5/30 to 6/1 Series Preview: Toronto Blue Jays

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

The Blue Jays again? The Blue Jays again. These two teams met in New York last week and now they’ll play three games in Toronto. This is their third series of the season overall and their second at Rogers Centre. The Yankees won the first game and dropped the next two in each of the first two series against the Blue Jays this year. Stop that. Win this series, please.

What Have They Done Lately?

While the Yankees were winning two of three in Tampa, the Blue Jays took two of three from the Red Sox at home. They did drop the series finale yesterday though. The Blue Jays have won seven of their last ten games overall and are 26-26 on the season with a +3 run differential. They’re in third place and the Yankees are a half-game back despite having one fewer loss.

Offense & Defense

Toronto is getting hot, folks. It was bound to happen eventually. They’ve scored 31 runs in their last five games, raising their season averages to 4.17 runs per game and a team 97 wRC+. SS Troy Tulowitzki (81 wRC+) is on the DL with a quad strain he suffered at Yankee Stadium last week, so he won’t be back this series. 1B Chris Colabello is out too. He’s still serving his performance-enhancing drug suspension.

(Tom Szczerbowski/Getty)
(Tom Szczerbowski/Getty)

As we saw last week, the Blue Jays have rearranged their lineup in an effort to generate more offense. RF Jose Bautista (138 wRC+) now bats leadoff with 3B Josh Donaldson (141 wRC+) and DH Edwin Encarnacion (105 wRC+) right behind them. They don’t wait around. They throw the thunder right at you. No sense in forcing a speedy leadoff hitter when you don’t have one, right? Right. LF Michael Saunders (148 wRC+) and 1B Justin Smoak (122 wRC+) back up the big bats as the No. 4 and 5 hitters.

2B Devon Travis (56 wRC+) came off the DL in New York last week and effectively replaces Tulowitzki in the lineup. IF Ryan Goins (15 wRC+) slid over from second to short. C Russell Martin (43 wRC+) is having a poor season despite those two homers he hit in the Bronx last week. CF Kevin Pillar (67 wRC+) is the other regular. C Josh Thole (24 wRC+), IF Darwin Barney (122 wRC+), OF Ezequiel Carrera (159 wRC+), and UTIL Jimmy Paredes (141 wRC+) are the bench players.

Even with Tulowitzki out, the Blue Jays have a strong team defense, with top notch defenders at third (Donaldson), short (Goins), center (Pillar), and catcher (Martin). Smoak, Travis, and Saunders are solid glovemen as well. Bautista is the weak link in the field and he’s not exactly Carlos Beltran out there. His arm his strong but his range is a little limited. Overall, this team can really catch the ol’ baseball.

Pitching Matchups

Monday (7pm ET): RHP Ivan Nova (vs. TOR) vs. RHP Marco Estrada (vs. NYY)
The 32-year-old Estrada is one of the most unconventionally effective pitchers in the game. He has a 2.76 ERA (3.85 FIP) in nine starts and 58.2 innings despite sitting around 88 mph with his fastball. Estrada disrupts timing expertly with an upper-70s changeup that he throws with the same arm action as his heater. By time you’re able to tell the two pitches apart, it’s too late. You’ve started your swing already. Estrada has a good strikeout rate (22.0%) and not so good walk (9.8%) and grounder (37.6%) rates. Most of his fly balls are weak pop-ups though, which is why his homer rate (0.92 HR/9) is roughly league average. Estrada will throw some upper-80s cutters and mid-70s curves per start, and he’s typically more effective against righties than lefties. Last week he held the Yankees to three runs in seven innings.

Tuesday (7pm ET): LHP CC Sabathia (vs. TOR) vs. LHP J.A. Happ (vs. NYY)
There is growing evidence that when Pirates pitching coach Ray Searage fixes a pitcher, he stays fixed. Francisco Liriano and Edinson Volquez were dynamite under his watch — Volquez left the Pirates and he’s still very good — and last year Happ was outstanding following a midseason trade to Pittsburgh. He’s continued to be outstanding with the Blue Jays this year. Happ, 33, had a 3.20 ERA (4.29 FIP) in ten starts and 64.2 innings this season despite middling peripherals: 16.3% strikeouts, 7.8% walks, 44.4% grounders, and 0.97 HR/9. He’s been better against lefties than righties, as expected. Happ throws low-90s four-seamers, low-90s sinkers, mid-80s changeups, and upper-70s curves. Last week the Yankees scored just one run in seven innings against the veteran southpaw.

(Hannah Foslien/Getty)
(Hannah Foslien/Getty)

Wednesday (7pm ET): RHP Masahiro Tanaka (vs. TOR) vs. RHP Aaron Sanchez (vs. NYY)
The 23-year-old Sanchez is starting to get the hang of this starting pitcher thing. He has a 3.29 ERA (3.24 FIP) in ten starts and 65.2 innings this season, and he’s done it by combining strikeouts (21.5%) and grounders (59.7%). His walk rate (8.5%) is okay and he keeps the ball in the park (0.55 HR/9). Sanchez lives off his mid-90s sinker and he backs it up with an upper-70s curveball and an improving upper-80s changeup. The changeup is still a work in progress, but it is getting better. Lefties still give him trouble when he can’t keep the change down. Sanchez held New York to two runs (one earned) in six innings back in April. He did not face them in the Bronx last week.

Bullpen Status

The Red Sox did the Yankees a real solid this weekend by taxing Toronto’s bullpen. They played eleven innings yesterday and manager John Gibbons had to get 11.2 total innings out of his bullpen in the three games, and most of them were high-leverage innings. Here is the status of their relief crew and the number of pitches they threw against the BoSox:

Role ERA FIP Sunday Saturday Friday
RHP Roberto Osuna Closer 1.17 2.20 19 0 13
RHP Gavin Floyd Setup 3.91 4.46 18 15 0
RHP Jesse Chavez Middle 3.36 5.42 24 9 0
RHP Drew Storen Middle 7.02 4.97 14 17 0
LHP Aaron Loup LOOGY 0.00 -2.89 0 9 0
LHP Chad Girodo LOOGY 4.82 7.91 7 0 0
RHP Joe Biagini Long 0.91 2.51 26 0 20

(Don’t read to much into Loup’s stats. He recently came off the DL and has thrown two-thirds of an inning this season.)

Osuna has pitched four times in the last five days. This is a 21-year-old kid we’re talking about. I can’t imagine he will be available tonight. The Blue Jays want to protect his arm and sending him out there five times in the span of six days is just … no. No. Not happening. Biagini has pitched four times in the last six days as well.

Estrada is mighty good, but, given the status of Toronto’s bullpen, the Yankees have to be patient tonight and get Estrada’s pitch count up. Gibbons’ only two fresh relievers are lefty specialists. Getting to the bullpen as early as possible will help the Yankees tonight and over the rest of the series as well. This bullpen is capital-T Taxed. I wouldn’t be surprised if they made a roster move to add a fresh long man before tonight’s game.

As for the Yankees, their bullpen is in pretty good shape. Joe Girardi should have his three big end-game arms tonight if necessary. Head on over to our Bullpen Workload page to see how many pitches each of New York’s relievers have thrown over the last ten days.

Yankeemetrics: A Ray of Hope [May 27-29]

(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

Super Hiro
A couple veteran sluggers made sure that the Yankees wouldn’t waste another pitching gem in Friday night’s series opener at Tampa Bay. Alex Rodriguez and Carlos Beltran both homered in support of another brilliant performance by Masahiro Tanaka, leading the Bronx Bombers to a 4-1 win over the Rays.

Tanaka took a perfect game into the fifth inning, allowing just two hits and no walks over seven scoreless innings. He is now 3-0 in 10 starts this season, the first Yankee pitcher with a double-digit streak of unbeaten starts to begin a season since Orlando Hernandez in 2004.

Tanaka continued his dominance away from Yankee Stadium, delivering his third straight road outing of at least seven innings, one run or fewer and no more than five hits allowed. The last Yankee with a streak like that was Mike Mussina in August 2003. He lowered his road ERA to 1.34, the best in the American League through Friday’s games (min. 15 IP).

The 27-year-old right-hander was brilliant in finishing off hitters, as the Rays went 0-for-11 in two-strike counts with four strikeouts. Tampa Bay’s left-handed bats were also held in check by Tanaka, going 0-for-10 and hit just one ball out of the infield (a fly out by Corey Dickerson in the fifth inning).

A-Rod and Beltran supplied the offensive fireworks needed for the win, becoming the first set of Yankee teammates age 39 or older to homer in the same game, and the 21st pair overall to achieve that feat. The most recent guys to do it were Frank Thomas and Matt Stairs for the Blue Jays on June 23, 2007, and the first guys were Ty Cobb and Zack Wheat for the Philadelphia A’s on July 15, 1927.

The 6-foot-7 elephant in the room
Saturday’s game went pretty much as predicted given that Michael Pineda was listed as the starting pitcher for the Yankees. The big righty gave up a bunch of first-inning runs and was hit hard all afternoon, adding another ugly pitching line to his ledger, and the Yankees lost to the Rays.

(Getty  Images)
(Getty Images)

Pineda added three more runs and four hits to his league-leading totals in the first inning, which now stand at 16 runs and 26 hits. His 14.40 first-inning ERA would easily be the highest single-season mark by any Yankee that started more than five games.

It was also his fourth game with at least six earned runs allowed this season, the most by any pitcher in the majors through Saturday’s slate. The only other Yankee in the last 60 seasons to have four such games this early into the schedule (through 48 team games) was Terry Mulholland in 1994.

On a more positive note … Beltran reached another significant statistical milestone in this game, hitting his 12th homer of the season in the fourth inning for his 2,500th career hit. He’s the 99th player all-time and the 10th switch-hitter with that many hits, but also joined an even more exclusive club when looking at his rare combo of speed, power and on-base skills.

Just three other players in major-league history, along with Beltran, have compiled at least 2,500 hits, 400 homers, 300 stolen bases and 1,000 walks: Barry Bonds, Willie Mays and Alex Rodriguez.

One is enough
One swing changed everything for the Yankees on Sunday afternoon. With Starlin Castro‘s two-run homer in the seventh inning, they avoided becoming a historical footnote in baseball history and instead added another rare win to their franchise record books. The go-ahead blast ended Jake Odorizzi’s no-hit bid in emphatic fashion and delivered one of the most unusual victories ever recorded by a Yankee team.

It was the first time since at least 1913 that the Yankees won a game of nine or more innings while recording just one hit or fewer. The only other instance of this happening in a contest of any length was July 10, 1914 against the Indians, the second game of a doubleheader that lasted only six innings. The next day, on July 11, a 19-year-old named Babe Ruth made his major-league debut for the Boston Red Sox.

(Getty Images)
(Getty Images)

This was also the first time since at least 1913 that the Yankees were held to one hit or fewer and scored more than one run in a game, regardless of the length or outcome.

Just three other times in the Live Ball Era (since 1920) have the Yankees played a game where their only hit was a home run: Sept. 10, 1999 vs. the Red Sox (Pedro’s 17-strikeout one-hitter); June 1, 1960 vs. the Orioles; Aug. 11, 1943 vs. the Browns.

Lost in the statistical madness was another fantastic outing by Nathan Eovaldi. He threw six innings of one-run ball, winning his fifth straight start and improving to 6-0 with a 2.72 ERA in his last seven starts. Nasty Nate now has a streak of back-to-back-to-back starts of at least six innings and no more than one run allowed for the first time in his career.

Fan Confidence Poll: May 30th, 2016

Record Last Week: 3-3 (22 RS, 22 RA)
Season Record: 24-25 (190 RS, 209 RA, 22-27 pythag. record)
Opponents This Week: @ Blue Jays (three games, Mon. to Weds.), @ Tigers (one game, Thurs.), @ Orioles (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.

Castro’s home run rescues the Yankees from no-no, leads to a 2-1 win over the Rays

Brian Blanco/Getty Images

As Drake said, that went from 0 to 100 real quick. The Yankees were no-hit for 6.1 innings by Rays starter Jake Odorizzi, but Starlin Castro‘s two-run homer gave them a lead for good. Nathan Eovaldi was awarded with a win for his good outing and the Yankee bullpen arms did their thing to shut the game down. It’s the weekend so let’s do this bullet-style.

  • Rays Strike First: With two outs and Brandon Guyer at third, Eovaldi surrendered an RBI single to Evan Longoria on a 88 mph splitter in the third. He got into more trouble in the fifth. With one out, Curt Casali reached to first on a bobble by Castro and a call overturned by replay. Guyer followed it up by hitting a hanging curve into the left field warning track for a double. With runners on second and third however, Nate induced a harmless foul territory fly out from Brad Miller for the second out. Longoria gave it a ride to right field but the ball fell into Aaron Hicks‘ glove right in front of the wall to end the inning. Imagine if that was hit a smidge better, we could be talking about a 4-0 Rays lead.
  • Nasty Nate: Okay, enough talking about the bad parts of Eovaldi’s start; he actually pitched pretty well overall. In 6 IP, he struck out 7, allowed 2 walks and 1 ER. His ERA is now at 3.71 and his FIP and xFIP don’t look shabby either (3.53 and 3.37 respectively). He had a shaky start to this season but Eovaldi’s settled down pretty well in the month of May. For awhile though, it looked like he was being outmatched by Odorizzi, who was perfect through the first 5.1 innings. Until…
  • No More Perfecto: The Yankees broke up the perfecto in the sixth … or, really, the Rays let it go. Dustin Ackley hit a grounder to SS Brad Miller and he double clutched the ball before throwing. Umpires declared Ackley safe on the initial call. The Rays challenged it and after review, the  umpsstood by it. That’s one way to get a baserunner on, right? The play was ruled an error, not a hit. Ronald Torreyes followed with a double play to end the sixth.
  • Taking The Lead: The Yankees were still being no hit heading into the seventh. With one out, Brett Gardner worked a seven-pitch walk to get on base. On a 1-0 count, Castro got a 91 mph fastball right down the middle and didn’t miss any of it. Upon contact, both him and Odorizzi knew it was out – and they weren’t wrong. 2-1 Yankees. That was also the Yankees’ only hit of the day. As our Katie Sharp noted, this was the team’s first win with only one hit in a nine-inning game since at least 1913.
  • Shutdown Bullpen: As soon as the Yanks took the lead in the seventh (with Eovaldi already having thrown 105 pitches), you knew this was going to happen: the Dellin BetancesAndrew MillerAroldis Chapman formula. The three relievers threw three perfect innings with seven K’s. Each of them threw less than 15 pitches too. Simply dominant. Also, as Mike noted, the Yankees had pitchers with insane velocity readings all day.

Here’s today’s box score, video highlights, WPA and updated standings. The Yankees are going to Toronto for a three-game series with the Blue Jays next. Ivan Nova and Marco Estrada will be on the mound Monday.


Source: FanGraphs

DotF: Luis Severino throws three scoreless innings in first rehab game

Two quick notes:

  • IF Deibinson Romero has been released, according to Shane Hennigan. The move clears a roster spot for RHP Brady Lail, who was technically called up from Double-A Trenton. Lail never actually left Scranton though. He was between starts and it was a paper move to temporarily clear a roster spot for LHP Phil Coke last week.
  • 3B Miguel Andujar whacked two home runs yesterday and that landed him in today’s Prospect Report. As always, the Prospect Report is free. It’s not behind the Baseball America paywall. Make sure you check it out.

High-A Tampa (6-4 win over Brevard County)

  • 2B Jorge Mateo: 0-4, 1 RBI, 2 K
  • SS Abi Avelino: 2-5, 1 R, 1 K, 1 SB
  • 3B Miguel Andujar: 1-5, 2 K
  • DH Austin Aune: 1-5, 1 RBI, 3 K — leads the farm system with 59 strikeouts (33.1 K%)
  • RF Jake Skole: 2-3, 2 R, 2 HR, 2 RBI, 1 BB, 1 K — five homers in 34 games for the 15th overall pick in the 2010 draft … his career high is nine homers in 124 games back in 2011
  • RHP Luis Severino: 3 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K, 4/1 GB/FB — 27 of 43 pitches were strikes (63%) … Joe Girardi told reporters Severino was scheduled for 45-50 pitches or so, which indicates he’ll be making more than one rehab start … we know Severino can dominate at this level, so I wouldn’t focus on the numbers much … the important thing is that he’s healthy
  • RHP Gabe Encinas: 1.1 IP, 2 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 3 BB, 0 K, 1 WP, 1 HB, 1/0 GB/FB — 24 of 45 pitches were strikes (53%) … 8/18 K/BB in 14.1 innings this year
  • RHP Jordan Foley: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 2 K, 1 WP, 1/0 GB/FB — 12 of 22 pitches were strikes (55%) … 32/15 K/BB in 24.2 innings

[Read more…]

Sunday Open Thread

Here’s the open thread for the rest of the weekend. The Mets and Dodgers are the ESPN Sunday Night game (Colon vs. Kershaw), and that’s pretty much it tonight. Talk about that game, this afternoon’s win, or anything else right here.

Game 49: Rubber Game

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

By my quick count, the Yankees have played 12 three-game series this season, and even with that recent 13-7 stretch, they’ve won only four of those 12 series. Yikes. Today’s rubber game with the Rays is a chance for series win No. 5, and also a chance to get back within a game of .500. Baby steps, I guess. Getting a little tired of writing that. Anyway, here is the Rays’ lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:

  1. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  2. LF Brett Gardner
  3. 2B Starlin Castro
  4. C Brian McCann
  5. DH Alex Rodriguez
  6. SS Didi Gregorius
  7. RF Aaron Hicks
  8. 1B Dustin Ackley
  9. 3B Ronald Torreyes
    RHP Nathan Eovaldi

Another hot and humid day in St. Pete, and there’s some rain in the forecast too. The dome will come in handy this afternoon. Today’s series finale will begin at 1:10pm ET and you can watch on WPIX locally and MLB Network nationally. Yep, another WPIX game. Enjoy.

Injury Updates: Carlos Beltran left yesterday’s game with a stiff back and is available today. Joe Girardi said before the series he wasn’t going to play Beltran on the turf all three games anyway … Mark Teixeira (neck) feels much better and will take batting practice today with an eye on playing tomorrow.