DotF: Ford homers, Mesa dominates in Trenton’s win

Triple-A Scranton‘s game was suspended due to rain with one out in the top of the fourth. It’ll be completed tomorrow. Here’s the box score. I’m not quite sure what that means for 2B Starlin Castro‘s and 1B Greg Bird‘s rehab. Castro played the field tonight and Bird was the DH. I imagine they’ll resume those positions in the completion tomorrow, then Castro will DH and Bird will play first base in the second game of the doubleheader. We’ll see.

Double-A Trenton (8-0 win over Portland)

  • SS Thairo Estrada: 1-4, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 1 K
  • CF Rashad Crawford: 2-5, 1 R, 2 K — threw a runner out at second
  • 2B Nick Solak: 2-4, 1 R, 1 BB — 16-for-47 (.340) in his last 12 games
  • DH Mike Ford: 2-3, 2 R, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 BB, 1 HBP — leads the system in homers (20) and walks (84)
  • 1B Ryan McBroom: 0-5, 1 K
  • RHP Jose Mesa Jr.: 6 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 8 K, 6/2 GB/FB — 53 of 80 pitches were strikes (66%) … in six starts this year: 0.36 ERA, 0.72 WHIP, 4.25 K/BB … in 21 relief appearances: 3.12 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, 3.11 K/BB
  • RHP Colten Brewer: 1.1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 3 K — 12 of 15 pitches were strikes

[Read more…]

Game 124: Tanaka Returns

(David Maxwell/Getty)
(David Maxwell/Getty)

The Yankees are finally starting to get healthy. CC Sabathia returned over the weekend and at some point soon Starlin Castro, Greg Bird, and Matt Holliday figure to return as well. They’re all on minor league rehab assignments. Tonight Masahiro Tanaka returns from what was essentially a quick ten-day vacation to knock out a dead arm phase. Tanaka threw an extended bullpen session over the weekend and feels good to go. Good news.

Tonight the Yankees begin a three-game series with the very bad Tigers in Detroit. The Tigers are 54-69 this season and 3-12 in their last 15 games. The Yankees lost two of three to these Tigers a few weeks ago, and geez, that can’t happen again. The Yankees really need to start beating up on bad teams these final few weeks to reach the postseason. One game at a time though. Win tonight and go from there. Here is the Tigers’ lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:

  1. LF Brett Gardner
  2. CF Aaron Hicks
  3. C Gary Sanchez
  4. RF Aaron Judge
  5. SS Didi Gregorius
  6. DH Tyler Austin
  7. 1B Chase Headley
  8. 3B Todd Frazier
  9. 2B Ronald Torreyes
    RHP Masahiro Tanaka

The weather was not good in Detroit today. Rained pretty much all afternoon. It’s supposed to clear out tonight and stay cleared out, so the Yankees and Tigers shouldn’t have a problem getting this game in. Tonight’s series opener will begin at 7:10pm ET and YES will have the broadcast. Enjoy the game.

Roster Move: Bryan Mitchell was sent down to clear a roster spot for Tanaka, the Yankees announced. The Yankees still have eight relievers in the bullpen.

8/22 to 8/24 Series Preview: Detroit Tigers

(Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)
(Patrick McDermott/Getty Images)

With so much discussion revolving around the Yankees failure to claw their way back into the race for the AL East, it seems as though their increasingly tenuous grasp on the Wild Card has been ignored. There are four teams within three games of those spots, and the Yankees will face one of them (the Mariners) this coming weekend. In order to stay in control of their own destiny, they must continue to beat-up on the subpar teams that they meet down the stretch; enter the Tigers.

The Last Time They Met

The Yankees hosted the Tigers from July 31 through August 2, dropping two of three. It was a frustrating series that included their 20th one-run loss of the season, and a shutout loss in a game started by one of the worst pitchers in the game. Some notes:

  • The Yankees went 3-for-3 with RISP in the first game, plating five runs in those at-bats. 7 of their 10 total base-runners scored in the game as a whole.
  • The newly acquired David Robertson finished the second game, and reminded us all of his Houdini act. He allowed three hits in a scoreless ninth inning, and was saved by Brett Gardner throwing out a runner at home.
  • Jordan Zimmermann — the aforementioned awful starter — shut the Yankees out for 7 innings in the final game of the series. The last time he tossed a scoreless outing was on April 20, 2016; he had a 5.81 ERA (5.20 FIP) in 198.1 IP in the interim.

Check out Katie’s Yankeemetrics post for more fun facts.

Injury Report

Daniel Norris has been out since July 5, and just made his first rehab start last week. He could be back soon, but not in time for this series. And Anibal Sanchez just hit the DL on Friday, so he won’t be back, either. The Tigers are healthy otherwise.

Their Story So Far

The Tigers are in fourth place in the AL Central with a 54-69 record. Their -53 run differential is 21st in baseball, and they’re trending downwards. To wit, they lost six in a row before beating the Dodgers (!) on Sunday, and have been outscored by 25 runs this month.

Not much has changed since these teams last faced, in terms of the root cause of their struggles. They simply have too many players performing poorly, and they don’t have the depth to make up for the struggles of foundation pieces like Miguel Cabrera (100 wRC+ this year, 79 in August) and Ian Kinsler (95 wRC+). Justin Verlander has shown signs of life, though, pitching to a 2.48 ERA in eight second-half starts. Luckily, the Yankees won’t have to face a resurgent Verlander this week.

The Lineup We Might See

The Tigers lineup has been among the most consistently deployed in baseball this year, with the only real shake-ups coming from trades and injuries. As a result, it’s fairly likely that we’ll see something along these lines:

  1. Ian Kinsler, 2B
  2. Mikie Mahtook, CF
  3. Justin Upton, OF
  4. Miguel Cabrera, 1B
  5. Nick Castellanos, 3B
  6. Victor Martinez, DH
  7. James McCann, C
  8. Andrew Romine, RF
  9. Jose Iglesias, SS

The Starting Pitchers We Will See

Tuesday (7:10 PM EST): RHP Masahiro Tanaka vs. LHP Matt Boyd

Given the way the last series against the Tigers went, Boyd would be my pick to annoy the heck out of Yankees fans this week. The 26-year-old southpaw sports a 5.70 ERA (77 ERA+) in 90.0 IP, and has allowed at least 3 earned runs in 13 straight starts. He was said to be heading to the bullpen, but the injury to Anibal Sanchez kept his place in the rotation safe for the time being.

Boyd is a four-pitch guy, utilizing a low-90s fastball, a mid-80s slider, a low-80s change-up, and a mid-70s curveball. He also throws a variation of a sinker, but it doesn’t really sink, as evidenced by his 39.0% groundball rate.

Last Outing (vs. LAD on 8/18) – 1.1 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 2 K

Wednesday (7:10 PM EST): RHP Luis Severino vs. RHP Jordan Zimmermann

Zimmermann had his best start in a season and a half the last time this teams met (7.0 IP, 6 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 6 K), and promptly turned back into a pumpkin (15.2 IP, 23 H, 17 R, 6 BB, 8 K in three starts since). He currently has career-worsts in K/BB, GB%, ERA, FIP, xFIP, and a slew of other metrics, even as his velocity has rebounded from last season. I’d say that he’s toast, but he certainly didn’t look that way three weeks ago.

Last Outing (vs. LAD on 8/18) – 5.1 IP, 10 H, 7 R, 2 BB, 5 K

Thursday (1:10 PM EST): LHP Jaime Garcia vs. RHP Michael Fulmer

The Yankees beat up on Fulmer last time around, plating 7 runs in 6 innings and earning some small measure of vengeance for last year’s Rookie of the Year award. Though his overall numbers are solid, it is worth noting that Fulmer is once again struggling in the warmer weather. He has a 4.38 ERA since June 1, and a 4.91 ERA since the All-Star Game. It’s a small sample size, of course, but that’s part of the reason why many were concerned that last year’s success was a bit of an illusion.

Last Outing (vs. LAD on 8/19) – 7.0 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 2 BB, 6 K

The Bullpen

Former Yankee Shane Greene inherited the closer role when the Tigers dealt former Yankee Justin Wilson to the Cubs, and he has performed adequately thus far, closing out all three save opportunities. He has a 2.87 ERA in 53.1 IP on the season.

Alex Wilson (3.99 ERA in 49.2 IP) is the set-up man, and Daniel Stumpf (2.52 ERA in 25.0 IP) serves as the LOOGY, while the rest of the bullpen is kind of a mish-mash of roles. Warwick Saupold (3.47 ERA in 49.1 IP) is primarily a mop-up/long reliever, while Drew VerHagen (6.14 ERA in 7.1 IP), Bruce Rondon (10.91 ERA in 15.2 IP), Joe Jimenez (11.70 ERA in 10.0 IP), and Chad Bell (5.59 ERA in 38.2 IP) handle the middle innings.

As you can probably imagine from looking at this group, the Tigers have the worst bullpen in the majors (at least by WAR and ERA).

Who (Or What) To Watch

There is a chance that Greg Bird and/or Starlin Castro could be back for this series. Nothing concrete has been said about their return dates as of this writing, but both are rehabbing at Triple-A. The Yankees lineup will look a great deal better once they’re back – so the sooner the better.

In terms of this specific match-up, Justin Upton bears watching. He is back to raking this year (.282/.366/.546, 26 HR, 10 SB, 140 wRC+), and could opt-out of his contract and hit free agency as a 30-year-old. I highly doubt that he’d be on the Yankees radar if that happened, but they’ve been interested in him before.

Revisiting the MLBTR Archives: August 2012

Andruw & Pearce. (Rob Carr/Getty)
Jones & Pearce. (Rob Carr/Getty)

We’re a few weeks into August now, but better late than never, right? It’s time for another edition of our MLBTR Archives series, in which we look back at all the Yankees-related rumors and transactions from five years ago. On the morning of August 1st, 2012, the Yankees were 60-43 and 5.5 games up in the AL East. They had, however, lost nine of their previous 12 games.

The Yankees made two trades at the 2012 trade deadline, adding Ichiro Suzuki and Casey McGehee. They didn’t address their rotation even though CC Sabathia and Andy Pettitte had spent time on the disabled list, and others like Ivan Nova and Freddy Garcia earned demotions. August transactions are typically small and August rumors are usually retrospective. We usually hear a lot about what could have happened at the deadline rather than what might happen now. Anyway, time to jump back in time to August 2012.

August 1st, 2012: Minor Moves: Jack Cust, Dewayne Wise

The Yankees have also released outfielders Colin Curtis and Ray Kruml according to Collins. The 27-year-old Curtis hit .186/.250/.288 in 64 plate appearances with New York in 2010.

At one point the Yankees had Ray Kruml and Austin Krum in the farm system. Don’t ask me why I remember that. Both have been out of baseball for a while.

Curtis, meanwhile, is best remembered for his mid-at-bat pinch-hit home run a few years back. Brett Gardner was tossed for arguing balls and strikes, Curtis replaced him and inherited an 0-2 count, and socked his only career MLB home run off Scot Shields (!).

The Yankees released Curtis in 2012, he spent the rest of that season in an independent league, and that was that. Out of baseball since. I could have sworn I remember seeing something saying he’s started coaching at the college level, but I can’t seem to find anything now. I could be completely wrong.

August 2nd, 2012: Yankees Designate Ramiro Pena For Assignment

The Yankees have designated Ramiro Pena for assignment according to the transactions page at MLB.com. The move cleared room on the roster for the recently-acquired Casey McGehee.

Rakin’ Ramiro was always a personal fave because he could play the hell out of shortstop, though he couldn’t hit at all. Before getting called up for the first time, his best minor league season was a .266/.330/.357 line with Double-A Trenton in 2008. Pena cleared waivers and went to Triple-A, and has been bouncing around the minors ever since. He actually returned to the big leagues with the Giants last year, hitting .299/.330/.425 in 30 games as bench bat. Who knew? Ramiro is currently hitting .216/.256/.243 in limited time for the Hiroshima Carp in Japan.

August 4th, 2012: West Notes: Giants, Chavez, Dodgers, A’s

Before the trade deadline, the Giants offered Nate Schierholtz to the Yankees in an effort to land veteran Eric Chavez, according to Buster Olney of ESPN.com (via Twitter).  The Giants presumably pursued Chavez prior to acquiring Marco Scutaro, who has been plugged in at third base.  Chavez, 34, is hitting .269/.332/.486 with ten homers on the year.

Interesting! I do not remember this. Chavez was in the middle of a ridiculous season — he hit .281/.348/.496 with 16 home runs in 2012 — and the Yankees couldn’t really afford to trade him because Alex Rodriguez was banged up and they needed the help at third base. The Yankees were a first place team in 2012, remember.

Schierholtz was a personal favorite, so much so that I once wrote a post saying the Yankees should trade for him so he could take over right field once Nick Swisher left as a free agent. Schierholtz hit .257/.321/.407 with 21 home runs for San Francisco in 2012, including .287/.360/.466 against righties. Seemed like a potentially dangerous lefty platoon bat.

The Yankees never did acquire Schierholtz, obviously. The Giants traded him to the Phillies in the Hunter Pence deal at the 2012 trade deadline, then Philadelphia non-tendered him after the season. He bounced from the Cubs to Nationals to the Rangers to the Tigers after that. Detroit released Schierholtz from their Triple-A roster last year and he’s been out of baseball since.

August 13th, 2012: Yankees Sign Derek Lowe

MONDAY: The Yankees have officially announced the signing in a press release and say they will use Lowe out of the bullpen. Their 40-man roster is now full.

Few signings have felt more inevitable over the years. Lowe was terrible for the Indians in 2012, throwing 119 innings with a 5.52 ERA (4.49 FIP), so they released him at midseason. The Yankees needed a long reliever and they’re a sucker for ex-Red Sox players, so they picked him up as soon as Cleveland cut him loose. In his first game as a Yankee, Lowe recorded a four-inning save. You can watch it here. (For whatever reason YouTube embedding is disabled.)

Lowe wound up throwing 23.2 innings with a 3.04 ERA (3.77 FIP) for the Yankees that year. He was on the postseason roster too, though that didn’t go very well (three runs in two innings). Lowe signed with the Rangers after the season, allowed 13 runs in 13 innings in 2013, then got released. He announced his retirement a few weeks later.

August 13th, 2012: Yankees Sign Two Nicaraguan Lefties

The Yankees have signed Nicaraguan left-handers Corby McCoy and Luis Garcia, writes Ben Badler of Baseball America.

Neither McCoy nor Garcia ever made it out of the Dominican Summer League. McCoy threw 91.1 innings with a 4.43 ERA from 2013-16 while Garcia had a 6.27 ERA in 51.2 innings from 2013-14. Nicaragua is not exactly a baseball hotbed — Dennis Martinez is far and away the best of the 14 big leaguers to come from Nicaragua — but teams continue to try to make inroads in the country. It’s a long process. For every Dennis Martinez there are hundreds of Corby McCoys and Luis Garcias.

August 19th, 2012: AL East Notes: Yankees, Red Sox, Hughes

Yankees GM Brian Cashman will soon have to decide where they stand on Phil Hughes and Joba Chamberlain, who are both set to hit free agency after next season, writes Joel Sherman of the New York Post.  When asked about how he views the two long-term, Cashman responded, “That is stuff I can’t answer at this stage. It is a two-way street. It is a negotiation for two sides. So it is all for another day.”

We’re all guilty of this, myself included. We look ahead and try to figure out where a guy fits long-term far earlier than necessary. In 2012, Hughes had a 4.19 ERA (4.56 FIP) in 191.1 innings and looked like a potential keeper. Then he threw 145.2 innings with a 5.19 ERA (4.50 FIP) in 2013 and that was that. There was talk about re-signing Mark Teixeira last year, and look how that turned out. General rule of thumb: unless you’re talking about an elite performer in his prime, don’t worry about re-signing someone until the decision has to be made.

August 21st, 2012: AL East Notes: Pettitte, Torrealba, McClure

Yankees left-hander Andy Pettitte hasn’t ruled out the possibility of pitching again in 2013, writes Chad Jennings of the Journal News. “I definitely can’t tell you right now that I would say there’s no way I’m going to play,” Pettitte said. The 40-year-old left-hander, who signed a one-year, $2.5MM minor league contract in March, is currently rehabbing a broken ankle he suffered in late June and hopes to return before the season’s over.

Pettitte did indeed return late in 2012 and he did indeed pitch in 2013. That ankle injury, which was suffered when he was hit by a comebacker, was one of the reasons Pettitte decided to return in 2013. He felt he hadn’t gotten it all out of his system. Pettitte threw 185.1 innings with a 3.74 ERA (107 ERA+) in 2013. Here’s the full list of 35-and-older pitchers who threw 185+ innings with a 107 ERA+ or better in their final seasons within the last half-century:

  • Andy Pettitte: 107 ERA + in 185.1 innings in 2013
  • Mike Mussina: 131 ERA+ in 200.1 innings in 2008

That’s all. The Yankees have had some really impressive farewell seasons recently, huh?

August 27th, 2012: Yankees Acquire Steve Pearce

The Yankees have acquired Steve Pearce from the Astros for cash considerations, the teams announced. Pearce, who played for the Yankees’ Triple-A team earlier this year, will provide New York with a right-handed bat for the final month of the season.

Good ol’ Steve Pearce. I know I’ve written about his 2012 travels several times in previous MLBTR Archives posts, but it’s worth dropping it in here again:

  • March 27th: Released by the Twins.
  • March 29th: Signed minor league deal with the Yankees.
  • June 2nd: Traded to the Orioles for cash.
  • July 28: Claimed off waivers by the Astros.
  • August 27: Traded to the Yankees for cash.
  • September 29: Claimed off waivers by the Orioles.

Pearce played 12 games with the Yankees that season, went 4-for-25 (.160) with a homer, then went to the Orioles. Did he really play 12 games with the Yankees? Seems like ten too many. Pearce has managed to carve out a nice little career for himself since that wild 2012 season. He’s hitting .271/.345/.470 with 12 homers in 77 games for the Blue Jays this year. I was hoping the Yankees would sign him for the Chris Carter role, but alas.

August 27th, 2012: Yankees Designate Brandon Laird For Assignment

The Yankees have designated corner infielder Brandon Laird for assignment, Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports reports (on Twitter). The move creates roster space for Steve Pearce, who was acquired from the Astros today.

Back when the Yankees didn’t have much of a farm system, Laird was one of their better prospects even though he had questionable plate discipline and wasn’t much of a third base defender. His big year was 2010, when he hit .281/.336/.482 with 25 home runs in 138 games for Double-A Trenton and Triple-A Scranton. Laird played eleven games for the Yankees in 2011 and went 4-for-21 (.190) with four singles.

The Yankees dropped Laird from the 40-man roster in 2012, the Astros grabbed him on waivers, and he hit .198/.248/.406 with six homers in 46 games for Houston during their 2012-13 tank seasons. Laird is still active, you know. He’s in his third year as Shohei Otani’s teammate with the Nippon Ham Fighters. He’s hitting .234/.316/.495 with 29 homers this season, and has 102 home runs in three years with the (Ham) Fighters. Hit 39 last year. Huh.

August 28th, 2012: Dodgers Inquired On Sabathia, Teixeira

The Dodgers called the Yankees to inquire about the possibility of trading for CC Sabathia and Mark Teixeira, Joel Sherman of the New York Post reports. The Yankees told the Dodgers they had no interest in moving either player despite their substantial contracts (four years and $99MM remain on Sabathia’s deal; four years and $90MM remain on Teixeira’s deal).

Now this I remember. This came out three days after the big Dodgers-Red Sox blockbuster that sent Adrian Gonzalez, Carl Crawford, and Josh Beckett (and Nick Punto!) to Los Angeles for salary relief and two pitching prospects that didn’t amount to much (Allen Webster and Rubby De La Rosa). Apparently the Dodgers asked about Sabathia and Teixeira first, and were told no.

The Yankees and Red Sox were in very different places at the time. The Red Sox were in the middle of a disastrous last place season and looking to unload Gonzalez and Crawford, both of whom had worn out there welcome. The Yankees, meanwhile, were a first place team and both Teixeira (.251/.332/.475 with 24 homers) and especially Sabathia (3.38 ERA and 3.34 FIP) were key contributors.

The Yankees could have freed up a lot of payroll with that trade, assuming Teixeira and Sabathia would’ve agreed to waive their no-trade clauses, which was far from a given. What would they have done with that free cash? I’m not sure. The notable free agents during the 2012-13 offseason: Michael Bourn, Zack Greinke, Josh Hamilton, Edwin Jackson, Anibal Sanchez, Nick Swisher, and B.J. Upton. Only Greinke’s deal worked out.

Given what we know now, yeah, the Yankees should’ve unloaded Teixeira and Sabathia. It was not nearly as clear cut back then. Sabathia was still an ace, Teixeira was still productive, and the Yankees were a bonafide contender. And even if they had unloaded them, I’m not sure 2013-16 would’ve been much better anyway. They could have turned around and spent the money on Hamilton and Jackson, and no thanks.

Thoughts with six weeks to go in the regular season

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Well, technically there are five weeks and five days to go in the regular season, but close enough. The Yankees had one of those weird mid-road trip off-days yesterday and will begin a three-game series with the Tigers in Detroit tonight. It would be nice to see the Yankees treat the Tigers like the 54-69 team they are and pad the wildcard lead a little bit. Anyway, I have some thoughts, so let’s get to ’em.

1. So apparently Aaron Judge is dealing with some sort of shoulder issue right now? Judge had his left shoulder heavily wrapped and iced following the game Saturday and Sunday, and apparently this has been a regular thing for a little while now. Judge was asked about his shoulder Sunday and said “it’s not affecting me at all,” to Bryan Hoch. He was asked how he hurt it, and he said “it’s not affecting me at all.” Okay then. This is the time of year when every player is beat up and most guys are icing something after games, but geez, I feel like maybe we should be hearing more about this. Judge is a right-handed hitter, so the left shoulder is his front shoulder when hitting, and the front shoulder is the power shoulder. As Katie noted yesterday, Judge’s hard contact rate has nosedived recently. Hmmm. I don’t think this shoulder issue is the primary cause of his second half slump. It could be contributing to it, no doubt, but the slump has been going on a while now, and supposedly this shoulder issue is relatively new. I’m just wondering why in the world he’s playing with an achy shoulder. The Yankees haven’t been great with injuries this year. They let Greg Bird play through an ankle injury for a month before shutting him down. Judge has shown he can be a dominant offense force and he’s a huge part of the future going forward. Why would the Yankees risk a potentially serious injury by letting him play through an apparent minor injury? I have basically no information here, but man, whatever it is, I wish the Yankees would just sit Judge down for ten days and knock it out. And I’d say that even if he were still hitting like first half Aaron Judge.

2. Hot take: I don’t think Aroldis Chapman will save another game this season. Not even a stray save here and there. Even during his scoreless inning Sunday, Chapman’s location was awful — he was missing his spot by feet — and hitters were taking big comfy swings against him. It’s shocking how comfortable hitters look in the box against Chapman even though he throws 100 mph and has no idea where it’s going. The Yankees have two viable closer alternatives in David Robertson and Dellin Betances, and because of that, I don’t see Chapman swooping in to vulture saves at any point. Chances are at least one of those two guys will be available most games. Mostly though, I’m not very confident Chapman will get things straightened out this year. It would be great if he did. I’m not really counting on it though. He’s look dominant — truly dominant — maybe five times in his 39 appearances this year. Hopefully this is nothing more than a nasty World Series hangover and Chapman is not broken forever. I do think he’ll come to Spring Training next year as closer. But the rest of this season? I don’t see him regaining that role. Betances or Robertson (probably Betances) closes the rest of the way is my guess.

3. Speaking of the bullpen, the SuperBullpen hasn’t been so super lately, huh? It’s not just Chapman. Tommy Kahnle had a rough week last week — he’s allowed four runs and eleven baserunners in his last four innings after allowing two runs and six baserunners in his first 8.1 innings with the Yankees — and Chad Green has struggled a bit of late too. He’s allowed six runs and 13 baserunners in his last six outings and 11.2 innings. Adam Warren allowed a run Saturday and another run Sunday. Not a great week or so for the new-look bullpen. Robertson and Betances have dominated and that’s pretty much it. I think it’ll pass though. Green was bound to have a stretch where he wasn’t untouchable and Warren has been dynamite all season. Even after this weekend, he has a 2.03 ERA (2.74 FIP) in 53.1 innings. Sometimes bullpens have bad weeks. It just so happened this new-look bullpen had its first bad week — prior to last weekend’s series with the Red Sox, the bullpen had a 2.19 ERA (2.62 FIP) in 74 innings since the Robertson/Kahnle trade — at an inopportune time. Blowing two late leads against the Red Sox really, really stinks. Those two games could be the difference in the AL East race.

Kahnle. (Presswire)
Kahnle. (Presswire)

4. That all said, I will admit to being more worried about Kahnle than I normally would be after four bad innings, only because his track record of excellence is so short. Half a season, basically. Kahnle was great the first few weeks after the trade: 8.1 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 12 K in nine appearances. The last seven outings have been rough: 4 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 4 BB, 3 K. When a guy with career long control issues starts walking people, it’s a red flag. Remember when Betances lost the plate earlier this year? It was ugly. He walked 16 batters in nine innings at one point. But! Betances has walked only seven batters in 19.2 innings since, so he straightened himself out. Kahnle’s recent control issues haven’t been nearly as extreme as Dellin’s, so hopefully he can right the ship and soon. When he’s on, he’s electric. We saw it earlier this year. And you know what? If Kahnle doesn’t get things straightened out and he reverts back to his walk everybody ways, such is life. You win some and you lose some. (Kahnle has an option remaining, so the Yankees could send him down to the minors, if necessary. Not this year since the minor league season ends soon, but next year. I don’t think it’ll come to that.)

5. Not-so-fun fact: the Yankees have had Bird, Gary Sanchez, and Didi Gregorius in the starting lineup together exactly zero times this season. Not one game. Gregorius and Sanchez were hurt in April and Bird went down in early May. Never once did they take the field together. That will hopefully change later this week, when Bird returns from his rehab assignment. Bird is on his way back, Starlin Castro is coming back, and Matt Holliday is coming back too. Don’t forget Masahiro Tanaka either. He’ll be activated off the disabled list to make tonight’s start. The Yankees have had their fair share of injuries this year. Bird has been out since May, Sanchez and Gregorius each missed a month, Castro and Aaron Hicks missed several weeks, Michael Pineda is done, Tanaka and CC Sabathia have been out … lots of injuries. Lots and lots of injuries. It seems they might finally get close to fully healthy later this week, once Bird, Castro, Holliday, and Tanaka return. I am so looking forward to it. They’re getting two potential impact bats (maybe three if Holliday clicks) and a potential impact starter back this week. That’s huge. Hopefully it gives the Yankees a nice boost and they finish the season strong.

6. A quick word on expectations, because I’ve seen a lot of people talking about them on social media and in the comments. Coming into the season, I would’ve been pretty darn excited to hear the Yankees would wake up on the morning of August 22nd with 66-57 record and a 2.5-game lead for first wildcard spot (and a three-game lead for a wildcard spot in general). I thought they were destined for 83-84 wins and lots of growing pains with the kids. Now, on August 22nd and after having watched the first 123 games of the season, I’m kinda bummed the Yankees have fallen 4.5 games back in the AL East race, even while they sit three games up on a wildcard spot. Expectations change. Maybe that’s irrational, but they do. The Yankees got off to an insane start, I bought into them being much better than expected (and they still are!), and it’s been a bit disappointing to see them slide back the last few weeks. They’re 40-41 in their last 81 games. Meh. Maybe that’s my fault for buying into them prematurely. But that’s part of being a fan, right? What’s the point if you’re not going to get excited when your team plays well? Overall, the Yankees have had a successful season because so many of their young players are establishing themselves as cornerstone type players, and that won’t change regardless of where they end up in the postseason race.

DotF: Bird stays hot on rehab assignment in Scranton’s win

Two quick notes to pass along before we get to the games and a standings update:

  • 1B Brandon Wagner made an appearance in today’s Monday Morning Ten Pack (subs. req’d). “Because (his swing) is so quick and efficient, he can wait until balls are deep in the zone before he makes a decision. It’s fun to watch … His swing is in good shape and he should hit as he continues to move up the minor-league ladder. The real question is whether he’ll be able to move off first or hit for enough power to stick at the cold corner,” said the write-up.
  • RHP Juan De Paula was named the Short Season NY-Penn League Pitcher of the Week. He came over in the Ben Gamel trade last year. De Paula allowed one hit and one walk in seven scoreless innings in last week’s start. He struck out seven. So far this year the 19-year-old De Paula has a 3.06 ERA (3.24 FIP) in 47 innings with Staten Island.

Triple-A Scranton (4-3 win over Rochester) they are 70-47 and have a 6.5 game lead in the North Division … their magic number to clinch a postseason spot is four, and their magic number to clinch the division is seven

  • LF Jake Cave: 1-5, 1 R, 1 2B, 3 K, 1 E (throwing)
  • 2B Starlin Castro: 2-4, 1 R, 1 RBI — played seven innings at second base as scheduled
  • 1B Greg Bird: 2-3, 2 R, 1 2B, 2 BB — he played the entire game as scheduled … here’s video of the single and double (the double probably should’ve been caught) … pretty much a vintage Greg Bird minor league game right there … he’s now 8-for-17 (.471) with two doubles and two homers in five rehab games
  • 3B Miguel Andujar: 2-4, 1 BB, 1 E (throwing) — 12-for-27 (.444) during his seven-game hitting streak
  • RF Billy McKinney: 3-5, 1 RBI, 1 K — had been in a 3-for-21 (.143) rut
  • CF Mason Williams: 0-4, 1 BB
  • RHP Chance Adams: 5.1 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 5 K, 1 WP, 4/5 GB/FB — 61 of 101 pitches were strikes (60%) … he’s up to 138.2 innings this year after throwing 127.1 innings last year
  • RHP J.P. Feyereisen: 0.2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 1 K — half of his 22 pitches were strikes
  • RHP Nick Rumbelow: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 2 K — eleven of 18 pitches were strikes (61%)

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Monday Night Open Thread

Did you all catch a glimpse of the eclipse earlier today? I didn’t get a great look at it, mostly because it’s been cloudy here in New York. Still kinda cool though. Anyway, on this night without Yankees baseball, I recommend checking out Sam Miller’s article on the Skunk in the Outfield, a trick play that caused chaos during the 2006 Rhode Island state high school championship tournament. Really great stuff.

Here is an open thread for the evening. The Mets are playing tonight and MLB Network will carry a regional game at 7pm ET. And apparently the (football) Giants are playing a preseason game too. Talk about those games, the eclipse, the Skunk in the Outfield, or anything else right here. Just not religion or politics please.