Ivan the Starter

(Al Bello/Getty)
(Al Bello/Getty)

This is my third piece on Ivan Nova this season, including Spring Training. For a player whose game I’m not necessarily overly fond about, that seems like a lot. However, when I wrote my first piece about him in 2016, I did so making a fairly bold claim with regards to what Nova should do with his pitches out of the bullpen. As such, I feel an obligation to check in on how he’s done with the strategy I proposed way back when. Now that Nova’s in the starting rotation–and has been for almost a month–I figured it was worth checking in on the suggested repertoire I laid out back in late January.

Since being placed in the rotation, Nova has made six starts for the Yankees, dating back to a 4.2 inning ‘debut’ on May 9. In those starts, Nova’s thrown 35 innings and given up 36 hits. He’s walked seven and struck out 26. His ERA as a starter is a fairly respectable 4.11, which you’d more than live with from a back-end guy. And though the unsolicited advice I offered was done so with the belief he’d be a reliever, Nova has used that strategy as a starter in 2016.

(Getty)
(Getty)

Having ditched the four-seamer, change up, and slider, Nova’s thrown almost exclusively sinkers and curveballs, even as a starter. And for the most part, those pitches have been at least reasonably effective. The sinker, for instance, has shown slight improvement over his career (up to 5/8/2016) numbers in whiff/swing%, line drives per balls in play, fly balls per balls in play, and pop ups per balls in play. Ivan’s uncle Charlie has also seen big jumps in whiff/swing% and ground ball rate. However, there is a problem with both of these pitches and it speaks to something unmentioned in the previous paragraph.

In his six starts this year, Nova has had a bit of a problem with extra bases. Of the 36 hits he’s given up, 15 of them have gone for extra bases; eight of them have been doubles and seven have been homers. In fact, he’s given up at least one home run in each start he’s made.

(AP Photo/Gail Burton)
(AP Photo/Gail Burton)

Therein lies the problem with Nova’s streamlined arsenal. The more pitches you throw of the same type, the more likely it is that you’ll make some mistakes with them, and that might be what’s happening to him. His sinker, which until this recent string of starts carried a 6.4% rate, currently sports a 13.64% mark for HR/FB+LD. Additionally, the curve sits way higher than ‘normal’ (10.26): 16.67%. If you’re giving up dingers on sinkers and curves, they’re likely not sinking and dropping enough, so that’s something Nova will need to iron out going forward.

Ivan started out hot, giving up just three runs in his first three starts. The last three, however, have seen him surrender at least four each time. Granted, they’ve been against Toronto and Baltimore and that’s not good for a pitcher who’s finding himself prone to giving up the long ball. Given that the Yankees don’t seem to have any other viable rotation options at the moment–barring a reemergence from Luis Severino–it’s imperative that he perfect–or at least come close to that–his new pitch selection and keep the ball down.

Yankees beat O’s 8-6 and it was never in doubt, no siree


Source: FanGraphs

That was dangerously close to being a Very Bad Loss. The Yankees took a seemingly comfortable 7-0 lead into the seventh inning Saturday night, but some mistake pitches and questionable bullpen management allowed the Orioles to score six runs in the seventh inning. New York was able to hang on for the 8-6 win. Nice and easy, right? Saturday night games get bullet point recaps because they are the bane of my existence, so let’s get to it:

  • Four In The Fourth: After taking a 1-0 lead on Austin Romine‘s third inning sac fly, the Yankees broke the game open by scoring four runs in the fourth. Starlin Castro (double), Didi Gregorius (ground out), Rob Refsnyder (double), and Romine (single) drove those four runs in. Refsnyder and Romine came up with big two-out hits. They turned a two-run inning into a four-run inning. Huge. Castro singled in another run in the fifth to give the Yankees a 6-0 lead.
  • Safe At Home: Jacoby Ellsbury stole home for the second time this season. This one wasn’t a straight steal like the one against the Rays though. Ellsbury was on third when Brett Gardner attempted to steal second. Matt Wieters threw down to second, and when Manny Machado had to reach down to apply the tag (Gardner was safe), Ellsbury broke for home and beat the return throw. I was surprised a veteran catcher like Wieters threw down to second there. He knew who was at third, right? Either way, that made it 7-0 Yankees in the sixth.
  • Better Than Advertised: The box score is a damn lie. It’ll tell you Ivan Nova allowed five runs in six innings, and while that is true, it is not in any way representative of how he pitched. Nova dominated for the first six innings, holding the O’s to three hits and a walk. He was in total control. Then things unraveled quickly in the seventh. Mark Trumbo hit a homer to make it 7-1, and fine, whatever. It happens. Then Pedro Alvarez managed to sneak a two-run homer just inside the left field foul pole to cut it to 7-3. Argh. A single, a wild pitch, and a walk followed. That ended Nova’s night. It was still 7-3 at the time. Overall, good work Ivan.
  • No Goody: For whatever reason Joe Girardi opted to go to Nick Goody with two on and no outs in the seventh rather than Andrew Miller, who was warming in the bullpen. Goody threw two pitches. The first was a ball, and the second went for an Adam Jones three-run homer to turn a 7-3 game into a 7-6 game. The O’s scored six runs before making an out in the seventh. Not ideal! Miller came in following the homer. Why did Goody come in first? I’ll never know.
  • Big Two: Dellin Betances was unavailable due to his recent workload, meaning Miller had to serve as the seventh and eighth inning guy Saturday. He retired all six batters he faced. Only 28 pitches too. Miller is quite good at this pitching thing. Aaron Hicks (double) and Alex Rodriguez (single) created a much appreciated insurance run in the top of the ninth, then Aroldis Chapman closed the door in the bottom half. Never in doubt. (It was very much in doubt.)
  • Leftovers: Weird injury alert: Austin Romine tore the nail on his left thumb trying to catch a Chapman warm-up pitch in the ninth. Chapman spiked a fastball in the dirt and it came up and hit Romine in a weird way. He had to leave the game, so Brian McCann caught the final three outs. Romine is heading for x-rays just in case … the Yankees had 16 hits total, tying their season high. They had 16 in the 16-6 win over the Astros in the second game of the season … every starter had at least one hit. Ellsbury and Gardner had two each while A-Rod and Castro had three each.

Here are the box score, video highlights, and updated standings. We have Bullpen Workload and Announcer Standings pages too. The Yankees and Orioles will wrap up this three-game series Sunday afternoon. That’s a 1:35pm ET start and it is the final game of this ten-game, four-city road trip. CC Sabathia and Kevin Gausman are the scheduled starters.

DotF: Fowler stays hot; Acevedo returns from injury

With 1B Chris Parmelee called up to the big leagues, 1B Tyler Austin has been promoted from Double-A Trenton to Triple-A Scranton and 1B Matt Snyder has been bumped up from High-A Tampa to Double-A Trenton, report Matt Kardos and Nick Flammia. It’s all one big chain reaction.

Triple-A Scranton (7-5 loss to Columbus)

  • CF Ben Gamel: 2-4, 2 R, 1 2B, 1 SB, 1 HBP — third straight two-hit game
  • RF Aaron Judge: 2-5, 1 R, 1 2B, 2 RBI, 1 K
  • DH Nick Swisher: 0-5, 1 K — he has an opt-out sometime this month and I’m guessing he’ll use it after being passed over for Parmelee
  • LF Jake Cave: 1-2, 1 BB, 1 HBP, 1 CS
  • C Kyle Higashioka: 1-3, 1R, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 BB — he’s one catcher injury away from getting called up, which would be pretty cool after all his injuries and years as a minor league backup
  • 1B Tyler Austin: 1-3, 1 R, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 1 SB — welcome back to Triple-A
  • RHP Brady Lail: 5.2 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 3 K, 6/6 GB/FB — 58 of 90 pitches were strikes (64%)
  • RHP Conor Mullee: 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 3 K, 0/2 GB/FB — 25 of 37 pitches were strikes (68%)
  • LHP James Pazos: 1 IP, 3 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 2 BB, 1 K, 2/1 GB/FB — 21 of 35 pitches were strikes (60%) … 24/16 K/BB in 19.1 innings
  • LHP Neal Cotts: 0.1 IP, zeroes — two pitches, one strike

[Read more…]

Game 55: Win it for Tex

(Adam Glanzman/Getty)
(Adam Glanzman/Getty)

Earlier today the Yankees placed Mark Teixeira on the 15-day DL with a knee injury that could very well end his time in pinstripes. Teixeira’s been a pretty darn good player for the Yankees for a long time, though the last few years have been littered with injuries. Still, he hit third on the team’s most recent championship team and he was an All-Star as recently as last year. Go win tonight’s game for Teixeira. Here is the O’s lineup and here is the Yanks’ lineup:

  1. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  2. LF Brett Gardner
  3. RF Carlos Beltran
  4. DH Alex Rodriguez
  5. 2B Starlin Castro
  6. SS Didi Gregorius
  7. 3B Chase Headley
  8. 1B Rob Refsnyder
  9. C Austin Romine
    RHP Ivan Nova

It is cool and cloudy in Baltimore this evening, and there is some rain in the forecast later tonight. Probably not anything that will affect the game unless it goes to extra innings or something. First pitch is scheduled for a little after 7pm ET and you can watch on FOX. Yep, it’s a FOX game. First of the year, right? Anyway, enjoy the game.

Yankees place Mark Teixeira on 15-day DL with possible season-ending knee injury

(Al Bello/Getty)
(Al Bello/Getty)

Earlier today the Yankees placed Mark Teixeira on the 15-day DL with a “right knee articular cartilage tear,” the team announced. He left last night’s game with discomfort in the knee and went for an MRI. Brian Cashman told Chad Jennings that Teixeira may need season-ending surgery. From Jennings:

“The initial effort is going to try to be to treat it conservatively with rest, probably involving injections, and then see how he responds to that,” general manager Brian Cashman said in a phone call this morning. “… If that doesn’t work, then you’re looking at a surgical procedure. If that’s the case, then his season is probably done.”

Surgery could end not only Teixeira’s season, but also his Yankees career. His eight-year contract is up after the season, and while the team will need a backup plan for Greg Bird at first base next year, they could very well go in another direction. For now it seems the Yankees will be without Teixeira for an extended period of time. This doesn’t figure to be a 15-day stint on the DL.

To replace Teixeira on the roster, the Yankees have called up Chris Parmelee — not Nick Swisher — from Triple-A Scranton. Simply put, the team believes Parmelee is better able to help them than Swisher right now. Parmelee has been the more productive hitter with the RailRiders (131 wRC+ vs. 72 wRC+), he’s seven years younger, he’s healthier, and better able to play the outfield if necessary.

Cashman told Jennings the plan is to mix-and-match at first base for the time being. It makes sense to start Parmelee, a left-handed hitter, against righties. Rob Refsnyder or Austin Romine could get the call against lefties. Refsnyder replaced Teixeira at first last night — it was his first game action at the position at any level — and was fine, though he wasn’t tested with many plays.

Teixeira has not hit at all this season. He owns a .180/.271/.263 (48 wRC+) batting line and hasn’t looked anywhere close to snapping out of his slump. It’s been nearly two full months since he last hit a home run. It’s very possible Parmelee and whoever else will give the team more production at first base than Teixeira has this season. They won’t replace his defense though. Teixeira is still all-world with the glove.

Dustin Ackley, who had season-ending shoulder surgery yesterday, was transferred to the 60-day DL to clear a 40-man roster spot for Parmelee. He’ll be with the Yankees tonight.

Saturday Links: Mateo, Reyes, Ticket Revenue, Nova

The present and future of the leadoff spot. (Presswire)
The present and future of the leadoff spot. (Presswire)

The Yankees and Orioles continue their three-game series with an always annoying Saturday night game today. Blargh. Hate those. Give me day baseball on the weekend. Anyway, check out these two recent Players’ Tribune posts from Jorge Posada and Carlos Beltran, then check out these links and notes as you wait for first pitch.

Yanks offered Mateo for Reyes?

According to Jon Heyman, last summer the Yankees were “willing to send” top shortstop prospect Jorge Mateo to the Rockies for Jose Reyes and cover half the $44M left on Reyes’ deal. This was right after Colorado picked up Reyes in the Troy Tulowitzki trade, before all the domestic violence stuff in the offseason. This isn’t the first time we’ve heard the Yankees talked to the Rockies about Reyes.

This one doesn’t pass the sniff test at all. Mateo would be a Rockie right now if the Yankees were indeed willing to make that trade. The Rockies didn’t want Reyes — they took him in the trade as a way to offset some money — and they tried to flip him at the deadline and again in the offseason. Reyes has been in obvious decline for a few years now. You mean the tell me the Colorado turned down a top 100 prospect and a ton of cash for a player they didn’t even want in the first place? C’mon. I don’t buy this rumor at all.

Ticket revenue dropped again in 2015

The Yankees’ ticket and suite revenue dropped for the sixth straight year in 2015, reports Jim Baumbach. The team reported $276.9M in ticket revenue to bondholders last year, which includes $36.6M in postseason sales. (That includes ALDS and ALCS tickets that were sold in advance but we’re needed.) Ticket revenue was $396.9M in the first year of the new Yankee Stadium. Even though they’re down 30% in six years, the Yankees still generated more ticket revenue last year than they did in the final year of the old Yankee Stadium ($266.9M).

It’s no secret attendance is lower this year than it has been at any point since the new Stadium opened. We see it every night. (To be fair, the park does seem to fill up in the second and third innings as people get out of work, make their way up to the Bronx, and get through the metal detectors.) The Yankees are averaging 38,457 fans per game this season, down from 39,894 last year and 45,918 in 2009. At the same time, they still lead the AL in attendance this year and are fourth in MLB overall.

“There was a real identification with those players who were great players and won a lot of championships. They were big stars, big attractions. There’s no doubt about it. I think the fact that they all retired in a period of time had an impact,” said Randy Levine to Baumbach, referred to Derek Jeter, Mariano Rivera, Andy Pettitte, and Jorge Posada. An attendance and ticket revenue drop was inevitable once those guys were gone. But the Yankees kinda suck now too, so it seems like things are going to get worse before they get better.

Nova being sued by landlord

It’s been a while since we had a good hard-partying Yankee story. According to Emily Saul, Ivan Nova is being sued by his former landlord for trashing his former White Plains home. The lawsuit alleges Nova and his wife lived in the house from 2014-15 and left the place “uninhabitable” due to “raucous partying.” They smashed lights, broke appliances, all sorts of stuff.

The landlord is suing Nova for more than $150,000 to recover damages and lost income. Ivan told Julie Kayzerman he is fighting the lawsuit because he didn’t live there during that time. He was in Tampa rehabbing from Tommy John surgery. “I haven’t done anything. People want to take advantage of opportunities, but you have to understand that I’m good and I had nothing to do with that and I’m going to fight it,” he said.

Yankees grab defeat from jaws of victory, fall 6-5 to O’s


Source: FanGraphs

You know what the worst thing about Friday’s come-from-ahead loss to the Orioles is? It’s that it doesn’t bother me. Usually a loss like that would make me feel annoyed, angry, frustrated, all sorts of things. Instead … nothing. I guess I’ve come to accept the Yankees being bad and am now numb to the brutal losses. Anyway, Friday’s final score was 6-5. Let’s recap with bullet points on this Friday night:

  • OMG Dingers!: For the first time this season, the Yankees hit 3+ home runs in a game away from Yankee Stadium. Carlos Beltran and Alex Rodriguez went back-to-back in the fourth inning, then Austin Romine went deep in the fifth inning. The three homers accounted for four of the team’s five runs. (Beltran’s was a two-run shot.) The Yankees scored their fifth run when Chase Headley singled in Didi Gregorius in the sixth. That gave them what felt like a comfortable 5-2 lead.
  • Nate Loses It: Through the first five innings Nathan Eovaldi made only one mistake, and Chris Davis hit it about 500 feet for a solo homer. The O’s built a run in the second when noted pull hitters Mark Trumbo and Pedro Alvarez took outside pitches the other way. Go figure. Eovaldi was pitching well (again), but things unraveled in the sixth. Four of the first first batters of the inning reached base, the last of which was Matt Wieters, who singled in a pair to cut the deficit to 5-4. That ended Eovaldi’s night.
  • Bad Bullpen: The magic is starting to wear off Kirby Yates. He entered the game with two on and one out in the sixth, then allowed the game-tying run on a Jonathan Schoop double to left. Eovaldi was charged with five runs in 5.1 innings. With the score tied 5-5 in the seventh, in came Dellin Betances, who has been mortal in recent weeks. The O’s pushed across a run on a ground ball single, a flare single to left, and a soft ground ball along the third base line. Not exactly hammered, but still. That’s three straight games with a run for Dellin. He’s on pace for another 81 appearances. Maybe pitching ALL THE TIME is bad and his workload should be lightened?
  • Leftovers: The Yankees had ten hits, including two each by Brett Gardner, Gregorius, and Headley. Gardner also drew a walk. Even with his recent slump, he still leads the team with a .350 OBP … Mark Teixeira left the game in the third inning with a knee injury, forcing Rob Refsnyder to play first base for the first time. He wasn’t tested with anything particularly tough. My guess is we’ll see more of him there going forward … the Yankees have lost seven of their last ten games to drop their postseason odds to 13.3%.

Here are the box score, video highlights, and updated standings. Also check out our Bullpen Workload and Announcer Standings pages. The Yankees and Orioles will continue this series Saturday night (argh). Ivan Nova and Tyler Wright will be on the bump.