unacceptable for a Major League player, but, to the disappointment of most fans, the Yankees stuck with Hicks through all of his struggles.

The Yankees have been rewarded for their patience as Hicks hit .280/.330/.439 (107 wRC+) in 88 PAs during the month of August. By no coincidence, Hicks’ much improved hitting has matched up perfectly with the Carlos Beltran trade that has allowed him to play regularly. However, all players are constantly making adjustments at the plate, and surely Hicks is no different.

Unfortunately, Hicks suffered a hamstring injury on the last day of the month. Nevertheless, let’s look to see what other differences there have been this month for Aaron Hicks other than simply playing regularly, while of course keeping in mind that this is only a small sample size.

Unsurprisingly, Hicks hit the ball harder in August than he had the first four months of the season. His hard contact rate in August is at 30.3%, up from 25.6% from April-July. His soft contact rate also dropped to 13.6% from 20.2%. This is clearly good news, especially because it shows that Hicks’ improved batting line is not entirely BABIP driven. His BABIP has increased significantly, from .220 in April-July to .306 in August, but the latter number is not absurdly high and seems to be the result of Hicks making much better contact.

Along with hitting the ball harder, Hicks has also managed to hit the ball in the air with more frequency this month. Check out this batted ball data:

Months GB% LD% FB%
April-July 49.4% 15.7% 34.9%
August 35.4% 21.5% 43.1%

While the drop in GB% is certainly noticeable, Hicks’ August LD% is quite encouraging. If Hicks had a 21.5% LD% on the entire season, he would be nearly tied with Buster Posey and in the vicinity of players like Miguel Cabrera. Of course, this is not to say Hicks will ever be remotely close to Posey or Cabrera offensively, but it is certainly encouraging that he is capable of putting up a similar LD%, even in the small sample of a single month.

Also, as baseball fans know, players with elite speed can thrive with high ground-ball rates, the vast majority of players are better off hitting the ball in the air with frequency. Didi Gregorius, a player somewhat similar to Hicks in terms of speed, has managed to drop his GB% from 44.7% last year to 42% this season. This has, of course, coincided with Didi’s breakout offensive season. Hicks’ April-July GB% was simply too high for him to have sustainable, non-BABIP driven offensive success. While his August GB% may not be completely sustainable given where has was for much of the year, if he could maintain a ground-ball rate around Didi’s 2016 level, Hicks could notice more continued success in the future.

Now, let’s take a look to see how Hicks has done more damage offensively based on pitch selection. Because Hicks only had a small number of PAs from the right side of the plate in August, the following comparison is going to focus on Hicks’ PAs from the left side (against right-handed pitching). With that being said, the graphic below shows (from the catcher’s point of view) Hicks’ swing rate on four-seam fastballs against right-handed pitching from April through July.

Aaron Hicks1

Hicks was quite aggressive on fastballs just about anywhere in the zone as well as fastballs up and out of the zone for the first four months of the season. Being aggressive on fastballs in the zone is generally a positive, but considering that Hicks pulled the ball at a 46.4% clip during this time frame, he probably would be better off attacking pitches on the inner-half of the plate only. (For reference, Brian McCann pulls the ball 49.8% of the time so far this season.)

Additionally, while Hicks struggled mightily overall during this time, he did minimal damage on fastballs up and out of the zone, which is not particularly surprising given the location, but is quite poor considering how often he chased those pitches. Hicks struggled so much from April-July, that it would seem difficult to find one particular issue. His fastball selection, however, certainly stands out as contributing to his struggles. Now, let’s take a look at the same chart except with the time period being the entire month of August.

Aaron Hicks3

While keeping in mind that one month is obviously a smaller sample size than four, Hicks was much more successful at laying off fastballs up and out of the zone. Those types of fastballs can be challenging to do much damage with, so this stands out as a clear improvement for Hicks! Another noticeable difference between the two charts is that Hicks has also been more selective within the strike zone. While still swinging at some fastballs in the outer part of the zone, Hicks has taken more of them, while looking to attack fastballs on the inner-half of the plate. He has even been slightly more likely to swing at fastballs in and off the plate. Given his tendencies to pull the ball, Hicks has improved greatly in August by being more selective with fastballs and looking to attack ones located on the inner-half of the plate.

Of course, the sample size of pitches that meet these criteria is quite small, but Hicks has done quite a bit of damage in August on fastballs on the inner-half of the plate. The increased selectivity has been paying off, as Hicks was an above-average offensive player for the month of August. However, it is, of course, unknown whether Hicks can sustain this kind of success over a longer period of time. Perhaps, he simply had a good month. The increased hard contact rate, increased line drive rate, and better fastball pitch selection, among other improvements, do provide a little bit of evidence that Hicks may have made real gains in his development. His recent injury obviously creates another obstacle on his path to sustaining this success, but it is certainly fair to say the month of August provided hope for Aaron Hicks as a hitter.

9/2 to 9/4 Series Preview: Baltimore Orioles

(Mitchell Layton/Getty)
(Mitchell Layton/Getty)

The Yankees are about to wrap-up a pretty important 12-game stretch against three wildcard competitors. They took two of three from the Mariners, two of three from the Orioles, two of three from the Royals, and now they play three more against the Orioles this weekend. This series is in Baltimore though, not the Bronx. The Yankees are 7-6 against the O’s this season, but they’ve lost two of three in each of their two previous visits to Camden Yards.

What Have They Done Lately?

Like I said, the Yankees beat the Orioles twice in three games last weekend at Yankee Stadium. The O’s returned home after that and lost two of three to the Blue Jays earlier this week. Baltimore is struggling, folks. They’ve lost five of their last seven games and 14 of their last 23 games. The O’s and Tigers have identical 72-61 records and they’re tied for the second wildcard spot. The Yankees are 2.5 games back. This series is: huge.

Offense & Defense

The Orioles can score runs. That’s what they do. Their pitching is a bit shaky but their bats are going to do damage. They come into this series averaging 4.69 runs per game with a team 102 wRC+. Their 209 home runs are the most in baseball. No one else has hit 200 yet. The O’s have two injured position players: OF Joey Rickard (85 wRC+) is out long-term with a thumb issue, and CF Adam Jones (102 wRC+) is day-to-day with a hamstring problem. He missed two games in New York with it last weekend.

Schoop. (Ronald Martinez/Getty)
Schoop. (Ronald Martinez/Getty)

Jones had been hitting leadoff, but since his injury, manager Buck Showalter has used four different leadoff hitters in five games. The O’s just picked up OF Michael Bourn (73 wRC+) from the Diamondbacks to add outfield depth and I wouldn’t at all be surprised if he leads off tonight, should Jones remain out of the lineup. The middle of the order is 3B Manny Machado (138 wRC+), 1B Chris Davis (113 wRC+), and RF Mark Trumbo (121 wRC+). That’s the scary part of the lineup. Those dudes can all hit the ball a very long way when they connect.

OF Hyun-Soo Kim (123 wRC+) and UTIL Steve Pearce (144 wRC+) have been platooning in left lately, and DH Pedro Alvarez (115 wRC+) starts against righties. 2B Jonathan Schoop (108 wRC+), SS J.J. Hardy (81 wRC+), and C Matt Wieters (80 wRC+) are the other regulars. OF Nolan Reimold (79 wRC+) is the extra outfielder, UTIL Ryan Flaherty (61 wRC+) is the extra do everything player, and C Francisco Pena (36 wRC+) is the backup catcher. The Orioles have not announced their September call-ups as of this writing, so I’m not sure who else is on the bench.

The Yankees and Orioles just played last week, so I’m going to take the easy way out and copy and paste what I wrote about Baltimore’s team defense in the last series preview:

Defensively, the O’s are very good up the middle with Wieters, Hardy, Schoop, and Jones. Machado is outstanding at third base and Davis is underrated at first. Trumbo is a nightmare in right and none of the guys they use in left are anything to write home about. It’s a solid team defense overall with a glaring weakness in right.

The only difference now will be Bourn over Jones, which is a downgrade. Bourn’s legs are not what they used to be.

Pitching Matchups

Friday (7:05pm ET): RHP Chad Green (vs. BAL) vs. RHP Dylan Bundy (vs. NYY)
After several years of injuries, the Orioles are finally getting some value from the still only 23-year-old Bundy. He has a 3.71 ERA (4.45 FIP) in 85 innings overall this season, including a 4.21 ERA (5.08 FIP) in nine starts and 47 innings since moving into the rotation. Bundy’s strikeout rate (24.5%) has been very good as a starter, but his walk (8.7%), grounder (38.0%), and homer (1.91 HR/9) numbers are a bit of a problem. Righties have hit him harder than lefties so far this season. As a starter, Bundy works with a 93-95 mph fastball as well as a mid-80s changeup and an upper-70s curveball. The changeup was very good last week. The Yankees scored five runs in four innings against Bundy last weekend, the only time they’ve seen him as a starter this season. (He threw 3.2 innings of relief against them earlier this year.)

Saturday (7:05pm ET): LHP CC Sabathia (vs. BAL) vs. RHP Kevin Gausman (vs. NYY)
Blah. Can’t escape him. Gausman, 25, has achieved Yankees Killer™ status this season. He has a solid 3.73 ERA (4.16 FIP) in 24 starts and 140 innings overall, and that’s broken down into a 0.98 ERA in four starts against the Yankees and a 4.41 ERA in 20 starts against everyone else. His strikeout (23.6%) and walk (6.4%) numbers are good, his grounder (43.1%) and homer (1.48 HR/9) rates less so. Righties have hit Gausman harder than lefties and that’s not unusual because he has a nasty mid-80s splitter. His fastball sits mid-to-high-90s and he’ll also throw some low-80s curveballs. Here are Gausman’s four starts against the Yankees this season: eight scoreless innings in April, one run in six innings in June, two runs in 6.2 innings in July, and seven scoreless innings last weekend. I really don’t know what the Yankees could do at this point. The regulars haven’t gotten it done against Gausman this year, so maybe change it up and give guys like Austin Romine and Rob Refsnyder and Ronald Torreyes a crack at him? It might be worth a try at this point.

Kevin F. Gausman. (Rob Carr/Getty)
Kevin F. Gausman. (Rob Carr/Getty)

Sunday (1:35pm ET): RHP Michael Pineda (vs. BAL) vs. LHP Wade Miley (vs. NYY)
I didn’t understand the point of the Miley trade at all. The O’s traded a Major League ready pitching prospect (Ariel Miranda) the projection systems like more than Miley to the Mariners for Miley, and took on a boatload of money in the process. The veteran southpaw has 7.14 ERA (4.94 FIP) in six starts with Baltimore too. LOL Orioles, I guess. Miley, 29, has a 5.43 ERA (4.80 FIP) in 25 starts and 141 total innings this season. His underlying stats are completely forgettable (18.2 K%, 7.0 BB%, 46.7 GB%, 1.53 HR/9) and righties have hammered him all year. These days Miley sits in the low-90s with his four-seamer and sinker, and pairs them with low-to-mid-80s changeups and sliders. He’ll also toss a few upper-70s curves per start too. The Yankees have not seen Miley at all this season. Not when he was with Seattle and not since he joined the Orioles.

As for the Yankees, I can’t help but wonder if they’ll use yesterday’s off-day to shuffle their rotation once again, allowing Masahiro Tanaka to pitch Sunday instead of Pineda. Tanaka would be on normal rest and he only threw 71 pitches in five innings last time out because of the rain delay, so it’s definitely doable. That would allow the Yankees to throw their ace against the team they’re chasing in the wildcard race. Maybe that decision depends on how the first two games of the series go. Remember, they flipped Sabathia and Pineda for matchup reasons last weekend.

Bullpen Status

Given the state of their rotation, I’m sure Showalter will be very happy to have a bunch of extra relievers on his roster now that it’s September. They’re still without ace setup man RHP Darren O’Day, who is out with a shoulder problem. His return is not imminent. Here is the O’s current bullpen:

Closer: LHP Zach Britton (0.67 ERA/2.01 FIP)
Setup: RHP Brad Brach (1.76/2.71)
Middle: RHP Mychal Givens (3.63/3.47), RHP Tommy Hunter (4.18/3.10), LHP Donnie Hart (0.00/2.93)
Long: RHP Oliver Drake (8.10/5.24), RHP Vance Worley (3.51/4.53)

Like I said earlier, the Orioles have not yet announced their September call-ups, so I’m not sure who else they’ll have in the bullpen tonight. You can be sure there will be a bunch of extra arms out there though.

Britton has been off-the-charts good this season and Brach has been excellent as well, though he’s come back down to Earth a bit in the second half. Givens is the No. 3 guy at the moment. Like the Yankees and most of the rest of the league, the Orioles had an off-day yesterday, so their bullpen is as fresh as it’s going to get this late in the season.

Update: The Orioles have called up RHP Tyler Wilson, C Caleb Joseph, and LHP Jayson Aquino, the team announced. Also, Bourn and OF Drew Stubbs were added the roster as well. They were acquired in minor moves earlier this week. There’s the O’s first wave of call-ups.

Yanks add Severino, five others as first round of call-ups

(Rich Schultz/Getty)
(Rich Schultz/Getty)

The Yankees added six players to the active roster today as their first round of September call-ups, the team announced. The six players: Luis Severino, Nick Goody, Rob Refsnyder, Kirby Yates, Eric Young Jr., and Jonathan Holder. It’s safe to assume all six will be with the team and available for tonight’s series opener against the Orioles.

Severino, Goody, Refsnyder, and Yates were expected to come up. They’ve all gone up-and-down a few times this season and those guys are typically among the first ones called up when rosters expand. Severino is going to pitch in relief and chances are he’ll assume a prominent late-inning role right away. He was in the Triple-A Scranton rotation, so he’s good for three or four innings at a time, if necessary.

Holder is the most interesting call-up. Earlier this week it was reported the Yankees would not call anyone up before they are Rule 5 Draft eligible, which Holder is not. They have a massive 40-man roster crunch coming after the season, and adding Holder before it was necessary would further clog things up. Brian Cashman told Joel Sherman he decide to call Holder up because he gives the team the best chance to win.

“I changed my mind,” said the GM. “I wrestled back and forth with it, but the bottom line is we are 2.5 out with a month to go and (Holder) is better than some guys we have already promoted. He’s earned the right to be here. It was a roster issue that he wasn’t coming. But this will get his feet wet. He will get some exposure and we will find out what he is capable of.”

Young was acquired earlier this week to serve as the designated pinch-runner. The only time we’ll see Young play the field or hit is in the late innings of blowouts. Both Young and Holder had to be added to the 40-man roster. One takes Ben Gamel‘s spot, and to clear the other, Nick Rumbelow was recalled from Triple-A and placed on the 60-day DL. He’s rehabbing from Tommy John surgery. Not sure why they didn’t just transfer Nathan Eovaldi to the 60-day DL. Whatevs.

Right now the only healthy players on the 40-man roster and not in the big leagues are Johnny Barbato, Richard Bleier, J.R. Graham, Bryan Mitchell, James Pazos, and Mason Williams. Mitchell, Pazos, and Williams all missed significant time with injury this season, so they’ll remain in Triple-A and continue to get regular playing time. I’m sure most of these guys will be called up later this month.