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.

Looking Ahead

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

There comes a day when you rectify the team you are with the team you want to be; the Yankees can’t seem to make the two things coexist.

On the good side of things, the Yankees lead the American League in both strikeout percentage and walk rate from the mound. They’ve also got a respectable 91 FIP- and a 100 ERA-, suggesting their pitching may still have some room to grow. On the bad side of things, the Yankees have scored the second fewest runs in the AL, just eight more than the lowly Twins. Their 88 wRC+ is also the second worst in the Junior Circuit, just two points ahead of the trailing Twins.

(Stephen Lam/Getty)
(Stephen Lam/Getty)

As Memorial Day is generally the first ‘mile marker’ of the year, today’s as good a time as any to look at the road ahead by reflecting on the road behind. One way of doing that is heading over to FanGraphs and checking out the playoff odds section, which lets you sort by a few things. In the spirit of looking back, here are the Yankees’ playoff odds based on their season to date stats. A 3.9% chance to win the division. An 8.7% chance to win the wild card. Those don’t look good, obviously, thanks to the poor performances the Yankees have turned in at the plate. Bounce backs from Mark Teixeira and Alex Rodriguez would help those numbers creep up, but they’re still fairly low.

If we decide to be more fair to the team and acknowledge the uncharacteristically bad performance at the plate, we can go peek at the playoff odds using rest of season projections instead. Those numbers look a little better–4.5% for the division and 16.4% for the wild card–but they still aren’t anything spectacular.

Their deficits in both the AL East and wild card standings–5.5 and 4.5 games respectively–are not insurmountable, especially considering it’s not quite yet June. But in the AL East, the Yankees have three teams to brush aside, including the first place Red Sox. In the wild card, it’s six teams, including the leading Orioles and Rangers. Allowing for some dramatics, the day of reckoning is fast approaching for the Yankees.

(Jim McIsaac/Getty)
(Jim McIsaac/Getty)

At some point soon–maybe by mid-June–they need to make a decision, and an honest one at that. This is something the Yankees have struggled with in recent years, but hopefully it’s something they put some earnest reflection into over the next few weeks. Their playoff odds are bad. The team is flawed in multiple ways. Fighting or a five hundred record or to be ‘in it’ in the last week of the season with some vague, outside, puncher’s chance at the second wild card is not worth it. There are still enough valid pieces on this team that can contribute to next year which can be properly bolstered by jettisoning the right assets.

A smart man who used to comment ’round these parts used to say that the Yankees are a win now and win later team and the Yankees need to focus on the latter at this point in the season. Trade some of the present for some of the future and be honest about it with the fans. Trusting that the fans can handle an honest to goodness rebuild is something the Yankee brass has been reluctant to do, but there’s no better time to start than now. It’s not likely this team is going anywhere in 2016 and preparing for 2017 is the responsible thing to do.

Pineda pounded yet again, Yankees fall 9-5 to Rays


Source: FanGraphs

Man I hope this season doesn’t turn into a series of “the Yankees are trying to get back to .500″ games, but I fear that’s where they’re heading. They lost Saturday afternoon’s game 9-5 to the Rays to fall to 23-25 on the season. It’s a Saturday, so let’s recap with bullet points:

  • Pineda Pounded: After allowing six runs in 3.2 innings Saturday afternoon, Michael Pineda now ranks 102nd out of 102 qualified starters with a 6.92 ERA. Dead last. He’s 83rd with a 4.62 FIP. Pineda has been one of the worst pitchers in baseball this season if not the worst, and he should not make his next start. But he will. Joe Girardi confirmed the Yankees haven’t discussed pulling Pineda from the rotation even though they were down 5-0 after two innings Saturday. Pineda’s been miserable. Stick him in the bullpen for a while and hope something clicks in mop-up duty.
  • Five Runs Should Be Enough: The Yankees did not go quietly Saturday. They scratched out a run in the fourth (Carlos Beltran solo homer) and rallied for two runs in both the seventh and eighth innings. Nine of the 15 batters they sent to the plate those two innings reached base, and Austin Romine had a pair of run-scoring singles. Alex Rodriguez struck out with the bases loaded to end the seventh, and really, that was the end of the comeback. It was their best chance to get back into the game down 9-3. Five runs should be enough to win most days. They weren’t Saturday.
  • Cessa Impresses: Thanks to Pineda’s short start, Luis Cessa got his first extended outing at the big league level, and he looked pretty good. He did miss terribly with a 3-1 fastball that Hank Conger hit out of the park, but overall Cessa allowed one run on three hits and a walk in four innings. He fanned three, got six swings and misses out of 53 total pitches (11.3%), and ran his fastball up to 97.8 mph per PitchFX. I’d like to see some more.
  • Leftovers: Starlin Castro went 0-for-5 and is down to .251/.286/.410 (88 wRC+) on the season. He’s been sneaky bad since the Astros series … Chase Headley, meanwhile, went 3-for-3 with a walk and is up to .235/.321/.316 (78 wRC+) on the season. He hit .150/.268/.150 (23 wRC+) in April, remember … Austin Romine went 3-for-4 in the spot start to continue his productive season … Nick Goody allowed two runs in one-third of an inning … the Yankees have hit a homer in six straight games, easily their longest such streak of the season. They had a few three-gamers.

Here are the box score, video highlights, and updated standings. Also make sure you head on over to our Bullpen Workload and Announcer Standings pages. The Yankees and Rays wrap up this three-game series with the rubber game Sunday afternoon. That’s a 1pm ET start. No more of this 4pm nonsense. Nathan Eovaldi and Jake Odorizzi will be on the bump.

Minor League Update: I don’t have time for a bullpen DotF tonight, folks. Sorry. Here are the box scores. Tyler Wade and Jorge Mateo each had two hits, Miguel Andujar hit two homers, Ian Clarkin tossed six scoreless innings, and Kyle Holder extended his hitting streak to 16 games.

Game 48: Start A New Winning Streak

(Brian Blanco/Getty)
(Brian Blanco/Getty)

Last week, the Yankees dropped two straight games to the Diamondbacks and it turned out to be nothing more than a hiccup. They won six straight games after that. The Yankees are trying to do that again. They dropped two straight to the Blue Jays but rebounded to win last night. Time to keep winning and get back to .500 yet again. Here is the Rays’ lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:

  1. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  2. LF Aaron Hicks
  3. RF Carlos Beltran
  4. DH Alex Rodriguez
  5. 2B Starlin Castro
  6. 1B Dustin Ackley
  7. 3B Chase Headley
  8. SS Didi Gregorius
  9. C Austin Romine
    RHP Michael Pineda

It is still hot and humid in St. Petersburg. The weather is great in the dome though. This afternoon’s game will begin a bit after 4pm ET and you can watch on WPIX locally and MLB Network nationally. Enjoy the game.

Saturday Links: Old Timers’ Day, Mateo, Pettitte, Draft

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

The Yankees and Rays will continue their three-game series a little later this afternoon. Until then, here are some links to help you pass the time.

Old Timers’ Day roster announced

Earlier this week the Yankees announced the roster of attendees for the 70th annual Old Timers’ Day this summer. Old Timers’ Day is Sunday, June 12th this year. That’s two weeks from tomorrow. Among the first time Old Timers this year are John Wetteland, Mariano Duncan, Bubba Crosby (!), and Eddie Robinson. Robinson, 95, is the oldest living Yankee. Pretty cool that he’ll be there. Here’s the full Old Timers’ Day roster. Still no Core Four members. /shrugs

Mateo among Law’s top 25 midseason prospects

Keith Law updated his list of the top 25 prospects in baseball (subs. req’d) a few days ago. Both Dodgers SS Corey Seager and Twins OF Byron Buxton have since graduated to the big leagues, so Nationals RHP Lucas Giolito now sits in the top spot. SS Jorge Mateo just barely makes the list at No. 25. Here’s a piece of Law’s write-up:

Mateo’s line this year is a little fluky — .388 BABIP and more home runs (5) than he had in all of 2015 (2) — but he certainly can hit and run, which, as long as he’s at shortstop, makes him a future above-average regular with a chance to develop into a star.

I respectfully disagree about the .388 BABIP being fluky. It is not uncommon for a top prospect to run a high BABIP in the minors, especially speedy guys like Mateo. A .380-ish BABIP across the full season wouldn’t be completely nuts. Anyway, Mateo ranked 55th on Law’s preseason list, so he made a real big jump in the span of two months. OF Aaron Judge ranked 35th before the season and is not in the updated top 25.

Pettitte, Thurman to represent Yankees at 2016 draft

Andy Pettitte and scout Mike Thurman will represent the Yankees during the 2016 draft broadcast on MLB Network this year, MLB announced. Here is the full list of team representatives. It reads like an MVP Baseball 2005 roster. Thurman is the team’s Pacific Northwest scout and Pettitte is Pettitte. Commissioner Rob Manfred announces all first round picks during the broadcast before the team representatives take over, so Pettitte figures to announce New York’s second round selection (No. 62 overall). David Cone, Jeff Nelson, Tino Martinez, and Willie Randolph are among those who have represented the Yankees in previous drafts.

Yankee Stadium security guard fired for stealing memorabilia

According to Nathaniel Vinton, a Yankee Stadium security guard — and former NYPD detective — named Joe Flannino was fired for stealing memorabilia. Flannino was on the Yankee Stadium security staff from 1997-2013 before being reassigned to the archive room, which is where he was caught lifting documents. As far as I can tell there was no arrest made. Flannino was terminated and apologized to team officials. I wonder what else is in that archive room. Probably some pretty cool (and valuable) stuff, huh?

Tanaka and A-Rod lead Yankees to 4-1 win over Rays


Source: FanGraphs

It figures that after sitting through those last two losses, I couldn’t watch Friday’s series opening win over the Rays. I was at Citi Field for Julio Urias’ debut and I planned to watch the game on the FOX Sports Go app, but the stupid game was on WPIX, so the app was useless. Blah. I caught a few innings on the radio instead. Here are some thoughts to quasi-recap the 4-1 win.

1. 80 pitches is the new 100. Based on the box score and what I heard on the radio, Masahiro Tanaka was awfully sharp Friday. One single and one double in seven scoreless innings. No walks, four strikeouts, four balls hit out of the infield. Just awesome. And yet, Tanaka was out of the game after only 82 pitches, which is starting to become the norm. Joe Girardi is like a kid on Christmas morning with his bullpen. He’s got all these shiny toys and he can’t wait to play with them. Tanaka was cruising and, as far as I know, there was no reason he couldn’t go out and pitch the eighth. This isn’t the first time a starter was taken out of the game before necessary and I’m guessing it won’t be the last.

2. Narratives: busted. For the last few days we’ve been hearing about Alex Rodriguez and Carlos Beltran being unable to coexist because there is only one DH spot — Beltran’s Golden Sombrero on Thursday didn’t help matters — but they put an end to that Friday. A-Rod smacked a long two-run home in the sixth inning …

… and Beltran hit a solo homer in the eighth as well. Yeah, I think they’ll be just fine. There’s no doubt the defense is worse off with Beltran in right field, but as long as both guys hit, it’ll be worth it. I do love A-Rod’s bat flip too. That is a gentleman’s bat flip.

3. Two quick runners, three quick outs. Jacoby Ellsbury and Brett Gardner started the game with a single and walk, respectively. Chris Archer has struggled overall this season and especially so in the first inning — he came into the game with 12 first inning runs allowed, second most in baseball (Michael Pineda is first with 13) — so it looked like the Yankees were going to put up a crooked number early. Instead, Beltran and Brian McCann popped up and A-Rod grounded out. Ellsbury and Gardner didn’t move after reaching base. Sigh. Ultimately it didn’t matter when the game was over, but you still hate to see early opportunities like that go to waste.

4. Matte helmets? Whaaa? It has come to my attention the Yankees were wearing helmets with a matte finish Friday night. Here’s a photo:

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

That’s the first time we’ve seen those this season and, well, ever. Apparently the Yankees are only going to wear those on the road. They’ll continue to wear the regular glossy helmets at home. I dunno man, the Yankees uniform is a classic. Why the change? Eh, whatever. No big deal. I do wonder what spurred this on though.

5. Save situation. Like I said, Girardi is like a kid on Christmas morning. He went to Aroldis Chapman for a one-out save (!) because Kirby Yates allowed a two-out solo homer in the ninth with a four-run lead. Now Chapman has pitched two straight days, which will affect his availability the rest of the weekend. Andrew Miller pitched the eighth because he needed the work — he hadn’t pitched since Sunday — so why not stick with Tanaka for the eighth and let Miller close out the ninth? I mean, I know the answer (eighth inning guys pitch the eighth inning), but good gravy, not everyone needs to warm up every day. The bullpen is gonna be toast by August. (Update: Chapman didn’t even get a save. Heh.)

Here are the box score, video highlights, and updated standings. Don’t miss our Bullpen Workload and Announcer Standings pages too. The Yankees and Rays will continue this series with the middle game Saturday. That’s a 4pm ET start for whatever reason.

Minor League Update: I don’t have time for a full DotF tonight, sorry. Here are the box scores. Ben Gamel homered, Chad Green tossed seven scoreless innings, Jorge Mateo had a hit and a walk, and Kyle Holder extended his hitting streak. That’s the short version.