Exactly three weeks ago, Mark Teixeira was placed on the 15-day DL with torn cartilage in his right knee. There was talk he would need season-ending surgery. Instead, Teixeira returns to the lineup today after “rehabbing” the knee. I say “rehabbing” because torn cartilage won’t repair itself. (I’m no doctor. Someone correct me if I’m wrong.) He’s going to need surgery at some point. Teixeira is receiving treatment and lubrication injections to make the injury manageable for the time being.
If nothing else, Teixeira’s return will instantly improve the team defense. He’s still an all-world defender at first base. Will he help the offense? That’s another matter. Teixeira was hitting only .180/.271/.263 (47 wRC+) at the time of the injury, and he hadn’t homered in nearly two full months. He had a fantastic season a year ago, so it’s not like you have to look back real far to see the last time he was a productive player. Hopefully the little break gets his bat on track. Here is the Twins’ lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:
- CF Jacoby Ellsbury
- LF Brett Gardner
- RF Carlos Beltran
- DH Alex Rodriguez
- C Brian McCann
- 1B Mark Teixeira
- 2B Starlin Castro
- SS Didi Gregorius
- 3B Chase Headley
RHP Michael Pineda
It’s a lovely day in New York. Sunny, not many clouds, and temperatures in the low-80s. Good afternoon to spend at the ol’ ballyard. Today’s game will begin at 1:05pm ET and you can watch on WPIX locally and MLB Network if you’re out of market. Enjoy the game.
Roster Update: Ike Davis was designated for assignment to clear a roster spot for Teixeira, the Yankees announced. He can elected free agency if he clears waivers because he has more than five years of service time. Do any other teams offer a greater opportunity though? Teixeira is playing with torn cartilage, so it wouldn’t take much for Davis to return to the big leagues. He might stick around.
According to George King, the Yankees will have Cuban infielder Yulieski Gurriel in Tampa for a private workout either this weekend or early next week. He also has private workouts scheduled with the Dodgers and Mets, among other teams. Gurriel will not hold an open showcase for scouts. He’s doing private workouts only.
The Yankees have brought pretty much every big name Cuban player to Tampa for private workouts in recent years, including Yoan Moncada and Aledmys Diaz. Obviously they didn’t sign any of those guys. Bringing Gurriel to Tampa does not necessarily mean the team has serious interest in signing him. They could just be doing their due diligence.
I wrote about Gurriel and the Yankees last week, so check that out. I’m not going to repeat it all here. He projects to be an impact bat and gosh, the Yankees sure could use one of those. There are three main questions here: one, where does he play? Two, how much will his age (32) work against him? And three, what’s is going to cost? Lots, probably.
Dave Cameron wrote a interesting post yesterday explaining why Gurriel may not command a huge contract like Rusney Castillo and Hector Olivera, who received six-year deals worth $11M+ annually. I’m not so sure. It only takes one team to love the talent and pay huge. We’ll find out soon enough. Gurriel could sign soon and make his MLB debut in second half.
There’s nothing quite like a game against the Twins to make you feel good about the Yankees, is there? The Yankees rallied from behind to beat Minnesota in game one of their three-game series Friday night. The final score was 5-3. New York is, once again, a .500 ballclub. They’re 36-36. It would be cool if they got over .500 and stayed over this time.
A Shaky Tanaka Start Is Still A Quality Start
For only the fifth time in his 15 starts this season, Masahiro Tanaka allowed more than two runs Friday night. He allowed three runs on seven hits and two walks in six innings and it definitely could have been worse; Tanaka stranded a leadoff double in the second inning and runners on first and second in the third inning. The first inning was his only 1-2-3 inning.
There has been plenty of talk this season about Tanaka’s performance on normal rest versus his performance with an extra day of rest, and for good reason. He’s pitched way better with an extra day (like most pitchers). Tanaka was making this start with two extra days of rest thanks to the off-days Monday and Thursday, and I wonder if he was a little too strong because of it. He was up in the zone a lot and wasn’t commanding his fastball as well as he usually does.
Either way, Tanaka struck out a season high tying seven batters. He generated 14 swings and misses as well, though that’s nothing special by his standards. He’s had 14+ whiffs in eight of his 15 starts. This was one of those “he’s not at his best but he’s still good enough to win” games for Tanaka. He bent a little but did not break. Tanaka’s one of those guys who doesn’t have disaster games. Even when he’s bad, he’s still pretty good.
Come From Behind
The Twins took a 2-0 lead on Eduardo Nunez‘s third inning single, and the Yankees answered right back with two runs in the bottom half of the inning. Austin Romine reached on error before being erased on Brett Gardner‘s fielder’s choice. Carlos Beltran doubled into the left field corner to score Gardner, then Alex Rodriguez pulled a ground ball single through the left side of the infield to score Beltran.
Watching the play live, I thought Beltran was going to be out at the plate. Luckily Robbie Grossman’s throw was well off-line, allowing Carlos to score and A-Rod to take second base. This was just the Twins being the Twins. Lefty Tommy Milone faced six hitters that inning and four of the first five saw a hitter friendly 2-0 or 3-1 count. Beltran was the lone exception, and that was only because he doubled on the first pitch. Bad teams find a way to lose, and the Twins and Milone found a way to let the Yankees back into the game that inning.
Minnesota took a 3-2 lead in the fourth thanks to a walk (Byung-Ho Park), a double (Kurt Suzuki), and a ground out (Byron Buxton). The Yankees again answered right back, scoring two runs in the bottom of the fourth. They loaded the bases with no outs on a walk (Chase Headley), a bunt single (Didi Gregorius), and a Joe Mauer error (Aaron Hicks). Romine plated the first run with a sac fly, then Rob Refsnyder came through with two-out single to score the second run, giving New York a 4-3 lead.
Once Tanaka got through six innings, it was time to turn things over to the big three relievers. They retired all nine batters they faced. Dellin Betances struck out one and threw an 88.7 mph curveball, which is a) nuts, and b) not even his fastball curveball of the year. He threw an 89.4 mph bender in his last appearance. Andrew Miller fanned one in the eighth.
Aroldis Chapman struck out the side in the ninth and holy crap, that was easily his most dominant outing of the season. He threw eleven pitches, all of them for strikes, and ten of the eleven clocked in at 101.3 mph or above. The one “slow” pitch was the 91.1 mph changeup he threw to end the game. Here’s his pitch-by-pitch velocity, via Brooks Baseball:
That changeup looks like he dropped the mic and walked off the stage. It was a ridiculous inning. Chapman’s fastball averaged 103.2 mph and topped out at 104.3 mph on the night. It was the first time he hit 104+ since last August. The weather is starting to warm up and it looks like Aroldis is really starting to cut it loose. That was a fun inning.
Gardner and Gregorius went 1-for-9 combined — the one was Didi’s bunt single — but man, that doesn’t tell the whole story. Gardner nearly beat out an infield single in the first and later hit two line drives right at infielders for outs. Gregorius sent a ball to the right field warning track and pulled a would-be double just a few inches foul. Those two had way better swings than the 1-for-9 would lead you to believe.
Every starter had a hit except Gardner and Romine, though Romine had the sac fly, which was well struck to deep left field. It looked like it had a chance to go out off the bat, but alas. A-Rod was the only player with two hits. Hicks swatted a solo homer in the bottom of the eight for a much appreciated insurance run. I’m sure that felt good against his former team. It was Hicks’ third homer of the season overall and his first against a lefty.
And finally, the Yankees struck out only six times as a team. It was their 31st game with six or fewer strikeouts this season. Only the Angels (38), Giants (36), and Athletics (33) have more. The offense hasn’t been great this year, but the Yankees don’t get enough credit for putting the ball in play as much as they do. Their team 18.5% strikeout rate is fifth lowest in MLB this season.
Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
For the box score and updated standings, you want to go over to ESPN. MLB.com is the place to go for the various video highlights. Here are our Bullpen Workload and Announcer Standings pages, and here’s the win probability graph:
The Yankees and Twins will continue this three-game series Saturday afternoon. That’s a regular 1:05pm ET start. Hooray for that. Michael Pineda and Ervin Santana are the scheduled starters. This is the last homestand before the All-Star break, so if you want to catch tomorrow’s game or any of the other five games on the homestand, head over to RAB Tickets.
Triple-A Scranton (8-5 win over Pawtucket in ten innings)
- LF Ben Gamel: 1-4, 1 R, 1 K, 1 HBP
- 2B Donovan Solano: 2-5, 1 R, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 CS — he’s easily been the best of the various scrap heap infielders the Yankees signed for Triple-A depth (Pete Kozma, Jonathan Diaz, etc.)
- RF Aaron Judge: 1-4, 1 R, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 1 K — fifth homer in his last six games
- C Gary Sanchez: 2-5, 2 R, 1 HR, 1 RBI — hit back-to-back-to-back homers with Solano and Judge in the tenth inning
- 1B Tyler Austin: 3-5, 3 R, 3 HR, 5 RBI, 1 K, 1 E (fielding) — all three homers came against on-and-off big leaguer Roenis Elias … second three-homer game in the farm system this year … Chris Gittens did it last week
- CF Jake Cave: 0-4, 1 BB, 2 K
- RHP Luis Severino: 6 IP, 9 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 1 BB, 2 K, 2 HB, 7/2 GB/FB — 70 of 97 pitches were strikes (72%) … easily his worst Triple-A outing of the year
- RHP Matt Wotherspoon: 3 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 1 K, 2/3 GB/FB — 22 of 45 pitches were strikes (49%)
- RHP Conor Mullee: 1 IP, zeroes, 1 K, 1/1 GB/FB — nine pitches, seven strikes
Is there ever a bad time to play the Twins? Not for the Yankees, who have dominated this rivalry for more than a decade now. They took three of four from Minnesota last week, and while that can be considered a success, it’s always disappointing when you have a chance to sweep and fall short. The Yankees need all the wins they can get right now, so go take care of business this weekend. Here is the Twins’ lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:
- LF Brett Gardner
- 1B Rob Refsnyder
- RF Carlos Beltran
- DH Alex Rodriguez
- 2B Starlin Castro
- 3B Chase Headley
- SS Didi Gregorius
- CF Aaron Hicks
- C Austin Romine
RHP Masahiro Tanaka
It has been nice and sunny all day in New York, so we’re in for a clear night tonight. The game will begin shortly after 7pm ET and you can watch on YES. Enjoy the game.
Injury Update: CC Sabathia (ankle) feels better and is expected to make his next start. He rolled the ankle throwing a pitch Wednesday afternoon.
The Rockies and the Twins and the Rockies and the … Twins. This eleven-game stretch against the Rockies and Twins ends this weekend with three games against Minnesota. The Yankees have gone 4-4 in the first eight games, which isn’t good. They did take three of four in Target Field last weekend though. Now these two teams will play three in Yankee Stadium this weekend.
What Have They Done Lately?
After the Yankees left town last weekend, the Twinkies played three games against the Phillies at home, and they took two of three. They dropped the finale yesterday. Minnesota is 23-49 with a -115 run differential overall. That is the worst record and run differential in all of baseball. Yes, even worse than the Braves (25-47 and -97).
Offense & Defense
When you’re as bad as the Twins, you do everything poorly. That includes scoring runs. They average only 4.04 runs per game with a team 90 wRC+. Bad. Bad bad bad. The Twins are without OF Miguel Sano (115 wRC+), who is due to begin a minor league rehab assignment sometime this weekend. He won’t return this series. Also, 3B Trevor Plouffe (71 wRC+) is day-to-day with a groin strain. Word is he won’t go on the DL but may have to sit out this weekend.
Manager Paul Molitor’s best hitter so far this season has been ex-Yankee IF Eduardo Nunez (121 wRC+), who has started to slow down the last two weeks or so. Now that I said that he’s going to hit about .800 this weekend. Way to go, me. 1B Joe Mauer (107 wRC+) is the big name and 2B Brian Dozier (101 wRC+) has been one of their better players over the years as well. RF Max Kepler (99 wRC+) torched the Yankees last weekend. CF Byron Buxton (46 wRC+) looked lost though. The Yankees picked him apart at the plate.
LF Robbie Grossman (160 wRC+) has been excellent since being recalled about a month ago. High-priced Korean import DH Byung-Ho Park (89 wRC+) isn’t working out too well, though he does mash taters (12 HR). C Kurt Suzuki (91 wRC+) always crushes the Yankees for some reason. SS Eduardo Escobar (84 wRC+) is probably going to play short with Nunez at third while Plouffe is out. C Juan Centeno (47 wRC+) and UTIL Danny Santana (63 wRC+) are the other bench players.
Defensively, the Twins have a very good outfield and one really good infielder in Dozier. Escobar can pick it on occasion too. Nunez still makes his hilarious errors from time to time. You know what I mean. Good old Eduardo Scissorhands. Mauer is okay at first base and Suzuki was never quite as good defensively as his reputation. He’s a classic Nichols Law catcher.
Friday (7:05pm ET): RHP Masahiro Tanaka (vs. MIN) vs. LHP Tommy Milone (vs. NYY)
Remember Pat Dean, the generic lefty the Yankees hammered for seven runs in 2.1 innings in Minnesota last week? The Twins sent him down to Triple-A after that game and replaced him with the even generic lefty-ier Milone. The 29-year-old southpaw has a 5.79 ERA (5.18 FIP) in four starts and one relief appearance so far this season, and as always, he’s kinda limited walks (7.1%) while giving up a ton of homers (1.93 HR/9). His grounder rate (48.6%) is good and his strikeout rate (19.4%) is better than it’s ever been before, though I think that’s a sample size thing and not a change in skills thing. Righties have historically punished Milone, who sits 87-89 mph with his four-seamer and sinker. Low-80s changeups and sliders are his two primary offspeed pitches. The Yankees didn’t see Milone during the series in Minnesota last weekend.
Saturday (1:05pm ET): RHP Michael Pineda (vs. MIN) vs. RHP Ervin Santana (vs. NYY)
Santana, 33, has been a rock solid starter throughout his career, but he’s having a miserable 2016 season, pitching to a 4.83 ERA (4.50 FIP) in 13 starts and 72.2 innings. His strikeout (17.7%), walk (6.8%), and grounder (43.8%) numbers are in line with his career norms, but he’s been much more homer prone (1.36 HR/9) than usual, and for some reason righties are hitting him much harder than lefties. That’s the opposite of the rest of his career. Santana still sits in the mid-90s with his fastball and he still throws a ton of mid-80s sliders. He’ll also throw a few mid-80s changeups per start to keep hitters honest. Santana held the Yankees to three runs (two earned) in 7.1 innings last week.
Sunday (1:05pm ET): RHP Nathan Eovaldi (vs. MIN) vs. RHP Tyler Duffey (No vs. NYY)
The 25-year-old Duffey had an excellent rookie half-season in 2015 (3.10 ERA and 3.24 FIP), but he’s been unable to carry that success over into 2016. Through eleven starts and 59.2 innings he owns a 6.18 ERA (4.68 FIP) because he gives up a ton of homers (1.68 HR/9). Yikes. His strikeout (18.0%), walk (5.1%), and grounder (45.6%) rates are solid yet unspectacular. Both lefties and righties have given Duffey problems this year. Low-90 four-seamers and sinkers set up a hard low-80s curve and a low-80s changeup. The Yankees didn’t face Duffey when these two clubs met a week ago.
Poor Paul Molitor. This bullpen is a disaster. The Twins have one good reliever and he’s a lefty specialist. They’ve had to cycle through several closers too. Not great, Bob. Here is their relief crew.
Closer: RHP Brandon Kintzler (2.75 ERA/4.80 FIP)
Setup: LHP Fernando Abad (2.16/2.76), RHP Michael Tonkin (3.82/3.71)
Middle: RHP Kevin Jepsen (6.08/6.29), LHP Buddy Boshers (0.90/1.52), RHP Ryan Pressly (3.99/4.14), LHP Taylor Rogers (3.98/4.79)
Long: RHP Neil Ramirez (5.14/6.55)
Closer Glen Perkins is done for the year with a shoulder injury, and Jepsen replaced him earlier in the season. He kept getting lit up though, so now Kintzler is seeing ninth inning time. Abad, who has been far and away Minnesota’s top reliever (Boshers has thrown ten innings), is his primary setup man. Everyone else is there because, well, someone has to pitch, you know?
Jepsen, Rogers, and Tonkin all threw an innings’ worth of pitches yesterday. Rogers has pitched on back-to-back days. You can head on over to our Bullpen Workload page for the status of the Yankees’ bullpen. They had an off-day yesterday, so everyone is pretty fresh.