Sunday Night Open Thread

The 2015 regular season is over and thanks to the Diamondbacks, the Yankees will host the Astros in the wildcard game Tuesday night. Paul Goldschmidt achieved True Yankee™ status with his two-run go-ahead home run off former Yankee Chad Qualls in the seventh inning. Biggest hit of the Yankees season, possibly. Here’s the video. I’d embed it if it were possible.

Here is your open thread for the rest of the weekend. There’s no more baseball tonight. The season is over for everyone. The late NFL game is the Cowboys at the Saints. Talk about those games, this afternoon’s loss, or anything else right here.

Game 162: Somehow Meaningful


Roughly two months ago the Yankees led the AL East by seven games. Amazingly, they are playing Game 162 today hoping to secure home field advantage in the wildcard game. Things went downhill in a hurry in the second half, and while they’ve clinching a postseason berth, they still don’t know where they’re playing Tuesday. That is kinda silly.

As a result, Joe Girardi can not rest his regulars on the final day of the regular season. Or, rather, he chose not to rest his regulars in an attempt to clinch home field advantage. The two half-lineups during yesterday’s doubleheader didn’t get the job done, so now everyone has to play today. Fitting, really. Girardi and the Yankees went to great lengths to rest everyone this year so they’d be ready for a game like this. Hope they’re up for it. Here’s the Orioles’ lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:

  1. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  2. LF Brett Gardner
  3. DH Alex Rodriguez
  4. RF Carlos Beltran
  5. C Brian McCann
  6. 1B Greg Bird
  7. 3B Chase Headley
  8. 2B Dustin Ackley
  9. SS Didi Gregorius
    RHP Michael Pineda

It is still cloudy in Baltimore but there is no rain in the forecast, so that’s good. The final game of the season will be played without interruption today. First pitch is scheduled for 3:05pm ET and can be seen on YES. Enjoy.

Postseason Scenarios: The Yankees still don’t know who or where they’re playing Tuesday. A win or an Astros loss today clinches home field advantage for the Yankees. That’s the easy part. James Smyth put together a handy spreadsheet explaining all the different wildcard scenarios:

Playoff Scenarios

Every game starts at the same time today except for the Cardinals-Braves doubleheader. Why they’re making them play a meaningless doubleheader on the final day of the season, I’ll never understand.

It’s official: Masahiro Tanaka starting AL wildcard game


As expected, Joe Girardi announced today that Masahiro Tanaka will start Tuesday’s AL wild-card game. No surprise here. The Yankees lined Tanaka up for the wildcard game when he returned from his minor hamstring injury last week. Tanaka was the obvious choice.

With Ivan Nova and Luis Severino starting yesterday’s doubleheader, and Michael Pineda starting today, the only realistic candidates for the wildcard game were Tanaka and CC Sabathia. And I guess Adam Warren, but he’s needed in the bullpen. Tanaka will have an extra day of rest heading into the wildcard game. Sabathia would have been on normal rest.

Tanaka, 26, has a 3.51 ERA (3.99 FIP) in 24 starts and 154 innings this year around hamstring and forearm issues. He’s been pretty awesome the last few weeks, pitching to a 2.98 ERA (3.80 FIP) in nine starts and 60.1 innings since early-August. The only concern with Tanaka is his penchant for the long ball (1.46 HR/9), though he usually limits the damage to solo homers because he’s so good at limiting base-runners (0.99 WHIP).

The Yankees still don’t know who or where they will play the wildcard game. Chances are it will be the Astros but it could still be the Rangers or Angels. A win today or an Astros loss clinches home field advantage for the Yankees in the wildcard game. If that doesn’t happen, it’ll be in the other team’s park.

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.