Jordan Montgomery’s Adjustment

(Elsa/Getty Images North America)
(Elsa/Getty Images North America)

The Yankees season has largely been a story of adjustments. Or, perhaps, the greatest questions regarding the roster have revolved around adjustments: how would the league adjust to Gary Sanchez? Could Aaron Judge adjust to the majors? Could Luis Severino re-adjust to being a starting pitcher? How would Dellin Betances adjust to his career as an astronaut? And so on. For the most part, these questions have yielded positive answers, small sample sizes be damned (and dissipating at a rapid pace, to boot).

Heading into Tuesday night, we wondered how Jordan Montgomery would adjust to facing the Royals for the second time in six days. It was the first time that a major league lineup would see Montgomery twice, and it had an added layer of seeing how he would fare follow the worst start of his young career (5 IP, 4 H, 5 R, 3 BB, 4 K). The Royals are a bad offensive team – the worst in baseball on the season – but they have been heating up, and Montgomery is still a rookie. It may well have been the biggest test this side of his debut this season.

By now you know that Montgomery responded with a gem of a performance, pitching to the following line: 6.2 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 0 BB, 6 K. The lone blemish on that line was a solo shot by Lorenzo Cain in the 7th inning, the result of a 93 MPH that caught too much of the plate. It was nevertheless his best start to-date, and he outpitched Royals ace Danny Duffy. All of this raises a question, though – what changed in the last week?

The short answer is pitch selection and pitch location. Let’s look into Montgomery’s offerings on May 18:

(Brooks Baseball)
(Brooks Baseball)

Montgomery threw 83 pitches the first time he faced the Royals, and just over half of those (42) were some variety of fastball. He picked up just seven whiffs on the day, largely due to the fact that he threw just 11 sliders. As per PITCHf/x, his slider is worth 2.55 runs per 100 thrown and has a 22.1% swinging strike rate, which makes it his best pitch by a fairly comfortable margin. With that in mind, take a look at Tuesday night’s start:

(Brooks Baseball)
(Brooks Baseball)

This time around, 41 of his 98 pitches were fastballs, and he threw more than twice as many sliders (which led to twice as many swings and misses). Montgomery threw fifteen more pitches this time around, and essentially all of them were sliders. It was a completely different mix of pitches, and it helped to keep the Royals off-balance; and the results were excellent.

It wasn’t just a matter of throwing more sliders, though. Montgomery was also far more successful in keeping the ball around the edges, as well as in the bottom-third of the strike-zone.



In the first outing, Montgomery was, to oversimplify, throwing the ball down the middle or outside of the zone. And, given that most the pitches he threw were fastballs or change-ups, it’s no surprise that he was hit, and hit hard.


Montgomery threw a few too many pitches near the heart of the plate both times around, but he was clearly living on the edges far more often on Tuesday night. He was also pounding right-handed hitters down-and-in (and lefties down-and-away), and it worked quite well. The majority of his pitches move, and he has shown the ability to locate most of them well-enough, so the latter plot is exactly what you’d expect to see when Montgomery is on his game.

The usual “it’s only one game” caveat applies here, yet it is encouraging to see Montgomery make such a significant adjustment from one game to the next. He went with what has worked best for him this season, and held the Royals to 1 run in 6.2 IP. On most nights, that would be a winning effort – but I digress. One of the most often cited pluses on Montgomery’s scouting report was his pitchability, and that was on full display for at least one night.

Yankees place Ellsbury on disabled list, call up Rob Refsnyder


As expected, the Yankees have placed Jacoby Ellsbury on the 7-day concussion disabled list, the team announced. Rob Refsnyder has been called up to fill the roster spot. The Yankees have already been rained out today. We won’t see Refsnyder in uniform until tomorrow night.

Ellsbury left last night’s game after crashing into the wall making a catch on literally the first pitch of the game. Trainer Steve Donohue checked him out and Ellsbury did stay into complete the inning — no other balls were hit his way — before being removed prior to the second inning. It’s a concussion and a neck strain, the Yankees say.

The fact Refsnyder was called up rather than a true outfielder like Mason Williams tells us Aaron Hicks will step into the lineup full-time to replace Ellsbury. That’s the best move. Hicks is having a great year, and the Ellsbury injury gives the Yankees a chance to get the switch-hitter into the lineup everyday.

Refnsyder can play both corner outfield spots, but when Hicks sits, Brett Gardner will have to slide over into center field. That’s no big deal. He’s more than capable. The Yankees have not given any sort of timetable for Ellsbury’s return. He’s having a nice year and losing a good player stinks.

Yankees and Royals rained out, makeup game on Sept. 25th


This afternoon’s series finale between the Yankees and Royals has been rained out, the two teams announced. They’ll play the makeup game on Monday, September 25th. The start time is TBA. That was supposed to be the Yankees’ final off-day of the regular season. At least the Royals have to come to New York and the Yankees don’t have to go anywhere.

Here’s what the Yankees say about the ticket situation for today’s rainout:

Fans holding paid tickets for today’s postponed game (May 25) may use them for the rescheduled game on Monday, September 25, or exchange their paid tickets for any regular season game at Yankee Stadium within 12 months of today’s postponed game (subject to availability).

Fans holding Complimentary (COMP) tickets for today’s game must use them for the rescheduled game. COMP tickets or equivalent tickets bear no cash value and do not have any additional benefits that may be offered to ticket(s) with a dollar value.

The Yankees already have two makeup games on the schedule for the second half this year. They’ll make up this game with the Royals on September 25th, and they’re also due to play a doubleheader at Fenway Park on July 16th. That’s the first Sunday after the All-Star break. The Yankees and Red Sox were rained out on April 25th.

I suppose the good news is the Yankees get an off-day today to break up their 20 games in 20 days stretch. They’re halfway through it — today was going to be game ten. The Yankees will play three games against the Athletics this weekend before going out on the road for three games in Baltimore and four games in Toronto next week.

The rainout gives all the starting pitchers an extra day of rest, which means if the Yankees had any plans to call up a spot sixth starter at some point during this 20 games in 20 days stretch, they might not have to now. They could still do that, of course, but now they have the option of waiting a little longer or skipping it all together.

Masahiro Tanaka, who has been dreadful the last two times out and owns a 6.56 ERA (6.05 FIP) on the season, was scheduled to start this afternoon. He’ll presumably get the ball tomorrow instead. The Yankees haven’t announced their pitching plans, though I would be surprised if they used the rainout to skip Tanaka’s start.

Losing the final off-day of the regular season to a makeup game isn’t a huge deal. The Yankees will now close the season with ten straight games rather than six. Plus rosters will be expanded, so they’ll have all the extra bodies. And! The last place Royals could very well sell at the deadline, so they might be much less imposing then than they are right now. We’ll see.

Severino dominates as Yankees earn 3-0 win over Royals

Good game, would watch again. The Yankees rebounded from Tuesday night’s deflating loss with a crisp 3-0 win over the Royals on Wednesday. Great pitching, good enough hitting. It works!


Stellar Sevy
Ho boy. What an outing by Luis Severino. Starts like this show you exactly why the Yankees resisted the urge to keep Severino in the bullpen after last season, why he zoomed through the minors in less than three years, and why he should at least be discussed as a possible All-Star. Severino thoroughly manhandled the Royals in this game, holding them to four hits and one walk in eight shutout innings. He struck out seven.

Kansas City only had one runner reach second base against Severino — Brandon Moss yanked a double into the right field corner with two outs in the fifth — and never once had a runner reach third base. No jams at all. Severino threw first pitch strikes to 19 of 28 batters, and only four of those 24 batters saw a hitter friendly 2-0 or 3-1 count. He generated 14 swings and misses out of 114 total pitches, and check out his velocity (via Brooks Baseball):


There’s no decline there. Severino’s final pitch of the night was a 98.4 mph fastball. We’ve seen this all year too. Severino loses nothing off his fastball. He’s similar to peak Justin Verlander in that sense. Pitch count over 100? No big deal, here’s a 98 mph heater. It’s amazing. Severino also used his changeup and especially his slider effectively in this game, getting outs on both pitches.

Following these eight dominant innings, Severino now owns a 3.11 ERA (3.29 FIP) with 61 strikeouts and only 14 walks in 55 innings this season. He’s had some clunkers, most notably that dud against the Astros two weeks ago, but gosh, Severino had been totally dominant at times too. He’s the only Yankees starter to complete eight innings twice this season — heck, Masahiro Tanaka is the only other guy to do it once — and each time he’s had a tough outing, he’s bounced back to dominate next time out. Severino looks nothing like he did last year. It’s awesome. Go Sevy.

Three Runs Are Enough
I wouldn’t say the offense broke out Wednesday night, though they did get three runs on the board, and they did it in three different ways. Didi Gregorius opened the scoring with a solo home run to right field in the third inning. Dingers are always great. Love dingers. Gregorius has quietly — or maybe not so quietly? — been excellent since coming back from his shoulder injury. He’s hitting .330/.359/.474 (127 wRC+) on the season.

The Yankees scored their second run thanks to noted speed demon Gary Sanchez. He led off the sixth inning with a single, stole second (!) and moved to third when the throw sailed in center field, then scored on Matt Holliday‘s well-struck sac fly to the right field warning track. In the eighth, Gregorius smacked a ground rule double, moved to third on Chris Carter‘s ground out, then scored on Brett Gardner‘s two-strike single. Matt Strahm struck Gardner out on the previous pitch, but home plate Jerry Layne missed the call, and Gardner took advantage.

Three runs on seven hits and two walks isn’t a whole lot, but it was more than enough to win this game. The Yankees have still scored only 22 runs in their last seven games, and prior to the Holliday sac fly, they had scored their last nine runs on home runs. The offense is fighting it right now. This’ll happen a few times during the season. You just have to hope the pitching can pick up the bats, and it sure did Wednesday night.


Dellin Betances was absolutely untouchable in the ninth inning. He struck out all three batters he faced on 13 total pitches, and geez, they stood no chance. Betances was overwhelming. He was throwing his fastball by hitters and locking them up with the breaking ball. Total domination. As good as you’ll see Dellin look all season. Too bad he’s #notacloser.

Gregorius was the only Yankee with multiple hits. Gardner, Sanchez, Holliday, Aaron Judge, and Aaron Hicks had one hit each. Carter and Judge drew the walks. The Yankees went 1-for-3 with runners in scoring position, so yeah, they didn’t exactly have a boatload of opportunities. When they did though, they capitalized. A solo homer, a sac fly, and an RBI single. Hooray offensive diversity.

And finally, if you missed it earlier, Jacoby Ellsbury had to leave the game with a concussion and a neck strain. He crashed into the wall making a catch on the very first pitch of the game. Joe Girardi already confirmed Ellsbury is going on the seven-day disabled list. Stinks.

Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
ESPN has both the box score and updated standings. has the video highlights. RAB has a Bullpen Workload page. Here is the win probability graph:

Source: FanGraphs

Up Next
The end of this series, finally. Thursday afternoon the Yankees will play their first last game against a team this season. That make sense? If the Yankees play the Royals again this year, it’ll be in the postseason. Tanaka and young Miguel Almonte are the scheduled starting pitchers. Almonte will be making his first MLB start after debuting out of the bullpen. That’s a 1pm ET getaway day start. RAB Tickets can get you in the door if you feel like catching the midweek matinee.

DotF: Wade, Fowler, and Frazier all homer in Scranton’s win

Two quick notes to start the night:

  • 1B Ji-Man Choi (hamstring) was activated off the Triple-A disabled list, according to Donnie Collins. 1B Mike Ford was sent back to Double-A Trenton to clear a roster spot. Ford went 11-for-36 (.306) with four doubles and four homers in nine games with the RailRiders.
  • Make sure you check out 20-80 Baseball’s recent evaluations of OF Dustin Fowler, OF Clint Frazier, and SS Tyler Wade from a series earlier this month. The reports are glowing.

Triple-A Scranton (5-0 win over Columbus)

  • SS Tyler Wade: 2-5, 2 R, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 K — three homers in 40 games this year after hitting five in 133 games last year
  • CF Dustin Fowler: 2-5, 1 R, 1 HR, 2 RBI — eight homers in 40 games this year after hitting 12 in 132 games last year … like Wade, he’s benefited from getting out of Trenton’s AT&T Park as a left-handed hitter
  • 3B Gleyber Torres: 0-3, 2 BB, 1 SB — that’s four straight games at third base … hmmm
  • 2B Rob Refsnyder: 2-4, 1 2B, 1 BB, 1 K — my guess is he gets the call tomorrow to replace the injured Jacoby Ellsbury
  • LF Clint Frazier: 2-5, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 CS — 17 singles and 23 extra base hits (15 doubles and eight homers)
  • RF Mason Williams: 2-4, 1 R, 1 BB, 2 SB
  • RHP Domingo German: 7 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 10 K, 4/3 GB/FB — 65 of 95 pitches were strikes (66%) … got roughed up a bit in his Triple-A debut last time out (five runs in 6.2 innings), so good to see him bounce back well this time out … 54/15 K/BB in 46.2 innings
  • RHP Gio Gallegos: 2 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 4 K, 1 WP, 0/2 GB/FB — 24 of 39 pitches were strikes (62%)

[Read more…]

Update: Jacoby Ellsbury suffers concussion crashing into wall


8:24pm ET: Ellsbury has indeed suffered a concussion, the Yankees announced. He also has a sprained neck. Ellsbury will presumably be placed on the 7-day concussion disabled list, meaning he’ll have to be cleared by MLB’s doctors before he can be activated. Mason Williams, Clint Frazier, and Dustin Fowler are the Triple-A outfielders. Williams is the only one on the 40-man roster, though the Yankees do have an open spot.

7:38pm ET: Jacoby Ellsbury exited tonight’s game after crashing into the center field wall making a catch on the very first pitch of the game. Here’s video. Trainer Steve Donohue looked at him and Ellsbury did stay in the game to complete the inning. He was removed in the second, however. His lineup spot did not come up in the bottom of the first.

Earlier this season Ellsbury missed one game with a pinched nerve in his elbow after another wall-crashing catch. This time they were focused more on his head and neck, so obviously the concern is a concussion. Ellsbury has never had a concussion in pro ball. The internet tells me he suffered one crashing into the wall making a catch in college though.

Ellsbury, 33, came into the game hitting .281/.349/.422 (113 wRC+) with four home runs and eight stolen bases in 38 games this season. The Yankees have a really great fourth outfielder in Aaron Hicks, plus several great outfield prospects in Triple-A, though losing Ellsbury would still stink. The more good players, the better.

The Yankees have not yet released an update on Ellsbury, so stay tuned.

Game 44: Waiting For The Offense To Come Back

(Mike Stobe/Getty)
(Mike Stobe/Getty)

Last night’s loss stunk, huh? Bullpen meltdowns are going to happen from time to time. Whatever. I’m more annoyed by the recent lack of offense. The Yankees have scored only 19 runs in their last six games, and only nine runs in their last three games. That’s not going to fly. The Yankees are still second in baseball in runs per game (5.53), so they have the ability to score runs. They’re just in a little bit of a funk right now.

Prior to this 19 runs in six games stretch, the Yankees scored at least seven runs in their four previous games, and one of those four games came against tonight’s opposing starter, Royals righty Jason Hammel. The Yankees scored five runs in six innings against Hammel last week. I could go for a repeat performance tonight. Runs are cool. I like runs. Here is the Royals’ lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:

  1. LF Brett Gardner
  2. C Gary Sanchez
  3. DH Matt Holliday
  4. 2B Starlin Castro
  5. RF Aaron Judge
  6. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  7. 3B Chase Headley
  8. SS Didi Gregorius
  9. 1B Chris Carter
    RHP Luis Severino

Not a bad weather day in New York. It was cloudy much of the day, and the same will be true tonight. Cloudy and cool. Tonight’s game will start at 7:05pm ET. You can watch on YES locally and MLB Network nationally. Enjoy the game.

Injury Updates: Greg Bird (ankle) continues to progress with his rehab. He is hitting, fielding grounders, running the bases, the whole nine. Joe Girardi said the tentative plan is to send Bird to Tampa on Sunday, have him play in one Extended Spring Training game, then begin a minor league rehab assignment with High-A Tampa. My guess is he’ll play a good amount of rehab games to make sure he gets all the way back on track after his miserable start to the season. We might not see Bird until the Yankees come back for their next homestand on June 6th … Aroldis Chapman (shoulder) will see a doctor for a checkup Friday, and if all goes well, he could begin a throwing program Saturday.

HOPE Week: Today the Yankees held an event at the Saturday Night Live studios to help benefit Comedy Kids, an organization started by two young boys who tell jokes to raise money for pediatric brain cancer research. Awesome stuff. Here’s a video.