8/1 to 8/4 Subway Series Preview: New York Mets

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Will this be the least hyped Subway Series in history? Both the Yankees and Mets are reeling and on the outside of the postseason picture looking in. Not too many folks expected the Yankees to contend this year. Certainly not a majority. The Mets? Well, I had them winning the World Series before the season, so don’t listen to me. The two teams are playing a four-game home-and-home-series this week. They’ll be in Citi Field tonight and tomorrow, and Yankee Stadium on Wednesday and Thursday.

What Have They Done Lately?

The Mets rallied to beat the Rockies yesterday but they have been slumping hard of late. They dropped four straight and five of six prior to that. The Mets are 54-50 with a +9 run differential. They’re 2.5 games back of the Marlins (!) for the second wildcard spot. The Yankees are 52-52 with a -33 run differential. They’re 5.5 games out of the second wildcard spot.

Offense & Defense

Fun fact: The Yankees are not the lowest scoring baseball team in New York this year. They’re averaging 4.03 runs per game with a team 86 wRC+. The Mets are averaging 3.66 runs per game with a team 95 wRC+. They’ve put up a 58 wRC+ with runners in scoring position, by far the worst in baseball. That’s why they’re averaging so few runs despite getting a 100 wRC+ from their non-pitchers.

Anyway, holy cow are the Mets banged up. Manager Terry Collins is without an entire infield and then some. Check out their list of injured position players:

  • SS Asdrubal Cabrera (95 wRC+) — suffered a knee sprain yesterday, seeing a doctor today
  • OF Yoenis Cespedes (147 wRC+) — day-to-day with a right quad injury
  • 1B Lucas Duda (106 wRC+) — out long-term with a stress fracture in his back
  • CF Juan Lagares (88 wRC+) — will miss six weeks following thumb surgery
  • 3B Jose Reyes (104 wRC+) — out a few weeks with an intercostal strain
  • 3B David Wright (119 wRC+) — out long-term following neck surgery
Cespedes. (Getty)
Cespedes. (Getty)

That’s rough. Cespedes might be able to play at some point this series and I suppose Asdrubal could get good news from the doctor today, but man, that’s an awful lot of talent on the sidelines. You could argue the Mets are without their three best hitters right now. Maybe their four best hitters.

Right now manager Terry Collins is building his lineup around ex-Yankee RF Curtis Granderson (107 wRC+), 2B Neil Walker (107 wRC+), and 1B James Loney (114 wRC+). Young LF Michael Conforto (92 wRC+) was recently recalled from Triple-A and IF Wilmer Flores (106 wRC+) is playing pretty much everyday out of necessity. IF Kelly Johnson (79 wRC+), another ex-Yankee, will probably play third with Flores at short while Cabrera’s out.

C Travis d’Arnaud (69 wRC+) and C Rene Rivera (89 wRC+) are the catching tandem. OF Alejandro De Aza (71 wRC+), OF Brandon Nimmo (68 wRC+), and OF Justin Ruggiano (61 wRC+) are the outfield bench bats. They need a lot of them with Cespedes banged up and Lagares out. I imagine a roster move will happen today if Asdrubal gets bad news from the doctor. They can’t play this shorthanded.

Defensively, the Mets have one clearly above-average defender in Loney, who isn’t as good as he was a few years back. Johnson/Flores on the left side of the infield isn’t too pretty, though Walker is solid. Granderson is okay in right but man, he can not throw. Run on him every chance you get. Conforto is not a good left fielder and the De Aza/Nimmo/Ruggiano trio all fall into the okay to good range in the field. d’Arnaud can’t throw at all. Rivera can.

Pitching Matchups

Monday (7:10pm ET): LHP CC Sabathia (vs. NYM) vs. RHP Logan Verrett (vs. NYY)
Verrett, 26, was a Rule 5 Draft pick last year who bounced around on waivers a few times before being returned to the Mets. Now he’s in their rotation replacing Matt Harvey, who’s done for the season following surgery to treat Thoracic Outlet Syndrome. That’s pretty serious. Verrett has a 4.12 ERA (5.06 FIP) in 74.1 innings spread across nine starts and 18 relief appearances this year. He gets an average-ish number of grounders (44.8%), but his strikeout (15.9%), walk (10.0%), and homer (1.33 HR/9) rates all kinda stink. Righties have hit him much harder than lefties, which is the opposite of last season. As a starter, Verrett sits 90-91 mph with his four-seamer and a touch lower than that with his sinker. A low-80s slider is his main breaking ball. He also throws a mid-80s changeup and a mid-80s curveball. Pretty generic arsenal, really. There’s no standout pitch that allows Verrett to project as anything more than a swingman type.

Tuesday (7:10pm ET): RHP Masahiro Tanaka (vs. NYM) vs. RHP Jacob deGrom (vs. NYY)
For all the attention Harvey and Noah Syndergaard get (and deserve), the 28-year-old deGrom has been the Mets’ best pitcher the last three seasons. He owns a 2.56 ERA (3.07 FIP) in 18 starts and 112.2 innings despite a slow start and a minor lat issue in April. deGrom has excellent peripherals (24.2 K%, 5.5 BB%, 46.4 GB%, 0.80 HR/9) and also a reverse split this season, which is the opposite of the last two years. His fastball is down just a tick this year but it still sits comfortably in the mid-90s. deGrom has two out-pitch secondaries on his best days (upper-70s slider and mid-80s changeup) as well as a good fourth pitch (low-80s curve). He’s a bonafide ace.

Meet the Matz. (Jim McIsaac/Getty)
Meet the Matz. (Jim McIsaac/Getty)

Wednesday (7:05pm ET): RHP Ivan Nova (vs. NYM) vs. LHP Steven Matz (vs. NYY)
Matz has been through an awful lot to get to where he is. The Mets took him in the second round of the 2009 draft and he didn’t throw his first pro pitch until 2012 due to Tommy John surgery and subsequent setbacks. He’s had other injury problems along the way as well. Matz, 25, has a 3.35 ERA (3.35 FIP!) in 19 starts and 113 innings, and his underlying numbers are outstanding across the board: 22.4% strikeouts, 5.7% walks, 50.3% grounders, and 0.88 HR/9. He’s been a bit better against righties than lefties in his relatively short MLB career thanks to a nasty low-to-mid-80s changeup. Matz sets it up with a mid-90s heater and will also throw an upper-80s slider and an upper-70s curve. It’s worth noting Matz is pitching with a bone spur in his elbow and it’s caused him to basically stop throwing his slider. There’s too much discomfort to use it regularly, so he picks his spots with it now.

Thursday (7:05pm ET): RHP Nathan Eovaldi (vs. NYM) vs. RHP Bartolo Colon (vs. NYY)
Earlier this year there was talk the Yankees would move Colon to the bullpen once Zack Wheeler was healthy, and, sure enough, he is now their second healthiest starter. Maybe their healthiest given deGrom’s lat issues in April. Baseball doesn’t like exciting rotations, it seems. Colon, 43, has a 3.58 ERA (4.20 FIP) in 120.2 innings this year. His strikeout (16.4%), walk (4.4%), homer (1.27 HR/9), and grounder (44.4%) are very post-2010 Bartolo-esque. Lefties have been hitting him harder than righties. Colon throws more than 90% fastballs these days — he favors his upper-80s two-seamer over his low-90s four-seamer — and when he does mix in an offspeed pitch, it’s something in the low-80s, either a slider or a changeup.

Bullpen Status

I wouldn’t call the bullpen a weakness for the Mets, but they have been looking to add another reliever prior to the trade deadline for depth. Pretty much every team does that, to be fair. Here is the bullpen Collins has to work with this year:

Closer: RHP Jeurys Familia (3.08 ERA/2.47 FIP)
Setup: RHP Addison Reed (1.81/1.93), RHP Hansel Robles (2.52/3.32)
Middle: LHP Antonio Bastardo (4.74/5.06), LHP Jerry Blevins (2.25/3.03), RHP Erik Goeddel (3.86/4.21)
Long: RHP Seth Lugo (2.61/3.14)

Familia and Reed are generally a dynamite closer/setup man combo — Familia did blow saves on back-to-back days earlier this week after converting 52 straight save chances — and those two plus Blevins each threw an inning yesterday. Lugo threw three innings and 41 pitches Saturday, which may limit his availability tonight.

The Yankees suddenly have a new look bullpen with Aroldis Chapman and Andrew Miller traded away. Adam Warren is back and I imagine Tyler Clippard will be in town and available tonight. Check out our Bullpen Workload page for the status of Joe Girardi‘s relief crew.

Yankeemetrics: Mediocrity at its finest [July 29-31]

(AP)
(AP)

Loss for #Yankees, Win for #TeamSell
With this weekend’s series against the Rays representing one final opportunity to convince the front office to keep the band together for a late-summer playoff push, the Yankees inched closer to declaring themselves sellers with another frustrating loss on Friday night.

All 10 of their hits were singles and they scored just one run in a 5-1 loss, going 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position. The the only other major-league team this season (through Friday) that had a game with double-digit hits, none for extra bases, and scored one or fewer runs was the Brewers in a 8-1 loss to the Phillies on June 5.

Ivan Nova — who had posted a 2.66 ERA in his previous four turns during a stellar month of July — was predictably horrendous in Tampa against the last-place Rays lineup, allowing five runs on six hits in 4 1/3 innings.

Tropicana Field has become a house of horrors for Nova. This was his first start at the dome since April 19, 2014, his final game before being diagnosed with a torn UCL that required Tommy John surgery. And he now owns a 7.03 ERA in seven appearances (six starts) at the ballpark, the highest among all active pitchers with at least two starts and 25 innings pitched there.

The Rays clobbered Nova, with five of the six hits he allowed going for extra bases. This continues a yearlong trend of tons of loud contact against Nova, who has given up an average exit velocity of 94.9 mph on line drives and fly balls, the second-highest mark in the majors (min. 100 batted balls).

Chad Green kept the Yankees within spitting distance as he relieved Nova in the fifth inning and went the distance, throwing 3 2/3 scoreless innings. It was his third straight relief appearance with more than two innings pitched and no runs allowed. Green is just the second Yankee pitcher in the last two decades to put together a streak like that; Ramiro Mendoza had a three-gamer in 2001 and a four-gamer 2002.

You can’t spell ‘Sell’ without a couple ‘L’s’
Saturday’s deflating 6-3 defeat gave the Yankees two losses in two games to the last-place Rays, providing another layer of evidence that this team is not fit for October and needs a re-boot.

arod
(Getty)

The Yankees got off to another rocky start as Nathan Eovaldi surrendered a first-inning home run to Brad Miller, the 20th homer allowed by Yankee pitchers in the opening frame this season; through Saturday’s games, the only MLB teams that had allowed more first-inning dingers were the Twins and Royals, both with 22.

Eovaldi gave up a second homer to the Rays No. 9 hitter, catcher Curt Casali, giving him 21 homers allowed in 116 2/3 innings this year. That rate of 1.62 homers per nine innings is on pace to be the third-highest single-season mark by any Yankee qualifying pitcher, behind Phil Hughes (1.65 in 2012) and Terry Mulholland (1.79 in 1994).

Starting for the first time in a week, A-Rod did little to show management that he deserved more at-bats, going 0-for-4 with four strikeouts. It was the fourth game in his Yankee career that he came to the plate at least four times and struck out each time; only one other player in franchise history had four such games during their career: Mickey Mantle.

Drew Smyly, with a career strikeout rate of 24 percent (just a few ticks above the MLB average of 20 percent), is an unlikely candidate to be A-Rod’s personal kryptonite. But these are the facts: He has struck out in nine of 12 plate appearances (including playoffs) against Smyly, his highest whiff rate versus any of the 600-plus pitchers he’s faced more than five times in his 22-season career.

Just your average Yankees
On the same day the Yankees put the proverbial For Sale sign outside team headquarters in Tampa, they sunk deeper and deeper into the depths of mediocrity, losing to the Rays, 5-3.

They are now 52-52 this season, which includes a 44-44 record before the break, 8-8 after the break and a 13-13 mark in July. #TeamMediocre

It was their fifth time being swept this year, the same number they had in 2015 … with 58 games and two months remaining. And they’ve now scored no more than three runs in 55 of their 104 games, their highest total at this point in the season since 1972.

Michael Pineda once again delivered a maddeningly inconsistent performance, flashing dominance and looking strong at times (eight strikeouts), but ended up with disappointing results and a crooked final pitching line (five runs on six hits in six innings). It was his third game this season with at least eight punch outs and five earned runs allowed; no other American League pitcher has more than one such game.

Carlos Beltran put the Yankees on the board in the sixth inning with a two-run homer that sliced the Rays lead to 3-2. It was his his 22nd homer in 2016, matching Eddie Murray (1996) for the most by a switch-hitter in his age-39 season or older.

Fan Confidence Poll: August 1st, 2016

Record Last Week: 2-4 (16 RS, 24 RA)
Season Record: 52-52 (419 RS, 452 RA, 48-56 pythag. record), 5.5 GB of postseason spot
Opponents This Week: @ Mets (two games, Mon. and Tues.), vs. Mets (two games, Weds. and Thurs.), vs. Indians (three games, Fri. 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.

2016 Trade Deadline Rumors Open Thread: Monday

Bye, Carlos? (Hannah Foslien/Getty)
Bye, Carlos? (Hannah Foslien/Getty)

The 2016 non-waiver trade deadline is 4pm ET this afternoon, and the Yankees have already been very active. One of the most active teams in baseball, really. Within the last week they traded Aroldis Chapman, traded Andrew Miller, and added Tyler Clippard. Chances are they aren’t done either.

“Stay tuned. A lot more things could happen,” said Brian Cashman to reporters during a conference call following the Miller and Clippard trades yesterday. “If you want to become a super team, there are ways you have to go about it. We’re trying to get back to a situation where we can build an uber-team, and a sustainable one.”

Here are Sunday’s rumors. Once again, we’re going to keep track of the day’s Yankee-related rumors right here in this post. I’m going to be running around a bit today — bad timing, I know, but family first — and will do my best to update things promptly. All time stamps are ET.

  • 9:00am: The Astros, Red Sox, Indians, and Rangers are all in on Carlos Beltran. He has not yet been asked to waive his limited no-trade clause and, unsurprisingly, a trade with Boston is considered unlikely. I’m sure the thought of Beltran helping the BoSox win the World Series makes ownership squeamish, even if it means making the best possible deal. Some clubs want the Yankees to eat money to facilitate a trade. [Buster Olney, Mark Feinsand, Jon Heyman]
  • 9:00am: The Yankees continue to listen to offers for Brian McCann, Brett Gardner, Nathan Eovaldi, and Michael Pineda. They also want to unload impending free agent Ivan Nova prior to today’s deadline. [Joel Sherman]
  • 12:03pm: McCann remains a possibility for the Braves. They want the Yankees to eat a bunch of money and the Yankees want good prospects in return, so there are some things that need to be worked out. [Mark Bowman]

Reminder before you comment: Your trade proposal sucks.

Swept! Yankees drop series finale 5-3 to Rays


Source: FanGraphs

The big stories of the day were the Andrew Miller and Tyler Clippard trades, but the Yankees did play a game Sunday, and they lost. Fourth loss in a row too. The last place Rays completed the sweep Sunday afternoon with a 5-3 win. #TeamSell has some new members: the Yankees. Let’s recap with bullet points because I’ve had a long day.

  • Small Mike: I gotta say, Michael Pineda has been a key member of #TeamSell this season. He’s really committed to the cause. He allowed five runs in six innings around some nasty sliders, so hooray for eight strikeouts? Pineda allowed six hits (four extra base hits) and four walks, and as soon as the Yankees made it a game in top of the sixth, he allowed two runs in the bottom half. Thoughts of a comeback were short-lived.
  • So Long, Carlos: In what could very well be his final game with the Yankees, Carlos Beltran belted a two-run home run in the sixth inning to cut the deficit to 3-2. Pineda gave those two runs right back, but still. Brian McCann singled in a garbage time run in the eighth. The Yankees did put 13 runners on base, but 12 of the 13 were singles or walks. Feel free to mix in an extra-base hit once in a while, dudes. I miss calling you the Bronx Bombers.
  • Sevy The Reliever: Luis Severino looked pretty good in his two innings of work. He struck out a pair and got three other outs on the ground. I know we’re all still scarred from the Joba Rules and whatnot, but I’m cool with Severino working in relief now. I think it’s good for him to experience success in any role in MLB after what happened earlier this year. It wouldn’t be a bad thing to build some confidence, you know?
  • Leftovers: Beltran and Brett Gardner each had two hits. Gardner drew a walk too … Jacoby Ellsbury, McCann, and Chase Headley each had a single and walk … Alex Rodriguez: not good enough to play everyday but good enough to pinch-hit against the hard-throwing closer in the ninth … and finally, the Yankees are back at .500. They’re 52-52.

Here are the box score, video highlights, and updated standings. New York’s postseason odds are down to 2.6%, according to FanGraphs. The Yankees are going home to New York to begin a road series with the Mets. The four-game home-and-home Subway Series starts Monday night with the first of two at Citi Field. CC Sabathia and Logan Verrett are the scheduled starters.

Minor League Update: No DotF tonight, everyone. I’ve been busy all weekend and I just don’t have it in me right now. Here are the box scores and here’s the short version: Dustin Fowler and Billy McKinney hit homers, Chance Adams struck out nine in 5.2 scoreless innings, Gleyber Torres drew two walks, Drew Bridges had four hits, Kolton Mahoney threw a Maddux (complete game shutout with fewer than 100 pitches), and Blake Rutherford had two doubles and a walk. He is: good.

Sunday Open Thread

Today was a pretty important day in Yankeeland from a “building for the future” point of view. Yeah, the loss to the Rays stunk and the Tyler Clippard trade is whatever, but the Andrew Miller deal has a chance to have a major impact long-term. Clint Frazier‘s bat speed and power are special. I’m going to miss Miller like hell. He was insanely good and so easy to root for. Miller’s going to make pulling for the Indians easy this postseason.

Anyway, here is the open thread for the rest of the day. The Mets are playing right now and the Mariners vs. Cubs is the Sunday Night Baseball game on ESPN (Felix vs. Matusz). Yes, Brian Matusz is starting. Talk about whatever here.

Game 104: Oh yeah, there’s a game today

(Brian Blanco/Getty)
(Brian Blanco/Getty)

Well this has been a busy Sunday morning, huh? Earlier today the Yankees traded Andrew Miller to the Indians and acquired Tyler Clippard from the Diamondbacks. The former is a wee bit more significant, I’d say. More moves could be on the way, but first, the Yankees have to play an actual game today. Here is the Rays’ lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup for this afternoon’s series finale.

  1. LF Brett Gardner
  2. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  3. DH Carlos Beltran
  4. 2B Starlin Castro
  5. C Brian McCann
  6. SS Didi Gregorius
  7. 3B Chase Headley
  8. 1B Rob Refsnyder
  9. RF Aaron Hicks
    RHP Michael Pineda

I have to say, I’m a bit surprised to see Beltran in the lineup this afternoon considering he’s a top trade chip. Why risk injury? Eh, whatever. Today’s game is scheduled to begin a little after 1pm ET and you can watch on WPIX. Enjoy the game.