Young’s late homer gives Yankees come from behind 3-2 win over Astros

Source: FanGraphs

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.

DotF: Severino dominates again in Triple-A; Fowler stays hot for Tampa

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

[Read more…]

Game 74: Bounce Back

(Scott Halleran/Getty)
(Scott Halleran/Getty)

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:

  1. CF Brett Gardner
  2. 3B Chase Headley
  3. 1B Mark Teixeira
  4. C Brian McCann
  5. DH Carlos Beltran
  6. RF Garrett Jones
  7. LF Chris Young
  8. SS Didi Gregorius
  9. 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.

Lennon: Yankees not ruling out a pursuit of Cole Hamels

(Patrick Smith/Getty)
(Patrick Smith/Getty)

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 …

Cole Hamels Jon Lester

… 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.

RAB Live Chat

Unlocking the mystery of Michael Pineda

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

Along with the shiny ERA (1.89) and ridiculous strikeout-to-walk ratio (8.4), perhaps the most impressive part of Michael Pineda’s 2014 campaign was his consistency from start-to-start.

Game Score is a metric devised by Bill James that provides a quick-and-dirty evaluation of a pitcher’s start. Every pitcher begins a game with 50 points and then gets points added/subtracted based on innings pitched, strikeouts, walks, hits and runs allowed. 50 is average, anything above 90 is awesome, and anything below 10 is horrible.

Last year, Pineda posted an above-average Game Score in 11 of his 13 starts — the exceptions were the pine tar game in April and his September 11 start against the Rays when he allowed 10 hits and four runs in 7 1/3 innings (Game Score of 44).

Pineda’s 2015 season couldn’t be any more different. While he’s shown flashes of brilliance — the 16-strikeout gem against the Orioles, the one-hit masterpiece against the Marlins — he’s also had his share of clunkers. Six of his 14 starts have produced a Game Score under 50, including a career-worst Game Score of 5 in his most recent start on June 22. He’s basically been either a stud or a dud this season, and can go from elite to enigma in the blink of an eye.

Strap in, because this roller coaster ride is not for those with weak stomachs:

Pineda GmScr

The peaks and valley have become even more extreme in his last seven starts, which have resulted in the following game scores, starting with his May 15 outing against the Royals: 29, 37, 65, 57, 23, 75, 5. Yikes.

How can we explain this bizarre Jekyll-and-Hyde sequence from a pitcher that last year resembled a metronome (when healthy)?

A scout recently told John Harper of the New York Daily News that one reason for the huge disparity in Pineda’s performance lies in the inconsistent execution of his signature slider:

“His height creates an angle on the slider that hitters don’t usually see and when it has a sharp break they don’t hit it. But when he doesn’t have the tight spin and the sharp break, it hangs in the strike zone and it’s getting hit.”

This is what Prince Fielder can do with a hanging slider from Pineda: (2)

But Lorenzo Cain had no chance on this nasty slider from Pineda: (3)

Pineda’s last two starts have been a microcosm of his season. On June 17 against the Marlins he was at his absolute best, taking a no-hitter into the seventh inning. Five days later against the Phillies, he pitched the worst game of his career.

Just as the scout noted, his slider was much flatter against the Phillies compared to his previous start, averaging nearly an inch less vertical movement and three-quarters of an inch less horizontal movement. Against the Marlins, his slider netted Pineda nine outs — including six strikeouts — with no hits allowed; the Phillies put six of his sliders in play and got three hits off the pitch.

But it wasn’t just a sloppy slider that doomed Pineda against the Phillies. Similar to his other disaster starts this season, he struggled to hit his spots with his cutter and batters pounded the poorly located pitches.

As you can see in the images below, he did a good job of avoiding the middle of the zone vs. the Marlins (on the top). But he threw far too many cutters (dark red dots) over the heart of the plate vs. the Phillies (on the bottom), who got seven hits and made just four outs against the pitch.

Pineda vs Marlins

pineda vs Phillies

When Pineda is at his best, he’s got a sharp slider and devastating cutter that makes him nearly unhittable. But at his worst, he’s forced to navigate lineups with flat sliders and batting-practice cut fastballs — a pitching arsenal that becomes crushable even against the worst offensive team in the majors. Although this inability to execute his pitches probably doesn’t completely explain Pineda’s inconsistency this season, it’s something that can’t be ignored.

Once tabbed as the future ace of the Yankees pitching staff, Pineda is now a mystery with the potential to either dominate or detonate when he steps on the mound. The question remains: can he find the consistent approach necessary to make him a true top-of-the-rotation starter?

Mailbag: Turner, Pineda, Sale, Sabathia, Inherited Runners

I’ve got 13 questions in the mailbag this week. If your question didn’t make the cut, don’t be mad, we get a ton of questions each week and a lot of good ones get left on the cutting room floor.

Turner. (Presswire)
Turner. (Presswire)

Guy asks: How does Ivan Nova for Justin Turner sound? Could be an interesting idea.

I like the idea but I don’t think the Dodgers would do it no matter how badly they need pitching. Turner has been unreal — he’s hitting .324/.395/.582 (174 wRC+) this season and has a 163 wRC+ since the start of last season. Only Paul Goldschmidt (172 wRC+) and Mike Trout (166 wRC+) have been more productive during that time. Turner told Eno Sarris he made some approach changes two years ago after working with ex-Mets teammate Marlon Byrd, who revived his career by basically swinging as hard as possible all the time. Turner’s done the same. He’d look great at second base for the Yankees. I don’t think the Dodgers would trade a year and a half of Turner for a year and a half of Nova though. I know I wouldn’t. Also: lol Mets.

Hank asks: Should there be some concern over Michael Pineda as his innings start to build up? 1st 7 starts: 46 IP, 44 hits, 54K, 3 BB, 2.72 ERA, .656 OPS against; last 7 starts: 38 IP, 52 hits, 33 K, 9 BB, 6.10 ERA, .857 OPS against.

I’d say mild concern, yes. Not outright panic. Pineda has thrown 84.2 innings this year after throwing 76.1 innings last year, so he’s already heading into uncharted workload territory post-shoulder surgery. It is absolutely something to monitor going forward and the Yankees are aware of this. They didn’t skip his start a few weeks ago because they had nothing to better to do. Pineda’s a big, young, strong guy and I don’t think his performance will collapse anytime soon. (I mean really collapse. These latest issues are just a blip right now.) That said, the Yankees still have to watch him going forward. Shoulder surgery is no joke. If Big Mike needs rest, he needs rest.

Stephen asks: Why should we expect James Kaprielian to sign for above-slot? It seems like he landed in the draft right around where his talent level indicates he would. Is it just because Boras?

Aaron Judge was drafted right around where he was expected to go as well, and he still got an overslot bonus. It boils down to two things. One, Scott Boras is a really tough negotiator and Kaprielian hired him to get the most money. Mark Appel, another Boras client, walked away from the Pirates as the eighth overall pick a few years go and went back to school for his senior season because they didn’t meet his asking price. Boras doesn’t bluff. Two, how highly does the team value him? All the scouting publications say Kaprielian was a mid-first rounder but the Yankees could have seen him as a top ten talent. It wouldn’t have been unreasonable at all.

Kaprielian might not get an overslot bonus, but the Yankees have a ton of draft pool money saved ($643,900) and not many places to spend it. Chipola 1B Isiah Gilliam (20th round), New Jersey HS LHP Andrew Miller (34th), and Florida HS SS Deacon Liput (39th) are their only unsigned draft picks who are overslot bonus candidates and they may all be dead set on college. The Yankees probably knew Kaprielian’s asking price going into the draft, remember. Letting him go back to school over a few hundred grand and settling for the compensation pick next year is not a viable strategy to me. Get the prospect now and get him in your system. Talent now is greater than talent later.

Mikey asks: Would you have traded, say, Rob Refsnyder to AZ for Bronson Arroyo and Touki Toussaint?

Yes I would have made that trade. The Diamondbacks, who just signed a $1 billion television contract, basically sold Toussaint to get out from the $10M or so they owe Arroyo. (Toussaint was the 16th overall pick in last year’s draft and No. 61 on Baseball America’s top 100 list before the season.) Refsnyder is probably a better player than Phil Gosselin, the utility infielder the Braves sent to Arizona, but I’d still make that trade. The Yankees should be buying prospects in situations like this whenever possible. They have the money. The problem is trades like this very rarely happen. Fans of the other 28 teams are wondering why their club didn’t pull the trigger on a random infielder for Toussaint and Arroyo trade right now too.

Sale. (Presswire)
Sale. (Presswire)

Evan asks: If the White Sox get blown up, who would the Yankees need to give up to acquire Chris Sale? It would have to be much much much more than Johnny Cueto.

Yes. Much much much much more. Sale is arguably the best pitcher in baseball at this very moment after coming into the season as a no worse than a top five pitcher in MLB. He’s a stud. And he’s only owed $50M or so through 2019 when you include his two no-brainer club options. (I could have sworn I remember reading that Sale can void the options if traded, but apparently that’s not the case.) Every single team will make an offer if Sale is made available. A package starts with Judge and Luis Severino and includes at least two more very young players. Dellin Betances and Nathan Eovaldi maybe? I’m not even sure I’d take that four-player package for Sale if I was the ChiSox. He’s so, so good and so, so affordable for years to come.

Matt asks: If CC Sabathia moved to the bullpen, could he be a great LOOGY?

The numbers say yes. Lefties are hitting .193/.202/.256 (.200 wOBA) with a 29.8% strikeout rate against Sabathia this season. (He hasn’t walked a lefty yet!) Righties are hitting .332/.374/.580 (.406 wOBA) against Sabathia and that’s just awful. In theory, he would make a great matchup lefty reliever. We don’t know how he would adjust to a bullpen role or anything like that, but there’s evidence to suggest Sabathia fits best as a left-on-left bullpen guy at this point. But he’s not coming out of the rotation. The Yankees will continue to shoot themselves in the foot and decrease their postseason chances by keeping this version of Sabathia in the rotation because of his contract.

Bob asks: With the Cubs allegedly looking for a cost-controlled but proven starting pitcher, what kind of return could the Yankees expect from the North Siders for Adam Warren?

Is Warren a proven starting pitcher? I think he’s promising but not proven. Anyway, I don’t think the Cubs are looking for Warren types. I think they’re looking for high-end young starters, not mid-to-back-end guys. Warren won’t be a free agent until after the 2018 season and, at the very worst, he’s a solid big league setup man. Maybe he can be more. Warren’s trade value is probably similar to Eovaldi’s this past offseason, no? Maybe slightly less because Eovaldi’s younger and shown he can hold up as a starter over a full season. Warren shouldn’t untouchable but I don’t think trading him for okay-ish prospects makes sense right now either.

Paul asks: Do undrafted free agents have any impact on draft pools? Like, does signing an undrafted FA take money out of the available pool?

They’re treated like players drafted after the tenth round. If they sign for $100,000 or less, it has no impact on the draft pool. If they sign for more than $100,000, the excess is applied to the draft pool. So if an undrafted free agent gets a $150,000 bonus, the extra $50,000 counts against the draft pool. It’s not often unsigned free agents get big bonuses though. The only instance I can remember is Daniel Aldrich a few years ago, who the Yankees inked for $150,000. He played in 39 minor league games before being released.

Mike in EV asks: Now that Sergio Santos is on the 60-day DL, are the Yankees required to put him on the 40-man roster at the end of the season and keep him there through the offseason? Given all of the young players added to the 40-man roster so far this season, it appears the Yankees are headed for quite the roster crunch in the offseason.

No, the Yankees don’t have to keep Santos on the 40-man roster all offseason. There is no DL in the winter — he’ll be activated after the World Series and the Yankees can release him at that point (if they want). They’re not obligated to keep him on the 40-man all winter just because he’s hurt. The Braves cut ties with Kris Medlen and Brandon Beachy while they were rehabbing from Tommy John surgery last winter, remember.

Now, if the Yankees do cut Santos after the season, they do still have to provide him with a place to do his rehab work until he signs with a new team. That’s in the Collective Bargaining Agreement. Santos doesn’t need to take them up on the offer, he can go and rehab on his own if he wants, but the Yankees would have to give him access to their facilities (in Tampa, I assume) even after releasing him. The player doesn’t get hung out to dry.

Dylan asks: You mentioned Judge as starting RF next year as a possibility … if that’s the plan, would he still be held in AAA for 10 games a la the Cubs & Kris Bryant? Or do those service time issues not apply?

Oh they still apply, for sure. It only takes 11-12 days to delay free agency and about three months to delay Super Two status. I don’t love the idea of simply handing Judge the right field job next year — I think the Yankees would do it, I’m just saying I don’t love the idea — because I’m not a fan of throwing non-elite prospects to the wolves. (Judge is very good but not elite!) If they keep him down for a few weeks to delay free agency, great. That’s the system and teams would be foolish not to exploit it. I don’t think the Yankees would hesitate to play Judge just to ensure they manipulate his service time if they feel he’s the best option though.

Holt. (Presswire)
Holt. (Presswire)

Ethan asks: Do you think defensive flexibility, a la Brock Holt or Ben Zobrist, is a market inefficiency/currently undervalued skill?

I actually think it might be overvalued. Martin Prado, for example. He’s an average hitter and a below-average fielder. Being able to play a bunch of positions doesn’t increase his value much if at all. Prado’s still an average hitter and a below-average defender, he can just play below-average defense at different positions. Flexibility is wonderful but guys like Holt and Zobrist are an exception because they can not only play a lot of positions, but play them well and produce at the plate. Most versatile guys either aren’t that good defensively or can’t hit, so yeah, they can play all over the place, but that just means they can stink at multiple positions instead of one. Holt and Zobrist are big time outliers. They’re valuable if you have them. Trying to use someone like, say, Jose Pirela in that role usually turns out bad.

Mark asks: Is there a statistic that applies the “league average bullpen” to inherited runners. It seems that pitchers are penalized or rewarded depending on the quality of the reliever who is called in to clean up the mess they leave behind.

I haven’t seen anything that adjusts for inherited runners — that would be a little complicated, because you’d have to consider the base/out situation (easier to strand a runner on first with two outs than a runner on third with no outs, etc.) — and things like that. For some reason I know Pineda had brutal inherited runner luck during his season with the Mariners. Seattle’s bullpen allowed 72% (!) of the inherited runners he left on base to score that year. That’s more than double the MLB average.

Anyway, inherited runners have scored 29% of the time league-wide this season. The Giants are the best at only 13% and the Phillies are the worst at 43%. The Yankees are tied with four other teams for seventh worst at 34%. Here are how the core relievers have done this season at stranding inherited runners, via Baseball Reference:

Dellin Betances 36.0 32 20 8 40%
David Carpenter 18.2 22 9 4 44%
Chris Martin (40-man) 16.0 18 9 7 78%
Andrew Miller (15-day dl)* 26.1 26 7 1 14%
Esmil Rogers 33.0 18 15 7 47%
Chasen Shreve* 29.2 25 15 2 13%
Justin Wilson* 25.2 33 25 5 20%
Team Total 283 125 42 34%

So the three worst offenders (Carpenter, Martin, Rogers) are not on the roster right now, partly because they stunk at stranding runners. Betances has actually been crummy overall in his department but a big chunk of the damage came in that near meltdown against the Angels a few weeks ago. You remember that, right? Rogers took over an 8-1 game in the ninth inning and before you knew it, it was 8-7 with the tying run on third. Betances allowed all three inherited runners to score that night. Outside of that game Dellin has been exactly league average (29%) at stranding runners, which is still higher than I would have expected.

As for the starters, Sabathia has had the worst inherited runner luck, but it’s a really small sample: four of nine have scored. That’s it. Eovaldi has left the most runners on base (19) and five have scored (26%). Warren has left 14 men on base and three have scored (21%). Pineda has left ten and two have scored. Masahiro Tanaka has handed two inherited runners over to the bullpen all season. Two! (Neither scored.) I haven’t seen anything that adjusts a starters numbers for inherited runners, and I’m not sure who useful it’s be because we aren’t talking about a ton of runners anyway. Inherited runner rates are more useful for relievers for sure.

Liam asks: What’s it like running RAB? Do you have set routine for daily updates like the Bullpen Workload and DotF? Do you plan your analytical pieces ahead of time or just write them as they come to you? I’d love to get some insight on what makes this site tick.

The RAB life is probably not as time-consuming as it seems. I write up DotF during the game each night — it took 15-20 minutes tops in the first half of the season, but now that the short season leagues have started it’s closer to 30 minutes (so many affiliates!) — and I usually write regular features (mailbag, series previews, etc.) a day or two ahead of time, then just go back and fill in the stats. Those are easy enough, usually.

Other posts I try to write the bare bones the day before, but that isn’t always possible if there’s some breaking news that needs to be analyzed (trade, major injury, etc.). My usual routine is this: piece together the next day’s posts in the morning, go about the rest of my day, handle the game and DotF at night (updating the Bullpen Workload, Announcer Standings, and Prospect Watch is all part of my game coverage routine), then put the finishing touches on the posts for the next day. Sometimes I have to call an audible and write an entirely new post(s) after the game, but that comes with the territory. I keep a list of post ideas and add to it as things come to me. Some get written immediately, some get written weeks later, some never get written. Riveting stuff, eh?