The soft part of the schedule is over. The Yankees played six games against the last place Rangers and Red Sox last week, went 3-3, and today they start a four-game set against the first place Tigers. This is their first meeting of the season — Detroit is the only AL team the Yankees had yet to play this season.
What Have They Done Lately?
The Tigers just swept three games from the awful Rockies, but before that they lost five of six games. They sit atop the AL Central with a 51-47 record and a +50 run differential, the third and sixth best marks in baseball, respectively.
At 4.72 runs per games with a team 111 wRC+, the Tigers have one of the best offensive attacks in baseball. They did just trade OF Austin Jackson (101 wRC+) though, so the lineup took a bit of a hit. Rookie manager Brad Ausmus is also without OF Andy Dirks (back) and SS Jose Iglesias (shins), both of whom have been out all season with injuries.
As always, Detroit’s lineup revolves around reigning two-time AL MVP Miguel Cabrera (146 wRC+), who is having a down year by his insane standards. DH Victor Martinez (154 wRC+) has been outstanding and both 2B Ian Kinsler (110 wRC+) and OF Torii Hunter (113 wRC+) have been strong supporting players. OF J.D. Martinez (163 wRC+) made some mechanical changes after being picked up off the scrap heap and has been a monster for the Tigers in 70 games worth of playing time. Those five are the core of their lineup.
With Jackson traded, OF Rajai Davis (115 wRC+) has taken over as the everyday center fielder even though his defense leaves a lot to be desired. 3B Nick Castellanos (94 wRC+) is having a good but not great rookie year and SS Eugenio Suarez (99 wRC+ in limited time) is the shortstop du jour. C Alex Avila (94 wRC+) and C Bryan Holaday (68 wRC+) form the catching tandem and the bench is filled out by OF Ezequiel Carrera (two plate appearances), IF Andrew Romine (44 wRC+), and UTIL Don Kelly (75 wRC+). Yes, Andrew is Austin’s brother.
Monday: RHP Brandon McCarthy (vs. DET) vs. RHP Max Scherzer (vs. NYY)
Scherzer, 30, has a 3.27 ERA (3.00 FIP) in 22 starts and 146 innings this year after posting a 2.90 ERA (2.74 FIP) while winning the AL Cy Young last year. His peripherals — 10.29 K/9 (28.0 K%), 2.53 BB/9 (6.9 BB%), 0.86 HR/9 (8.7 HR/FB%), and 37.4% grounders — are ever so slightly worse than last season’s across the board but are obviously still excellent. Lefties (.312 wOBA) have given him a harder time than righties (.279 wOBA). Scherzer’s fastball is more low-to-mid-90s than mid-to-high-90s these days, though he will still run it up to 97 on occasion. Both his mid-80s slider and mid-80s changeup are out pitches — you don’t win a Cy Young without multiple dominant offerings — while his upper-70s curveball is a quality fourth offering. In a rotation full of aces, Scherzer has the best pure stuff at the moment.
Tuesday: RHP Hiroki Kuroda (vs. DET) vs. LHP David Price (vs. NYY)
The 28-year-old Price will make his first start for the Tigers against a familiar opponent. Just the Yankees’ luck, eh? He has a 3.11 ERA (2.94 FIP) in 23 starts and 170.2 innings and has been especially tough since the end of May, with a 2.03 ERA (2.58 FIP) in his final 12 outings with Tampa while averaging 7.2 innings per start. His strikeout (9.97 K/9 and 27.4 K%) and walk (1.21 BB/9 and 3.3 BB%) rates are elite, his homer (1.05 HR/9 and 11.2 HR/FB%) and ground ball (40.5%) rates less so. Lefties (.302 wOBA) have had a bit more success than righties (.279 wOBA) against the southpaw, surprisingly. As always, Price is a fastball machine, throwing his low-to-mid-90s two and four-seamer and mid-80s cutter more than 70% of the time combined. His ability to backdoor the cutter to righties is why he’s so effective against them. It’s an unhittable pitch. Mid-80s changeups and upper-70s curveballs round out his repertoire. The Yankees have already seen Price three times this year and he’s gotten progressively better each time: six runs in five innings in April, two runs in seven innings in May, and one unearned run in seven innings in July.
Wednesday: LHP Chris Capuano (vs. DET) vs. RHP Justin Verlander (vs. NYY)
Between Scherzer (2013), Price (2012), and Verlander (2011), the Tigers have the last three AL Cy Young Award winners on their roster. (They also have the last three AL MVPs in Cabrera and Verlander as well.) The 31-year-old Verlander has fallen victim to Ace Sucking Syndrome (ASS) this year, with a 4.66 ERA (4.00 FIP) in 23 starts and 150.2 innings this year, including a 5.77 ERA (4.59 FIP) in his last 15 starts. His strikeout rate (6.57 K/9 and 16.7%) is way down while his walk rate (3.11 BB/9 and 7.9 BB%) is way up compared to his peak years. He is also allowing more homers (0.84 HR/9 and 7.3 HR/FB%) than ever before despite a ground ball rate (42.3%) in line with his career average. Verlander was always a weak contact guy who consistently posted lower than average BABIPs thanks to soft liners and pop-ups, but hitters are making harder contact this year. Righties (.376 wOBA) have hit him way harder than lefties (.302 wOBA) this season. Verlander’s fastball still sits in the low-to-mid-90s, though he doesn’t reach back for 100-101 anymore, topping out at “only” 98 this year. Mid-80s sliders and changeups as well as an upper-70s curve round out his repertoire. Verlander can still dominate on occasion, but he is no longer the pitching titan he was just a few years ago.
Thursday: RHP Shane Greene (No vs. DET) vs. RHP Rick Porcello (vs. NYY)
Porcello, a New Jersey native, continues to get better and better and he gains experience — turns out jumping from High-A to the big leagues at age 20 isn’t always as easy as Jose Fernandez made it look last season — posting a 3.18 ERA (3.66 FIP) in 21 starts and 141.1 innings this year. His strikeout rate (5.60 K/9 and 15.8 K%) stinks, but Porcello has always been more of a low walk (1.91 BB/9 and 5.4 BB%), high ground ball (49.7%) guy. He doesn’t give up many homers (0.76 HR/9 and 9.8 HR/FB%) and his platoon split is kinda small — lefties has a .289 wOBA against him this year while righties are at .300. Low-90s two and four-seam fastballs are Porcello’s main weapons, and he’ll also use mid-80s sliders, low-80s changeups, and upper-70s curveballs to keep hitters off balance. He’s scaled back on his slider and emphasized his curveball in recent years.
The bullpen has been the Tigers’ Achilles heel all season. Closer RHP Joe Nathan (3.87 FIP) has been a disaster (5.45 ERA), and he’s remained in that role even after they traded for RHP Joakim Soria (2.03 FIP). Soria’s the setup man. Former Yankee RHP Joba Chamberlain (2.90 FIP) also sees plenty of important late-inning situations. Ex-Yankee LHP Phil Coke (4.13) is the primary matchup southpaw.
The rest of Ausmus’ bullpen includes RHP Al Alburquerque (4.33 FIP), LHP Blaine Hardy (3.19 FIP in limited time), and LHP Pat McCoy (4.34 FIP in limited time). Ausmus’ bullpen is very fresh — his relievers have thrown a total of four innings in the last three days. Check out the status of Joe Girardi‘s bullpen at our Bullpen Workload page, then check out Bless You Boys and Tiger Tales for everything you need to know about the Tigers.
Via Tim Britton: Jacoby Ellsbury joked about recruiting free agent-to-be Jon Lester after the season. “I’m sure I’ll talk to him at some point in the offseason, but I would have anyways,” he said. “When you’re with a teammate that long, you build strong relationships, not only as teammates but off the field as well — your wives, your kids and everything.”
Thanks to last week’s trade, the Athletics can not make Lester a qualifying offer, so he will not be attached to draft pick compensation. That’s a minor detail for a pitcher of this caliber, but it is a nice little bonus. Lester makes perfect sense for the Yankees as an AL East and postseason proven lefty workhorse ace, but are they open to the idea of a third $20M+ a year pitching contract? That seems like the biggest issue, not whether Ellsbury can sell Lester on New York. · (110) ·
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Record Last Week: 3-3 (28 RS, 33 RA)
Season Record: 57-53 (446 RS, 474 RA, 51-59 pythag. record) 5.0 GB in ALE, 1.5 GB of WC
Opponents This Week: vs. Tigers (four games, Mon. to Thurs.), vs. Indians (three games, Fri. to Sun.)
Top stories from last week:
- The Yankees opened the week with three games in Texas. They blew a lead in Monday’s loss and barely held on for the win the next day. The Rangers took the series finale because New York’s offense disappeared.
- Following Thursday’s off-day, the Yankees headed to the Boston for a three-game set with the Red Sox. They dropped the opener when the offense came up short, but the Bombers rallied from behind to win the second game on Saturday. They did the same (twice!) to win yesterday’s game as well.
- Injury Updates: Masahiro Tanaka (elbow) will play catch today for the first time since suffering his partially torn ligament. Michael Pineda (shoulder) threw 3.1 scoreless innings his first minor league rehab game yesterday. David Phelps (elbow) has some inflammation and will miss some time. An MRI showed his ligament is intact. RHP Luis Severino (oblique) has a “very slight” issue and the team is “playing it safe.”
- The trade deadline came and went, and the Yankees acquired Stephen Drew (for Kelly Johnson) and Martin Prado (for Peter O’Brien). They also claimed Esmil Rogers off waivers from the Blue Jays. Brian Roberts was designated for assignment while Zelous Wheeler and Zoilo Almonte were shipped to Triple-A Scranton to clear roster space. Jeff Francis was also designated for assignment.
- The Yankees spoke to the Mariners about Dustin Ackley before acquiring Prado, but talks ended when Seattle asked for Bryan Mitchell in return. Other players they were connected to prior to the deadline include David Price, Marlon Byrd, Josh Willingham, Chris Denorfia, Joaquin Benoit, James Russell, Antonio Bastardo, Ian Kennedy, John Danks, Brett Anderson, Jake Arrieta, Alex Rios, and Justin Ruggiano.
- The Yankees invited free agent Cuban OF Rusney Castillo to a private workout in Tampa this week.
- Severino and Gary Sanchez made MLB.com’s midseason top 100 prospects list.
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Given the team's current roster construction, farm system, management, etc., how confident are you in the Yankees' overall future?
Given the team's current roster construction, farm system, management, etc., how confident are you in the Yankees' overall future?
Masahiro Tanaka will play catch on Monday for the first time since suffering a partially torn elbow ligament and receiving a platelet-rich plasma injection, Brian Cashman confirmed to George King. “He’ll definitely throw. He’s already told the doctors that he feels better,” said a source to Wally Matthews.
Tanaka received his injection three weeks ago and was examined by team doctor Christopher Ahmad on Friday, which is apparently when he was given the okay to play catch. If things go well on Monday, he’ll continue to move forward with his rehab and throwing program. If not, then he’s likely looking at Tommy John surgery. Cashman said that if all goes well, Tanaka could rejoin the rotation in September. The Yankees definitely need him. Fingers crossed. · (52) ·
12:06am: Joe Girardi told reporters Phelps has been dealing with the inflammation for three or four starts now. He had an MRI and his elbow ligament is intact, but he will likely miss some time.
10:37pm: David Phelps left tonight’s start after two innings with elbow inflammation, the team announced. It appeared he was lifted for ineffectiveness at the time. The Yankees say Phelps will be re-evaluated in New York in the coming days. The last thing this team can afford is another starting pitcher getting hurt. · (81) ·
That was a good ol’ fashioned ESPN Sunday Night high-scoring four-hour Yankees-Red Sox nail-biter. I feel like it’s been a while since we’ve had one of those. The Yankees came out on top this time, walking away with an 8-7 win and a series win overall. That was a pretty great win. Let’s recap:
- Early Hole: David Phelps clearly did not have it. He allowed three runs on four hits, a walk, and a sacrifice fly in the first inning, then another two runs on a single, a homer (Dustin Pedroia), and a walk in the second. Phelps was lifted after putting eight guys on base and throwing 53 pitches to get six outs. It initially appeared he was lifted due to simple ineffectiveness, but we eventually learned he’s dealing with some elbow inflammation. That’s not what the Yankees need right now, even if his ligament is fine.
- Rally Back: Phelps has been good overall this year and was just off his game/hurt on Sunday. Clay Buchholz, on the other hand, has been terrible in 2014. Immediately after his team staked him to a 3-0 lead in the first, he handed it back in the second. Two walks (Mark Teixeira and Brian McCann) and a single (Carlos Beltran) loaded the bases with no outs, then Stephen Drew plated one run with a ground ball back to the pitcher (play developed too slowly to turn two) and Brett Gardner drove in two more with a double to right. The two teams combined for eight runs in the first two innings.
- Rally Back, Again: Phelps allowed the two runs in the second to make it 5-3, though the Yankees cut the deficit to 5-4 when McCann and Drew doubled in the fourth. David Ortiz mashed a two-run tater off Chase Whitley in the bottom half, extending Boston’s lead to 7-4. The half-inning after that, New York knotted the game at seven on a double (Beltran), a walk (McCann), a run-scoring double (Headley), and a two-run single (Drew). The Yankees did a great job answering the Red Sox’s runs in the first and fourth with rallies to tie the next half-inning.
- Power-Hitting Left Fielder: Drew’s two-run single in the fifth gave his new team new life after Ortiz’s blast appeared to put the game to bed. BoSox skipper John Farrell went to lefty Craig Breslow to match up against Brett Gardner, but it didn’t work. Not at all. Gardner clubbed his 15th (15th!) homerun of the season leading off the sixth, giving the Yankees their first lead of the game. It wasn’t a no-doubter, in fact I thought it was going to be caught right until the moment it settled into the bullpen. Fifteen homers for Gardner. How about that? He’s been their best player this year and it’s not close.
- Unsung Hero: Whitley wasn’t very good in his two innings, but holy smokes, unsung hero of the night award goes to Esmil Rogers. He made his Yankees debut in the fifth inning and retired nine of ten batters faced, giving the offense a chance to get back in the game. Rogers struck out three and mowed right through Ortiz, Yoenis Cespedes, and Mike Napoli in the seventh, his third inning of work. The Yankees claimed him off waivers from the Blue Jays earlier this week and this outing alone makes the waiver claim worth it. Anything from here on out is gravy. Great job, Esmil.
- Dellin & Dave: As he tends to do, Dellin Betances generated some hilariously awful swings in his perfect eighth inning, striking out two. David Robertson, on the other hand, did everything in his power to bring Ortiz to the plate one last time. He walked number nine hitter Christian Vazquez on four pitches leading off the inning, but Brock Holt bailed him out by lining into a double play. Pinch-runner Mookie Betts took off with the pitch, which was lined right at Headley. Robertson ran the count full to Pedroia, who swung at balls four, five, and six before grounding out to end the game. Ortiz was left on deck. Hey, not every save is pretty, but a save is a save and a win is a win.
- Leftovers: Gardner drew a walk and was a triple away from the cycle … Beltran (single, double), McCann (double, two walks), and Drew (single, double) all reached base multiple times … the ultra-slumping Jacoby Ellsbury was the only starter who failed to reach base … the bullpen held the Red Sox hitless after the fourth inning … Rogers was the 29th different pitcher to pitch for the Yankees this season, a new franchise record … the Yankees have now played 14 straight games decided by two or fewer runs, extending the franchise record.
MLB.com has the box score and video highlights, FanGraphs has some other stats, and ESPN has the updated standings. The Orioles and Royals won while the Blue Jays and Mariners lost, so the Yankees are five games back in the AL East and 1.5 games back of the second wild-card. FanGraphs put their postseason odds at 19.7%. The new look Tigers are coming to the town for a four-game set starting Monday night. Brandon McCarthy and reigning AL Cy Young award winner Max Scherzer will be the pitching matchup. Check out RAB Tickets if you want to catch the game live.
The Yankees rallied to win yesterday afternoon’s game, and tonight they have a chance to end the six-game road trip with a series win over the last place Red Sox. After dropping two of three to the last place Rangers, taking two of three from Boston would be much appreciated. Here is the Red Sox lineup and here is the Yankees lineup:
- LF Brett Gardner
- SS Derek Jeter
- CF Jacoby Ellsbury
- 1B Mark Teixeira
- DH Carlos Beltran
- C Brian McCann
- 3B Chase Headley
- 2B Stephen Drew
- RF Martin Prado
RHP David Phelps
It’s cloudy and really humid in Boston, but there is no rain in the forecast. Tonight’s game will begin just after 8pm ET and you can watch on ESPN. Enjoy.
RHP Luis Severino was scratched from this afternoon’s scheduled start for Double-A Trenton, the team announced. VP of Baseball Ops Mark Newman told Sweeny Murti that it’s a “very slight” oblique issue and they are simply “playing it safe.” The good news is that it’s not an arm injury. The bad news is that if Newman says it’s only a minor injury, then Severino will probably miss several weeks and maybe the rest of the season. His track record with injury timetables is … optimistic. Let’s put it that way.
Triple-A Scranton (3-1 win over Syracuse)
- DH Jose Pirela: 1-4, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 1 K
- 2B Rob Refsnyder & LF Zoilo Almonte: both 1-4 — Almonte committed a fielding error
- RF Adonis Garcia: 1-4, 1 R, 1 K – hitting streak is up to 16 games
- 1B Kyle Roller: 2-4, 1 R, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 K — second homer in his last three games
- SS Zelous Wheeler & C Austin Romine: both 0-3
- RHP Michael Pineda: 3.1 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 5 K, 4/1 GB/FB — 37 of 58 pitches were strikes (64%) … had a little more on his first rehab outing earlier today
- LHP Tyler Webb: 0.2 IP, zeroes, 1 K, 1/0 GB/FB — nine pitches, eight strikes
- RHP Zach Nuding: 4.2 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 2 K, 1 WP, 5/5 GB/FB – 46 of 69 pitches were strikes (67%) … just up from Double-A
- RHP Branden Pinder: 0.1 IP, zeroes, 1 K — six pitches, four strikes … first game back at this level after missing almost three months with a groin injury
In his first official rehab start with Triple-A Scranton, Michael Pineda struck out four in 3.1 scoreless innings. He allowed three hits (two doubles) and walked one. Thirty-seven of his 58 pitches were strikes (64%). Pineda, who has been out since late-April with a back/shoulder muscle problem, was scheduled for 60-65 pitches. Shane Hennigan says Big Mike hit 94 mph on the scoreboard radar gun, for what it’s worth.
“You get 60, 65 pitches tomorrow, and then you figure five days later you’re getting close to 80. You’re starting to get pretty close. The big thing is that he responds to going out there and physically feels good. And this is further than he was before, so it makes you feel that this injury is healed,” said Joe Girardi to Chad Jennings yesterday. Assuming Pineda feels fine in the coming days, my guess is he will make one more rehab start with the RailRiders before rejoining the rotation. · (164) ·