9/7 to 9/9 Series Preview: Baltimore Orioles

(David Banks/Getty)
(David Banks/Getty)

Another division rival visits the Bronx. The Orioles come to town clinging to very remote postseason hopes while the Yankees are very much in the race and in need of every possible win. Big series. They’re all big series from here on out. The Yankees are 8-5 against the O’s this season, including 6-1 at Yankee Stadium. The home team has won all four series these two clubs have played in 2015.

What Have The Orioles Done Lately?

Boy, manager Buck Showalter’s team has collapsed big time the last few weeks. They have lost 14 of their last 17 games and are now 65-71 with a +26 run differential overall this season. They’re 11.5 games back of the second place Yankees in the AL East and 6.5 games back of a wildcard spot. Doesn’t look like there will be October baseball in Baltimore this year.

Offense & Defense

The O’s average 4.34 runs per game with a 97 team wRC+, so they’re an approximately league average offense this year. They hit a lot of homers (fourth in baseball with 179) but they don’t get on base (27th in baseball with a .305 OBP). The O’s are currently without SS J.J. Hardy (groin), who is not expected to return this series. C Matt Wieters (90 wRC+) is day-to-day with a sore wrist.

(Jamie Squire/Getty)
Jones. (Jamie Squire/Getty)

Showalter has three star caliber producers in the middle of his lineup: IF Manny Machado (132 wRC+), OF Adam Jones (116 wRC+), and 1B Chris Davis (140 wRC+). Davis leads all of baseball with 40 home runs, including 21 homers in his last 44 games. He’s a monster. Machado, by the way, has been playing some shortstop with Hardy out. He came up through the minors as a shortstop. Those three are the core of the O’s lineup.

Yankees killer IF Jonathan Schoop (118 wRC+) has been playing second everyday and C Caleb Joseph (101 wRC+) has played a ton this year thanks to Wieters’ injuries. OF Gerardo Parra (117 wRC+) hasn’t had much impact since being acquired at the deadline (60 wRC+ with the O’s) and UTIL Steve Pearce (84 wRC+) has been unable to repeat last season’s success. UTIL Jimmy Paredes (99 wRC+) predictably crashed back to Earth following his hot start. IF Ryan Flaherty (78 wRC+) is the utility infielder. OF Junior Lake, OF Nolan Reimold, IF Paul Janish, and C Steve Clevenger are the September call-ups.

The O’s have a pretty good defensive club, though they’ve somehow picked up the reputation for being one of the best defensive units in the game. Jones and Parra are great in the outfield and Machado is unreal at third (haven’t seen him much at short), plus Davis is underrated at first and Wieters is a stud behind the plate. Others like Schoop, Pearce, and Paredes are in the lineup for their bats, not their gloves. Well, Schoop’s okay. That’s not fair to him.

Pitching Matchups

Monday (1pm ET): RHP Michael Pineda (vs. BAL) vs. LHP Wei-Yin Chen (vs. NYY)
This has been a solid contract year for the 30-year-old Chen, who has pitched to a 3.36 ERA (4.37 FIP) in 26 starts and 160.2 innings. His walk rate (5.3%) is very good, his strikeout rate (19.4%) is about average, and both his grounder (40.7%) and homer (1.46 HR/9) rates are worse than average. Righties (.347 wOBA) have hit him a ton harder than lefties (.277 wOBA) this season. Chen operates with low-90s two and four-seamers, low-80s changeups and sliders, and a low-70s curveball. The slider is his go-to offspeed pitch. The Yankees have faced Chen three times this season: two runs in six innings in April, one run in seven innings in May, and three runs in 6.1 innings in July.

Tuesday (7pm ET): RHP Masahiro Tanaka (vs. BAL) vs. RHP Kevin Gausman (vs. NYY)
The O’s have not had much success getting their top pitching prospects to fulfill their potential over the last two decades or so, and the 24-year-old Gausman is no different. He has a 4.59 ERA (4.46 FIP) in 12 starts and eight relief appearances this season. Like Chen, he has a good walk rate (5.7%), an average strikeout rate (20.1%), and below-average grounder (43.6%) and homer (1.53 HR/9) rates. Gausman has a big reverse split: righties have a .362 wOBA against him while lefties have a .294 wOBA. A mid-90s four-seamer sets up his mid-80s changeup and low-80s slider, the latter of which he’s yet to really develop a feel for since being the fourth overall pick in the 2012 draft. The Yankees have seen Gausman twice this year, scoring two runs in two-thirds of an inning of relief in April, and then scoring four runs in a six-inning start in July.

Gausman. (Ronald Martinez/Getty)
Gausman. (Ronald Martinez/Getty)

Wednesday (7pm ET): LHP CC Sabathia (vs. BAL) vs. RHP Ubaldo Jimenez (vs. NYY)
These are the same three starters — in the same order — the Yankees faced when they swept the O’s at Yankee Stadium a few weeks ago, effectively knocking them out of the AL East race. Jimenez, 31, has a 4.24 ERA (4.11 FIP) in 153 innings spread across 27 starts this season. His 49.2% ground ball rate is better than the league average, but otherwise his strikeout (20.9%), walk (8.5%), and homer (1.06 HR/9) numbers are average or slightly worse. Ubaldo’s platoon split is relatively small (.333 vs. .320 wOBA in favor of righties) because his out pitch is a mid-80s splitter, which helps him neutralize lefties. Jimenez sets the split up with low-90s two and four-seamers, and will also throw low-80s sliders and mid-70s curves. The curve is his distant fifth pitch. Ubaldo has faced the Yankees twice in 2015. One start went okay (three runs in five innings) and the other was a disaster (seven runs in 2.1 innings).

As for the Yankees, Sabathia (knee) is tentatively scheduled to come off the DL to make Wednesday’s start. That depends on how he feels following today’s bullpen session. If he has some sort of problem, Joe Girardi said the Yankees would simply stay on rotation, meaning Luis Severino would get the ball on normal rest instead.

Bullpen Status
Showalter’s bullpen was a disaster early in the season, though they settled down in the middle of the summer and now have a 2.93 ERA (3.36 FIP) overall. Closer LHP Zach Britton (2.00 ERA/1.92 FIP) and setup man RHP Darren O’Day (1.71/2.73) are among the top end-game duos in baseball this year. LHP Brian Matusz (2.25/3.17) is the primary left-on-left matchup guy. Ex-Yankee RHP Chaz Roe (3.65/3.55) has had some success this year around injury.

RHP Brad Brach (2.58/3.48), LHP T.J. MacFarland (4.13/4.53), and Rule 5 Draft pick RHP Jason Garcia (4.62/5.16) are the other regulars in Showalter’s bullpen. RHP Mychal Givens (1.42/1.83 in limited time) has seen a lot of work of late. The crop of September call-ups includes RHP Oliver Drake, RHP Steve Johnson, and RHP Jorge Rondon. Johnson, Matusz, Roe, Brach, Garcia, and Drake all pitched a bit yesterday. Check out our Bullpen Workload page for the status of Joe Girardi’s bullpen, then check out Camden Chat for the latest on the Orioles.

Yankeemetrics: Return of the Bronx Bombers (Sept. 4-6)

The Future looks really good right now. (Getty Images)
The Future looks really good right now. (Getty Images)

Singles are for losers …
… at least when you’re the Bronx Bombers and can hit baseballs really high and far. The Yankees turned four hits into five runs thanks to three home runs from the middle of the order, which was just enough offense to beat the Rays on Friday night.

Overall they had six baserunners the entire night, making this the first time the Yankees scored at least five runs in a game with six or fewer baserunners since a 5-4 win over the Royals on April 26, 1988.

Sure, the home runs by A-Rod, Brian McCann and Greg Bird were nice and all, but the real star of the game was Luis Severino, who pitched another gem in his sixth major-league start. With 6 1/3 innings of one-run ball he lowered his ERA to 2.04, the third-lowest by any Yankee pitcher through his first six career games (all starts) since at least 1914. The only guys better than Severino in that span are Bob Porterfield (1.94 in 1948) and Bill Piercy (1.70 in 1917).

Severino has pitched at least six innings and surrendered no more than one run in each of his last three starts, putting up a 0.98 ERA in that span. He’s the first Yankee aged 21 or younger to have three straight games of six-plus innings and one or fewer run allowed since Hall of Famer Waite Hoyt in 1921.

Andrew Miller closed out the game with his 30th save of the season, becoming the fourth different Yankee in the last four seasons to reach 30 saves (David Robertson in 2014, Mariano in 2013, Rafael Soriano in 2012). In the previous 15 years (1997-2011), the Yankees had 14 30-save seasons — all by one guy, Mr. Rivera.

Unlucky No. 13
Not even the Yankees’ official good-luck charm — Nathan Eovaldi — could help the Yankees avoid loss to the Rays on Saturday afternoon in the Bronx. The bats failed in key scoring opportunities — they went 0 for 5 with runners in scoring position — but it wasn’t because they didn’t smack the ball around hard enough.

According Statcast, the line drive Didi Gregorius hit for the final out of the eighth inning with the bases loaded left his bat at 107 mph. It was the third time this season Gregorius hit a ball that hard … the previous two went for a double and a homer.

Eovaldi got tagged with his first loss since June 16 and his streak of unbeaten starts ended at 13. It was the second-longest streak of starts without a loss by a Yankee in the last 10 seasons, behind only Ivan Nova’s 20-start unbeaten run spanning the 2011-12 seasons.

The Yankees were held to six hits or fewer for the sixth straight home game, matching their longest such streak ever at Yankee Stadium (old or new). The last time it happened was July 26-30, 1988.

Another ace goes down
In the span of two pitches, the Yankees went from facing a seemingly insurmountable 3-0 deficit against the Rays and their ace Chris Archer to enjoying a 4-3 advantage. It was a lead they wouldn’t relinquish en route to a crucial 6-4 win on Sunday afternoon.

Brian McCann tied the game in the sixth inning with his career-high 25th homer of the season, a towering two-out shot into the right field seats off Archer. He’s just the second left-handed catcher in the last two decades with at least 25 homers and 80 RBI in a season. The other was Joe Mauer during his 2009 MVP campaign.

A-Rod then immediately gave the Yankees the lead, sending the very next pitch over the fence in right-center. It was his team-leading fourth go-ahead homer in the sixth inning or later this year, and the most such homers he’s hit in any season since 2010.

The Yankees ended up tagging Archer for five runs, the most they’ve ever scored off him in his nine career starts facing them. Archer entered the game 5-0 with a 1.78 ERA versus the Yankees, the lowest ERA and best record by any active pitcher with more than five starts against the team.

Fan Confidence Poll: September 7th, 2015

Record Last Week: 4-2 (32 RS, 22 RA)
Season Record: 76-59 (659 RS, 572 RA, 77-58 pythag. record) 1.5 GB in ALE, 6.5 games up on WC spot
Opponents This Week: vs. Orioles (three games, Mon. to Weds.), vs. Blue Jays (four games, Thurs. to Sun.)

Top stories from last week:

Please take a second to answer the poll below and give us an idea of how confident you are in the team. You can view the interactive Fan Confidence Graph anytime via the Features tab in the nav bar above, or by clicking here. Thanks in advance for voting.

Given the team's current roster construction, farm system, management, etc., how confident are you in the Yankees' overall future?

DotF: Amburgey homers in Staten Island’s important win; Tampa’s season ends with a loss

Triple-A Scranton (4-0 win over Syracuse) their season ends tomorrow … they’ve already clinched the division title

  • LF Jake Cave: 4-5, 1 R, 1 2B — 7-for-19 (.368) in six games at this level
  • 2B Ali Castillo: 1-3, 2 BB
  • CF Slade Heathcott: 3-5, 3 RBI, 1 K — he’s hot at exactly the right time
  • RF Aaron Judge: 0-5, 1 K
  • RHP Kyle Davies: 6 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 7 K, 9/2 GB/FB — 60 of 99 pitches were strikes … the designated Triple-A innings eater finishes the season with a 3.30 ERA and 99/37 K/BB in a system leading 152.2 innings
  • RHP Chris Martin: 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K, 1/0 GB/FB — eleven of 18 pitches were strikes (61%)

[Read more…]

Sunday Night Open Thread

This is your open thread for the rest of the night. The ESPN Sunday Night Game is the Pirates at the Cardinals (Cole vs. Lackey), so that should be fun. Another opportunity to lament the Yankees not signing Gerrit Cole in the 2008 draft. Anyway, talk about that game, this afternoon’s win, and whatever else right here.

Yankees rally from behind for 6-4 win over Rays in series finale

That was a Good Win. Things did not look good early in Sunday’s game against the Rays, but the Yankees rallied from behind to beat Tampa and their ace Chris Archer. The final score was 6-4.

Oh yeah. (Presswire)
Oh yeah. (Presswire)

Back-To-Back & Back In It
Not surprisingly, the Yankees got completely shut down by Archer for the first five innings. He’s excellent, and he also seems to have New York’s number. Archer came into this start with a career 1.78 ERA in eight starts and 55.2 innings against the Yankees, including a 1.54 ERA in five starts and 35 innings at Yankee Stadium. The Yankees had just two base-runners in the first five innings against Archer: a Chase Headley walk and a Jacoby Ellsbury single, both in the third inning. That’s it.

The sixth inning is when the game turned around. Ellsbury started the inning with a one out soft line drive single to right, then Carlos Beltran worked a two-out walk to bring the tying run to the plate. That was pretty clearly their best chance to get back into the game. It was now or never, probably. Archer started Brian McCann off with four straight balls … except the fourth ball was called a strike because of the silly 3-0 autostrike that always seems to pop up at the worst times.

McCann should have walked. Thankfully, he didn’t. The next pitch was middle-middle fastball — Archer missed his spot big time — and McCann hammered it into the right field bleachers for his career-high 25th home run. It was a no-doubter off the bat. It had the good sound and everything. Suddenly, the game was tied 3-3. One pitch later, it was untied. Alex Rodriguez lifted Archer’s very next pitch the other way and into the second row of the right field seats for a solo homer and a 4-3 lead. One dinger is good. Back-to-back dingers is way better.


Just Good Enough
In his last six starts, Ivan Nova has allowed 23 runs and 49 base-runners in 33.1 innings. The Yankees have won two of those six games. Sunday afternoon Nova allowed three runs on six hits and a walk in six innings against Tampa, serving up a two-run homer to Kevin Kiermaier and a jam-shot run-scoring single to Logan Forsythe. The homer was an awful pitch, a quad-high hanging curveball Kiermaier yanked into the short porch, but the Forsythe single was just baseball being stupid. Nova jammed him real good …

Ivan Nova Logan Forsythe

… and it found grass. So it goes. Nova had just one 1-2-3 inning (the fourth) and the Rays got a runner into scoring position in every inning but the second, fourth, and fifth. (Kiermaier hit his homer in the second though.) It could have been a lot worse had the Rays not gone 1-for-7 (.143) with runners in scoring position with Nova on the mound. (Forsythe’s jam shot was the one.) Every fan thinks their team sucks with runners in scoring position, but the Rays really do suck with runners in scoring position. They ranked 27th in baseball with a .236 AVG in those situations coming into the day.

Anyway, Nova is what he is at this point. A serviceable starter who both frustrating and occasionally brilliant, though since Tommy John surgery there’s been a lot more frustration than brilliance. That’s not surprising. It usually takes a while for guys to get back into their groove following elbow reconstruction. Nova’s not coming out of the rotation, and for now starts like this seem to be the best case. Not a disaster, not great. Winnable.


Up To The Bullpen
One run lead after six innings? Time to go to that bullpen. Joe Girardi called on Justin Wilson to start the seventh and he struck out the side … except McCann couldn’t hang on to Daniel Nava’s foul tip for the third out. He almost had it. Couldn’t stop it from hitting the dirt though. Such is life. Nava then smacked a double into the left-center field gap to extend the inning.

As expected, Girardi went to Dellin Betances to face Evan Longoria with the runner on second and two outs in the seventh. Dellin walked Longoria then got Grady Sizemore — still can’t believe Sizemore is hitting cleanup for a kinda sorta contending team in 2015 — to ground out harmlessly to third to end the inning. Exhale. Betances went back out for the eighth, gave up a solo homer to Asdrubal Cabrera, hit James Loney with a breaking ball, then got an inning-ending double play from Kiermaier. Exhale again.

The Yankees added an insurance run in the bottom of the seventh, so they still had a 5-4 lead after Asdrubal’s homer. They added another run in the eighth too. Didi Gregorius helped create both. He singled in the seventh, moved to second on a wild pitch, then scored on an error. In the eighth he laced a single back up the middle with the bases loaded and one out. Steve Geltz walked himself into trouble in the eighth, then Didi got the big hit against a funky lefty. Pretty awesome. He’s come such a long way in a short period of time.

Andrew Miller came on for the ninth inning with the Yankees up 6-4. J.P. Arencibia flew out to the right field warning track, Joey Butler struck out, Mikie Mahtook singled, Longoria singled, Mahtook moved to third a wild pitch, then Brandon Guyer struck out. Never easy. Miller is 31 for 32 in save chances this year. Fun Fact: Mahtook is the kid the Rays selected with the first round draft pick the Yankees forfeited to sign Rafael Soriano a few years ago.


Everyone in the starting lineup had a hit except Brett Gardner, Headley, and Stephen Drew. Gardner hit the ground ball that led to Forsythe’s error and the insurance run in the eighth, and Headley drew a walk. Drew bobbled an error on a ground ball. Not a great afternoon for him.

Ellsbury, A-Rod, and Gregorius each had two hits. Greg Bird doubled immediately after A-Rod’s homer, so he Yankees managed three straight extra-base hits off Archer. They had five walks and five strikeouts as a team. The Yanks have 19 games with at least as many walks as strikeouts this year, fifth most in the league.

And finally, the Yankees are now 10-6 against the Rays this season. This is the first time they have won the season series against Tampa since 2009, if you can believe that. That 2009 season was a good one. Let’s do that again.

Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
Here are the box score and video highlights for the game and the updated standings and postseason odds for the season. The magic number to clinch a postseason spot is 22 as of this writing, so Roger Clemens is in the sidebar. Here are our Bullpen Workload and Announcer Standings pages, and here’s the win probability graph:

Source: FanGraphs

Up Next
The Yankees are done with the Rays and the Orioles are coming to the Bronx next. The two teams kick off their three-game series with a Labor Day matinee on Monday. Michael Pineda and Wei-Yin Chen will be the pitching matchup. Head over to RAB Tickets if you want to catch that game or any of the other six games on the homestand live at Yankee Stadium.

Game 135: Rubber Game


The Yankees and Rays have split the first two games of this three-game series, so this afternoon’s game will decide whether the homestand starts with a series win or a series loss. Needless to say, a series loss would be very bad this time of season. The margin for error is tiny.

Over the last three weeks, the Yankees are 6-6 in their last 12 home games. Nine of those games were played against mediocre teams. That’s … no way to get back to the postseason. Two ten-game homestands this close together this late in the season are a gift. Would be nice to take advantage, you know? Here is the Rays’ lineup and here is the Yankees’ 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 Ivan Nova

Pretty great weather for the holiday weekend. It’s nice and sunny with temperatures in the low-80s. This afternoon’s game will start just after 1pm ET and you can YES locally and TBS nationally. Enjoy the game.

Roster Update: As expected, Nick Goody has been recalled from Triple-A Scranton, the Yankees announced. Today was the first day they could bring him back. His ten days since he was last sent down are up. The Yankees now have a 12-man bullpen.