Something to Celebrate

I (also) love this photo so much. (@Yankees)
I (also) love this photo so much. (@Yankees)

In a matter of hours, the 162 game marathon that is the Major League Baseball season will be officially over for everyone (unless we get some tiebreaker action!). The Yankees are one of ten teams both skilled enough and lucky enough to keep marching towards the ultimate goal of winning the World Series. As a team they already got to celebrate–and why shouldn’t they? This is a team that very few people thought could make the playoffs. In most best-case scenarios in February and March, this was an 85-win team that might scratch at contending for the second wildcard spot. Now, they sit assured of a spot in that wildcard game that will probably (hopefully?!) be in the Bronx. The notion that the Yankees–or any team–shouldn’t celebrate making the Wildcard Game is just silly to me. What that team is celebrating is not just the accomplishment of making it one more day, but acknowledging the impressive feat of being one of ten teams standing after 162 games. These celebrations are as much about–if not more–what has happened rather than what will happen. Anyway, now that the team has celebrated and been celebrated, let’s take a look at some individual Yankee players and what they have to celebrate about 2015.

Starting with number one, there are some pitchers we should discuss; chief among them is Masahiro Tanaka. TANAK may not have been quite-as-brilliant in 2015 as he was in 2014, but this was still a successful year for him. By the way, let’s talk for a moment about how crazy it is that I’m saying a year for a pitcher was “successful” and “not-quite-as-good” despite a K/BB of 5.71 and a WHIP of 0.994. The former is good for fifth in the AL among pitchers with at least 150 IP and the latter is good for first. Performance, though, is only part of why Tanaka’s been successful this year. While he missed some time recently, his elbow has more or less held up despite a whole lot of armchair-doctoring by media and fans alike at the beginning of the season. There’s a reason that doctors, the Yankees, and Tanaka didn’t opt for surgery and this year has proved it a wise decision. His elbow ligaments could snap tomorrow, but that goes for any pitcher at any time and one should never have surgery when it isn’t necessary. Try to imagine the Yankees’ season without Tanaka in the rotation. He’s the only one among the Yankees’ starters with at least 100 IP who has an ERA+ of over 100 (114); without him, there’s no way this team is in the postseason.

Sticking with the starters, there’s Luis Severino. Few, expected him to be on the team this year; even fewer expected him to have this much of an impact as a starter. Despite some hiccups and some general first-time-in-the-Majors-rough-around-the-edgesness, Severnio has been spectacular. He’s held his own against big lineups at times. He’s flashed plus stuff. He’s helped Tanaka carry the rotation in the second half and has definitely pitched his way into not only the playoffs, but also the 2016 rotation.

Lastly in the pitching category, appropriately enough, there’s the dynamite combo of Andrew Miller and Dellin Betances. You’d be hard-pressed to find a better 1-2 bullpen combination than this one anywhere in the Majors. While Betances has looked more human lately, he managed to mostly repeat an incredible 2014 and he and Miller solidified a very-shaky-at-times relief corps to give the Yankees a much-needed late-game edge. Miller, meanwhile, stepped right into the line of Yankee closers and wowed us all year with a dominant fastball/slider combination that left many batters baffled. The back end of a bullpen is important in a regular season, but is paramount the in the playoffs; the more we see these two in the coming weeks, the more likely it is that they and the team have done something special.

Moving to the lineup, we’ll start with number two–don’t worry, this isn’t going to be a position-by-position breakdown–and discuss Brian McCann and John Ryan Murphy. Like most of the Yankee offense, McCann hasn’t looked great of late, but that doesn’t mean this season isn’t something to celebrate. He raised all four portions of his slash line from last year and managed to belt a career high 26 homers. He’s also already tied his career high in RBI with 94, so anything he drives in today will represent a new career high. His backup also had a great season as JRM hit more-than-admirably and seemed like a veteran behind the plate in very limited duty. As a bonus, he also provided the hands-down best quote of 2015 by anyone in the Yankee organization.

I’ve already touched on Mark Teixeira‘s great season, so I’ll be brief here. Tex had a fantastic season and his absence has definitely been felt in the last few weeks, even if Greg Bird has done incredibly well both for the team and himself, something completely unexpected in and of itself, and also worthy of celebration. The Yankees now have a very good problem regarding Bird, Tex, and the next two guys we’ll touch on–Alex Rodriguez and Carlos Beltran–and how to get them all at bats.

Raise your hand if you thought Carlos Beltran wasn’t toast after April. Put your damn hand down, you liar. At the end of April, Carlos had an OPS of .481 (!) and had exactly zero home runs. From May on, he’s hit .292/.352/.506 with 19 homers. His bat was steady and stable throughout the summer and we’ll finally get to see his playoff prowess put to the test.

Then, finally, there’s Alex Rodriguez. Al. Al from Miami. Summer of Al. How many times did we tweet these things over the last few months? The finish hasn’t been pretty, but how delusional would you have seemed in March if you said A-Rod was going to hit 33 homers this year? I thought he MIGHT, MAYBE hit 15-20 and be average overall at the plate. He completely shattered those expectations and now a finalist for Comeback Player of the year. Considering there were a lot of people who said he might never play a game for the Yankees again, this is nothing short of an amazing year for Alex and I couldn’t be happier for him. Even though a lot of the crap he’s dealt with is of his own doing, he still deserves to celebrate this year just as much as anyone, if not more. Here’s hoping for a repeat of 2009 from Alex and his teammates.


Yankees fall 4-3, get swept by Orioles in doubleheader

Source: FanGraphs

Gotta hand to ’em, the Yankees are really committed to this whole “limp to the finish line” thing. They were swept by the Orioles in Saturday’s doubleheader, dropping game two 4-3. Home field advantage in the wildcard game will come down to Game 162. Gross. Let’s recap with bullet points:

  • Lil’ Luis: Not a great start for Luis Severino. He allowed two runs in the first, including a leadoff homer to Nolan Reimold. A Steve Pearce double drove in the other run. Manny Machado hit a solo homer in the third, but Severino did settle down after the first, retiring 19 of the final 21 batters he faced. Three runs on five hits and no walks in seven innings is fine. Not great, not awful. Winnable. Usually. Just not Saturday night.
  • Rally Back: To their credit, the Yankees did rally to tie the game in the middle innings. Didi Gregorius drove in their first run with a sacrifice fly in the third, then, in the fifth, Slade Heathcott dropped a base hit in front of Pearce in right to score a run. Rob Refsnyder (double) and Gregorius (single) set the inning up. Ubaldo Jimenez plunked Jacoby Ellsbury to load the bases and walked Carlos Beltran to force in the tying run. Brian McCann flew out with the bases loaded to end the inning, which, blah. At least the game was tied.
  • Blownpen: Severino threw 91 pitches in his seven innings, and while it’s easy to say he should have gone out for the eighth, remember this is a 21-year-old kid who has already thrown 48.2 innings more than his previous career high. Dellin Betances came out of the bullpen, and two singles and two wild pitches later, the O’s had the 4-3 lead. They weren’t hard hits — a bloop single and a bunt single — but they were hits nonetheless. McCann totally whiffed on the run-scoring wild pitch. Last year he allowed 78 wild pitches plus passed balls. This year? 104! It cost them Saturday. Dellin did strike out the side, but that doesn’t make me feel any better.
  • Leftovers: Severino threw at Paul Janish (!?) for some reason in the fifth inning. It was really bad. Up around his head. No idea what that was about. Maybe retaliation for Ellsbury getting hit in the previous inning? That seems silly. Either way, both benches were warned … the Yankees had six hits, two by Refsnyder and one each by Greg Bird, Gregorius, Heathcott, and Alex Rodriguez. A-Rod pinch-hit in the ninth, singled, and pinch-runner Rico Noel was picked off … the top four spots in the lineup went a combined 0-for-12.

Here are the box score and video highlights, and here are the updated standings and postseason odds. The Astros beat up on the Diamondbacks again, so it will still take a Yankees win or an Astros loss to clinch home field advantage Sunday. Anyway, check out our Bullpen Workload and Announcer Standings pages. The Yankees wrap up their season Sunday afternoon. It’ll be Michael Pineda against Chris Tillman. Unbelievably, that game is meaningful.

Games 160 & 161: Let’s Play Two


Thanks to last night’s rainout, the Yankees and Orioles will play two games today. It’s a split admission doubleheader, which makes for a very long day at the ballpark. Thankfully the Yankees already clinched a postseason berth and don’t need to play with a ton of urgency today.

That said, home field advantage in the wildcard game is still on the line, and it would be nice to get that clinched as soon as possible. All it takes is one win or one Astros loss. You can’t count on the latter happening — Houston demolished the Diamondbacks last night, I’m talking 21-5 — so taking one of these two games today would be appreciated.

We’re going to use this game thread for both games. I’ll bump it up to the top of the site for the nightcap when the time comes. Here is the Orioles’ lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup for the first game:

  1. CF Brett Gardner
  2. 2B Rob Refsnyder
  3. DH Alex Rodriguez
  4. LF Chris Young
  5. 3B Chase Headley
  6. C John Ryan Murphy
  7. RF Jose Pirela
  8. 1B Austin Romine
  9. SS Brendan Ryan
    RHP Ivan Nova

It rained all night and most of the morning in Baltimore, but it’s supposed to stop right around first pitch. There are some scattered showers expected throughout the day. It looks like they’ll get both games in. It won’t be pretty, but they’ll get them in. The first game will begin a little after 12pm ET and you can watch on YES. Enjoy.

Update (6:30pm ET): Here is the O’s lineup and here is the Yanks’ lineup for game two of the doubleheader:

  1. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  2. LF Dustin Ackley
  3. DH Carlos Beltran
  4. C Brian McCann
  5. 1B Greg Bird
  6. SS Didi Gregorius
  7. 2B Rob Refsnyder
  8. RF Slade Heathcott
  9. 3B Brendan Ryan
    RHP Luis Severino

The weather hasn’t changed much since this afternoon. Just a little colder now. There is some rain in the forecast but not until later tonight, around midnight or so. Shouldn’t be a problem for the game. First pitch is scheduled for a little after 7pm ET and you can watch on YES. Enjoy.

Yankees drop first game of doubleheader, lose 9-2 to O’s

Source: FanGraphs

Home field advantage in the wildcard game will have to wait at least another few hours. The Yankees dropped the first game of Saturday’s doubleheader 9-2 to the Orioles. There is no chance I’m writing two full recaps on a Saturday on the second to last day of the regular season, so here are bullet points:

  • Early Chances: The Yankees had some chances to get on the board early in the game. Chris Young‘s leadoff triple in the second was wasted (two pop-ups and a strike) and their third inning rally was short-circuited when Brendan Ryan was thrown out trying to go first-to-third on a soft single to left. They also had two runners on base with one out on the fourth, but didn’t bring them home. So that’s five base-runners from the second through fourth innings, but no runs.
  • Bad Ivan & Very Bad Chasen: Ivan Nova‘s pitching line (5.2 IP, 8 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 3 BB, 4 K) could have been better had formerly good reliever Chasen Shreve not melted down (again) before recording the final out of the sixth. Shreve allowed two inherited runners to score plus two runners of his own on three hits, a walk, and a wild pitch. (To be fair, one hit was a dumb perfectly placed infield single.) There’s no way he’ll be on the wildcard game roster at this point. Anyway, Nova put eleven runners on base and had some hard hit balls go for outs. He ends the season having allowed 29 runs and 62 base-runners in his last 37 innings. Last outing as a Yankee?
  • Two Token Runs: On the bright side, the Yankees weren’t shut out, scoring two runs in the seventh. They actually loaded the bases with no outs, but home plate up Marty Foster decided to expand the zone — look at this 2-0 call on Didi Gregorius, changed the entire inning — though I doubt it changes the complexion of the game. Brett Gardner drove in a run with a fielder’s choice and Rob Refsnyder singled in another. Two token runs.
  • Leftovers: Nick Goody allowed two runs on three hits and a walk in the seventh inning and Chris Martin allowed two base-runners in a scoreless eighth … both Rico Noel (infield single) and Gary Sanchez (pop-up) got their first big league at-bats … and finally, the Yankees officially can not win 90 games this year. The best they can do is 89-73. The last time they went three straight years with fewer than 90 wins without a work stoppage mixed in was 1991-93. Spoiled, we are.

Here’s the box score and video highlights. If you’re still interested, here are the updated standings and postseason odds. It will still take one win or one Astros loss to clinch home field advantage in the wildcard game. Make sure you check out our Bullpen Workload and Announcer Standings pages. The Yankees and Orioles will play game two of the doubleheader later tonight. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05pm ET.

Injury Updates: Eovaldi, Drew, Headley, Ellsbury


The Yankees and Orioles will play a split doubleheader later today following last night’s rainout. The first game will begin a little after 12pm ET. Here are some important injury updates via George King, Meredith Marakovits, and Ryan Hatch.

  • Nathan Eovaldi (elbow) threw a bullpen session yesterday, his first since going down with inflammation. “Everything felt great. I threw 25 pitches, 18 fastballs and seven splits,” he said. Eovaldi will throw a 35-pitch bullpen session Monday, and if that goes well, he’ll then face hitters in live batting practice or a simulated game. There is no chance Eovaldi will be available for the wildcard game Tuesday, but Joe Girardi acknowledged an ALDS roster spot “is something we will look at” should the team advance.
  • Stephen Drew has a “vestibular concussion” and he is unlikely to return this year, even if the Yankees go deep into October. “Right now (his return is) doubtful because he still has the symptoms,” said Girardi. That’s a shame. Drew wasn’t great this season, but you never want to see anyone’s season end due to injury, especially a brain injury. Also, this more or less guarantees Brendan Ryan will be on the postseason roster as the backup infielder.
  • Both Chase Headley and Jacoby Ellsbury are scheduled to play one game of today’s doubleheader. Both were sidelined Thursday with back soreness but were available off the bench if necessary. “They are both better,” said Girardi. Headley said he wants some at-bats this weekend and not have such a long layoff before the wildcard game.

Friday Night Open Thread

The Yankees have already been rained out today — they’ll play a doubleheader with the Orioles tomorrow — and I’m actually happy about that. The team needs a rest and we get to sit around and think about all the fun of last night’s clincher for another night. Wasn’t that a blast? Hopefully the Astros lose tonight, which would clinch home field advantage in the wildcard game for the Yankees. A weekend of totally meaningless baseball in Baltimore sounds just wonderful right about now.

Anyway, here is tonight’s open thread. Apparently is free for the weekend, so you can watch any game online. Just head over to and create a free account if you haven’t already. The Astros, Angels, and Twins remain in contention for the second wildcard spot. Let’s go three-way tie! Talk about those games or anything else right here.

Tonight’s game postponed, Yankees and Orioles will play doubleheader Saturday


As expected, tonight’s series opener in Baltimore has been postponed due to rain. It has been pouring all day and will continue all night. The Yankees and Orioles will play a split-admission doubleheader Saturday. The first game starts at 12:05pm ET, the second at 7:05pm ET.

With the game postponed, you can instead focus on the remaining AL wildcard contenders. The Yankees have already clinched a postseason spot, and they can clinch homefield advantage in Tuesday’s wildcard game with either a win over the O’s or an Astros loss at any point this weekend. The Astros are in Arizona, so go Diamondbacks.

Last night’s loss eliminated the Angels from the AL West race, so it’s wildcard or bust for them. They’re in Texas to play the Rangers. The Twins are at home against the Royals. is apparently free all weekend, so you can watch all these games online. Here’s the updated wildcard standings:

AL wildcard standings 100215As for the Yankees, Ivan will start the first game of the doubleheader and Luis Severino will start the second, though the game two plan may change depending whether the Yankees clinch home field advantage. Michael Pineda is tentatively scheduled to start Sunday. Justin Wilson, Dellin Betances, and Andrew Miller could each throw one tune-up inning during the doubleheader regardless of score, then get two days off heading into the wildcard game.

Following Thursday’s clincher, Joe Girardi indicated that while securing home field advantage in the wildcard game is important, the team will prioritize putting itself in the best possible position for the wildcard game. That means resting the regulars. Everyone will get the night off tonight and I can’t imagine the regulars will get much more than two or three at-bats tomorrow.

The doubleheader figures to feature a lot of call-ups, both on the mound and in the lineup. It’ll have a Spring Training vibe, no doubt. Guys like Rico Noel and Gary Sanchez might finally get an at-bat. That’ll be fun. Hopefully the Astros lose and the Yankees clinch home field advantage without playing tonight. That would make this weekend’s series totally meaningless.