2016 Draft: Yankees go heavy on prep players and power arms on Day Three

After three days and 1,216 picks, the 2016 amateur draft is finally over. The Yankees made 40 picks over the last three days and now we just have to wait and see how many they actually sign. Usually it’s around 25-30. The signing deadline is Friday, July 15th this year, so a little more than a month away. You can see all of New York’s picks right here. We’ve already reviewed Day One and Day Two. Now let’s review Day Three.

Linginfelter. (Knoxville News Sentinel)
Linginfelter. (Knoxville News Sentinel)

The Unsignable Prospect

The best prospect the Yankees drafted on Day Three is someone they almost certainly will not be able to sign: Tennessee HS RHP Zach Linginfelter (16th round). Linginfelter was a possible first round pick coming into the spring — MLB.com and Baseball America ranked him as the 98th and 107th best prospect available right before the draft, respectively — though his stock fell because he’s basically unsignable. He’s already said he’s going to follow through on his commitment to Tennessee.

“The money didn’t work out, and today I’m excited knowing where I’m going to go, and looking forward to playing at Tennessee,” said Linginfelter to Chris Thomas, referring to bonus conversations he had with teams before the draft. “My stock kind of dropped this year. I had mono early, came out a little weak in the velocity. But in reality, I think if I go to UT and have two good years, I can come out (as a draft-eligible sophomore) and go higher in the draft than I would have this year.”

So why did the Yankees draft Linginfelter if he’s not going to sign? Well, why not draft him late? There’s always a chance — however small it may be — he’ll change his mind over the next few weeks and the two sides can work something out. Linginfelter has good size (6-foot-5 and 215 lbs.) and he sits in the low-90s when right, plus he has a breaking ball and a changeup. Never say never, but the odds of the Yankees signing Linginfelter are mighty small.

The Other Backup Plans

The Yankees spent Day Two getting their bonus pool situation in order so they can sign OF Blake Rutherford, their high profile first round pick. All indications are he will sign, but the team still needed a backup plan. Backup plans, really. Plural. Should Rutherford not sign for whatever reason, the Yankees will still have all the bonus pool money saved from rounds 2-10 available, and they’ll need somewhere to spend it.

In addition to Linginfelter — Linginfelter is said to be seeking a substantial seven-figure bonus, more than the Yankees could afford if Rutherford doesn’t sign — the Yankees selected six talented high school players who were considered tough signs on Day Three: Texas HS RHP Blair Henley (22nd), Colorado HS RHP Bo Weiss (29th), California HS LHP Miles Sandum (31st), California HS C D.C. Clawson (34th), Virginia HS RHP Zach Hess (35th), and Wisconsin HS RHP Nate Brown (40th)

Bo and Walt. (Dustin Bradford/Getty)
Bo and Walt. (Dustin Bradford/Getty)

All six were considered Day Two prospects on talent. Hess and Weiss are the best prospects of the bunch and were candidates to go somewhere in the top five rounds. Hess is massive (6-foot-6, 220 lbs.) and he’s run his fastball as high as 97 mph at times this spring. He also offers a hard slider. Weiss, son of Rockies manager Walt Weiss, has good control of a low-90s fastball and both a curveball and a changeup. Hess and Weiss are committed to LSU and UNC, respectively.

Clawson has benefited from extra exposure over the years — he’s been teammates with prospects Rockies 3B Ryan McMahon and Phillies 3B Lucas Williams — and he’s an outstanding defensive catcher by high school standards. He has the arm and blocking ability to stick behind the plate. Will he hit? That’s the question. Henley and Brown are arm strength righties with three secondary pitches, all of which show promise but lack refinement.

Sandum’s story is something else. He managed to rupture his bowels (ahhhhh) during a pregame workout early in the season, but was able to return after a few weeks, and he even managed to toss a no-hitter last month. Good gravy that sounds nasty. At his best Sandum is a command southpaw with an 87-91 mph fastball and a good curveball. The Yankees figure to try to sign these six guys anyway, though if Rutherford decides to go to school, they’ll become the priority.

Power College Arms

The Yankees started Day Three by selecting two of the hardest throwing pitchers still on the board. Georgia LHP Connor Jones (11th) — not to be confused with Virginia RHP Connor Jones, who went 70th overall to the Cardinals — will sit 93-96 mph and throw a workable breaking ball. The problem is throwing strikes; he walked 37 in 74.1 innings with the Bulldogs this spring. Lefties who throw hard are a hot commodity, and few lefties in the draft can match Jones’ raw arm strength.

South Carolina RHP Taylor Widener (12th) works in the 92-94 mph range and touches 97 mph even as a starter. His upper-80s slider is a put-away pitch as well, so if nothing else, Widener already has the stuff to serve as a power reliever at the next level. Elbow surgery last fall — it was surgery to treat a nerve issue, not Tommy John or anything like that — and knee injuries caused him to slip into Day Three.

“We’re excited about, right from the start, Connor Jones is a left-hander who strikes guys out,” said scouting director Damon Oppenheimer to Bryan Hoch. “Taylor Widener from South Carolina is a power arm guy, he’s hit 97. We’ve got some athletes in there that we think can swing the bat. There’s a bunch of them down here that we’re excited about.”

The Yanks also grabbed power arms in TCU RHP Brian Trieglaff (13th), Fullerton RHP Miles Chambers (20th), Louisiana Tech RHP Braden Bristo (23rd), and Gonzaga RHP Gage Burland (26th). Trieglaff, Chambers, and Burland are relievers. Bristo has a chance to start thanks to a deeper arsenal of secondary pitches.

Outfield Depth

Robinson. (Brian Jr/Daily Trojan)
Robinson. (Brian Jr/Daily Trojan)

New York seemed to select an inordinate number of outfielders on Day Three — eight of their 30 picks were outfielders (they drafted four infielders total this year) — and why is that? Well, the lower levels of the minors are already loaded with infielders, and they have more on the way thanks to the 2014 international spending spree. Teams don’t draft for need, but in the late rounds when you need to fill out rosters, you kinda have to.

The Yankees grabbed all sorts of different outfielders. They picked up burners, like Wagner OF Ben Ruta (30th) and USC OF Corey Dempster (37th). They also selected some brute mashers, like USC OF Timmy Robinson (21st), Maryland JuCo OF Joe Burton (24th), and Western Carolina RHP Bryson Bowman (33rd). Florida HS OF Jordan Scott (14th), Texas HS OF Evan Alexander (19th), and Florida HS Edel Luaces (25th) represent the raw prep outfielders.

Burton is the best prospect among the outfielders because he has very good bat speed from the right side and also a ton of natural strength. He hit .407/.514/.749 with 16 doubles, 16 homers, 37 walks, and 36 strikeouts in 62 games this spring. Burton is a huge guy — he’s listed at 6-foot-4 and 240 lbs. on Harford Community College’s official site — and is limited defensively in the outfield. His bat got him drafted for sure.

The Best of the Rest

Eastern Kentucky 3B Mandy Alvarez (17th) stands out for his strike zone knowledge and ability to have consistently tough at-bats every time up … Arizona HS RHP Juan Cabrera (32nd) is similar to current Yankees farmhand LHP Nestor Cortes as a command and control guy with crazy K/BB numbers (68/3 in 48 IP this spring) … Illinois HS C Sam Ferri (38th) might end up on the mound because his arm is so strong and his bat is such a question … Fordham RHP Greg Weissert (18th), LSU LHP Phil Diehl (27th), Stony Brook LHP Tyler Honahan (36th), and Wisconsin-Milwaukee RHP Brian Keller (39th) all have starter stuff but aren’t hard-throwers. They’ll be chewing up minor league innings for an affiliate soon.

* * *

I don’t know if this was by design or simply coincidence, but the Yankees selected 14 high school players in this year’s draft after selecting 14 in the last two drafts combined. Twelve of their 30 picks on Day Three were high schoolers, and while that doesn’t sound like much, it really is. Day Three is often filled with cheap college players to fill out minor league rosters. We have to see how many of these prep players the Yankees actually sign, but it does seem like they’re putting more faith in their player development staff’s ability to turn these guys into big leaguers.

Yankees no match for Kinsler, Verlander; fall 6-1 to Tigers

All good things must come to an end, including five-game winning streaks. The Yankees lost for the first time in nearly a week Saturday night when the Tigers roughed them up in the Bronx. The final score was 6-1. The Yankees fell back to .500 at 31-31.


Tanaka’s Two Mistakes
I thought Masahiro Tanaka pitched better than the box score indicates, but, at the end of the day, five runs in 6.1 innings is five runs in 6.1 five innings. He made a bad 0-2 mistake pitch to Nick Castellanos in the second inning, which Castellanos promptly deposited into the home bullpen for a solo home run and a 1-0 Tigers lead. Tanaka then retired eight of the next ninth batters, and the one who reached base was quickly erased on a double play.

Tanaka limited the Tigers to that one run before things got messy in the fifth. Justin Upton opened the inning with a single to left, then Detroit put runners on the corners with one out when Jose Iglesias poked a ground ball through the right side. Tanaka had his first major jam of the night, though he was still a double play grounder away from escaping. Instead, he threw an awful first pitch two-seam fastball to Ian Kinsler that ran back over the plate …

Masahiro Tanaka Ian Kinsler

… and eventually landed in the left field seats for a three-run home run. It looked like the ball would hook foul at the last second, but alas. A three-run dinger and a 4-1 Tigers lead it was. Tanaka retired the next seven batters before a James McCann single ended his night with one out in the seventh. He came into the game having not allowed a home run in his last 30 innings, then allowed two in the span of four innings. Baseball.

One Run Ain’t Enough
I know the offense has gone ice cold for long stretches of time this season and it’s easy to bitch and moan when they don’t score, but Justin Verlander was on his game Saturday, and that’s really all there is to it. Sometimes you just get beat. Verlander’s been insanely good of late — he came into this start having allowed ten runs and a .161/.220/.245 opponent’s batting line his last six starts and 44.2 innings — and he was good again Saturday.

The Yankees should have scored their one run on a Chase Headley homer. He ripped a line drive the opposite way to left field that sure looked like it hit the foul pole based on replays, but the umpires ruled it hit the top of the wall. They reviewed it and everything. Still no homer. Headley wound up with a triple and Rob Refsnyder singled him in, so ultimately it didn’t matter. The run scored. That was pretty much the extent of New York’s offense.

Verlander limited the Yankees to that one run on five hits and a walk in 6.2 innings. Following Refsnyder’s run-scoring single, Verlander retired 12 of the final 15 batters he faced, and two of the three baserunners came with two outs and the bases empty, so they weren’t exactly prime run-scoring opportunities. What can you? Verlander was pretty awesome. It happens. Forget about it and come to play tomorrow.

Yatesy. (Presswire)
Yatesy. (Presswire)

Whatever magic Kirby Yates had earlier this season has worn off. He replaced Tanaka in the seventh, allowed an infield single to Iglesias (whatever) and a booming double to center by Kinsler (yuck) to score two runs. Yates has now allowed seven runs in his last 8.1 innings. Middle relief is a major issue right now. The big three can’t pitch every night.

Nice night for Refsnyder, who had been struggling since he took over as the regular first baseman. He ripped two hard-hit singles and also played a clean first base. Brett Gardner, Didi Gregorius, and Headley had the team’s other hits. Gardner slapped a single to lift and Didi doubled into the left-center field gap. Headley non-homered.

The Yankees actually loaded the bases with two outs in the ninth, forcing Tigers manager Brad Ausmus to bring closer Francisco Rodriguez into the game. They didn’t score, but maybe it’s enough to put the O’Neill Theory into effect Sunday. That would be neat. Also, K-Rod pitched in a game he didn’t real need to pitch.

And finally, we had some late-inning pitching weirdness. Former Yankees Shane Greene and Justin Wilson both pitched against the Yankees for the first time. Former Tiger Chad Green, who came over in the Wilson trade, did not pitch, though he did warm up in the bullpen. For shame. Joe Girardi has no sense of history.

Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
ESPN has both the box score and updated standings, and MLB.com has the video highlights. We have Bullpen Workload and Announcer Standings pages too. Here’s the win probability graph:

Source: FanGraphs

Up Next
Old Timers’ Day! The festivities start at 11:30am ET on Sunday. The Yankees and Tigers will then play the rubber game of this three-game series at 2pm ET. Michael Pineda vs. Michael Fulmer is the scheduled pitching matchup. Head on over to RAB Tickets if you want to catch that game live.

DotF: Fowler has a big day in Trenton’s doubleheader

Triple-A Scranton (15-12 win over Columbus)

  • CF Ben Gamel: 4-5, 3 R, 1 RBI, 1 SB
  • RF Nick Swisher: 3-4, 4 R, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 1 BB — fifth homer in 43 games with the RailRiders
  • DH Aaron Judge: 2-4, 3 R, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 1 BB, 1 K — eighth homer of the season and his first since May 9th
  • 1B Tyler Austin: 1-4, 1 R, 2 RBI, 1 BB, 3 K
  • C Kyle Higashioka: 2-5, 1 R, 2 2B, 4 RBI, 3 K — straight up beast mode right now
  • LF Cesar Puello: 1-4, 2 R, 1 BB, 1 K, 1 SB
  • RHP Kyle Haynes: 3.1 IP, 8 H, 7 R, 7 ER, 3 BB, 2 K, 5/1 GB/FB — 39 of 73 pitches were strikes (53%) … first game off the DL after missing a month with a lat injury
  • RHP Mark Montgomery: 2.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 3 BB, 4 K, 1/1 GB/FB — 26 of 51 pitches were strikes (51%) … I have to think that’s a career high in pitches
  • LHP Neat Cotts: 1.1 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 0 BB, 0 K, 3/0 GB/FB — 20 of 26 pitches were strikes (77%)

[Read more…]

Game 62: Can The Yankees Make It Six Straight?

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

The Yankees are probably playing their best baseball of the season right now. They’ve won five straight games and they’ve outscored their opponents 32-14 in the five games, which is pretty damn awesome. Hopefully they can keep it going tonight. Being over .500 is pretty cool. Here is the Tigers’ lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:

  1. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  2. LF Brett Gardner
  3. RF Carlos Beltran
  4. DH Alex Rodriguez
  5. C Brian McCann
  6. 2B Starlin Castro
  7. SS Didi Gregorius
  8. 3B Chase Headley
  9. 1B Rob Refsnyder
    RHP Masahiro Tanaka

It’s another nice day in New York. Warmer than it has been the last few days but not oppressively hot. It’s actually raining right now in New York but it’s not supposed to last very long. Tonight’s game is going to begin at 7:15pm ET and you can watch on FOX. Enjoy the broadcast!

Injury Update: Chasen Shreve (shoulder) will start a minor league rehab assignment with Triple-A Scranton tomorrow.

2016 Draft: Day Three Open Thread

(Pic via @MLB)
(Pic via @MLB)

The top ten rounds of the 2016 amateur draft are in the books. The Yankees landed a premium talent in OF Blake Rutherford on Day One, and they spent most of Day Two manipulating their bonus pool situation to make sure they have enough cash to sign him. The draft wraps up today with rounds 11-40. Yes, 11-40. The draft was once 100 rounds, you know.

In addition to the usual Day Three fodder (organization filler, etc.), I expect the Yankees to grab some of the best available players throughout the day as a backup plan in case Rutherford doesn’t sign. They’ll lose the $2.44M tied to his pick if he doesn’t sign, but they’ll still have the savings from their picks in rounds 2-10 available. I fully expect Rutherford to sign. The Yankees still need a Plan B though. You can see all of their picks at MLB.com. Here are some stray links to check out:

  • No one has signed yet as far as we know. Both 2B Nick Solak (2nd round) and RHP Nolan Martinez (3rd) told Bryan Hoch they intend to sign, however. Solak has to wait for Louisville’s season to end. They’re very much a College World Series contender. Also, RHP Nick Nelson (4th) indicated to Pat McCann he plans to sign, and LHP Trevor Lane (10th) told Paul Pagnato he intends to sign.
  • Chris Crawford (no subs. req’d) and Jim Callis put together posts looking at the best (and in Crawford’s case, also the worst) picks from Day Two of the draft. The Yankees aren’t mentioned in either post. Also, Chris Mitchell used his KATOH system to project the college players taken on Day Two. The vast majority project out to replacement level. OF Dom Thompson-Williams (5th) leads the Yankees at +0.3 WAR.
  • Here are the best available players according to Baseball America and MLB.com. Like I said, I expect the Yankees to grab a few of the top remaining talents just to have backup plans in case Rutherford doesn’t sign.

The draft resumes today at 12pm ET. Thankfully the picks are rapid fire today, one after the other. The entire draft used to be like that back in the day. It was pretty great. Here’s the MLB.com broadcast and here’s the MLB.com Draft Tracker. The Yankees have found some useful arms on Day Three in recent years (David Phelps, Shane Greene, Bryan Mitchell, Chase Whitley, etc.), so today is not insignificant. Enjoy the rest of the draft.

2016 Draft: Yankees focus on saving bonus pool space for Rutherford on Day Two

Generally speaking, teams have two goals on Day Two of the draft. First of all they want to acquire talent. That’s obvious. At the same time, they also want to make sure their bonus pool situation is in order, so they spend a lot of time on the phone cutting deals. No one likes surprises when it comes to bonus demands, especially now in the age of spending pools.

After making two picks on Day One, the Yankees made eight more yesterday, and most of them were used on players who figure the save the team bonus pool space. California HS OF Blake Rutherford, the team’s first round pick, is not going to come cheap. He was a projected top ten pick and figures to be paid accordingly. The Yankees had to do something to save pool space on Day Two. Let’s review the team’s picks in rounds 3-10.

Adding More Upside

The pool saving did not start right away. The Yankees kicked off Day Two by taking California HS RHP Nolan Martinez with their third round pick, No. 98 overall. That seems like good value; Baseball America ranked Martinez as the 67th best prospect in the draft class while Keith Law (subs. req’d) and MLB.com ranked him 93rd and 99th, respectively. Point is, this wasn’t a pick designed to save money.

Martinez is a 6-foot-2 right-hander who runs his fastball up to 95 mph on occasion, and last fall at the World Wood Bat Association showcase, PitchFX measured his fastball spin rate at 2,685 rpm. That was the highest spin rate at the event and well above the MLB average fastball spin rate of 2,226 rpm. Spin rate is still a new thing we’re learning about, though high spin rates correlate well to swings and misses and low spin rates correlate well to ground balls.

In addition to the high spin fastball, Martinez also throws an upper-70s slurve that is closer to a curveball than a slider. He also has a changeup and a good, athletic delivery. Martinez doesn’t have sky high upside, but he does have three pitches and okay control, which is a darn good starting point for a third round pick. He’s the best prospect the Yankees have drafted aside from Rutherford so far.

Back to the JuCo ranks

I’m not sure how well they compare to other teams, but the Yankees seem to do a really good job scouting junior colleges. Just last season they plucked OF Trey Amburgey out of a junior college. Two years ago they landed 1B Chris Gittens from a junior college. Go back to 2011 and they plucked RHP Jon Gray out of a junior college too. He only developed into a prospect worthy of being the No. 3 pick in the country.

The Yankees went back to the junior college ranks to select Florida JuCo RHP Nick Nelson in the fourth round (128th overall). Nelson was a two-way player in school — he led the team in innings (90.1) and was second in plate appearances (247) — who projects best on the mound. It’s a classic reliever profile with a low-90s heater and a good slider, and if there’s one thing the Yankees know how to find in the draft, it’s bullpen arms.

Thompson-Williams. (247Sports)
Thompson-Williams. (247Sports)

A Top Tool in the Fifth Round

Once you get to the fifth round, there’s not much more you can do than zero in on players with an above-average tool and either hope it carries him or the rest of his game catches up. The Yankees picked South Carolina OF Dom Thompson-Williams with their fifth round selection (158th overall) and his standout tool in his defense. He’s a ballhawk in the outfield capable of making highlight reel plays. Can he hit? That’s the question and most think the answer is a no. The Yankees will send Thompson-Williams out there and hope he learns to recognize spin and catch up to pro velocity well enough to keep his glove in the lineup.

Time to Save Money

Inevitably, the Yankees had to draft some college seniors on Day Two to save bonus pool money for Rutherford. It had to happen. College seniors have little leverage and often sign for five-figure bonuses. Some get even less than that. The best senior the Yankees drafted yesterday is USC RHP Brooks Kriske (sixth round), who added velocity this spring and now sits 93-95 mph. He also has a slider and could carve out a career in the bullpen.

Fullerton 1B Dalton Blaser (eighth round) and Southern Miss 1B Tim Lynch (ninth round) will reportedly be in the Bronx later today to try out for the big league team’s first base job. Okay fine, I made that up. It might not be a bad idea though given the team’s first base situation. Anyway, Blaser is the better prospect of the two as a lefty hitter with some pull power. He hit .359/.439/.485 with four homers, 30 walks, and 18 strikeouts this year.

Update: I didn’t realize this, but Blaser’s father Mark was the Yankees’ fourth round pick in the 1981 draft. He played in their farm system from 1981-85, reaching as high as Double-A. Here’s his Baseball Reference page.

Lynch has much better numbers — he put up a .364/.470/.545 batting line with ten homers, 39 walks, and 13 strikeouts this spring — and is another left-hander hitter, but the general belief is there isn’t enough bat speed to handle high caliber pro pitching. Lynch is going to hold down a roster spot in the lower levels and provide some lineup depth around higher profile prospects. Same with Blaser.

Skinner! (North Florida University)
Skinner! (North Florida University)

North Florida C Keith Skinner (seventh round) is another lefty hitter with great numbers — he hit .382/.466/.486 with two homers, 36 walks, and 14 strikeouts this year — and unlike Blaser and Lynch, he has the advantage of playing a premium position. Skinner’s defense is okay at best. He can throw and receive a little bit, but he’s not someone who will shut the running game down with his arm or steal strikes with his framing.

The final college senior the Yankees drafted yesterday is Illinois-Chicago LHP Trevor Lane (tenth round), who fanned 30 and walked eleven in 26.2 innings this spring. He’s a reliever with a classic left-on-left matchup profile. Lane is a little guy at 5-foot-11 and 185 lbs., and he sits in the upper-80s with his fastball. He also has a sweepy breaking ball. Kriske, Skinner, Blaser, Lynch, and Lane are slotted for $944,200 combined. I’ll be surprised if it costs the team even half that to sign them all.

* * *

The Yankees landed one very good prospect in Martinez on Day Two, and I’m interested to see what Kriske does in pro ball, especially if the team sticks him in the bullpen right out of the chute. Most of the day was spent manipulating the bonus pool to make sure they have enough money to sign Rutherford, who is the kind of top of the draft talent the Yankees rarely have access to.

Sabathia’s renaissance continues in 4-0 win over Tigers

Are the Yankees fun right now or what? They beat the Tigers by the score of 4-0 on Friday night for their fifth consecutive win, improving their record to 31-30 on the season. The Yankees are over .500 for the first time since they were 4-3 seven games into the season.

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

Cy Sabathia
One batter into the game, it did not seem CC Sabathia would be around very long. Ian Kinsler battled him for a 12-pitch at-bat to start the first inning — Sabathia got a generous strike three call from home plate umpire Carlos Torres to finally end the at-bat — and it seemed like we were in for another game in which Sabathia had to battle for each out. Remember how hard the Orioles worked him last time out?

Instead, Sabathia settled into a nice groove and pitched around some trouble in the early innings. The leadoff man reached base in the third and fourth innings but failed to score. Then, in the fifth, Detroit loaded the bases with one out for Miguel Cabrera. That was … bad. The Yankees were up 4-0 at the time and Miggy was very capable of tying things up with one swing. That didn’t happen. Sabathia got Cabrera to roll over into a 6-4-3 inning-ending double play. Huge.

Sabathia finished his night by retiring the final seven batters he faced starting with that Miggy double play. I thought his night was over after the sixth with pitch count at 98, but Joe Girardi sent CC back out for the seventh, and he retired the side on ten pitches. Just perfect. Sabathia allowed five hits and two walks in his seven innings. He fanned four and got eight ground ball outs.

Baseball is way more fun when CC is pitching well. This is awesome. Following Friday’s start he’s down to a 2.28 ERA (3.33 FIP) in 59.1 innings. Among the 61 AL pitchers who have thrown at least 50 innings this season, Sabathia has the fourth lowest ERA and the eighth lowest FIP. It’s not crazy to say Sabathia and Masahiro Tanaka have been one of the best one-two rotation punches in baseball this year. They’ve been that good.

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

Over Early
The offense has been clicking over the last week and right away the Yankees were doing damage against Mike Pelfrey. Two singles (Brett Gardner, Carlos Beltran) and a walk (Alex Rodriguez) loaded the bases with one out in the fifth, then Brian McCann drew a bases loaded walk to give New York a really quick 1-0 lead. McCann was ready to swing 3-0, you could see it in his stride, but the pitch was way high. He was looking to make it 4-0. No doubt.

Starlin Castro struck out for the second out of the inning, giving Pelfrey a chance to escape with just one run allowed. Thankfully Justin Upton was playing left field, and he turned what should have been an inning-ending fly ball into a two-run Didi Gregorius double. It wasn’t an easy play — Upton was playing shallow and had to backtrack — but it was a play a big leaguer has to make. The inning should have been over with the score 1-0 Yankees. Instead it was 3-0 Yankees after an inning of play.

In the third, Gardner drew a leadoff walk and was able to scoot all the way to third when James McCann threw a pickoff attempt down the right field line. Beltran drove in Gardner with a single to make it 4-0 good guys. The Yankees really had a chance to break the game open in the fourth when they loaded the bases with no outs, but new first baseman Rob Refsnyder grounded into a 1-2-3 double play to kill the rally. Alas.

The Yankees scored four runs in the first three innings and didn’t do much of anything thereafter. Refsnyder’s rally killer was the start of a stretch of ten straight batters retired by Pelfrey. His night ended when he walked Jacoby Ellsbury with two outs in the seventh. I didn’t think Big Pelf would be around that long. Fourteen of the final 16 Yankees to bat made outs. Good thing they scored early, huh?

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

I give Girardi a lot of crap for his bullpen use, but he handled his relievers perfectly in this game. Even with a 4-0 lead, he went to Dellin Betances in the eighth because the Tigers had the top of the lineup due up. If they were going to make a comeback, it was going to start in that inning. Betances tossed a 1-2-3 inning to snuff out the comeback before it even had a chance to start. Anthony Swarzak then handled the bottom of the order in the ninth.

Beltran and Gregorius each had two hits while Gardner and McCann each had a hit and a walk. Refsnyder went 0-for-3 with a strikeout and is 1-for-14 (.071) since taking over as the starting first baseman. The Yankees are pretty much out of alternatives though, so the job is his. His at-bats have been pretty good, so hopefully Refsnyder gets himself back on track soon.

And finally, Friday’s HOPE Week event involved Blissful Bedrooms, an organization that helps “transform the personal spaces of young individuals who have very limited resources and severe physical disabilities that make them wheelchair dependent and highly reliant on others for activities of daily living.” A bunch of Yankees helped renovate a bedroom earlier today. Pretty awesome. Good stuff, Yankees.

Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
ESPN has the box score and updated standings while MLB.com has the video highlights. We have Bullpen Workload and Announcer Standings pages too. Here’s the win probability graph:

Source: FanGraphs
Up Next
The Yankees and Tigers continue this three-game series with the middle game Saturday night. Yep, a Saturday night game. The. Worst. Anyway, Tanaka and Justin Verlander are the scheduled starters. That should be fun. Check out RAB Tickets if you want to catch that game or Sunday’s game in person before the Yankees head out on the road next week.