DotF: Bird and Sanchez stay hot, Judge continues to struggle in Scranton’s win

Both C Gary Sanchez and RHP Luis Severino made Baseball America’s All-Prospect Team for July. Sanchez has continued to mash in August. Severino? He’s a big leaguer now.

Triple-A Scranton (7-6 loss to Columbus)

  • CF Ben Gamel: 2-3, 1 R, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 1 BB — 18-for-45 (.400) in his last 12 games
  • 2B Rob Refsnyder: 1-4, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 2 K, 1 E (throwing)
  • 1B Greg Bird: 2-5, 1 RBI, 1 K
  • C Gary Sanchez: 2-5, 1 K — he and Bird are locked in right now, gosh
  • RF Aaron Judge & LF Slade Heathcott: both 0-5, 3 K — Slade stole a base … Judge is in a 2-for-30 (.067) slump with 17 strikeouts
  • LF Jose Pirela: 1-2, 2 R, 2 BB, 1 K
  • DH Tyler Austin: 1-2, 2 R, 1 RBI, 1 BB — he’s been a bit better the last few weeks, but it’s probably too late to salvage his season … not a good one at all
  • HP Kyle Haynes: 3.2 IP, 8 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 2 BB, 5 K, 4/1 GB/FB — 56 of 85 pitches were strikes (66%)
  • RHP Caleb Cotham: 2.1 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 1 WP, 0/4 GB/FB — 29 of 42 pitches were strikes (69%) … kinda hope we get to see him a few more times in September
  • RHP Nick Rumbelow: 2 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 1 K, 1/1 GB/FB — 19 of 34 pitches were strikes (56%)

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Game 107: Please CC

(Rich Schultz/Getty)
(Rich Schultz/Getty)

After scoring 90 runs in their previous ten games, the Yankees were held to one stupid run by knuckleballer Steven Wright last night. Bah. Frustrating. But it happens. Can’t win ’em all.

The Yankees turn to CC Sabathia tonight for the series win, which is not exactly encouraging. He doesn’t belong in the rotation and yet here he is, starting every fifth day even though he is the team’s what, eighth best starter? Please, CC. Do a good tonight. Here is the Red Sox’s lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:

  1. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  2. LF Brett Gardner
  3. DH Alex Rodriguez
  4. 1B Mark Teixeira
  5. RF Chris Young
  6. 3B Chase Headley
  7. C John Ryan Murphy
  8. SS Didi Gregorius
  9. 2B Brendan Ryan
    LHP CC Sabathia

It’s on the cool side and a little cloudy in New York but there’s no rain in the forecast, so that’s good. This weather is borderline autumnal, I’d say. Maybe if it were a few degrees cooler. Anyway, tonight’s game is scheduled to begin at 7:05pm ET and can be seen on YES locally and MLB Network nationally. Enjoy the game.

Rotation Update: Luis Severino will make his next start next Tuesday against the Indians, Joe Girardi announced. Just in case you thought they were lying about him being in the rotation for good.

Severino sharp in debut but Yankee bats falter in a 2-1 lost to the Red Sox

So we’ve been looking forward to this game for a while. Luis Severino showed a lot of the promise that he’s shown in minors with five solid innings in the books. However, the offense was mostly silent against the knuckleballer Steven Wright and their ninth inning rally didn’t come to much fruition – the result was a tough 2-1 loss to the Red Sox.

Sevvy Baby

On his first ML pitch ever, Severino caught the inside corner with a 94 mph fastball against Brock Holt. He induced a grounder to first against Holt. Against the next batter, Xander Bogaerts, Severino got a call on the 3-2 count cutter for strike three. A grounder and then a strikeout, progress!

In the second, he got first two easy outs against Hanley and Sandoval. Against Napoli, Severino induced a grounder to Headley and the third baseman completely botched the throw. Napoli reached second as a result and De Aza drove him in on a big double to right. 1-0 Red Sox. Welcome to the majors, Luis.

Severino’s third was quite nice – he struck out Bradley Jr. and Holt and popped out Bogaerts. In the fourth inning, with a 2-0 count, Severino missed the spot on the outside corner and left a fastball up the middle for David Ortiz… and the Red Sox slugger missed none of it. Ortiz hit it way deep into the bleachers (441 ft – the second longest dinger in YS3 this year) for a solo homer. 2-0 Red Sox. That was the only major mistake Severino made all night. In the fifth, he had another nice three-up-three down inning (pop out from De Aza, grounder from Swihart and strikeout from Bradley Jr.). At the time, Severino’s pitch count reached 94 and Girardi replaced him with Warren for the sixth.

All in all – good debut from Severino. He went five innings, allowed only two hits (both were pretty big XBH’s though), one earned run and struck out seven. He showed that he can use any of his pitch in any count. Another impressive thing – he reached to two strikes against 14 out of 18 batters faced. I feel, as he pitches more in majors, he’ll figure ways to put them away more efficiently.

Silence of the Bats

Yankee hitters didn’t have much going on against Steven Wright tonight. Steven Wright! To be fair, it seemed like his knuckleball movement was on its game tonight. They struck out a good amount and made a lot of weak contacts. In the fifth inning, Didi Gregorius singled through the middle to break up the no-no.

Leading off the seventh, Carlos Beltran hit a solo homer to put the Yankees on board. 2-1 Red Sox. And that was about the only thing that the Yankees had going against Steven Wright. Eight innings, four hits, one run and nine strikeouts.

What made it scream more of “it’s not our night” was when Ellsbury grounded into double play in the eighth. With no out, John Ryan Murphy on first, Ellsbury hit a sharp grounder up to middle that deflected off of Wright’s leg and rolled easily to the shortstop Bogaerts. That was only the third GIDP of the season for Ellsbury. Welp.

Before tonight’s game, Wright had a 4.53 ERA and 5.24 FIP in 59.2 IP – that’s not good, but he did seem to have a lot of things going on tonight, which happens. Yeah, we could talk about Headley’s second-inning error that became one of the differences of the game but let’s also not forget that the bat didn’t do much.

Rally falls short

The Red Sox pitching staff really isn’t what it used to be but Koji Uehara is still a very good reliever (2.33 ERA/2.34 FIP before tonight’s game). Uehara came in the ninth to get a save. With one out, Teixeira hit a liner to right that Castillo dove and got to… after the ball bounced right in front of his glove. Initially, the first base umpire called it an out but they reversed it after replay.

During Beltran’s at bat, a wild pitch by Uehara let the pinch runner Chris Young advance to second, putting the runner in scoring position. Beltran ended up flying out to the center, failing to advance the runner (let alone drive him in). Headley followed it up with inducing a five-pitch walk. Girardi then summoned Brian McCann to pinch hit for Didi Gregorius. On the fifth pitch of the at-bat, McCann hit a flyball to center for a routine out. Game over, Red Sox win 2-1. Oh well.

Leftovers

After Severino’s departure, Adam Warren tossed three solid innings in relief. He allowed only one baserunner (a double by Sandoval in the seventh) and struck out two. I know that it’s good to have depths in bullpen but he could be one of the more consistent starters along with Eovaldi, I feel like.

Chasen Shreve, however, was not as reliable. After getting two outs, he allowed a double to Sandoval and intentionally walked Napoli to face Rusney Castillo. After a 7-pitch at-bat, Shreve walked Castillo and had to face Swihart with bases loaded. Fortunately for New York, Shreve struck out Swihart looking on the pitch no. 30 of the inning to get out of the trouble.

Yankees have stopped stealing bases, but they don’t need them either

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

Coming into the season, the Yankees seemed likely to rely on the speed of Jacoby Ellsbury and Brett Gardner to create runs because the middle of the order was loaded with questions. And, for a while, the Yankees did rely on those two to create runs. The Yankees as a team stolen eleven bases in their first 16 games and 21 bases in their first 27 games. Ellsbury and Gardner accounted for 19 of those 21 steals.

Lately though, the speedy game has been a non-factor for the Yankees. They stole one base during the recent ten-game road trip, and that was Mark Teixeira taking advantage of the defense paying no attention to him in the late innings of a game the Yankees were losing by six. After stealing those 21 bases in the first 27 games of the season, the Yankees have stolen just 18 bases in 77 games since.

Obviously the speed game took a hit when Ellsbury spent seven weeks on the DL with a knee injury. He is their best and most aggressive base-stealer. Ellsbury has attempted just one stolen base since coming back and that wasn’t even a real steal attempt — Eduardo Rodriguez picked him off first and Ellsbury got caught in a rundown. (It was scored a caught stealing.) Between the time on the DL and not wanting to push the knee since coming back, Ellsbury’s been a non-factor stealing bases for almost three months now.

Gardner, on the other hand, has a history of stealing early in the season but not so much down the stretch. Throughout his career he has made 38.4% of his steal attempts in April and May, so that’s basically 40% of his steal attempts in the first 33% of the season, give or take. (For what it’s worth, the league average last year was 34.8% of steal attempts in April and May.) Gardner doesn’t run much later in the season and I’m sure fatigue and general wear and tear have something to do with. Stealing bases is a great way to get banged up.

Between Ellsbury and the Gardner, the team’s stolen base game has been non-existent for a few weeks now. And it hasn’t mattered one bit. The Yankees are still scoring a ton of runs — they averaged 4.95 runs in April, 4.10 in May, 5.07 in June, and 5.54 in July — without stolen bases because the rest of the order is picking up the slack. Carlos Beltran and Brian McCann got over their early season struggles, specifically, and the bottom of the order has been much more productive of late as well. The Yankees don’t need to steal bases to score now.

“I think it’s a calculated risk. Our guys don’t just run recklessly … If it’s a 50-50 chance, it doesn’t make sense with the hitters that we have behind us,” said Joe Girardi to Ryan Hatch recently. Girardi and I seem to be on the same page — I want Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira batting with as many runners on base as possible. First base is scoring position with those two at the plate. Stolen bases are an unnecessary risk.

Now, that said, the Yankees shouldn’t shelve the stolen base entirely, just limit their attempts. Stolen bases are most helpful in the late innings of a close game, when one run can make a huge difference. That’s when Ellsbury and Gardner should be on high alert looking to take that extra base. Also, if there’s a pitcher and/or catcher prone to stolen bases — Ubaldo Jimenez, Rick Porcello, and Drew Hutchison are all among the MLB leaders in stolen bases allowed and are AL East rivals, for example — then run like wild. As Girardi said, take those calculated risks.

The Yankees do have the ability to steal bases. Gardner and Ellsbury are historically high-percentage stolen base threats — Gardner’s been successful in 79% of his steal attempts the last three years, Ellsbury 88% (!) — who surely make opposing pitchers nervous when standing on first. There’s no doubt opposing teams are aware of their stolen base ability and try to game plan a way to stop them. That threat of a steal still exists and has value.

Overall, the Yankees are a station-to-station club with two prime speed threats in Gardner and Ellsbury. The offense has been so dominant that their stolen base ability has been unnecessary, however. They can score runs without those extra 90 feet. They couldn’t in April because the lineup was thing, but they can now, four months later. The Yankees don’t steal many bases and that’s okay.

The Majors’ deepest lineup is in the Bronx

(Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports)
(Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports)

If there was one thing that defined the Yankees for the first three months of the season, it was inconsistency. Every three-game win streak seemed to be followed by a three-game losing streak, every surge in the standings muted by a subsequent slide back to the pack in the crowded AL East.

The erratic performance of the rotation was undoubtedly a huge reason why the Yankees struggled to build momentum in the early part of the season. The steadying force of their lockdown bullpen, though, helped to offset some of those problems with the starting staff. However, it could do little to counter another key roster issue that frequently stalled the team — a top-heavy lineup featuring four bright, shiny stars and five massive black holes.

Jacoby Ellsbury, Brett Gardner, Alex Rodriguez and Mark Teixeira shouldered much of the offensive load from the one-through-four spots in the order during the first few months, while the bottom half of the order languished, providing little support to the Big Four. This imbalance did have one positive by-product — first-inning runs! — but the lack of length in the lineup also made it really difficult to manufacture any sort of rally when the Yankees’ starting pitcher inevitably coughed up that early lead. Through the end of June, the team had yet to come back and win a game after trailing by more than three runs.

Over the past few weeks, however, the bottom of the lineup has suddenly caught fire and started to pull its weight on offense. Since the All-Star break, the regular bottom-of-the-order hitters — Chase Headley, Didi Gregorius, John Ryan Murphy, Stephen Drew, Brendan Ryan — are each hitting at least .275 with OPS’s above .800.

bottom statsPerhaps the most important part of their offensive surge is that they’ve also become key run producers. In the second half of the season, the 7-8-9 hitters have combined for 39 of the team’s 114 RBIs (34 percent), a much higher rate than came from those same lineup slots in the first half of the season (21 percent). That’s led to some explosive innings and high-scoring games recently. They’ve scored 12-or-more runs four times in their last seven games, after doing that just four times in their first 92 games.

With this dramatic improvement from the bottom of the order, the Yankees now have arguably the deepest and most dangerous lineup one-through-nine in the majors. They have eight guys with at least 200 plate appearances and a park-adjusted OPS better than the league average, the most such players of any team in baseball. They also have an MLB-high seven guys with an offensive WAR of 1.5 or better, and not a single position player on the active roster has a negative total WAR.

A lopsided lineup that once was riddled with question marks and clogged by inconsistency at the bottom has been transformed into a balanced, machine-like offense capable of putting up crooked numbers on a daily basis. With few automatic outs in the lineup and more guys capable of providing an offensive spark, the Yankees should present a ton of problems for opposing pitching staffs over the final two months of the season. Now, about stabilizing that rotation …

Ready or not, Luis Severino gets a chance to help Yankees rotation

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Later tonight, right-hander and top pitching prospect Luis Severino will join the rotation and make his big league debut against the Red Sox. The last time the Yankees had a pitching prospect of this caliber reach the show was the trio of Phil Hughes, Joba Chamberlain, and Ian Kennedy back in 2007. Severino flew through the farm system and reached MLB fewer than six months after his 21st birthday.

The numbers are eye-popping: Severino has a 2.45 ERA (2.46 FIP) in 99.1 innings split between Double-A Trenton and Triple-A Scranton this year, with strong strikeout (24.8%) and walk (6.8%) rates. He led the minors with a 2.40 FIP last year and ranks ninth this year. As far as minor league performance goes, Severino has been overwhelmingly dominant and done everything you could want to see from a young pitcher. That doesn’t guarantee MLB success, of course, but he forced the issue.

“There’s risk in throwing some of the young guys in the Atlantic Ocean and saying, ‘Time to swim,’” said Brian Cashman to Chad Jennings last week. “But that’s also something we’re not afraid of in some guys’ cases. We do like this team, and we have benefited from the use of a lot of the young guys throughout this season. We still look forward to these guys hopefully contributing to us.”

The Yankees have developed a reputation for moving their prospects slowly through the system — I don’t agree with that at all, but that’s the reputation they have — though they were very aggressive with Severino. His 85.1 innings with Low-A Charleston are by far his most at any level. Severino threw only 63 innings at Double-A and 61.1 innings at Triple-A before being promoted. They’ve moved him up the ladder like a veteran college starter, not a kid who turned 21 in February.

Severino came into the season with a huge fastball but also come questions about the consistency of his secondary pitches and his delivery, and apparently he has answered those questions to the satisfaction of the Yankees. We’ll see. I also think there’s a “let’s get him up here before he blows out his arm” line of thinking in play as well. Not just with Severino, but all young pitchers. That’s contributed to his quick rise as well.

There are reasons to think Severino will dominate and reasons to think he’ll struggle. There’s a Carlos Rodon for every Noah Syndergaard, an Eduardo Rodriguez for every Lance McCullers. Top pitching prospects come up and it’s a roll of the dice. They might pitch well, they might struggle. Chances are they’ll do both at different times. We can analyze the stats and read all the scouting reports. Until Severino gets on the mound tonight, there’s no way to know how he’ll react.

Either way, ready or not, the Yankees will turn to Severino tonight, partly because they don’t have much of a choice. They didn’t trade for any pitching help before the deadline last week and Michael Pineda just landed on the DL. Their other options were … Kyle Davies? Chris Capuano? Been there, done that. The Yankees are going with their top pitching prospect because he’s the best option. And for Severino, it’s an opportunity to show team was smart to move him through the minors so quickly.

A Tanaka quality start and late-inning offense bring down the Red Sox 13-3

A bit of a nail-biter into a laugher into a hurry: the Yankees offense exploded in the sixth and seventh to blow out the Red Sox for a 13-3 win. The Yankees greeted Henry Owens – making his ML debut – with a first-inning run but were shut out the next four innings. Meanwhile, Masahiro Tanaka allowed three runs in six innings, which is decent but eh, it could have been a better start. But in the end, not a lot of people were complaining about the game as the Yankees offense exploded once again to completely flatten the opposing pitching.

Welcome to the bigs, Henry!

The Yankees struck first against LHP Henry Owens. In the first, with runners on first and second, Mark Teixeira squeaked an RBI grounder single up the middle to give the Yanks a 1-0 lead. Yankee hitters made the rookie lefty work from the get go – Owens threw 34 pitches in that frame (17 strikes, 17 balls).

For the next four innings, however, the Yankees didn’t really come up with much. They only had one baserunner (Chase Headley single in the second) and struck out four. Owens has been one of Red Sox’s top prospects for awhile so he’s not really projected to be a AAAA scrub. Unless if the Red Sox plan a massive trade to bring in an impact player, I don’t see him parting away from them anytime soon.

(Source: Getty)

A quality start

Tanaka looked solid for the first four innings. His fastball topped out at 95, his secondary stuff had good depth in general and his command was, well, there. In that time span, he allowed only one baserunner (the bloop double to Mike Napoli in the second that really shouldn’t have happened) and struck out three. Pretty, pretty good.

In the fifth, Napoli doubled again, and it was a legit one – a line drive to left field with one out. Alejandro De Aza then snuck a bunt and Tanaka couldn’t handle it. With runners on corners and one out, Blake Swihart singled to tied the game and Jackie Bradley Jr. followed it up with a sac fly to give Boston a 2-1 lead.

In the seventh, with the Yankees then leading 4-2, Tanaka allowed a solo homer to Pablo Sandoval on the ninth pitch of at-bat. Dingers plaguing Tanaka again! Joe Girardi immediately pulled him out for Justin Wilson. Honestly, I thought Tanaka had a much better showing than in Texas last week and this was one of the better starts of his up-and-down 2015 season. If it weren’t for a botch bunt grounder in fifth, I feel his line would have looked better.

The highlight of his start, in my opinion, came in the sixth when he snagged a David Ortiz liner right above his head and doubled up Hanley Ramirez for a double play. Nifty.

Dingers! (Source: Getty)

Late runs

Entering the bottom sixth, Henry Owens was holding on his own against the Yankee offense, having allowed only a run in five solid innings. In the next two innings, New York would score twelve runs combined against him and the Red Sox bullpen. How’s that for a turnaround?

Anyways, bottom sixth, it took two hits (a Chris Young single and an A-Rod double) to knock Owens out of the game. John Farrell brought in Robbie Ross Jr. to face Mark Teixeira with no outs and runners on second and third. Tex lined a single to left to tie the game and Brian McCann followed it up with a double to center to put the Yanks ahead 3-2. Carlos Beltran grounded out to bring Teixeira in, 4-2.

All heck broke loose in the seventh. As you can tell by the notion of a “nine-run inning”, a lot of things took place so I’m just going to leave this right here.

Jean Machi pitching for Boston BOS NYY
Castillo in right field. 3 4
Ellsbury safe at first on throwing error by shortstop Bogaerts. 3 4
Young walked, Ellsbury to second. 3 4
Rodriguez singled to center, Ellsbury scored, Young to second. 3 5
Breslow relieved Machí. 3 5
Teixeira struck out swinging. 3 5
McCann homered to right, Young and Rodriguez scored. 3 8
Beltrán doubled to deep right center. 3 8
Headley doubled to left, Beltrán scored. 3 9
Gregorius flied out to right. 3 9
Ryan walked. 3 9
Ellsbury singled to left, Headley scored, Ryan to third. 3 10
Ogando relieved Breslow. 3 10
Young homered to left, Ryan and Ellsbury scored. 3 13
Rodriguez walked. 3 13
Teixeira struck out swinging. 3 13
9 Runs, 6 Hits, 1 Errors

While most players were having fun, Teixeira became the one who struck out twice in a big inning. Bum!

Leftovers

In the second inning, Chris Young and Jacoby Ellsbury had a miscommunication on a Mike Napoli fly ball to deep left. Young should’ve gotten it but the ball dropped just shy of his glove. Fortunately for the Yankees, it was two outs and Napoli did not score but, come on.

Bottom seventh, Justin Wilson was working on Jackie Bradley Jr. with Rusney Castillo on first and two outs. On a 1-2 pitch, Castillo took off for second. McCann let Wilson’s 97 mph fastball roll behind him to allow Castillo to steal the base. And at that moment, Girardi didn’t waste any time taking Wilson out for Dellin Betances – which was quite unusual since it was a lefty pitcher facing lefty batter already. I guess Girardi wanted to go for the kill? Anyways, Betances ended up walking Bradley Jr. but struck out Brock Holt to get out of the mess.

Brandon Pinder hasn’t shown too much in terms of ML stats but man, I love that Yankees potentially have another future reliever that can throw in high-90’s. He’s had pretty solid strikeout and walk numbers in minors and he has a power stuff so I think he could be a solid arm that sticks around for awhile. We’ll see.

Box score, standings, highlights, WPA

Here’s tonight’s box score, updated standings, video highlights and WPA.


Source: FanGraphs


Yankees are back at it tomorrow night in Bronx against the Red Sox. Luis Severino makes his ML debut and you may have heard of him. Looking forward to it!