Michael Pineda made his first start of the season (and as a Yankee!) in Toronto back in April, and today he’ll face the Blue Jays again, in his eighth start of the season. Pineda held the Jays to one run in six innings in his first start, though that was a really long time ago. I’m not sure how much seeing him once before will really help at this point. Either way, Toronto seems to have checked out on the season, so beat them again and inch closer in the second wildcard race. Here is the Blue Jays lineup and here is the Yankees lineup:
- CF Brett Gardner
- SS Derek Jeter
- DH Carlos Beltran
- 1B Mark Teixeira
- C Brian McCann
- LF Martin Prado
- 2B Stephen Drew
- 3B Chase Headley
- RF Ichiro Suzuki
RHP Michael Pineda
It’s cool and cloudy with a little bit of rain in Toronto today, so the Rogers Centre roof might be closed. This afternoon’s game will start a bit after 1pm ET and you can watch on YES locally and MLB Network nationally, depending on where you live. Enjoy the game.
Injury Update: Jacoby Ellsbury (ankle) is obviously not in the lineup and he was still limping in the clubhouse earlier today. With the off-day coming on Monday, my guess is he does not play tomorrow either and gets three straight days off.
Jacoby Ellsbury injured his left ankle sliding into home plate in the ninth inning of last night’s game. A fluoroscope exam — whatever that is — came back negative, but he was walking with a limp in the clubhouse after the game and received treatment. “I’m going to call them first thing in the morning when I wake up and let them know how it feels,” said Ellsbury to Brendan Kuty. “It’s not going to feel great, but hopefully it’s good enough for me to play tomorrow.”
Replacing Ellsbury in the outfield won’t be much of a problem for the Yankees — they could play Brett Gardner in center field and Martin Prado in left or right — but losing his bat this point of the season would be a big blow. He’s been the best hitter on the team over the last week or two, igniting the offense once he moved back into the leadoff spot. Hopefully the ankle is just a little sore and it’s not anything more serious. Ellsbury is one of the most indispensable players on the roster. · (56) ·
That was a good way to rebound from Thursday’s rough walk-off loss. After being shut down for the first six innings on Friday, the Yankees rallied late to walk away with a 6-3 win over the Blue Jays in the series opener. Let’s recap:
- Five-Run Seventh: The Yankees managed four base-runners against Mark Buehrle in the first six innings, though they started to square him up better in the sixth and that carried over into the seventh. Brian McCann opened the inning with a double to right, then Carlos Beltran walked, then Brett Gardner doubled to almost the exact same spot as McCann. The relay man tried to throw Beltran out at third for whatever reason, and the throw sailed wide and into the stands, allowing the second run to score to make it 2-1 Yankees. Dioner Navarro’s attempted snap throw sailed in left field later in the inning to allow Gardner to score the team’s third run, then Jacoby Ellsbury swatted a two-run homer to make it 5-1. The Yankees have been able to put together some big innings of late. It’s nice to see.
- Cap’d Off: When I looked at the box score, I was surprised to see Chris Capuano allowed eight hits and three runs (two earned) in 6.1 innings. It seemed like he pitched a lot better than that. A Jose Bautista solo homer and some really bad defense led to those runs. (Derek Jeter short-hopped a throw to first and McCann couldn’t handle a short-hop throw from Gardner.) Otherwise Capuano was solid. Not great, not terrible, but good enough to give the Yankees a chance to win, which is what he’s done since joining the team a few weeks ago. Given the news of Masahiro Tanaka‘s setback, the club will have to continue to rely on Capuano, and he’s given them no reason to think he won’t be up to the task.
- Late Innings: The Blue Jays answered the five-run inning with two runs of their own in the bottom half of the seventh, thanks mostly to the poor defense. Adam Warren faced Bautista as the tying run and then Edwin Encarnacion as the go-ahead run in that inning, but he escaped with a hit-by-pitch (hey, better than another homer) and a fly out. He got two quick outs in the eighth, Josh Outman came on to allow a single to the lefty hitting Munenori Kawasaki in his Yankees debut, then David Robertson retired all four batters he faced for the four-out save. He is 35-for-38 in save chances now. The seventh and eighth innings are always iffy whenever Dellin Betances isn’t available, but Joe Girardi & Co. got through them successfully on Friday.
- Leftovers: Chase Headley plated an insurance run with a long solo homer in the ninth … Ellsbury and Martin Prado had two hits apiece while Mark Teixeira and Beltran were the only starters without hits. Beltran did draw two walks … the Yankees had six extra-base hits for the first time in 22 games and only the ninth time this season … they scored 6+ runs for the fourth time in the last six games after doing it four times in their previous 25 games … there were two challenges on the same play in the ninth inning. The Jays challenged that Ellsbury had been tagged out at home on a fielder’s choice, and the play was overturned. Joe Girardi then challenged that Navarro was blocking the plate, but it was deemed he was not.
MLB.com has the box score and video highlights, FanGraphs some other stats, and ESPN the updated standings. The Orioles won, so the Yankees remain seven games back in the AL East. Assuming the Tigers hold on to their big lead over the White Sox, the Yankees will remain three games back of the second wildcard spot regardless of the what the Mariners do in the late game. FanGraphs puts their postseason odds at 10.8%. Michael Pineda and Drew Hutchison will square off in the second game of this series on Saturday afternoon.
OF Jake Cave placed eighth on this week’s Prospect Hot Sheet while 2B Gosuke Katoh made the No So Hot section.
Triple-A Scranton (6-5 loss to Lehigh Valley)
- SS Jose Pirela: 0-2, 1 K — left the game in the fourth for an unknown reason
- RF Chris Young: 1-4, 1 K
- 2B Rob Refsnyder: 0-4, 1 K
- LF Ramon Flores: 0-2, 1 R, 1 BB, 1 HBP, 1 E (fielding) — left the game in the eighth, a few innings after getting hit by the pitch
- 3B Scott Sizemore: 1-4, 1 R, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 K
- C John Ryan Murphy: 2-4, 1 R, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 1 K — second homer in his last six games
- LHP Manny Banuelos: 4 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 4 K, 1 WP, 2/4 GB/FB — 48 of 73 pitches were strikes (66%) … finishes the minor league season with a 71/31 K/BB in 76.2 innings
- LHP Tyler Webb: 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 0 K, 1/2 GB/FB — 14 of 19 pitches were strikes (74%)
- RHP Preston Claiborne: 1 IP, zeroes, 0 K, 2/0 GB/FB — six pitches, three strikes
The Yankees just suffered a pretty rough walk-off loss and they can’t let the series loss to the Tigers spiral into some kind of extended losing skid. The Blue Jays are in bad shape right now — they’ve lost ten of their last 14 games and are 7-16 in August — so everything is set up for the Yankees to bank some wins. Here is the Blue Jays lineup and here is the Yankees lineup:
- CF Jacoby Ellsbury
- SS Derek Jeter
- 3B Martin Prado
- 1B Mark Teixeira
- C Brian McCann
- DH Carlos Beltran
- LF Brett Gardner
- RF Ichiro Suzuki
- 2B Stephen Drew
LHP Chris Capuano
It’s nice and sunny in Toronto, so the Rogers Centre roof should be open. Tonight’s game is scheduled to start a bit after 7pm ET and you can watch on YES locally and MLB Network nationally. Enjoy the game.
4:28pm: Tanaka told reporters the soreness is “throughout the arm” and he does not feel any pain in his elbow. He attributed it to the layoff and said he isn’t worried. He just needs to build arm strength.
4:23pm: Masahiro Tanaka has been sent back to New York with “general soreness” in his right arm, the Yankees announced. It is not specifically his elbow. He will perform some strengthening exercises and is not scheduled to see a doctor. Hopefully this is nothing more than a dead arm phase after the long layoff. Either way, it now seems unlikely Tanaka will return to the team at some point next month. · (125) ·
As expected, the Yankees have added Josh Outman to the active roster and designated Rich Hill for assignment, the team announced. They acquired Outman from the Indians for a player to be named later or cash last night. · (19) ·
Starting with this three-game series against the Blue Jays in Toronto, the Yankees will play 27 of their final 30 games against AL East opponents. Those intra-division games always seem to be tough regardless of where each team sits in the standings. The Yankees are 7-5 against the Jays this year, including 3-3 at Rogers Centre.
What Have They Done Lately?
Toronto is in a month-long free fall. It wasn’t long ago that they were right in the thick of the wildcard race, but they’ve dropped ten of their last 14 games and are now 5.5 games back of the second wildcard spot and 2.5 games back of New York. “The difference between other years and this year is we believed,” said Adam Lind to TSN recently. Ouch. The Jays are 7-16 in August and 67-66 with a -2 run differential overall.
Manager John Gibbons watches over one of the most powerful lineups in baseball. His club averages 4.43 runs per game with a team 105 wRC+, plus they rank fourth in baseball with 147 homers. The Blue Jays are currently without 3B Brett Lawrie (100 wRC+) and IF Maicer Izturis (79 wRC+) due to oblique and knee injuries. Neither is expected to return this series. OF Colby Rasmus (98 wRC+) has missed the last few days with flu-like symptoms.
As usual, the Toronto lineup is built around OF Jose Bautista (149 wRC+) and 1B Edwin Encarnacion (151 wRC+). Those dudes are monsters. DH Adam Lind (136 wRC+) has been pretty awesome as well. SS Jose Reyes (106 wRC+) and OF Melky Cabrera (129 wRC+) set the tone from the one-two spots in the lineup. The top five spots in Gibbons’ lineup are as good as any top five around the league. Speed, power, high averages, on-base ability … this group does it all.
The lineup thins out considerably after those top five. Former Yankees C Dioner Navarro (92 wRC+) and C Josh Thole (84 wRC+) split time behind the plate — Thole is knuckleballer R.A. Dickey’s personal catcher — and IF Juan Francisco (108 wRC+) and 3B Danny Valencia (109 wRC+) have been platooning at third with Lawrie out. IF Munenori Kawasaki (81 wRC+), OF Kevin Pillar (50 wRC+), and UTIL Steve Tolleson (82 wRC+) fill out the rest of the bench.
Friday: LHP Chris Capuano (vs. TOR) vs. LHP Mark Buehrle (vs. NYY)
This has gone from a career year to a pretty typical Mark Buehrle year these last few weeks. He’s slowed down considerably following his great start to the season. The 35-year-old has a 3.41 ERA (3.81 FIP) in 26 starts and 161 innings with his typically low strikeout (5.25 K/9 and 13.6 K%) and walk (2.29 BB/9 and 5.9 BB%) rates. He hasn’t gotten many grounders (42.6%) and his homer rate (0.73 HR/9 and 6.9 HR/FB%) is unusually low. That’s been on the way up in the second half. Buehrle’s platoon split is tiny and he’s been much better on the road (.309 wOBA) than at home (.360 wOBA). As always, he works in the mid-80s with his four-seamer, two-seamer, and cutter, mixing in some upper-70s changeups and low-70s curves to keep hitters (even more) off balance. The Yankees have seen Buehrle three times this year and each start has gotten progressively worse (for him): three runs (two earned) in six innings in June, four runs in 6.2 innings later in June, and six runs in three innings in June.
Saturday: RHP Michael Pineda (vs. TOR) vs. RHP Drew Hutchison (vs. NYY)
Hutchison, 24, has a 4.68 ERA (3.95 FIP) in 26 starts and 150 innings this season, his first following Tommy John surgery. His strikeout (8.04 K/9 and 20.9 K%) and walk (2.94 BB/9 and 7.6 BB%) rates are very good, his homer (1.08 HR/9 and 9.0 HR/FB%) and ground ball (35.7%) numbers less so. He has had less success against lefties (.362 wOBA) and at home (.357 wOBA) than against righties (.276 wOBA) and on the road (.306 wOBA). A low-90s fastball is Hutchison’s main pitch and he throws it a ton, more than 65% of the time. Sliders and changeups in the mid-80s round out the repertoire. Hutchison has faced the Yankees four times this year, and, unlike Buehrle, he’s been progressively better each time out: six runs in 3.1 innings in April, four runs in 4.1 innings in June, four runs in six innings later in June, and two runs in 6.2 innings in July.
Sunday: RHP Brandon McCarthy (vs. TOR) vs. LHP J.A. Happ (vs. NYY)
I’m still pretty mad at Happ for breaking Curtis Granderson‘s forearm in Spring Training last year. The 31-year-old has pitched to a 4.40 ERA (4.34 FIP) in 118.2 innings across 20 starts and four relief appearances this year, and his peripherals are decidedly meh: 7.66 K/9 (19.7 K%), 3.34 BB/9 (8.6 BB%), 8.6 HR/9 (10.8 HR/FB%), and 39.2% grounders. Both his platoon and home/road splits are small. Happ throws a lot of fastballs, using his low-90s two and four-seamers more than 70% of the time combined. A mid-80s changeup is his top offspeed pitch and he’ll also mix in a few low-80s sliders and low-70s curveballs. The Yankees have faced Happ just once this year, scoring three runs (two earned) in 5.1 innings.
The Blue Jays were off yesterday, so their bullpen is as fresh as it’s going to get in late-August. Closer RHP Casey Janssen (4.14 FIP) is set up primarily by two lefties: LHP Brett Cecil (2.51 FIP) and LHP Aaron Loup (3.56 FIP). Top prospect RHP Aaron Sanchez (2.52 FIP) was called up recently and has also seen some late-inning work.
The rest of Gibbons’ bullpen includes RHP Chad Jenkins (3.48 FIP), RHP Dustin McGowan (4.76 FIP), and RHP Todd Redmond (3.27 FIP). Check out our Bullpen Workload page for the status of Joe Girardi‘s relievers, then check out Drunk Jays Fans for everything you need to know about the Blue Jays.
Only five questions this week, but one has a really long answer. The best way to send us anything throughout the week is via the Submit A Tip box in the sidebar.
Justin asks: What would a fair contract for Chase Headley be? I know he hasn’t set the world on fire here, but he seems to be involved in a lot of rallies and his defense speaks for itself. I know re-signing him would in theory block Rob Refsnyder, as it would lock Martin Prado in at 2B, but I don’t see that as a major hurdle as there is almost no way the combination of Carlos Beltran, A-Rod, and Mark Teixeira don’t miss significant time next year and Prado would likely move somewhere to fill in in such times.
I am pretty terrible at estimating free agent contracts and I feel especially lost on what it will take to sign Headley. Is he going to look for the biggest payday possible? That’s never a bad idea in my opinion, especially at age 30. Will he be open to a one-year “pillow contract” to re-establish his value and then look for the biggest payday next winter? That’s what Adrian Beltre did with the Red Sox a few years ago.
The pillow contract idea is pretty risky, especially since Headley has hit only .234/.310/.350 (90 wRC+) this year after putting up a 113 wRC+ last year. Excellent defense is great, but it’s getting harder and harder to put up big offensive numbers, and that’s what gets guys paid. Can Headley get back up to, say, .270/.340/.430 with a full season in Yankee Stadium and without the pressure of having to be The Man offensively? Maybe, but who really knows. Baseball is hard.
I don’t think Headley would have any trouble getting $10M on a one-year pillow contract. Maybe $10M plus incentives. Teams have shown they’re willing to pay big dollars to keep the term short. The biggest possible contract for Headley at this point probably ranges between two years and $15M (Juan Uribe) to three years and $39M (Aramis Ramirez). Headley and Uribe are actually very similar players as standout defenders with average-ish bats, though Headley is several years younger with an MVP caliber season to his credit. Uribe has two total disaster years (2011-12) on his resume.
Ramirez and Headley are not at all the same type of player — Aramis is all bat while Headley’s value comes primarily from his glove — but Ramirez’s deal is the largest given to a non-Beltre free agent third baseman since A-Rod. Headley isn’t getting Beltre money (five years, $80M) but he’ll probably get more than Uribe. Aramis is right in the middle there. Headley’s free agent stock is very hard to gauge because he’s in his prime years and has shown he can be a solid offensive player, but he’s also the type of player who always leaves you wanting more.
The Yankees will need a caddy for Alex Rodriguez next year and Prado could always play second base — I’m not worried at all about blocking Refsnyder, I want the Yankees to have as many good players as possible — so there’s an obvious place for Headley on the 2015 Yankees. I’d absolutely love to get him back on a pillow contract, but I would be wary of giving him three years at something like $27M to $30M or so. I like Headley, he fits the team well, but the Yankees need impact hitters at this point and he isn’t one.
JonS asks: Maybe I haven’t been paying attention and SSS and all that, but does it seem like Michael Pineda is a LOT more efficient since he’s been back?
The difference between Pineda and other young big stuff prospects was always his command and ability to pound the strike zone. He had a 2.07 BB/9 (5.7 BB%) while in the minor leagues with the Mariners from 2006-10, then he followed that up with a 2.89 BB/9 (7.9 BB%) with Seattle during his rookie year in 2011. Pineda threw 54.1% of his pitches in the zone that year, the 14th highest rate among the 94 qualified starters according to PitchFX. Remember, he was a 22-year-old rookie back then, and 22-year-old rookies are not known for filling the zone.
Pineda has a 0.97 BB/9 (2.9 BB%) in seven starts and 37 innings overall this year, throwing 54.7% of his pitches in the strike zone. That is broken down into a 1.37 BB/9 (3.9 BB%) walk rate and a 52.6% zone rate in 19.2 innings before getting hurt and a 0.52 BB/9 (1.6 BB%) walk rate and a 57.0% zone rate in 17.1 innings since coming off the disabled list. Pineda also averaged 3.94 pitches per plate appearances before getting hurt and is at 4.00 pitches per plate appearance since coming back, so he really hasn’t been more efficient. About the same in terms of pitches per batter. The important thing is that Pineda is healthy and pounding the zone, which indicates he hasn’t lost confidence in his stuff.
Matt asks: Is there any available data about a manager’s success at challenges? I’ve heard people mention it before, and after the challenge at the plate with Jacoby Ellsbury (against the Royals) the ESPN guys mentioned it again. Seems like Joe Girardi is doing very well.
There sure is. Baseball Savant has a database of all manager’s challenges. Heading into yesterday’s action, calls have been overturned only 46.92% of the time this year, which really surprises me. I thought the overturn rate would be much higher since, you know, managers get the thumbs up or thumbs down from their video people before challenging. You’d think a system like that would have a pretty high success rate. I guess a lot of managers are rolling the dice on super close plays.
Girardi is 19-for-24 (79.17%) at getting calls overturned this year, which is obviously excellent compared to the 46.92% league average. In fact, that is the highest overturn rate in baseball. The Marlins are a distant second at 72.73% and no other team was over even 65% heading into yesterday. I’m sure there’s an element of luck here — super close players without what seems to be conclusive evidence going your way, for example — but that is pretty remarkable. Girardi and everyone involved in the team’s video review process have done a fantastic job this year.
Ryan asks: If Shane Greene keeps pitching the way he is and the Yankees make the playoffs, could he be considered in the running for Rookie of the Year? Same thing with Dellin Betances, does he have a legitimate shot at winning it?
Jose Abreu has the Rookie of the Year already in the bag and deservedly so. He went into last night’s game hitting .312/.371/.602 (164 wRC+) with 33 homers, and voters will love that he’s leading the league with 96 RBI. Masahiro Tanaka was the only player (in the league, not just with the Yankees) with a realistic chance to challenge Abreu, and his Rookie of the Year chances went down the drain as soon as he got hurt.
Betances has been awesome and he’ll definitely get some Rookie of the Year votes, maybe even a stray Cy Young or MVP vote, but there’s no way he’s beating out Abreu. The slugging first baseman is always going to trump the setup reliever in awards voting. Greene has been very good as well but he’ll finish the year with fewer than 100 innings pitched. What makes him more deserving than, say, Matt Shoemaker of the Angels (3.33 ERA and 3.38 FIP in 110.2 innings)? Nothing, really. Greene’s been great but I don’t see him getting any Rookie of the Year votes. The ballot is only three players deep, remember.
JPK asks: A lot will change, but as currently structured how you stack the top of the order next year? Do you bat Prado between Brett Gardner and Ellsbury or do you go some order of Ellsbury and Gardner 1-2?
I’d definitely go with Ellsbury and Gardner in the one-two spots with Prado lower in the lineup, ideally seventh or eighth. That’s not a knock on Prado, I just hope the team adds some true middle of the order bats this winter. It would be awesome if Prado bats eighth because the lineup is so deep, but batting him fifth because they don’t have anyone else? Nope. Ellsbury is at his absolute best as a leadoff hitter because he creates so much havoc, and Gardner’s on-base ability and newfound power make him a nice fit for the two-hole. Ellsbury’s completely miscast as a number three hitter, I wouldn’t do that again next year. Prado would make sense as the number two hitter if the Yankees didn’t have the other two guys under contract.