DotF: Florial has a big game in Tampa’s win

Two quick injury rehab notes to pass along:

  • Clint Frazier (oblique) worked out and hit in the cage with Double-A Trenton today, reports Kyle Franko. That doesn’t necessarily mean he’ll play rehab games with the Thunder. Trenton is home and Triple-A Scranton is on the road, so maybe the Yankees didn’t want him traveling too far. Anyway, Frazier is no longer with the Yankees. He’s now rehabbing with an affiliate.
  • 1B Garrett Cooper (hamstring) was scratched from today’s rehab game with Trenton with an illness, reports Franko. They told him to stay home and not even come to the ballpark. Cooper is supposed to rehab with Trenton through the weekend, then rejoin the Yankees. I’m not sure if the illness changes anything.

Triple-A Scranton and Double-A Trenton were both rained out. They’re going to play doubleheaders tomorrow. Playing a doubleheader on the second to last day of the season when you’ve already clinched the division title and a postseason spot must not be very fun.

High-A Tampa (6-1 win over Lakeland)

  • SS Kyle Holder: 1-5, 1 R, 1 2B, 2 K
  • CF Estevan Florial: 2-4, 2 R, 1 3B, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 2 K, 1 SB — a lot of times kids his age (19) will wear down and fade late in the season, but not Florial … he’s mashing right to the very end
  • C Donny Sands: 1-4, 1 K, 1 E (throwing)
  • RHP Taylor Widener: 5 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 8 K, 1/2 GB/FB — the converted reliever finishes his regular season with a 3.39 ERA and a 129/50 K/BB in 119.1 innings
  • RHP Matt Frawley: 1 IP, zeroes, 2 K — finishes the regular season with a 1.63 ERA and a 76/12 K/BB in 71.2 total innings … he came over from the Pirates in the Johnny Barbato trade a few months back

[Read more…]

Yankees 5, Red Sox 1: Tanaka great again, Holliday crushes clutch homer in first game back from DL

Saturday afternoon’s game was not quite a must win for the Yankees, but it was definitely a game they needed to have to remain within striking distance of the AL East title. Strong pitching and timely hitting from the veteran leaders led the Yankees to an all-around rock solid 5-1 win over the Red Sox.

(Jim McIsaac/Getty)
(Jim McIsaac/Getty)

Holliday Weekend
So it seems Matt Holliday‘s first two at-bats against Drew Pomeranz were a good sign, even if he made outs. Holliday actually got the ball airborne both times, which may not seem like much, but Holliday was beating the ball into the ground before going on the disabled list. His ground ball rate in the second half: 55.2%. Way too high for a non-speed guy. Way, way too high. It was 45.5% in the first half and even that’s a little higher than you’d like.

Anyway, with the score tied 1-1 in the sixth inning, Matty Arms airborned the hell out of a fat first pitch fastball from Pomeranz, and ripped it deep into the left field seats for a go-ahead three-run home run. The official distance: 443 feet. I gotta say, given how bad Holliday looked before the disabled list stint, I wasn’t sure he still had that kinda thump in him. It was very much a no-doubter.

Getting to the point of the three-run home run was a bit interesting, because I didn’t think there was a chance Pomeranz would even get to face Holliday. Pomeranz started the sixth inning at 92 pitches, many of them high stress, and he walked leadoff hitter Didi Gregorius on six pitches. Walking Didi is no small feat. Going into Saturday’s game he had the same number of walks and homers this season (19).

The walk brought Chase Headley to the plate, the same Chase Headley who opened the scoring with a solo homer in the second inning, and laced a single in the fourth. Pomeranz was approaching 100 pitches, Headley had squared him up twice before and was about to face him a third time … seemed like a good time to get him out of the game. Fortunately, Red Sox manager John Farrell saw things differently, and left him in. Headley singled again, Holliday homered, and the Yankees took a 4-1 lead.

(Jim McIsaac/Getty)
(Jim McIsaac/Getty)

Masa-HERO
Pretty safe to say the crummy version of Masahiro Tanaka, the guy who had a 6.55 ERA (5.68 FIP) in his first 12 starts of the year, is long gone. Tanaka was marvelous yet again Saturday, holding the Red Sox to one run on five hits and two walks in seven innings plus one batter. He struck out three. Five of the 27 batters he faced hit the ball out of the infield in the air. In his last 14 starts, Tanaka has a 3.05 ERA (3.21 FIP) in 88.2 innings. Hell yeah.

The Red Sox scored their run through a combination of Tanaka mistakes and aggressive baserunning. Tanaka left a splitter up to Eduardo Nunez to start the sixth inning, and he hammered it off the wall in left field for a leadoff double. Nunez took a little stutter step going around first and the play at second was really close. It looked like a potential “he hit it so hard he held himself to a single” play, but Nunez hustled it into a double.

The hanging split was Tanaka’s first mistake. His second was bouncing a 55-foot splitter with Mookie Betts at the plate and Nunez at third. Gary Sanchez tried valiantly to block it, but the ball hopped away, and Nunez hustled home. Had he not broken for home instantly, there would’ve been a play at the plate. Two mistakes by Tanaka (hanging splitter, wild pitch) and two hustle plays by Nunez (double, advance on wild pitch) created the run.

Tanaka threw 97 pitches Saturday and generated a healthy 14 swings and misses. He missed bats with four pitches: six whiffs on the splitter, six on the slider, and one each on his two and four-seam fastballs. Here are the pitch locations:

masahiro-tanaka-pitch-locationLots of swings and misses on pitches down below the zone. Quite a few foul tips down there too, so the Red Sox were chasing. No pitcher in baseball is better at getting hitters to chase out of the zone than Tanaka — his 42.0% chase rate is far and away the highest in baseball this year (Corey Kluber is second at 38.9%) — and that was on full display Saturday. Tanaka being great again makes me so happy.

Leftovers
Nice clean game from the bullpen. Not coincidentally, David Robertson and Dellin Betances were the only relievers used. Robertson allowed a dinky infield single to Betts in an otherwise uneventful eighth — he inherited a runner on first from Tanaka — and Betances was overpowering in the ninth. Three batters, three strikeouts on 12 pitches. Go Dellin. The Yankees held the Red Sox to six hits in the game, two of which did not leave the infield.

Three hits for Sanchez, including two infield-ish singles thanks to some adventurous defense by Rafael Devers. Gary also threw out Devers trying to steal, so I guess it was Sanchez 3, Devers 1 on Saturday. Also, Brett Gardner beat out an infield single when Devers flat out took too much time to make the throw on a routine grounder. Routine as routine gets. He took his sweet time and Gardner was safe. Headley also had three hits. He’s hitting .278/.360/.421 (109 wRC+) and has been tearing the cover off the ball since about mid-June.

(Jim McIsaac/Getty)
(Jim McIsaac/Getty)

Aaron Judge went 0-for-4 with two strikeouts but did hit a ball to the wall in left field — I didn’t think it was gone off the bat, but it went farther than I expected – which was about as far as he’s hit a ball in two weeks. Every starter reached base at least once except Judge and Aaron Hicks, and Hicks only got three plate appearances because he left with a tight oblique. Hicks did hit the ball hard twice though. Some snazzy defense robbed him.

The Yankees scored their fifth run thanks largely to a Jacoby Ellsbury leadoff triple in the seventh. He replaced Hicks, then lined a ball into the left-center field gap for three bases. When Ellsbury is going good, he wears out that opposite field gap. He’s been doing it more often lately. Sanchez got Ellsbury home with one of his Devers-aided infield singles.

Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
Go to ESPN for the box score, MLB.com for the video highlights, and back to ESPN for the updated standings. We have a Bullpen Workload page. Here’s the win probability graph:


Source: FanGraphs

Up Next
This four-game series finally comes to end Sunday night in the ESPN Sunday Night Game. That game starts a little earlier this usual — 7:35pm ET instead of 8pm ET — so maybe it’ll end before midnight? We’ll see. Luis Severino and Chris Sale are the scheduled starting pitchers.

Aaron Hicks exits with left oblique tightness

(Jim McIsaac/Getty)
(Jim McIsaac/Getty)

4:13pm ET: Joe Girardi said Hicks suffered the injury making that sixth inning catch, and apparently the oblique isn’t as tight as it was the last time Hicks got hurt. He’s going for an MRI, because duh.

4:07pm ET: Aaron Hicks left this afternoon’s game with left oblique tightness, the Yankees announced. That is not the same oblique that landed him on the disabled list earlier this year. He was out with a right oblique strain. Hicks exited the game after making a running catch to end the sixth inning.

As we’ve seen with Hicks and Clint Frazier, oblique injuries are not often quick healing. Hopefully Hicks was removed as a precaution and he’ll be good to go soon. I know he hasn’t been great the last week or two, but healthy players > injured players, especially when it’s someone as talented as Hicks.

If Hicks were to miss time, the Yankees don’t really have a true fourth outfielder. Not with Frazier out too. I guess it would be Tyler Wade? The Yankees could make a 40-man roster move to add either Jake Cave or Billy McKinney — Cave can play center, McKinney can’t — but hopefully it doesn’t come to that.

Game 135: Need More Than A Split

(Corey Perrine/Getty)
(Corey Perrine/Getty)

Now that they’ve split the first two games of this four-game series with the Red Sox, the only way the Yankees can gain ground in the AL East race this weekend is by winning the next two games. A split does nothing. It’s actually a negative, because they’d leave the series with the same 5.5 game deficit they started with, only with four fewer games on the schedule. Important games, these are.

Of course, gaining ground will require offense, and three times in the last five games the Yankees have been held to two runs or fewer. It’s four times in the last eight games overall. I’m not sure what more the Yankees can do at this point other than keep running the same guys out there and hoping it clicks. The pitching has been really good overall in the second half. The bats have to pick it up. Here is the Red Sox’s lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:

  1. LF Brett Gardner
  2. CF Aaron Hicks
  3. C Gary Sanchez
  4. RF Aaron Judge
  5. SS Didi Gregorius
  6. 3B Chase Headley
  7. DH Matt Holliday
  8. 1B Greg Bird
  9. 2B Ronald Torreyes
    RHP Masahiro Tanaka

It is cool and cloudy in New York today, and there’s a little bit of rain in the forecast later this afternoon. Nothing that should interfere with the game. This afternoon’s game will begin at 1:05pm ET and you’ll be able to watch on YES locally and MLB Network out-of-market. Enjoy the game.

Injury Update: Starlin Castro needed some emergency dental work this morning — apparently he bit into something and lost a tooth last night — which is why he’s not in the lineup. He’s expected to be available to pinch-hit.

Appeals Update: Still no update on the Sanchez and Austin Romine suspensions. I imagine a ruling won’t come until after Labor Day. MLB’s offices are closed for the weekend.

Home runs too much for Gray as the Yankees fall 4-1 to the Red Sox

Not a great outcome. Sonny Gray showed flashes of brilliance but also allowed three home runs and took a loss. Meanwhile, the bats got shut down by Doug Fister and the Red Sox bullpen. The losing formula is as simple as that. The Yankees will have to win the next two games to gain ground in the division race.

(Corey Perrine/Getty Images)
(Corey Perrine/Getty Images)

Strikeouts and dingers

The Yankees struck quick with the bats this game. Brett Gardner started things off with a double to lead off the bottom of the first and Aaron Judge followed it up with a two-bagger of his own to make it 1-0 Yankees. That ended up being the only threat that the Yankee bats had going on tonight.

On the other side, Sonny Gray pitched an electric first two innings to start it out, striking out three while allowing one baserunner (on a wild pitch on a swinging strike three). However, that was the high point for the Yankees in this game.

In the third inning, Red Sox struck back with two runs. With one out, Brock Holt worked a 3-2 walk and Eduardo Nunez lined a two-run home run over the left field fence to make it 2-1 Red Sox. Remember when he dropped an easy pop up to give Yankees a 2-1 lead last night? Different story this time. Fast forward to the fifth inning, Boston added another on a solo dinger by Andrew Benintendi. Two outs in the inning, Gray threw a 93 mph fastball right down the pipe for the first pitch and Benintendi did not miss any.

The Red Sox home run machine did not stop there. In the top of the seventh, Hanley Ramirez hammered one over the center field fence to make it 4-1. Gray’s not really been a home run-prone guy in his career but that rate’s gonna go up a bit pitching at the Yankee Stadium.

Gray did look nasty when he was on though. He struck out nine in seven innings and got 12 whiffs overall. You could tell with your own eyes that his curveball was working, his fastball was moving everywhere, etc. He had a good stuff tonight! However, this is the big leagues and the mistakes towards the middle of the plate won’t cut it. You can see from his pitch chart that a decent amount of pitches that ended up towards the meaty part of the zone were put in play.

bandicam-2017-09-02-11-36-21-811

Tonight was the first time that Gray allowed more than 2 ER as a Yankee. Oh well. It wasn’t that he pitched particularly poorly either – he made some mistakes but the bats couldn’t get it going against Doug Fister to support Gray. Speaking of which…

One run & done

Doug Fister gets talked about like he’s the worst starter in the Red Sox rotation but he actually has not been bad at all the past several outings. Prior to tonight, he had a 3.65 ERA in the past 6 appearances (5 starts). During that span, he’s struck out 33, allowed only 3 HR’s and a .593 OPS against so… yeah. His velocity is back to the low-90’s range, which is where it was during his prime years with the Tigers and Nationals. I don’t know how long he’ll sustain this upswing of performance, but for the Red Sox, it is a very encouraging sign to see him at that range given that his decline correlated a lot with his velocity decrease.

Up to the bottom of the sixth, he allowed only three hits total and none since the two-out single in the second inning. Fister made his career as a crafty starter that can change speeds and eye levels (helps to be really tall in that regards) and he certainly showed it tonight. He held the Yankees to 4 total hits and 1 ER in 7 IP while striking out five. The bats have seen the better days (e.g.: last night). Hopefully they’ll show more signs of life tomorrow and beyond.

Leftovers 

Aroldis Chapman came into pitch the eighth against his kryptonite team and he looked… actually really good? He was generating whiffs (6 total in 18 pitches), throwing strikes and the velocity was way up, hitting 104.2 mph per Statcast. It was easily the best that Chapman has looked in months. Maybe it’s him being very rested or maybe they found some kinks in his mechanics but Yankees could really use him down the stretch in the pennant race.

As you could tell from the final score, Yankees didn’t get much support from their big bats. The 3-4-5 guys (Sanchez – Gregorius – Castro) went for a combined 0-for-12. That ain’t gonna cut it.

Box score, video highlights, updated standings, WPA

Here are tonight’s box score, video highlights, updated standings and WPA.


Source: FanGraphs


The Yankees are back at it tomorrow against the Red Sox tomorrow at the Bronx for a 1:05 pm start. Masahiro Tanaka will take the mound and it will be Drew Pomeranz on the other side.

DotF: Gilliam’s hot streak continues in Charleston’s loss

Two quick notes before we get to the day’s games:

  • Keith Law (subs. req’d) posted some scouting notes on RHP Chance Adams (“given his repertoire and delivery, I’d bet heavily that he’ll end up in relief”), OF Billy McKinney (“still has a very pretty left-handed swing”), SS Tyler Wade (“should end up as someone’s every-day shortstop”), and 3B Miguel Andujar (“at least a solid regular at third”).
  • 3B Dermis Garcia placed ninth on this week’s Prospect Hot Sheet. “Charleston’s Joseph P. Riley Park is no place for a power hitter, with a long history as a pitcher’s park, but the 19 year-old third baseman slugged three homers this week, including game winners Wednesday and Thursday night,” noted the write-up.

Triple-A Scranton (5-3 loss to Lehigh Valley)

  • SS Tyler Wade: 2-3, 2 2B, 1 BB, 1 K, 1 CS — he can’t come back up until Monday because of the ten-day rule
  • 3B Miguel Andujar: 0-5, 1 K, 1 E (throwing)
  • DH Tyler Austin: 0-4 — he has to wait until Tuesday because of the ten-day rule
  • CF Jake Cave: 0-3, 1 K
  • RF Mason Williams: 2-3, 1 R, 1 RBI, 1 BB — 14-for-29 (.483) in his last eight games
  • RHP Brady Lail: 6 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 4 BB, 3 K, 1 HB, 5/7 GB/FB — 61 of 100 pitches were strikes
  • RHP J.P. Feyereisen: 1 IP, 3 H, 5 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 1 K, 1 WP, 1/2 GB/FB — 20 of 33 pitches were strikes (61%) … gave up a home run tonight … always amuses me when homers go for unearned runs
  • RHP Nick Rumbelow: 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 2/0 GB/FB — 16 of 21 pitches were strikes (76%)

[Read more…]

Game 134: Meet Me In Center Field

(Rich Schultz/Getty)
(Rich Schultz/Getty)

This CC Sabathia/bunting story is peak baseball stupid. But! I am pro-trash talk, and Sabathia said if the Red Sox have a problem with him, they can meet him in center field. I’m sure Andrew Benintendi has the finest hair product recommendations and Dustin Pedroia knows when Gap Kids will have their fall collection available. If it takes a dumb bunting story to add some spice to the Yankees-Red Sox rivalry, I am all for it.

Anyway, as for the actual baseball game, this is yet another important one for the Yankees, who are trying to chase down the BoSox in the AL East. Last night’s win was great, but last night is last night, and if the Yankees are not on their game, that 4.5 game deficit in the AL East could become 5.5 games again real quick. One game at a time. Win tonight, then worry about tomorrow tomorrow. Here is the Red Sox’s lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:

  1. LF Brett Gardner
  2. RF Aaron Judge
  3. C Gary Sanchez
  4. SS Didi Gregorius
  5. 2B Starlin Castro
  6. 1B Greg Bird
  7. DH Chase Headley
  8. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  9. 3B Todd Frazier
    RHP Sonny Gray

Pretty much perfect weather in New York today. Not too hot and not too hold. It’s a bit cloudy out now, so it might even be chilly at the ballpark. Tonight’s game will begin shortly after 7pm ET. YES and MLB Network will have the broadcast. Enjoy the game.

Roster Moves: In case you missed it earlier, the Yankees added five players to the active roster earlier today, the first day rosters can expand. Matt Holliday has been activated off the disabled list and Jordan Montgomery, Ben Heller, Bryan Mitchell, and Erik Kratz were all called up from Triple-A Scranton. Luis Cessa was transferred to the 60-day DL to clear a 40-man roster spot for Kratz.

Injury Update: Clint Frazier (oblique) is throwing and hitting in the batting cage. He’s not going to travel with the Yankees on their next road trip and is instead expected to begin a minor league rehab assignment. The minor league regular season ends this weekend, so one of the affiliates is getting Frazier for their postseason run.

Appeals Update: Sanchez and Austin Romine were scheduled to have their appeals today. I assume they happened. No reason to think otherwise. The rulings may not be handed down until the middle of next week, however, because MLB’s offices are closed for Labor Day weekend. Also, apparently Sanchez and Romine will not have to serve their suspensions at the same time. They’ll be staggered.