Game 133: Severino Friday

(Jim McIsaac/Getty)
(Jim McIsaac/Getty)

The Yankees are back home and they’ll be home for a while. This is the start of a ten-game homestand against three division rivals, all of whom have some sort of postseason aspirations. The Rays may be ten games back in the AL East, but they are only 4.5 games back of a wildcard spot. October isn’t out of reach yet.

Young Luis Severino will be on the mound tonight for his sixth big league start and his third at home. The Yankees are 2-3 in his five starts but that’s not Severino’s fault. He has a 2.17 ERA. They just don’t score for him. The Yankees have scored 15 runs in his five starts — six in one game! — and only eight when Severino was actually on the mound. They owe him. Here is Tampa’s lineup and here is New York’s lineup:

  1. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  2. LF Brett Gardner
  3. RF Carlos Beltran
  4. C Brian McCann
  5. DH Alex Rodriguez
  6. 1B Greg Bird
  7. 3B Chase Headley
  8. SS Didi Gregorius
  9. 2B Stephen Drew
    RHP Luis Severino

It is cloudy in New York but there is no rain in the forecast. It’s pretty cool too. Temperatures have been in the low-80s all day and will dip into the 70s tonight. Tonight’s game is scheduled to begin at 7:05pm ET and you can watch on YES. Enjoy.

Injury Updates: CC Sabathia (knee) threw approximately 60 pitches in a simulated game this afternoon with a heavier brace and felt “great.” The Yankees will see how he feels in the coming days, and if all goes well, he’ll start Wednesday … in case you missed it earlier, Mark Teixeira (leg) was placed on the 15-day DL. It was a procedural move to get Nick Rumbelow back on the roster before his ten days were up. Teixeira, by the way, is still on crutches but said he “100%” expects to play again this season.

9/4 to 9/6 Series Preview: Tampa Bay Rays

Kevin Kiermaier

Tonight the Yankees begin a ten-game homestand with the first of three against the Rays. This is a Very Important Homestand as far as the AL East race goes. The Yankees really need to take care of business these next ten days at home. Can’t have a repeat of the last homestand. Not if they want to win the division. Anyway, the Yankees are 8-5 against the Rays this season, including 4-2 at Yankee Stadium.

What Have The Rays Done Lately?

Tampa Bay took two of three from the fading Orioles in Baltimore earlier this week but are still 4-6 in their last ten games overall. Remember when the AL East was a wide-open four-team race a few weeks back? That’s not the case anymore. The Rays are in third place at 66-67 (-11 run differential), a whopping 8.5 games behind the Yankees. The division is a two-horse race now.

Offense & Defense

Despite a team 99 wRC+, the Rays have scored the second fewest runs (506) among AL teams this year, barely better than the White Sox (505). The disconnect between the wRC+ and runs total stems from their inability to cash in run scoring opportunities — the Rays have an 89 wRC+ with runners in scoring position and unfathomable 55 OPS+ with the bases loaded. (FanGraphs doesn’t have a bases loaded split, so no wRC+, had to go with OPS+).

Forsythe. (David Banks/Getty)
Forsythe. (David Banks/Getty)

Rookie manager Kevin Cash is currently without OF Steven Souza (wrist), OF Desmond Jennings (knee), and C Curt Casali (hamstring), all of whom are on the DL and will not return this series. Cash can still build his lineup around 3B Evan Longoria (110 wRC+) even though his production is not what it once was. UTIL Logan Forsythe (134 wRC+) is having an excellent year and 1B James Loney (86 wRC+) always kills the Yankees. They can’t get him out.

SS Asdrubal Cabrera (101 wRC+) and OF Kevin Kiermaier (96 wRC+) both play everyday while OF Grady Sizemore (79 wRC+), 1B/OF Daniel Nava (57 wRC+), OF Brandon Guyer (127 wRC+), and OF Joey Butler (107 wRC+) all kinda rotate in the outfield corners. DH John Jaso (129 wRC+) not longer catches and is the DH only. C Rene Rivera (37 wRC+) is the starting catcher with Casali out. C J.P. Arencibia, C Luke Maile, IF Tim Beckham, and IF Richie Shaffer are the September call-ups.

Overall, the Rays have a strong team defense with excellent defenders in center (Kiermaier), on the infield corners (Longoria and Loney), and behind the plate (Rivera). Asdrubal and Forsythe are serviceable on the middle infield and everyone in that outfield rotation other than Guyer is a weak spot. Back in the day the Rays would catch everything. It was annoying. Now? Not so much.

Pitching Matchups

Friday (7pm ET): RHP Luis Severino (No vs. TB) vs. RHP Jake Odorizzi (vs. NYY)
Odorizzi, 25, has been excellent when healthy this year, pitching to a 3.18 ERA (3.17 FIP) in 22 starts and 133 innings. He missed a few weeks with an oblique problem earlier this summer. Odorizzi has good strikeout (21.4%) and walk (6.0%) rates, but he doesn’t keep the ball on the ground (39.7%) and he doesn’t give up homers either (0.68 HR/9). He’s become adept at getting weak pop-ups. Righties (.317 wOBA) have hit Odorizzi harder than lefties (.262 wOBA) — he had a reverse split last year as well — and it’s worth noting he has been much more effective at home (2.61 ERA and 2.72 FIP) than on the road (3.68 FIP and 3.56 FIP) this year. Odorizzi’s money-maker is a filthy mid-80s splitter he learned from teammate Alex Cobb. It gave him the swing-and-miss pitch he needed to be something more than a back-end starter. He also throws low-90s four-seamers, mid-80s cutters, and a few slow upper-60s curveballs. It’s almost like an eephus pitch. The Yankees have seen Odorizzi twice this year, scoring three runs in six innings in April and four runs in 6.1 innings in May.

Saturday (1pm ET): RHP Nathan Eovaldi (vs. TB) vs. LHP Matt Moore (vs. NYY)
Moore is a Tommy John surgery cautionary tale. He had his elbow rebuilt last year, came back this summer, and had an 8.78 ERA (5.61 FIP) in six starts and 26.2 innings before the team had to send him to the minors. Moore was better in Triple-A (3.57 ERA and 3.26 FIP in 40.1 innings) and this will be his first start with the big league team since early-August. Moore’s strikeout (12.9%) and walk (9.9%) rates were ghastly before being sent down (34.9% and 7.2% in Triple-A, respectively), as were his grounder (35.7%) and homer (1.35 HR/9) rates. Righties (.448 wOBA) and lefties (.362 wOBA) both smacked him around. He looked nothing like the pre-Tommy John surgery Matt Moore, basically. Before getting sent down, the 26-year-old sat in the low-90s with his two and four-seam fastballs and in the low-80s with his changeup, his go-to secondary pitch. He also throws an upper-80s slider. The Yankees have not faced Moore since before he had his elbow rebuilt.

Moore. (Brian Blanco/Getty)
Moore. (Brian Blanco/Getty)

Sunday (1pm ET): RHP Ivan Nova (vs. TB) vs. RHP Chris Archer (vs. NYY)
The Yankees managed to avoid Archer a few times earlier this season, but not this series. The 26-year-old has a 2.78 ERA (2.56 FIP) in 28 starts and 181 innings with dynamite strikeout (30.8%), walk (6.4%), grounder (46.3%), and homer (0.75 HR/9) numbers. He’s dominated both righties (.263 wOBA) and lefties (.250 wOBA). Archer uses mid-90s two and four-seamers to set up his upper-80s slider, which is the best slider in baseball. At least among right-handed pitchers. It’s devastating. He also throws a handful of mid-80s changeups per start. The slider is what makes him an ace though. Unhittable pitch. Archer has faced the Yankees twice this year, allowing two runs in seven innings in May and then throwing 6.2 scoreless innings in July.

Bullpen Status
Like the Yankees, the Rays had an off-day yesterday, so their bullpen is relatively fresh. RHP Brad Boxberger (3.40 ERA/4.10 FIP) is closing and right now RHP Alex Colome (3.71/3.77) is setting him up. Colome started the season in the rotation but later moved to the bullpen. LHP Jake McGee, Boxberger’s usual setup man, is done for the season following knee surgery.

RHP Steve Geltz (3.73/3.90), LHP Xavier Cedeno (2.25/3.46), RHP Brandon Gomes (3.56/3.95), and RHP Matt Andriese (4.45/4.21) are the team’s other regular relievers. LHP C.J. Riefenhauser, LHP Enny Romero, and RHP Kirby Yates are the extra September arms. Head over to our Bullpen Workload page for the status of Joe Girardi‘s expanded bullpen, then head over to The Process Report and DRays Bay for the latest on the Rays.

Sherman: Yankees not looking to add first base help this month

(Jim Rogash/Getty)
(Jim Rogash/Getty)

Even though Mark Teixeira will be sidelined for at least another two weeks and Greg Bird occasionally looks like he’s in over his head as a big league regular, Brian Cashman told Joel Sherman he is not looking to add first base help right now. Cashman essentially said they won’t be able to find anything better than what they currently have.

Now that we are in September, any player the Yankees acquire will not be eligible for the postseason roster. There are no exceptions whatever. The deadline to acquire a player and have him be postseason-eligible was midnight Monday and the Yankees did not add anyone. Their only notable in-season trade pickup this year was Dustin Ackley.

That said, the Yankees could still make a trade and add a player to help for the rest of the regular season. You’ve got to first get to the postseason before you can worry about the postseason roster, right? The Yankees have done this recently too — two years ago they acquired Brendan Ryan from the Mariners in mid-September when Derek Jeter went down with an injury.

At this point though, the trade market is barren. Sherman tossed out the idea of Chris Carter or Casey McGehee as potential platoon partners for Bird, but yuck. Mike Olt was designated for assignment a few days ago and could be another option, but again, how much is he moving the needle? Acquiring any of those three guys would be trying to catch lightning in the bottle, nothing more.

Hopefully Teixeira’s bone bruise heals up soon and he can return to action within that two-week timetable. Until then, I say stick with Bird. He’s held his own against lefties so far. The alternatives are not good at all. Cashman’s not looking for first base help and there’s no first base to be had anyway. Let the kid show what he can do.  This is Bird’s time to shine.

Greg Bird

(The GIF was dumped in the comments a few weeks ago and I have no idea who to credit.)

Yankees place Mark Teixeira on 15-day DL, recall Nick Rumbelow


The Yankees have placed Mark Teixeira on the 15-day DL with a right shin bone bruise, the team announced. The move is retroactive is August 27th. Nick Rumbelow was called up from Triple-A Scranton in a corresponding move.

This is nothing more than a procedural move. Placing Teixeira on the DL allows them to bring Rumbelow back before his ten days in the minors are up. Rumbelow was sent down following last Wednesday’s game and was not eligible to be recalled until Sunday, so this move gets him back two days early.

Teixeira has been sidelined by the bone bruise for nearly three weeks now, but he did play in two games last week (started one, pinch-hit in the other), so they couldn’t backdate the DL stint any further. He’s expected to miss at least another two weeks anyway. The DL move won’t delay his return.

Rumbelow has a 2.79 ERA (3.55 FIP) in 9.2 innings across multiple call-ups this year. The Yankees now have an eleven-man bullpen thanks to expanded rosters, and it’ll become a 12-man bullpen when Nick Goody‘s ten days are up. He was sent down the same day as Rumbelow and will be back this weekend.

Mailbag: Samardzija, Cano, Strasburg, Gregorius, Lineups

Ten questions in the mailbag his week. Email any mailbag questions to RABmailbag (at) gmail (dot) com throughout the week. The “For The Mailbag” form is kaput.

Samardzija. (Jamie Squire/Getty)
Samardzija. (Jamie Squire/Getty)

Daniel asks: Do you think Jeff Samardzija can be had on a 1-year pillow contract? He’s made over $30m in his career so he might be interested in holding out for a big deal after 2016 instead of taking a medium-sized deal after this season. Think 1/$15m could work?

I think it’s possible. He’s having a really down year (4.87 ERA and 4.13 FIP) but was excellent just last season (2.99 ERA and 3.20 FIP), so it’s not like you have to look far back to see the last time he was really good. Samardzija is only 30, and while he’s established himself as a workhorse (sixth in innings since 2013), his arm is ostensibly fresher than most 30-year-olds’ because he spent a few years as a reliever and split time between baseball and football as an amateur.

At the same time, this might be Samardzija’s last best chance at a big payday. If he has just an okay year in 2016, the contract offers might not be so great after the season for a guy closing in on 32 who is more hype than production. How much is he willing to bet on himself? That’s the real question. The Yankees do have several ties to Samardzija — Larry Rothschild was his first big league pitching coach and special assistant Jim Hendry was the Cubs GM when they drafted Samardzija — so I do think he’ll be on their radar this winter, especially if he’s willing to take a one-year pillow contract. That would fit the roster/future payroll nicely and free up Ivan Nova for a trade.

James asks: What would the Yankees have gotten had they traded Robinson Cano in the final year of his contract? Considering the Yankees (should have) known he was going to get a massive contract should they have traded him?

I could have sworn I remember reading somewhere that the front office wanted to explore trading Cano back in 2013 because they knew they were unlikely to re-sign him, but ownership nixed the idea. Can’t find it now though. Maybe it was a dream. Anyway, Cano was a super-elite player back then and even one year of him would have netted a handsome prospect package. David Price was just traded for a top 20 overall prospect (Daniel Norris), a big league ready starter (Matt Boyd), and a Single-A lottery ticket (Jairo Labourt). A similar package for Cano would have been appropriate. From what team? Who knows. The trade landscape was very different back then. Not trading Cano looks like a mistake in hindsight. I think the bigger mistake was not doing enough that season to get him help to make a run in Mariano Rivera‘s final season.

John asks: What happens to the players on the Gulf Coast League teams after their season ends? Do they all just go home, or do some or all of them hang around Tampa waiting to see if they’re needed at the other minor league squads until those seasons are done?

Many are sent home after the season but some are assigned to other affiliates — Donny Sands joined Low-A Charleston, for example, and some pitchers joined other teams — for the final week of the regular season and postseason. Others are kept around Tampa to stay sharp leading up to Instructional League, which starts fairly soon. In a week or so. Once the minor league season ends for all affiliates, guys either go home or are assigned to Instructs.

(Patrick Smith/Getty)
(Patrick Smith/Getty)

Kevin asks: Who would say no to a trade along the lines of Brett Gardner, Ivan Nova and Gary Sanchez for Steven Strasburg and Danny Espinosa trade this offseason?

The Nationals would. They won’t sell low on Strasburg like that. Gardner is awesome, and he would definitely help the Nationals, but a 32-year-old is not going to be the centerpiece of a deal for Strasburg. Nova will be a free agent after next season and Sanchez is just a prospect. Strasburg is a borderline ace when healthy. (I know people like to say he hasn’t lived up to the hype, but he had a 3.02 ERA and 2.84 FIP in 649.1 career innings coming into 2015. What more do you want?) Espinosa’s bat has bounced back now that he stopped trying to play through injuries — he played through a broken wrist and a torn rotator cuff in recent years — so he’s a quality two-way middle infielder under control through 2017. Three years of Gardner, one year of a back-end starter, and a Triple-A prospect isn’t enough to get one year of a potential ace and two years of a quality middle infielder.

Chris asks: Domingo German. Looking at the 40-man roster on the Yankees site, it looks like he’s only on the 15-day DL. It would seem to be the simplest way to open a spot on the 40-man roster. Am I missing something? Is putting him on the 60-day something that costs them something in terms of his clock?

German was on the High-A Tampa DL all season after having Tommy John surgery during Spring Training. He was in big league camp because he’s on the 40-man roster — the Marlins added him last offseason because he was Rule 5 Draft eligible — but the team was able to send him down despite the injury because he’s yet to make his MLB debut. They did the same with Manny Banuelos following his Tommy John surgery a few years ago. Anyway, German would have accrued service time had the Yankees placed him on the big league 60-day DL to clear a 40-man roster spot. They would have lost an entire year of team control. (They called German up to 60-day DL him and clear a 40-man spot earlier this week, but one month of service time isn’t a huge deal.) The Yankees had to either burn a year of control or burn a minor league option with German this season, and they went with the option. I don’t blame them.

Nico asks: Is it theoretically possible that a team could put a player who they know to have non-public injury problems on waivers, then just let the claiming team have him? I’m assuming it’s against the rules somehow, but how so? Are waiver claims subject to a physical?

Injured players inevitably end up on waivers — not on purpose, of course — and if the claiming team finds the player is hurt, the league will void the claim and send him back to his former team. The injury is going to show up eventually and they can determine if it was suffered before or after the claim. This happened a few years ago with Brian Schlitter. The Yankees claimed Schlitter from the Cubs in January 2011, the Phillies claimed him from the Yankees in February 2011, then the Phillies found an injury in Spring Training, so the league cancelled all the claims and Schlitter went back to the Cubs. Anthony Varvaro’s waiver claim was rescinded earlier this year due to injury, as another example. Intentionally placing an injured player on waivers in an effort to foist him onto another team isn’t cool, man. It’s straight up unethical.

Nik asks: Austin Romine is 26 now. We’ve been hearing his name forever. How long before the Yanks cut bait on him? It seems he’s always “in the mix” but yet the Yankees keep drafting or trading for someone who ends up ahead of Romine on the pecking order.

They essentially did cut bait with Romine earlier this year when they outrighted him off the 40-man roster. He cleared waivers and was able to spend the year in Triple-A Scranton, which was nice from a depth perspective, but he has been passed on the catching depth chart by John Ryan Murphy and Sanchez. The only reason Romine received a September call-up is Sanchez’s hamstring injury. His development stalled out a few years ago — injuries played a part in that — and it didn’t work out. So it goes. Romine figures to be among the first 40-man roster casualties this winter — the Yankees could try to trade him first, but his trade value is nil — and this time he’ll be able to elect free agency should he clear waivers, which I’m sure he’ll do in hopes of joining an organization able to give him a greater opportunity.

Drew. (Jim Rogash/Getty)
Drew. (Jim Rogash/Getty)

Gene asks: I can’t believe I’m saying this,  but would it make sense to bring Stephen Drew back next year if he’d take a similar deal? He’s over .250 since the break, good and versatile in the field, and by all accounts well liked.

Drew has hit .251/.323/.483 (120 wRC+) with 12 home runs and good strikeout (14.8%) and walk (9.2%) rates since June 1st, which covers 229 plate appearances. He’s insanely hot right now, he won’t keep this up, but it’s not just a one or two week hot streak either. Drew’s been quite good at the plate for a while now, and his defense was never bad either. Let’s see how he finishes the season before worrying about re-signing him, but yes, it could make sense to bring him back, especially if he’d take another one-year contract. If Drew and Scott Boras try to parlay his late-season success into a two or three-year deal, then walk away. Drew was really bad for a long time there. Can’t forget that. This is an offseason issue though. For now let’s just hope he maintains his recent production and gives the Yankees something to think about this winter.

Dave asks: The Yankees have done an excellent job scouting & developing Didi Gregorius. They’ve given him the time to adjust and get comfortable. Beyond Brian Cashman, who in the organization should be given credit for his success?

It’s impossible to know the full answer to this. Jon Heyman reported back in April that special assistant Gene Michael “loved” Gregorius, so I’m sure he was part of the decision making. Eric Chavez, who played with Didi in Arizona and now works in New York’s scouting department, has said he was consulted as well. I’m guessing the Yankees used Chavez to get a feel for Gregorius’ makeup and clubhouse skills, traits they value highly. I have to think the analytics department, run by assistant GM Michael Fishman, played a role in the trade as well. It’s never just one person. Lots of people forget the “manager” part of “general manager.” The GM is only as good as the people working for him. As for Didi’s on-field development … gosh, it could be a million people. The coaching staff certainly, also his teammates. We’ve heard Alex Rodriguez and Carlos Beltran both took an active role in helping Gregorius early in the season. Acquiring and developing a young player is never a one-man job. Lots of people deserve credit when it goes right.

Greg asks: When Joe Girardi makes the annual starting line up card consisting of (almost) all September call ups, who will be on it?

I always enjoy seeing “no effs given” lineups in September, either after a team is out of the race or has already clinched the division title or something. You know what I mean, the lineups with no regulars and a bunch of call-ups. The Yankees only called up four position players on September 1st — not counting Dustin Ackley, who was activated off the DL — so they couldn’t field an entire lineup of call-ups, just most of one. These would be my lineups in various roster states. (No, I didn’t spent too much time thinking about this. Why do you ask?)

Current Roster Heathcott called up Sanchez healthy Slade + Sanchez
1. LF Dustin Ackley LF Dustin Ackley LF Dustin Ackley LF Dustin Ackley
2. 3B Jose Pirela 3B Jose Pirela 3B Jose Pirela 3B Jose Pirela
3. RF Chris Young C John Ryan Murphy RF Chris Young 1B Greg Bird
4. 1B Greg Bird 1B Greg Bird 1B Greg Bird DH Gary Sanchez
5. C John Ryan Murphy 2B Rob Refsnyder DH Gary Sanchez 2B Rob Refsnyder
6. 2B Rob Refsnyder CF Slade Heathcott 2B Rob Refsnyder CF Slade Heathcott
7. DH Austin Romine DH Austin Romine C Austin Romine C Austin Romine
8. SS Brendan Ryan SS Brendan Ryan SS Brendan Ryan SS Brendan Ryan
9. CF Rico Noel RF Rico Noel CF Rico Noel RF Rico Noel

They’re lineups, so there’s no right answer as long as you don’t do something like bat the best hitter ninth. With any luck the Yankees will get everyone healthy this month, clinch early, and trot out one of those call-up lineups in Game 161 or 162. Those games are always fun in a Spring Training kinda way.

DotF: Scranton clinches division title, Pulaski takes Game One

Got some links and notes to pass along:

  • LHP Ian Clarkin has faced hitters in live batting practice, assistant GM Billy Eppler told Chad Jennings. Clarkin has not pitched at all this year after suffering some kind of elbow injury in Spring Training. The minor league season ends early next week, so it’s unlikely he’ll get into a game.
  • IF Cole Figueroa has been outrighted to Triple-A Scranton, the Yankees announced. He was designated for assignment earlier this week to make room for September call-ups. No word on OF Tyler Austin yet. I’m guessing they’re trying to trade him before putting him on waivers.
  • Chad Jennings put together a really great breakdown of how the various minor league lineups have evolved this season. There’s been a ton of turnover since Opening Day, which is normal, but most of it is positive turnover. Guys getting promoted, etc.
  • Low-A Charleston will have a slightly new logo and new uniforms beginning next season, reports Josh Leventhal. They added “wrought-iron accents native to the Charleston area” to their classic chomping dog logo. Pretty slick.
  • And finally, SS Tyler Wade was named to the High-A Florida State League end-of-season All-Star Team, so congrats to him.

Triple-A Scranton (12-2 win over Buffalo) they have officially clinched the division title for the first time since 2010

  • CF Slade Heathcott: 2-5, 1 R, 1 HR, 4 RBI, 1 K — that’s his third homer of the season and his first since the one he hit in the big leagues before his injury
  • 2B Ali Castillo: 3-5, 1 R, 1 RBI, 1 K, 1 SB
  • DH Ben Gamel: 1-5, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 2 K — leads the system with 50 extra-base hits
  • RF Aaron Judge: 2-4, 2 R, 1 2B, 1 BB — 6-for-16 (.375) in his last four games … he’s second in the system with 49 extra-base hits
  • LF Jake Cave: 1-4, 1 R, 1 HBP
  • 3B Cito Culver: 4-5, 1 R, 1 RBI, 1 K — you know the offense is clicking when Cito has four hits
  • LHP Eric Wooten: 4.2 IP, 9 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 3 K, 3/9 GB/FB — 60 of 88 pitches were strikes (68%)
  • RHP Johnny Barbato: 1.1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 2 K
  • RHP Mark Montgomery: 2 IP, zeroes, 2 K, 3/1 GB/FB — 12 of 18 pitches were strikes (67%)
  • RHP Nick Goody: 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K, 1 WP, 0/1 GB/FB — ten of 15 pitches were strikes … 84/21 K/BB in 62.1 minor league innings

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