Fan Confidence Poll: April 17th, 2017

Record Last Week: 6-0 (35 RS, 15 RA)
Season Record: 8-4 (60 RS, 40 RA, 8-4 pythag. record)
Opponents This Week: vs. White Sox (three games, Mon. to Weds.), Thurs. OFF, @ Pirates (three games, Fri. to Sun.)

Top stories from last week:

Please take a second to answer the poll below and give us an idea of how confident you are in the team. You can view the interactive Fan Confidence Graph anytime via the Features tab on the nav bar above, or by clicking here. Thanks in advance for voting.

Given the team's current roster construction, farm system, management, etc., how confident are you in the Yankees' overall future?
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Yankees beat the Cardinals 9-3 for second straight sweep

Beautiful (Elsa/Getty)
Beautiful (Elsa/Getty)

Seven in a row and a sweep! It was a good night to don Yankees gear as the Bronx Bombers beat the St. Louis Cardinals 9-3 behind Michael Pineda‘s arm and excellent hitting performances all around, especially from Greg Bird (!). It’s Sunday night so let’s do it bullet point style for this gamer:

  • The big bombs: If you ask me, or most of the other Yankee fans, that Aaron Judge fly ball should’ve been a homer. From what I saw, the ball sure seemed to eek over the fence before an idiot fan Jeffrey Maier’d his own team. Interestingly enough, the umpires, upon reviewing the fly, ruled that the ball would not have cleared the fences and ordered Judge to stay at third (since he had already reached there by hustling). So many questions about that one, but Bird distracted the fans very quickly by hitting a two-seamer inside from Adam Wainwright deep into the bleachers for a two-run homer, giving Yankees a 3-1 lead. Also look who joined into the party: Aaron Hicks! Sluggin’ Hicks hit a tall fly that landed into the short porch in the bottom of fifth to give the Yankees a 4-1 lead. After tonight’s game, he has a .318/.484/.773 line in 31 PAs, which is Bonds-esque. Have no idea how long this hot Hicks streak will last so I’m just going to enjoy it now.
  • The Greg Bird: Have you not heard? Bird is the word (okay, I won’t reference it ever again in the gamers). After starting the season with a 1-for-26 slump (.038 avg), Bird seemed like a totally different hitter tonight. He hit three balls on the screws for a 3-for-3 night with a walk, raising his season line to .138/.265/.310. Like many hitters have experienced, Bird was a triple away from the cycle. More importantly, after seeming helpless at the plate for the past few weeks, he hit the ball with absolute authority tonight. Here is a guy who needed a turning point this season and he may have gotten one tonight.
  • Big Mike: After that mind-blowing start vs. the Rays last week, a lot of fans seem to wonder if the good Pineda would be back tonight. Well, he had two failing moments but that was it. In the second inning, he allowed a two-out RBI single to Greg Garcia that gave St. Louis a 1-0 lead. In the seventh, against Yadier Molina, he hung a slider in the zone and the Cardinals catcher sent it into the left field seats for a solo HR. So besides the familiar dinger and two-out RBI problems, Pineda looked great. Per Brooks Baseball, he got 12 whiffs, which is good. What is noteworthy, however, is that four of those came from his changeup. Pineda has two sure pitches and the changeup has been a work in progress for a long time. If he can establish consistency as a three-pitch pitcher all the way, he could have a very nice year heading into the free agency. Tonight’s outing brought Pineda’s ERA down to 3.44 and his FIP/xFIP are at 2.72 and 1.99 respectively. Pretty good.
  • A barrage of runs: With a 4-2 lead into the bottom of eighth, and Dellin Betances having pitched a scoreless frame, it seemed like the Yankees were going to go with the Aroldis Chapman = closer equation for the ninth. However, that was interrupted by the five-run outburst by the offense. The Yankees got the bases loaded against Michael Socolovich (two walks and a single) and Austin Romine brought two of them in with a double, extending the lead to 6-2. Ronald Torreyes followed it up with a 2-RBI ground rule double to make it 8-2. Bottom of the lineup getting it done! Two batters later, Hicks hit a sac fly to drive in Torreyes. Bryan Mitchell allowed a run in one inning of work before closing out the game to make it 9-3, the final score.
  • Box score, WP graph and standings: Head over to ESPN for box score and standings and Fangraphs for WPA graph.

Source: FanGraphs

The Yankees will next host the Chicago White Sox for a three-game series before they head to a six-game road trip. Jordan Montgomery and Derek Holland will be on the mound Monday. Enjoy the feeling of this seven-game winning streak until then.

Game 12: A St. Louis Sweep?


The Yankees are the hottest team in baseball right now. They’ve won their last six games — that’s the longest winning streak by any team so far this year — and tonight they have a chance to finish off a sweep of the Cardinals. The Cardinals have been one of the most successful franchises in baseball over the last decade or so, but boy have they looked sloppy this weekend.

Michael Pineda will be on the mound tonight making his first start since his flirtation with perfection during Monday’s home opener. Is another dominant performance on tap? Or will he get knocked out in the fourth inning like he did in his first start of the season? Pineda is nothing if not unpredictable. The rotation has been on a roll of late and I hope it continues tonight. Here is the Cardinals’ lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:

  1. LF Brett Gardner
  2. CF Aaron Hicks
  3. 2B Starlin Castro
  4. DH Jacoby Ellsbury
  5. 3B Chase Headley
  6. RF Aaron Judge
  7. 1B Greg Bird
  8. C Austin Romine
  9. SS Ronald Torreyes
    RHP Michael Pineda

It was hot in New York today. Like middle of the summer hot. There’s some cloud cover now and there is a little rain in the forecast tonight, though it doesn’t seem to be anything that will result in a long delay. Hopefully not, anyway. Tonight’s game will begin at 8pm ET and you can watch on ESPN. Enjoy.

DotF: Green dominates, Fowler snaps out of slump in AAA win

RHP Ben Heller is working on his slider with Triple-A Scranton, specifically making sure he uses the same arm slot as his fastball, writes Shane Hennigan. When he does that, the pitch dives down rather than sweep to the side. Either way, I’m sure we’ll see Heller back in the Bronx at some point this year.

Triple-A Scranton (3-1 win over Buffalo)

  • 2B Tyler Wade: 1-4, 1 K
  • RF Clint Frazier: 1-4, 1 RBI, 2 K — one two-hit game, five one-hit games, and three no-hit games so far
  • CF Dustin Fowler: 2-4, 1 R, 1 3B, 1 K — came into the game 4-for-32 (.125) on the season
  • 1B Rob Refsnyder: 2-4, 1 3B, 1 RBI
  • LF Mason Williams: 0-4, 3 K — off to a 4-for-23 (.174) start
  • SS Ruben Tejada: 2-4, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 K — 9-for-23 (.391) with seven walks and two strikeouts in the early going
  • RHP Chad Green: 7 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 7 K, 7/4 GB/FB — 62 of 92 pitches were strikes (67%) … Chad Green dominates Triple-A hitters, news at eleven
  • LHP Chasen Shreve: 1 IP, zeroes, 2 K, 0/1 GB/FB — seven of 12 pitches were strikes (58%)
  • RHP Ben Heller: 1 IP, zeroes, 1 K, 1/1 GB/FB — ten pitches, seven strikes

[Read more…]

Sunday Open Thread

The Yankees and Cardinals don’t wrap up their three-game series until later tonight, in the ESPN Sunday Night Game. Weekend night games are the bane of my fandom. The worst. So anyway, before the game comes along, check out Tyler Kepner’s piece of Brian Cashman. It’s a week old — I’ve been busy the last few days and haven’t had much time to read all the stuff I have bookmarked — but is very much worth the read.

Here is an open thread until the game thread comes along. The Mets are playing this afternoon and MLB Network is showing a regional game. There are also NBA playoff games on ABC and TNT, and NHL playoff games on the NBC family of networks, including Game Three for the (hockey) Rangers. Talk about those games, the Cashman article, or anything else other than religion or politics here. Thanks.

Unaccording to Plan

(Adam Hunger/Getty)
(Adam Hunger/Getty)

Two weeks of baseball are almost in the books and, as always, they’ve been predictably unpredictable. For the Yankees, that’s manifested itself in two divergent paths thus far: CC Sabathia‘s pitching and Greg Bird‘s “hitting.”

Despite the apparent completion of his reinvention project last year, what we’d get in 2017 from Sabathia was certainly no sure thing. A pitcher as good and smart as he is could repeat what he did in 2016, but a pitcher as old as he is could just as easily fall apart. So far, it’s been the former and CC has done a great job in his starts, even pitching into the eighth yesterday.

Last year, CC leaned mostly on the cutter. In this year’s few offerings, CC has been leaning more on the sinker than he did last year. Additionally, the handful of changeups he’s found this year have been successful, leading to whiffs 33% of the time overall and 66% per swing. It’s too early to tell and all that stuff, but things are looking good for CC. It’s not often a pitcher develops again and who knows what could happen next, but I’ve never been one to bet against Sabathia.

#GREGBIRD (Presswire)
#GREGBIRD (Presswire)

On the other side of the coin is Greg Bird, who can hardly buy what even looks like a good plate appearance these days, let alone a hit. Would this stretch be markedly less noticeable if it happened in the middle of the season? Definitely. Is it concerning, at least a little bit, that Bird looks so lost at the plate? Yes.

After a hot spring in which he looked fantastic–and had similar results–it’s disappointing to see Bird struggling so much. Of course, it is still way early and just as Sabathia can fall down, Bird can climb up. Pretty much everything has been a disaster for Bird, but I find it hard to believe he’s going to keep whiffing this much on his swings.

Compared to 2015, Bird is swinging at similar rate, but he’s chasing out of the zone about four percent more. This has led to a four percent drop in zone swing percentage, too. When he has swung in the zone this year, though, it hasn’t mattered much. There’s the aforementioned whiffing problem, which as led to a zone contact rate of 53.1%; league average is just around 86%. Whether it’s timing, mechanics, or lack of pitch recognition, something is vexing Bird.

For both of these players, even if their results have been opposite of each other and opposite of expectations, there is still plenty of time. Sabathia and Bird both have the talent and the know how to succeed at their respective levels. Though it’s a positive thing with Bird and potentially a negative thing with Sabathia, we’re just waiting for the other shoe to drop. We know it’s coming, but what the footprint looks like is a mystery.

DotF: Mateo stays hot, Littell tosses gem in Tampa’s win

Two quick injury notes:

  • SS Thairo Estrada hasn’t played since Tuesday and is a little banged up, according to Matt Kardos. It’s nothing serious and he is not on the disabled list. Estrada’s injury is why SS Gleyber Torres has played shortstop in every game but one up to this point. The Yankees plan to get Torres time at second and third bases this year, but they need Estrada to get back on the field first. He’s the only other natural shortstop on the roster.
  • LHP Dietrich Enns has been placed on the Triple-A disabled list with a shoulder strain, reports Shane Hennigan. He’ll be shut down 3-4 weeks before starting a throwing program, so chances are we won’t see him again until midseason. Enns left last night’s start with shoulder discomfort. He’s on the 40-man roster and was a potential bullpen shuttle option.

Triple-A Scranton (10-3 loss to Buffalo)

  • SS Tyler Wade: 0-4, 2 K
  • LF Clint Frazier: 1-3, 1 2B, 1 BB — he has six hits this year: four doubles and two singles
  • CF Dustin Fowler: 0-4
  • 2B Rob Refsnyder: 2-4, 2 R, 2 2B, 1 E (throwing) — came into the game 3-for-22 (.136) with no extra-base hits
  • RF Mason Williams: 0-3, 1 RBI, 3 K
  • RHP Luis Cessa: 5.2 IP, 3 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 5 K, 4/6 GB/FB — 57 of 88 pitches were strikes (65%) … the big league rotation is on a bit of a roll right now, but it’s only a matter of time until we see Cessa in the Bronx again
  • RHP Gio Gallegos: 0.1 IP, 1 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 1 K — half of his 26 pitches were strikes
  • RHP Ernesto Frieri: 1 IP, 2 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 1 K, 1/0 GB/FB — 18 of 32 pitches were strikes (56%) … at least he got this out of his system in a blowout game and not during a save situation

[Read more…]