Game 88: Starlin Returns

All-Starlin. (Mark Brown/Getty)
All-Starlin. (Mark Brown/Getty)

The month-long slide officially has the Yankees in third place. The Rays beat the Angels late last night out on the West Coast, so the Yankees are now 4.5 games back of the Red Sox and one game back of the Rays in the AL East. Remember when they were four games up? Good times. They’ve won seven times in 26 games since.

Last night’s loss was more of the same. The bullpen blew it and you could see it coming a mile away. It didn’t help that the offense went to sleep in the late innings, but still, hand a lead to your $86M closer and you expect to win. It didn’t happen. Now the Yankees will try to rebound today against Chris Sale. They beat him once already this year. Doing it again would be cool. Here is the Red Sox’s lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:

  1. CF Brett Gardner
  2. C Gary Sanchez
  3. RF Aaron Judge
  4. DH Matt Holliday
  5. 2B Starlin Castro
  6. 3B Chase Headley
  7. LF Clint Frazier
  8. 1B Garrett Cooper
  9. SS Ronald Torreyes
    RHP Luis Severino

Now the bad news: there’s rain in the forecast this afternoon. Or maybe that’s the good news? It doesn’t seem like it’ll be anything super heavy though, so maybe they’ll play through it. We’ll see. This afternoon’s game will begin shortly after 4pm ET and you can watch on YES locally or FOX Sports 1 nationally. Try to enjoy the game.

Roster Move: As you can see from the lineup, Castro is back. He was activated off the disabled list today, the Yankees announced. Tyler Wade was sent down to clear a roster spot.

Saturday Links: Bour, Trade Value, Conlon, Rasmussen

Bour. (Mike Ehrmann/Getty)
Bour. (Mike Ehrmann/Getty)

Later today the Yankees and Red Sox will continue their four games in three days series with the second game at Fenway Park. That’s a 4pm ET start. Until then, here are some links to check out.

Bour trade talks only “cursory”

According to Buster Olney, trade talks between the Yankees and Marlins about first baseman Justin Bour have only been “cursory, non-specific.” Olney says the Marlins have let teams know they’re open for business while Jon Heyman reports the club has no intention to trade its affordable core players. That sounds like posturing to me. They’re willing to trade them but say they won’t in an effort to build some leverage.

Bour, 29, is hitting .289/.367/.556 (136 wRC+) with 20 home runs in 77 games this season, plus he’s under team control as an arbitration-eligible player through 2020. He put on quite a show in the Home Run Derby before getting knocked out by Aaron Judge. On one hand, Bour would be an enormous first base upgrade for the Yankees, and he’d provide a DH option going forward should Greg Bird ever get healthy. On the other hand, something about trading prospects for a 29-year-old late bloomer at the bottom of the defensive spectrum doesn’t sit well with me.

Three Yankees make FanGraphs’ trade value series

Over the last week Dave Cameron has posted his annual trade value series, in which he ranks the top 50 players in baseball by trade value. It’s not just about performance. It’s about performance and years of team control, things like that. Bryce Harper is obviously excellent, though he doesn’t make the top 50 because he’ll be a free agent after next season. Anyway, three Yankees make the top 50, and they’re the young cornerstones of the franchise.

6. Aaron Judge
12. Gary Sanchez
35. Luis Severino

Judge is behind Carlos Correa, Mike Trout, Corey Seager, Kris Bryant, and Francisco Lindor in that order. I have no problems with that. Judge is awesome and he won’t be a free agent until after the 2022 season, though he’s only been this for half-a-season. Those other guys have done it for a full season, at least. Sanchez is the highest ranked catcher and Severino is the 12th ranked pitcher, which is pretty great. Last year there were no Yankees in the trade value series. Now there are three, including two in the top 12.

O’s fourth rounder now a free agent

Jack Conlon, a fourth round pick by the Orioles in this year’s draft, is now an unrestricted free agent, according to both Jim Callis and Hudson Belinsky. The O’s saw something they didn’t like in Conlon’s physical and declined to sign him. They didn’t even make him the minimum offer (40% of his slot value), which is why he’s now a free agent. MLB.com ranked the Texas high school right-hander as the 175th best prospect in the draft class. Here’s a piece of their scouting report:

Conlon can pitch at 92-95 mph with life on his fastball and back it up with an 81-84 mph slider on days when his mechanics are in sync. His changeup lags behind his other two pitches, though it has some fade and he shows some feel for it. He has a classic pitcher’s build at 6-foot-4 and 220 pounds that bodes well for his durability. Conlon lacks consistency, however, because he has a rough delivery with effort and a head whack.

There haven’t been any reports connecting Conlon to the Yankees (or any other team), and they might never come. This might be one of those situations where we skip straight to the signing announcement. I’m certain the Yankees will look into signing Conlon because hey, it’s not often you can pick up a decent pitching prospect for nothing but cash, though the failed physical is an issue. The Orioles are notoriously tough with their physicals, so maybe it’s nothing. Then again, it could be a serious arm problem, so much so that spending money on him isn’t worth the increased risk.

Also, I should note the Rays did not sign Oregon State right-hander Drew Rasmussen, the 31st selection in this year’s draft, also because something popped up in his physical. There are conflicting reports out there about his current status. Some say he’s a free agent because the Rays didn’t make the minimum offer while others say the Rays did make the minimum offer, and Rasmussen will return to school for his senior season rather than become a free agent. Who knows.

Red Sox 5, Yankees 4: You’re not going to believe this, but the bullpen blew it

Can we just go back to the All-Star break? What a crappy way to start the second half. The bullpen blew yet another game and have a new entry into the Worst Loss of the Year race. The Red Sox won Friday’s series opener 5-4 on a walk-off walk. Lovely. The Yankees have lost 19 of their last 26 games and that record matches the eye test. Sell sell sell.

(Adam Glanzman/Getty)
(Adam Glanzman/Getty)

Montgomery Burns (Up His Pitch Count)
It was clear from the start Jordan Montgomery did not have it Friday night. He fell behind the first batter 3-0 and walked the second batter. Montgomery was behind in the count all night long. He threw a first pitch strike to only eight of the 21 batters he faced, and seven of those 21 batters saw a three-ball count. Montgomery’s pitches by inning: 29, 26, 17, 24. Goodness.

Amazingly, Montgomery allowed only three runs in his four innings of work. He stranded two runners in the first, two runners in the second, and the bases loaded in the third. Two of the three runs he allowed came on Hanley Ramirez’s two-run home run in the third, and the other came on a Dustin Pedroia ground ball single in the fourth. The final line: 4 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 3 BB, 3 K, and 96 pitches. Easily the worst start of Montgomery’s brief big league career.

Four Runs Ain’t Enough
The Yankees had two leads in this game. They drew first blood in the third inning, when Gary Sanchez plated Chase Headley with a single to left. Headley reached on a leadoff single, then went first-to-third on Ronald Torreyes‘ single. Two innings later Headley started another rally with a leadoff double. He came around to score on Brett Gardner‘s single, and Gardner came around to score on Sanchez’s long two-run home run over the Green Monster. That turned the 3-2 deficit into a 4-3 lead. Hooray!

Unfortunately, the offense did nothing after the Sanchez home run. Literally nothing. Not one baserunner. They went 14 up and 14 down to end the game. The Yankees have generally been really good at tacking on runs this season, but not Friday night. Coulda used some insurance runs there, guys. Like, a lot of insurance runs. The wrap-around 8-9-1-2 portion of the lineup went 6-for-13 (.462) with a walk. The rest of the lineup went 0-for-19 with a walk.

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Death by Bullpen
You know, for a while there, it seemed like the bullpen would have a good night. Chad Green replaced Montgomery and threw fire for two innings, striking out five of the six batters he faced. How good has Green been out of the bullpen this season? Adam Warren pitched around a pair of two-out hits in the seventh, then Dellin Betances struck out the side in the eighth. He also hit a batter, but hey, three strikeouts! Still love ya, Dellin.

Everything fell apart in the ninth and, to be fair, it wasn’t all Aroldis Chapman‘s fault. Hardly. Mookie Betts and Pedroia started the inning with back-to-back infield singles, then they pulled off a double steal uncontested. Sanchez had no chance to throw either guy out. Chapman wasn’t really paying attention to the runners and they got huge leads. The tying run scored when Xander Bogaerts hit a grounder that Torreyes booted. I’m pretty sure the run would have scored anyway, but Torreyes didn’t even get an out on the play.

With runners on corners and no outs, Joe Girardi had Chapman intentionally walk Ramirez to load the bases and create the force at any base. It also gave Chapman zero margin for error. Five pitches later, the game was over. Chapman walked Benintendi with the bases loaded for the walk-off loss. I’d be more annoyed if you couldn’t see it coming a mile away. Aroldis threw 23 pitches and only eleven strikes, and no, the intentional walk doesn’t count against his pitch count.

The biggest problem here is one swing and miss among 23 pitches. One. Chapman’s swing and miss rate has dropped from 18.6% last year to 14.1% this year — that’s still really good! — and on his fastball specifically, his whiffs-per-swing rate has fallen from 41.0% in 2015 to 32.8% in 2016 to 26.9% in 2017. Chapman got hosed on some weak grounders Friday. The Yankees also didn’t give this guy $86M to get weak grounders. He has not been the same overpowering Aroldis Chapman this year. Not even close.

You guys are still cool. (Presswire)
You guys are still cool. (Presswire)

Leftovers
Welcome back, Matt Holliday. He went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts and a first pitch 3-2-3 double play with the bases loaded and one out in the third. He’s had better days at the plate. Sanchez had two hits including the homer. He ended the first half in a pretty brutal slump, remember. I guess the Home Run Derby fixed his swing. Odds we hear that narrative? Not good.

Rough day for Torreyes despite his third inning single. He committed two errors — he bobbled the grounder in the ninth, and in the fourth he straight up dropped the flip from Didi Gregorius at the second base bag on a potential 6-4-3 double play. Yeesh. Oh, and he struck out on a pitch over his head. Hurry back soon, Starlin Castro. Torreyes is best enjoyed in moderation.

And finally, welcome to the big leagues, Garrett Cooper. He went 0-for-4 with three strikeouts like Holliday. Unlike Holliday, he did not ground into a double play the one time he put the ball in play.

Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
For the box score and updated standings, head over to ESPN. MLB.com has the video highlights and we have a Bullpen Workload page. If you’re interested in postseason odds, I recommend FanGraphs. Here’s the loss probability graph:


Source: FanGraphs

Up Next
Same two teams Saturday afternoon for the second game of this four games in three days series. All-Stars Luis Severino and Chris Sale will be on the mound. That’ll be fun. That game has a 4pm ET start time, so I guess that means it’s a FOX broadcast.

DotF: Littell dominates, but Trenton’s win streak ends at 12

LHP Josh Rogers had surgery and his season is over, according to his Twitter feed. He’s been out since June 28th with an elbow injury. I’m not sure whether he had Tommy John surgery or something else, so I have no idea what his rehab timetable looks like. (Update: Rogers says he had a bone spur removed. Based on the usual rehab timetable, he should be good to go for Spring Training.)

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

  • CF Mason Williams: 1-3, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 BB — hitting streak is up to 14 games
  • LF Billy McKinney: 1-4, 1 2B, 1 RBI — really curious to see what happens with him … trade bait? Rule 5 Draft bait? added to the 40-man roster?
  • 3B Miguel Andujar: 1-4, 1 R, 1 K
  • SS Abi Avelino: 3-4, 1 3B, 1 RBI
  • LHP Dietrich Enns: 5.1 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 4 K, 5/4 GB/FB — 57 of 92 pitches were strikes (62%)
  • RHP Gio Gallegos: 2.2 IP, zeroes, 4 K, 1/1 GB/FB — 21 of 30 pitches were strikes (70%) … 42/7 K/BB in 25 innings down here
  • RHP Nick Rumbelow: 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 2/0 GB/FB — ten of 14 pitches were strikes … 21/6 K/BB in 17 innings since coming back from Tommy John surgery

[Read more…]

Game 87: The Start of the Second Half

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Welcome to the first day of the rest of the season. The All-Star break is over and we’re officially into the dog days of summer. The Yankees begin a four-game set with the Red Sox in Fenway Park tonight. Best case scenario is they leave this series with a half-game lead in the AL East. Worst case scenario is they leave 7.5 games back. A few too many things have been playing out to the worst case scenario for my liking lately.

The Yankees return from the All-Star break with a 45-41 record and a healthy +98 run differential, though they’re also 7-18 in their last 25 games, which is pretty darn awful. They haven’t won a series or back-to-back games or more than a month now. Hopefully everyone got their heads clear during the break and the second half serves as a fresh start. The Yankees could really use one. Here is the Red Sox’s lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:

  1. LF Brett Gardner
  2. C Gary Sanchez
  3. RF Aaron Judge
  4. DH Matt Holliday
  5. SS Didi Gregorius
  6. 1B Garrett Cooper
  7. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  8. 3B Chase Headley
  9. 2B Ronald Torreyes
    LHP Jordan Montgomery

It is cloudy, cool, and humid in Boston this evening. There is rain in the forecast, though not until later tonight. It shouldn’t be a problem unless the game goes to extra innings or something. Tonight’s game will begin at 7:10pm ET and you can watch on YES locally and MLB Network nationally. Enjoy the game.

Injury Updates: In case you missed it earlier, Michael Pineda has a partially torn ulnar collateral ligament and Tommy John surgery has been recommended. He will get a second opinion first … Greg Bird (ankle) has been diagnosed with inflammation in his os trigonum, which is essentially an extra bone in his ankle. He received another cortisone shot, and if that doesn’t work, he may need surgery. The surgery comes with a 6-8 week rehab timetable, meaning he could be back for September … Starlin Castro (hamstring) will play another minor league rehab game tonight, and could return as soon as tomorrow depending how he feels.

Roster Moves: Welcome back, Matt Holliday and Jordan Montgomery. Holliday (illness) was activated off the disabled list and Montgomery was called back up. He didn’t even miss a start … Pineda was placed on the 10-day DL, allowing the Montgomery to return before his ten days in the minors were up … Rob Refsnyder was sent down to clear a roster spot for Holliday … welcome to the big leagues, Garrett Cooper. He’s been added to the roster following yesterday’s trade. He essentially takes Tyler Webb‘s 25-man and 40-man roster spots. This will be Cooper’s MLB debut. Next time the Yankees need a 40-man spot, they’ll slide Pineda to the 60-day DL.

7/14 to 7/16 Series Preview: Boston Red Sox

(Mark Brown/Getty Images)
(Mark Brown/Getty Images)

With a horrendous end to their first half firmly in the rear-view mirror, the Yankees look to open the second half with a renewed sense of purpose. Matt Holliday will be back in the lineup tonight, there’s a chance that Starlin Castro could return this weekend, and four days off should have helped with the other assorted bumps, bruises, and nagging injuries that tend to pile up over a 162-game season. And who better to right the ship against than the first-place Red Sox?

The Last Time They Met

The Yankees took two of three from the Red Sox from June 6 through 8, moving out ahead of the AL East pack by three games with a 34-23 record. Unfortunately, they’re 11-18 since then, while the Red Sox have gone 18-12. That’ll turn a 3 game lead into a 3.5 game deficit in … well … about a month. Some notes from the series:

  • The Yankees dropped the first game 5-4, despite a dreadful performance from Masahiro Tanaka (5 IP, 5 ER, 3 HR allowed) and going 0-for-10 with RISP as a team. I list this as a reminder that it wasn’t too long ago that we refused to count this team out, and I’m hopeful that we’ll be back at that point soon.
  • Game two was an incredibly satisfying win, and not just because it was 8-0. CC Sabathia tossed 8 scoreless innings, the team was 5-for-12 with RISP, and Chris Carter somehow managed to go 3-for-4 with a home run and 4 RBI.
  • Gary Sanchez continued his torment of David Price in the third game, knocking out two home runs. He’s 4-for-7 with 4 HR, 9 RBI, and 2 BB against Price in his career.

Check out Katie’s Yankeemetrics post for more fun with numbers.

Injury Report

The Red Sox are still somewhat banged up, with Marco Hernandez, Tyler Thornburg, and Steven Wright done for the season, Roenis Elias trending in that direction, and Carson Smith still up in the air. That being said, they stand to get much more healthy in the coming week, with Brock Holt, Josh Rutledge, and Eduardo Rodriguez all slated to return in the next week or so.

Their Story So Far

Boston is 50-39 with a +65 run differential, and the best home record (25-14) in the American League. Their pitching staff has been the driving force behind their success, with the third-best park-adjusted ERA in the majors, and the fourth best WAR. The fact that they have the best pitcher in the league helps, but it is far from a one-man show.

The Red Sox offense has been starting to click, as well, though its 105 wRC+ in the last 30 days still isn’t quite where they wanted to be. Mookie Betts, Jackie Bradley Jr., Andrew Benintendi, and Hanley Ramirez all had slow starts (and Xander Bogaerts has slumped of late), and they haven’t come close to replacing David Ortiz. It’s difficult to see this offense as anything less than potent, but they’re still waiting to truly break out.

For more specifics about the Red Sox, check out Over the Monster.

The Lineup We Might See

This has been John Farrell’s lineup of choice of late:

  1. Mookie Betts, RF
  2. Dustin Pedroia, 2B
  3. Xander Bogaerts, SS
  4. Mitch Moreland, 1B
  5. Hanley Ramirez, DH
  6. Andrew Benintendi, LF
  7. Jackie Bradley Jr., CF
  8. Christian Vazquez, C / or / Sandy Leon, C
  9. Tzu-Wei Lin, 3B

The Starting Pitchers We Will See

Friday (7:10 PM EST): LHP Jordan Montgomery vs. LHP Drew Pomeranz

Pomeranz had a somewhat rough outing against the Yankees on June 6; he only allowed 2 R (1 ER) in 5.0 IP, but it took him 123 pitches to finish those innings. He was clearly laboring, and only 58% of his offerings were strikes – but the Yankees could get that one big hit to blow the game open. Pomeranz has made 17 starts this season on the whole, throwing 90 innings of 3.60 ERA (128 ERA+) ball.

Last Outing (vs. TBR on 7/7) – 6.0 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 5 BB, 6 K

Saturday (4:05 PM EST): RHP Luis Severino vs. LHP Chris Sale

By several measures, Sale has been the best pitcher in baseball this year. He leads the majors in fWAR, K%, K-BB%, and park-adjusted FIP, and he’s averaging better than 7 IP per start. He has 10+ strikeouts and 0 walks in three of his 18 starts, and he’s walked more than 2 batters twice. In short, he has been dominant (and, yes, that includes his loss to the Yankees back in April, when he went 8 IP, allowing 8 H, 3 R, and 0 BB, while striking out 10).

Last Outing (vs. TBR on 7/6) – 7.0 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 0 BB, 12 K

Sunday (1:05 PM EST): RHP Bryan Mitchell vs. RHP Rick Porcello

Porcello has followed-up his Cy Young campaign by being the worst starter on the Red Sox. He’s currently sitting on a 4.75 ERA (97 ERA+) in 119.1 IP, and he has allowed 4+ ER in 7 of his 19 starts (and 3 ER in 6 more). He is coming off of his best start of the season, though.

Last Outing (vs. TBR on 7/8) – 8.0 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 7 K

Sunday (8:05 PM EST): RHP Masahiro Tanaka vs. LHP David Price

The Yankees roughed Price up a little over a month ago, plating 6 runs in 5 innings, with 12 runners reaching base. Price has settled down since then, with a 3.25 ERA in six starts, but he has yet to look dominant this season. He missed nearly two months, so that’s understandable – but he didn’t look like the Price of old last year, either.

Last Outing (vs. TBR on 7/9) – 6.0 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 BB, 5 K

The Bullpen

The Red Sox have the best bullpen in baseball by RA9-WAR (FanGraphs’ run-based WAR), with nearly a full run lead over the Dodgers. Closer Craig Kimbrel leads the way, with his microscopic 1.19 ERA and ridiculous 16.3 K/9 and 1.2 BB/9 leading the way to his season yet. Joe Kelly (1.49 ERA), Fernando Abad (2.93), Blaine Boyer (3.13 ERA, 4.0 K/BB), Heath Hembree (3.57 ERA, 6.3 K/BB), and Matt Barnes (3.57 ERA, 10.9 K/9) form a formidable middle relief core that stands to improve if a couple of guys get healthy.

Who (Or What) To Watch

I’m all-in for the Gary Sanchez vs. David Price match-up.

In a more general sense, I’m just plain happy that the Yankees (and baseball) are back. Two days off may not be all that much in the most basic sense, but it felt like an eternity.