By Game Score, Masahiro Tanaka‘s last start was the second worst of his relatively brief MLB career. He allowed five runs (including three homers) in five innings against the Tigers and wasn’t sharp at all. Tanaka left a lot of pitches up in the zone and Detroit made him pay. Naturally, everyone worried about his elbow, but Tanaka said his problems were all mechanical.
So, in an effort to get things back on track, Tanaka threw two bullpen sessions between starts instead of his usual one. He told reporters he identified a mechanical issue while watching video and wanted two throwing sessions to make sure he ironed it out. Tanaka was pretty excellent prior to his last start (1.31 ERA and a 35/2 K/BB in his previous five starts), so hopefully that one was just a blip on the radar. Here is Houston’s lineup and here is New York’s lineup:
- CF Brett Gardner
- LF Chris Young
- DH Alex Rodriguez
- 1B Mark Teixeira
- C Brian McCann
- RF Carlos Beltran
- 3B Chase Headley
- SS Didi Gregorius
- 2B Jose Pirela
RHP Masahiro Tanaka
It’s hot and humid in Houston, and it’s supposed to start raining pretty soon, so the Minute Maid Park roof will be closed. Apparently it’s going to start raining today and not stop until next Saturday. Texas is weird. This afternoon’s game will begin a bit after 4pm ET. You can watch on YES locally and, depending where you live, MLB Network nationally. Enjoy the game.
Injury Updates: Jacoby Ellsbury (knee) will run today and tomorrow. The Yankees will then decide whether he’s ready to begin a minor league rehab assignment … Andrew Miller (forearm) made 45 throws from 100 feet today and I assume everything went fine. We probably would have heard by now if it didn’t.
I’m not sure if Andy Pettitte was hanging around the team last night or if he’ll be back this weekend, but he was in the clubhouse in full uniform on Thursday, and he tossed batting practice before the game. Pretty cool. Anyway, the Yankees and Astros continue their series later his afternoon. Here are some links to hold you over until game time.
Do six-man rotations work?
The Yankees are currently employing a six-man rotation but only temporarily — Joe Girardi said they are likely to go back to a normal five-man rotation once the road trip ends next week. The team has been talking about using a six-man rotation since before Spring Training and baseball as a whole seems to be heading in that direction. I don’t think it’ll be long before six-man rotations are the standard around MLB. Maybe ten years or so.
Russell Carleton did some research on six-man rotations to see if they are actually worth the trouble. Does it improve performance? Does it reduce injury? What happens if you have an ace like Clayton Kershaw and don’t want him to make five fewer starts in a season? After some gory math, Carleton found that most pitchers don’t see an uptick in performance with an extra day of rest and their injury risk isn’t reduced substantially. Unexpected!
That doesn’t mean a six-man rotation isn’t worth trying though. It just means historical data indicates the benefits may not be as great as they seem. Every pitcher is different though. Perhaps a six-man rotation greatly benefits Masahiro Tanaka and Michael Pineda. Or maybe it helps Tanaka and does nothing for Pineda. Who knows? Carleton’s research just shows that a six-man rotation may not be as great everyone seems to think.
Yankees still negotiating for A-Rod‘s 3,000th hit ball
It has now been one week and one day since Alex Rodriguez took Justin Verlander deep for his 3,000th career hit, and, according to Dan Martin and Brendan Kuty, the Yankees are still trying to get the ball from ballhawk Zack Hample. The two sides have made “significant progress” after the team initially offered a package of tickets and memorabilia.
Hample says he wants the Yankees to “perhaps make a large donation” to Pitch In For Baseball, a charity that provides baseball equipment to kids around the county. “I could sell the ball at an auction for a lot of money and then turn over the money to the charity. I’ve certainly been hearing from a lot of auction houses,” he said. “This is a big chance to do something extraordinary for (the charity).”
Using the milestone baseball to help charity rather than for personal gain is an honorable thing. Of course, Hample has spent the last few days trolling A-Rod on Twitter and going on a media tour, so he’s milking his 15 minutes for all they’re worth. Hopefully A-Rod gets the ball, a charity gets a lot of money, and Hample stops pushing kids out of the way for baseballs. That way everyone wins.
Maikel Franco: Almost a Yankee
Earlier this week Phillies infielder Maikel Franco made a bit of a name for himself by wrecking the Yankees, going 6-for-12 with three home runs in the three-game series at Yankee Stadium. I won’t dub him a Yankees Killer based on one series, but yeah, he crushed them. Impressive showing by the kid. The Phillies are really bad but Franco is a definite bright spot and a reason for fans to tune in every day.
As Dan Barbarisi writes, the Yankees tried to sign Franco as a 17-year-old out of the Dominican Republic back in 2010, but fell $5,000 short of Philadelphia’s offer. The Phillies offered $100,000 and the Yankees offered $95,000. “I was very close to signing with the team—my agent told me which teams wanted to sign me, and the Yankees were up in that group,” he said. Only if Hal Steinbrenner wasn’t so stupid and cheap Franco would have been a Yankee argh!!!
Except that’s not really how this works. For starters, no one cares about this if Franco does 2-for-12 in the series. Second, we can’t assume he would have signed with the Yankees had they simply matched the offer. Franco might not have liked the idea of joining a team with a first baseman and third baseman signed until the end of time. Third, every team falls a few grand short of signing players every year. And sometimes those players get good. That’s baseball.
For the first six innings or so, it looked like the Yankees had a Dallas Keuchel hangover. The Astros ace dominated New York on Thursday and it took a while for their bats to recover Friday night. But, once they did, a clutch late-inning homer turned a 2-0 deficit into a 3-2 lead and a win in the second game of the series in Houston. It’s Friday night, so let’s recap with bullet points:
- Young Again: Man, what a pickup Chris Young has been. Yeah, he slumped a bit in May, but he has five hits in this series and swatted the go-ahead three-run home run in the seventh inning on Friday. The Yankees appeared headed for another shutout loss when Young sent a Will Harris pitch out to left field. Harris came into the game with a 0.78 ERA this season, by the way. He’s Houston’s relief ace. Young went 3-for-4 and now has nine homers off the bench. Good bench players are so valuable.
- Nasty Nate: Outside of the disaster in Miami — and it was awful, no doubt about it — Nathan Eovaldi has been pretty good the last six weeks or so. Not great, but solid. He held the Astros to two runs on five hits and two walks in six innings, striking out six. The second run scored a dinky bloop just out of Stephen Drew‘s reach. Eovaldi got eleven swings and misses, his third highest total of the season. Nice start, Nate.
- Bullpen On Parade: Three innings, five strikeouts, no hits for the bullpen. Chasen Shreve struck out the side in the seventh, Justin Wilson got two outs before walking a batter in the eighth, and Dellin Betances nailed down the four-out save. Betances struck out Evan Gattis on three pitches to end the eighth with the tying run in scoring position. Great night for the ‘pen. Shreve has been something else, hasn’t he? What a find.
- Leftovers: Brett Gardner, who sat out Thursday’s game, stayed hot with two hits, including a double off the left-center field wall … Chase Headley had a single and two walks … Garrett Jones had two hits, including one off a lefty … Jose Altuve stole second in the sixth inning. It was the first successful steal against Eovaldi in 196.1 innings. Crazy. He’s the best right-handed pitcher in baseball at shutting down the running game.
Here are the box score, video highlights, updated standings, Bullpen Workload page, and Announcer Standings page. The Yankees and Astros continue this four-game series on Saturday afternoon, when Masahiro Tanaka gets the ball against lefty Brett Oberholtzer.
Triple-A Scranton (2-0 loss to Buffalo)
- CF Ben Gamel & RF Aaron Judge: both 0-4 — Judge struck out once
- C Austin Romine: 1-3
- LF Ramon Flores: 2-3
- RHP Luis Severino: 7 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 6 K, 7/5 GB/FB — 64 of 90 pitches were strikes (71%) … they’re going to have to call him up to MLB before he’s challenged, huh?
- RHP Brandon Pinder: 1 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 1 K, 1 WP, 1/0 GB/FB — 19 of 32 pitches were strikes (60%)
- RHP Jose Ramirez: 1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 3 BB, 1 K, 1/1 GB/FB — 17 of 35 pitches were strikes (49%) … strikes, Jose
Last night’s game was a legitimate “tip your cap” game. I know no one wants to hear it, and yes the Yankees probably do too much cap-tipping in general, but Dallas Keuchel was on point last night. Sometimes you just get beat. That’s what happened last night. That’s baseball.
Thankfully today is a new day with a new game and chance to, you know, get back in the win column. The Yankees haven’t done enough of that lately. They’re 18-22 in their last 40 games. That’s not good! No cap-tipping tonight. Just win, baby. Here is Houston’s lineup and here is New York’s lineup:
- CF Brett Gardner
- 3B Chase Headley
- 1B Mark Teixeira
- C Brian McCann
- DH Carlos Beltran
- RF Garrett Jones
- LF Chris Young
- SS Didi Gregorius
- 2B Stephen Drew
RHP Nathan Eovaldi
It’s another hot day in Houston, so the Minute Maid Park roof will probably be closed again. Tonight’s game is scheduled to begin just after 8pm ET. You watch on both YES and MLB Network. Enjoy.
Injury Update: Jacoby Ellsbury (knee) will work out with the team tomorrow and could begin playing in rehab games as soon as early next week. No date is set in stone yet, however.
Roster Move: What, you didn’t think the Yankees would go a day without a roster move, did you? This one is only minor: Jose DePaula was outrighted to Triple-A Scranton, the team announced. He had been designated for assignment the other day to clear a 40-man roster spot for Ivan Nova. So DePaula is still in the organization as a non-40-man roster player.
The Yankees are not ruling out a pursuit of the very available Cole Hamels, reports David Lennon. Bob Nightengale reminds us the Yankees are not included on Hamels’ no-trade list, so that’s not an obstacle. Back in March we heard the Yankees had “come the closest” to landing the Phillies ace in what seemed like an obvious attempt to drive up the price for other teams.
Hamels, 31, allowed five runs in five innings at Yankee Stadium earlier this week, though his defense did him no favors. I’ve seen plenty of people say Hamels wouldn’t survive in the AL and other stuff like that because of that game, but the Yankees aren’t stupid. They’re not going to read too much into that one start. Hamels has been around a while and one start doesn’t supersede his overall body of work.
The Yankees have six starters for five spots … sorta. CC Sabathia has been pretty bad all season and Masahiro Tanaka‘s elbow makes his a perpetual injury risk. Moreso than the average hurler. Michael Pineda and Adam Warren have workload/fatigue concerns as well. Ivan Nova‘s return adds depth and there’s no such thing as too much pitching, especially when it comes to someone as good as Hamels. He makes any rotation better.
Hal Steinbrenner has indicated the Yankees will focus on rental players at the trade deadline and recently we heard the team has “sworn off” trading top prospects for those rentals, but Hamels is under contract at $23.5M annually through 2018 with an option for 2019. That’s not a bad contract! Hamels and Jon Lester are the same age and have been almost the same pitcher since 2013 …
… and Lester just signed a six-year deal worth $155M this past offseason. Hamels is a bargain by ace standards. Of course, acquiring him would also require trading prospects, which factors into the equation. In a perfect world a big market team like the Yankees would just spend money to acquire an ace, but doing so typically requires a long-term commitment. Giving up prospects to make a trade is one way to avoid an ugly long-term deal.
I am generally pro-Hamels trade with the lame “depends on the cost” caveat. I’d have no trouble trading Luis Severino or Aaron Judge for Hamels. But both? Eh, that’s where it gets messy, and maybe I’m just prospect hugging. At the same time, I understand the argument that Hamels is already 31 and is starting to approach the age where even great pitchers break down. We see Sabathia every fifth day but he’s hardly the only example. Roy Halladay, Justin Verlander, Johan Santana … the list goes on and on.
Anyway, regardless of whether you’re pro-Hamels or not, I think we can all agree the Yankees should at least keep in touch with the Phillies and keep tabs on the lefty. Ruling out a trade at this point would be sorta silly, especially when talking about a pitcher of this caliber. The Yankees tend to make their biggest, long-term impact moves in the offseason while searching for band-aids in-season. Someone of Hamels’ caliber would probably be an exception.