One fourth place team leaves town, another comes in. Hopefully the Yankees do a better job of seizing the opportunity during this three-game weekend set against the White Sox than they did the Astros, eh? The Yankees and ChiSox split a four-game set on Chicago’s south side back in May.
What Have They Done Lately?
The White Sox were just swept by the Orioles in a three-game series at home and they’ve lost 12 of their last 17 games. They’re 14-17 in the second half and 59-68 with a -66 run differential overall. Chicago has the fifth worst record and third worst run differential in the AL.
At 4.24 runs per game with a team 97 wRC+, the ChiSox are very close to a league average offense. They are currently without OF Adam Eaton (117 wRC+) and OF Moises Sierra (104 wRC+) due to oblique injuries. They also just traded IF Gordon Beckham (62 wRC+) to the Angels yesterday and have yet to call up a replacement. IF Marcus Semien (71 wRC+ in limited time) and IF Carlos Sanchez (-100 wRC+ in very limited time) are 40-man roster options.
Manager Robin Ventura’s lineup revolves around 1B Jose Abreu (158 wRC+), who is second in baseball with 32 homeruns. OF Avisail Garcia (138 wRC+) was expected to miss the rest of the season after tearing up his shoulder diving for a ball back in April, but he was just activated off the disabled list. DH Adam Dunn (117 wRC+) is probably going to hit a ball or two into the short porch this weekend. SS Alexei Ramirez (102 wRC+) and 3B Conor Gillaspie (122 wRC+) play the left side of the infield. Gillaspie’s having a sneaky good year.
OF Dayan Viciedo (84 wRC+) joins OF Alejandro De Aza (86 wRC+) and OF Jordan Danks (46 wRC+ in limited time) in the outfield with Eaton and Sierra hurt. C Tyler Flowers (82 wRC+) and Rule 5 Draft pick C Adrian Nieto (85 wRC+) split catching duties. 1B Paul Konerko (75 wRC+) is just a bench player as his career winds down and UTIL Leury Garcia (10 wRC+) is the last guy on the bench. Abreu is a major threat and the ChiSox have some nice secondary pieces in Dunn, Gillaspie, Garcia, and Ramirez, so they’re not a pushover.
Friday: RHP Shane Greene (No vs. CWS) vs. LHP John Danks (vs. NYY)
It was only three weeks ago when the 29-year-old Danks was being fitted for pinstripes. The Yankees were said to have interest in the southpaw at the trade deadline, but obviously nothing came of it. Danks has a 4.94 ERA (5.08 FIP) in 25 starts and 153 innings this year, and he just hasn’t been the same since suffering a torn shoulder capsule a few years ago. His strikeout (5.88 K/9 and 14.7 K%), walk (3.41 BB/9 and 8.5 BB%), homer (1.35 HR/9 and 11.3 HR/FB%), and ground ball (40.6%) rate are all weak, and righties (.371 FIP) hit him a ton harder than lefties (.313 wOBA). Danks throws his two and four-seam fastballs in the mid-to-upper-80s post-torn capsule with his cutter a few ticks below that. An upper-70s changeup is his top secondary pitch, though he will throw a handful low-70s curveballs per start as well. Danks threw eight shutout innings against the Yankees back in May, because of course.
Saturday: RHP Hiroki Kuroda (vs. CWS) vs. RHP Scott Carroll (vs. NYY)
Carroll is a 29-year-old rookie and he’s pitching exactly like you’d expect a 29-year-old rookie to pitch: 4.99 ERA (4.93 FIP) in 97.1 innings across 14 starts and six relief appearances with a bad strikeout rate (4.62 K/9 and 11.6 K%) and okay walk (3.24 BB/9 and 8.1 BB%) and homer (1.02 HR/9 and 13.1 HR/FB%) numbers. His ground ball rate (53.8%) is very good and lefties (.385 wOBA) hit him a lot harder than righties (.322 wOBA). Carroll does throw five pitches and they’re pretty much the exact five pitches you’d expect a career minor league journeyman to throw: upper-80s two and four-seamers, low-80s changeups, low-80s sliders, and mid-70s curves. He allowed one run in two innings of relief against the Yankees the last time these two teams met.
Sunday: LHP Chris Capuano (vs. CWS) vs. LHP Chris Sale (vs. NYY)
Sigh, they were so close to missing Sale this series. The 25-year-old is arguably the best pitcher in the AL, with a 2.12 ERA (2.42 FIP) in 20 starts and 136 innings, and the only reason he isn’t neck and neck with Felix Hernandez in the Cy Young race is an elbow injury that cost him about five weeks earlier this year. Sale has elite strikeout (10.46 K/9 and 29.9 K%), walk (1.72 BB/9 and 4.9 BB%), and homer (0.60 HR/9 and 6.8 HR/FB%) rates, though he isn’t much of a ground ball pitcher (42.0%). Righties (.270 wOBA) haven’t had much luck against him this year and lefties (.160 wOBA) are completely helpless. A low-to-mid-90s two-seam fastball sets up Sale’s upper-70s slider and low-80s changeup, both of which are high-end out pitches. He’s outstanding and doesn’t get enough attention for being one of the two or three best pitchers in baseball on a per inning basis. Sale struck out ten in six shutout innings against New York in May. He was fresh off the disabled list following the elbow injury, so the only reason he didn’t pitch deeper into the game was a strict pitch limit.
Like the Yankees, the White Sox were off yesterday, so their bullpen is fresh. One-time Yankees draft pick RHP Jake Petricka (3.35 FIP) has taken over as their closer after the team tried about four different pitchers in the ninth inning. The Yankees drafted Petricka in the 34th round of the 2009 draft but did not sign him. RHP Zach Putnam (3.23 FIP) and RHP Matt Lindstrom (5.09 FIP) usually handle setup duties.
RHP Maikel Cleto (6.40 FIP in limited time), RHP Daniel Webb (4.55 FIP), LHP Erik Surkamp (6.00 FIP in limited time), and RHP Ronald Belisario (3.62 FIP) fill out the rest of the bullpen. RHP Javy Guerra (3.92 FIP) is currently on the bereavement list and will likely be activated at some point this weekend. When he comes back, Surkamp figures to go down. Check out our Bullpen Workload page for the status of the Yankees relievers, then check out South Side Sox for everything you need to know about the ChiSox.
Via Dan Barbarisi: Following yesterday’s shutout win, Brandon McCarthy said he would be open to re-signing with the Yankees after the season. “Yeah. There wouldn’t be a question in my mind about that,” he said when asked about returning to New York. “I feel like it’s a great fit for me here. The guys here have been fantastic, everybody associated with the club. And it’s living in New York — there’s so many great aspects.”
McCarthy, 31, has a 1.90 ERA (2.33 FIP) with a stellar 51/7 K/BB in eight starts and 52 innings for the Yankees. I don’t think you can expect him to pitch that well going forward, plus he has a long and scary history of shoulder injuries, but the team needs pitching and he shouldn’t require a huge contract. McCarthy is wrapping up a two-year, $18M deal right now. If they can get him on another two-year deal at, say, $20M to $24M, they should jump all over it. Especially before he actually hits free agency. · (134) ·
According to multiple reports, the Red Sox will sign Cuban free agent Rusney Castillo to a record six-year contract in the $72M range. The Yankees had Castillo in Tampa for a private workout and were said to have interest in him as a second baseman, but the other day we heard they “ended any pursuit” of him. Commence complaining. · (255) ·
I’ve got seven questions for you this week. If you want to send us anything, mailbag questions or comments or links or whatever, just use the Submit A Tip box in the sidebar at any time.
Many asked: What about playing Alex Rodriguez at shortstop next season?
We get asked this question a shocking number of times each week and I guess we can’t ignore them any longer. Alex can not play shortstop anymore. He hasn’t had the mobility for the position for about five years now based on his play at third. His arm is fine and his baseball instincts are literally the best I’ve ever seen, so I’m sure he knows what to do and all that, but physically he doesn’t move like he once did. Remember, we’re talking about a 39-year-old with two bad hips who has played 44 games total from 2013-14. By time Opening Day rolls around, it will have been 12 years since Alex played short. I’m am confident saying there is zero chance of this happening.
Assuming the Yankees don’t release A-Rod once his suspension is over — earlier this year I thought they would for sure, I think I wrote that somewhere, but now I don’t think that’s likely because he’s such a rating and ticket sale powerhouse — I’m sure they’ll try him at third base next year but wind up playing him at DH most of the time. I guess that would mean Martin Prado at third? Maybe they can teach Rodriguez to play some first base as well. But anything that requires actual mobility? I can’t see it. He’ll have to overcome a lot of physical obstacles to play the field regularly next season. Part-time third base, part-time first base, part-time DH seems like the best we could hope for going forward.
Justin asks: How does Jon Lester compare in age, innings pitched and injury history to CC Sabathia prior to his signing with the Yanks? Am I wrong to think off the top of my head that he would be well under CC’s innings total?
Sabathia was only 28 years old when he signed with the Yankees, remember. At the time of his free agency he had thrown 1,684.1 big league innings between the regular season and postseason, and his only notable injury was a torn meniscus following the 2006 season. Lester will turn 31 this offseason and he’s at 1,623.2 big league innings, so he’ll finish the year in the 1,650-1,700 range. He missed two weeks with a lat strain in 2011 and went through the cancer stuff back in the day. When Sabathia was Lester’s age, he had thrown 2,450.1 total innings. He started breaking down the next season (2012). (I’m not saying Lester will break down at the same age.) Lester’s arm is much fresher than Sabathia’s at the same point of his career, theoretically.
Paul asks: Approximately how bad would the Yankees have to be the rest of the way to get a protected draft pick? Where do you think they’ll end up picking (or which pick will they be losing to sign a qualified free agent if that’s what you think will happen)?
Because the Astros did not sign first overall pick Brady Aiken, they will receive the second overall pick as compensation next year. That pick as well as the first ten “natural” first round picks are protected from draft pick compensation. The Yankees currently have the 13th best record in baseball at 64-61, putting them in line for the 18th overall pick. The Mets have the tenth worst record at 60-68, a .469 winning percentage. Let’s say the Yankees would need to finish with a .460 winning percentage to secure a protected first round pick. That would mean a 74-88 overall record, or 10-27 in the final 37 games. The Yankees stink, but I can’t imagine they’ll play the .270-ish ball they would need to play the rest of the season to get a protected first rounder. In all likelihood they’ll end up picking in the 15-20 range.
Charlie asks: Just curious, how much longer is Big Mike under team control for? Does all of his injury time delay his arbitration? Thanks.
The Yankees did delay Michael Pineda‘s free agency and arbitration one year by activating him off the disabled list and optioned him to Triple-A last July. He should have been in his first arbitration year right now and scheduled to become a free agent after the 2016 season. Instead, Pineda will be arbitration eligible for the first time next year and hit free agency after the 2017 season, when he’ll still only be 28. Time spent on the DL is the same as the active roster for service time purposes.
Mark asks: It seems to me that as bad as the Yankees power output has been this year, a larger percentage of the few HRs that they hit have been solo HRs. Is that true?
The Yankees have hit 112 homers this season, which are broken down into 75 solo homers (67%), 27 two-run homers (24%), eight three-run homers (7%), and two grand slams (2%). Two grand slams! Remember when they hit three grand slams in one game a few years ago (video)? Good times. Good times. Anyway, the AL averages this year are 57% solo homers, 29% two-run homers, 11% three-run homers, and 2% ground slams. So yes, the Yankees have hit far more solo homers than a) any other type of homer, and b) the league average this year.
Drew asks: I know no prospect is perfect but which Yankee hitting prospect has the most complete tool set? My first initial thought was Aaron Judge, or am I missing someone? Does most complete tools equal best prospect? I’m not too sure, and it depends on how high you value a particular skill set and ceiling.
I would say Judge has the most complete set of tools in the system right now. In fact, I think he does easily. I’m not even sure who’s close at this point. Tyler Austin lacks speed and a strong arm, Greg Bird has all the hitting tools but not much else, and Jake Cave lacks power. Slade Heathcott probably has the second most complete set of tools in the system but he’s never healthy. I wouldn’t say the most complete tools automatically equals the best prospect, the quality of the tools matter as well. I would rather have a guy with 80 power, 20 speed, and 40 everything else (to use the 20-80 scouting scale for a second) than someone with 50s across the board, for example. Having a well-rounded game is good! It’s not everything though.
Drew asks: Is Mark Montgomery really having that bad of a season? Yes the walks have been an issue but overall it looks like his numbers have been pretty good. I don’t think he is a realistic option for the pen in September but more like the middle of next year after starting the year in AAA. Yes we thought it was going to happen this year but, hey things happen.
He used to have much bigger velocity, and now its settling at a lower level. He still has the performance behind it, its just not the power stuff it was before. He’s still someone that’s on our radar.
Montgomery has a 2.30 ERA (3.98 FIP) in 47 innings with a 24.1% strikeout rate and a 12.8% walk rate between Double-A and Triple-A this year. During this sicko 2012 season at High-A and Double-A, he had a 1.54 ERA (1.62 FIP) with a 39.4% strikeout rate and an 8.8% walk rate in 64.1 innings. Montgomery’s stuff hasn’t been the same since he hurt his shoulder last year and it shows in the numbers. He’s still a good relief prospect, just not the potential shutdown late-inning force we all thought he would be two years ago.
- Baseball Prospectus posted a bunch of (free!) firsthand scouting reports of Yankees prospects today, including LHP Jacob Lindgren, C Gary Sanchez, OF Tyler Austin, and OF Mason Williams. Williams got absolutely crushed, which isn’t all that surprising, sadly.
- C John Ryan Murphy was activated off the Triple-A DL. He missed a little more than a week after taking a foul tip to the face mask. C Jose Gil was placed on the phantom DL to clear a roster spot. Also, Sanchez was activated off the Double-A paternity list.
- 2B Angelo Gumbs was placed on the High-A Tampa DL with an unknown injury and RHP Caleb Cotham was bumped from the rookie Gulf Coast League up to High-A Tampa to continue rehabbing from whatever his injury was.
Triple-A Scranton (5-1 loss to Buffalo)
- LF Jose Pirela: 0-3, 1 BB, 1 SB
- 2B Rob Refsnyder: 0-2, 2 BB, 2 K — 95/49 K/BB this year after 82/84 K/BB last year
- RF Zoilo Almonte & DH Kyle Roller: both 0-4, 2 K
- 3B Scott Sizemore: 0-2, 2 BB, 1 K, 1 E (throwing)
- 1B Austin Romine: 1-4, 1 2B, 1 K
- C John Ryan Murphy: 1-3, 1 BB, 1 K, 1 PB, 1 E (throwing) –
- LHP Nik Turley: 4.2 IP, 4 H, 4 R, 1 ER, 4 BB, 4 K, 1 WP, 7/2 GB/FB — 58 of 101 pitches were strikes (57%) … 43/40 K/BB in 55 innings
- RHP Nick Rumbelow: 2.1 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 3 K, 1 WP, 2/2 GB/FB — 20 of 28 pitches were strikes (71%) … 75/17 K/BB in 53.2 innings across four levels
Earlier today, MLB announced that Robinson Cano, Albert Pujols, Adam Jones, and Yasiel Puig will headline a group of players heading over to Japan to play a five-game All-Star series against the Japanese National Team in November. Ron Washington will manage. The rest of the roster will be unveiled at a later date, and I have to think a Yankee will go given the team’s popularity and marketability. The question is who. Jacoby Ellsbury? Brett Gardner? Maybe Dellin Betances? Pitchers will be tricky because they’ll either have a long layoff (miss postseason) or a heavy workload (play in postseason). I guess we’ll find out soon enough. I’ll be very surprised if the Yankees don’t send a player.
Here is tonight’s open thread. The Staten Island Yankees will be on SNY, plus the Little League World Series is on and MLB Network will air a regional game. There’s also a preseason NFL game on as well. Lots of sports tonight. Sports sports sports. Talk about any of those games, November’s All-Star series in Japan, this afternoon’s win, or anything else right here.
I don’t think you could have asked for a better finish to the series considering how the first two games played out. Brandon McCarthy led the Yankees to a 3-0 shutout win over the Astros on Thursday afternoon in the fastest game in New Yankee Stadium history. This one took only two hours and seven minutes.
McCarthy has been a big leaguer for ten seasons now. He was part of the 2005 World Champion White Sox team, believe it or not. He’s been around for a while, and yet on Thursday afternoon he set a new career-high by starting his 26th game of the season. McCarthy started 25 games with the 2011 Athletics and 22 games in two other seasons, but that’s it. Never before had he started 26 games in one big league season. He celebrated the new career-best in style.
As has been the case since he arrived in New York, McCarthy was fantastic on Thursday. He retired the first nine men he faced and then another seven in a row at one point from the fourth through seventh innings. The final eight batters he faced also made outs. The Astros put men at second and third in both the fourth (with two outs) and seventh (one out) innings, their only serious threats. McCarthy got out of the first jam with a ground ball back to himself and the second with a strikeout and a routine pop-up. Nice and easy.
McCarthy followed that seventh inning with a perfect eighth and ninth for his fourth career shutout and first since last season. He’s the first non-Masahiro Tanaka pitcher to throw a shutout for the Yankees since Ivan Nova last September. All told, McCarthy held the Astros to two singles, two doubles, and no walks in his nine innings, striking out eight and throwing 106 pitches. He retired the side in order in every inning but the fourth and seventh. Houston hit ten balls out of the infield all afternoon. That’s it. Fantastic outing for McCarthy and exactly what the team needed given the recent state of the bullpen.
For the first time in what felt like an eternity, the Yankees scored three runs in one inning. (They actually did it Sunday.) The second inning rally was set up by Mark Teixeira and Martin Prado, who respectively singled and doubled to give the Yankees runners at second and third with no outs. It was all Chase Headley after that. Well, almost all Headley.
First, Headley reached out and poked a double into the left field corner to score Teixeira and Prado, a nice little piece of hitting against a tough pitcher in Dallas Keuchel. It was the team’s third hit with runners in scoring position of the season, give or take. After that, Headley smartly advanced to third on Francisco Cervelli‘s grounder to short. He waited until Marwin Gonzalez fielded and threw the ball to first before taking off and making it to third without a throw.
The third run scored on Ichiro Suzuki‘s sacrifice fly to center, which Dexter Fowler ran down while running in towards the infield, putting him in okay position to throw as a right-handed thrower. Headley tagged up from third anyway and beat the off-line throw to the plate. Really heads up base-running in that inning. Headley could have stayed at second on Cervelli’s grounder and no one would have thought twice about it. He could have easily played it safe on Ichiro‘s shallow fly ball as well. Very nice inning.
The best chance for the Yankees to tack on insurance runs came in the sixth, when Derek Jeter and Jacoby Ellsbury started the inning with singles to put men on first and second with no outs. Teixeira struck out, Prado grounded out to advance both runners, then Headley grounded out to end the inning. That inning and the second inning rally were the only times New York had a runner reach second base.
Teixeira was the only player in the lineup with multiple hits, and he singled twice. Both Prado and Headley doubled for the team’s only extra-base hits. Jeter, Ellsbury, and Cervelli all had singles. No one walked because that’s not something the Yankees do anymore. Tack on runs would have been nice at some point, but whatever. They’ve scored four or fewer runs in ten straight games now.
And finally, Chris Rock caught a foul ball in the seventh inning. Well, he picked it up off the ground. Didn’t really catch it. He gave it to a kid. Details you just can’t get anywhere else, folks.
Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
For the box score and video highlights, head on over to MLB.com. FanGraphs has some nerdier game stats and ESPN has the up to the second standings. The Orioles are off today, so the Yankees are now nine games back in the AL East. They’re four games back of the second wildcard spot after the Rays held on to beat the Tigers. FanGraphs has their postseason odds at 5.4%.
The White Sox come to town for a three-game weekend series next. Shane Greene and one-time Yankees trade target John Danks will the pitching matchup for Friday night’s series opener. Check out RAB Tickets if you want to catch any of the weekend games live.
Via Jon Heyman: Along with the Cubs, the Yankees are viewed as a likely landing spot for free agent-to-be left-hander Jon Lester this offseason. Heyman says a reunion with the Red Sox is considered unlikely. The Cubbies are run by Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer, who obviously know the southpaw from their time in Boston.
Lester is a great fit for the Yankees because he’s a great fit for every team in baseball. Every club could use a prime-aged workhorse left-hander with proven big market and postseason chops. The real question is whether the Yankees are willing to take on a third $20M+ annual salary pitcher, especially given the other holes on the roster. The team is very top heavy and I think they need to focus on adding several solid players rather than one star plus a bunch of replacement level guys this winter. · (97) ·
The Yankees and Astros wrap up their three-game series this afternoon and, amazingly, the Yankees are trying to avoid getting swept. They’ve lost four of five games to Houston this year, including these last two games at home. The Yankees have lost seven of their last nine games overall and their postseason hopes are fading, but avoiding a sweep at the hands of the terrible Astros (at home!) is all about preserving some dignity, you know? I can live with missing the playoffs, but getting swept by the Astros at home is a whole other level of shame. Here is the Houston lineup and here is the Yankees lineup:
- LF Brett Gardner
- SS Derek Jeter
- CF Jacoby Ellsbury
- 1B Mark Teixeira
- 2B Martin Prado
- 3B Chase Headley
- C Frankie Cervelli
- RF Ichiro Suzuki
- DH Zelous Wheeler
RHP Brandon McCarthy
It’s an okay afternoon for baseball here in New York. On the cool side and overcast, and there is rain in the forecast later this afternoon. Looks like it will hold off long enough to get a full nine innings in though. First pitch is scheduled for 1:05pm ET and you can watch on YES locally and, depending on where you live, MLB Network nationally. Try to enjoy.
Rehabbing right-hander Masahiro Tanaka will face hitters and throw live batting practice on Saturday, Joe Girardi announced. He threw his second bullpen session yesterday, including breaking balls and splitters, and everything went well enough for him to move forward in his rehab from a partially torn elbow ligament. This will be the first time Tanaka throws to hitters since getting hurt. It’s a pretty big step given the increase in intensity. · (33) ·