Four straight? Four straight. Yankees shut out the O’s 5-0

The Yankees have won four straight games, including three against the Orioles. Remember when this series was supposed to be grim for New York? Completely different so far. They could pull off a four-game sweep now.

(Getty)

Biggie Mikes

Sure, the O’s lineup is pretty banged up. Manny Machado is sick, so is Chris Davis. Hyun Soo Kim just landed on DL and Matt Wieters was also scratched. However, it was just an ordeal for Michael Pineda earlier this year pitching to any ML lineup. That being said, seeing an outing like that from him is quite encouraging.

Tonight was Pineda’s first scoreless start of the year. How about that? It seemed like he was surely going to have “one of those innings” in the fourth, when he got into a bases loaded, one-out situation. However, Big Mike turned to his most effective weapon to disarm the next two hitters. His slider was pretty filthy tonight. He threw it 45 times and generated 18 swings-and-misses, good for a 40% whiff (!) rate. He struck out Nolan Reimold on three straight sliders and got Ryan Flaherty strike out swinging on a fifth-pitch slider to end the inning. He had, however, thrown a whopping 79 pitches in four innings by then.

Pineda got into more trouble the next year, when he put a runner on third with one out in the sixth. Mark Trumbo led off with a double and advanced to third on Pedro Alvarez’s ground out. After a mound visit, Pineda reverted back to his nasty mode, striking out J.J. Hardy and Reimold to end the inning, and his night. He walked off the mound having thrown 6 scoreless innings with 5 hits allowed, 2 walks and 8 strikeouts. It wasn’t a perfect start but it’s the type of an outing that makes you hopeful about his season (or trade stock).

(Getty)

A First Inning Run?????

Prior to tonight, the last time the Yankees scored a run in the first inning was on June 21, during the home series against the Rockies. What is today? July 20. Almost a full month has gone and Yankees finally, finally scored a run in the first inning today.

On the very first pitch of the bottom of the first, Brett Gardner drilled a slider that deflected off of RF Joey Rickard’s glove and ended up becoming a triple. It seemed like Rickard was going to make a nice catch on the wall but he couldn’t hold onto it. On the very next pitch though, Jacoby Ellsbury seemed to be reluctant to break the streak by popping out. However, Carlos Beltran hit a sac fly to drive Gardner in to make it 1-0.

A Pretty Decent Offense?

The Yankees scored five runs in five different innings today, which, I guess, makes for a neat scoreboard display: no 2’s, no 3’s, just a whole lot of 0’s and 1’s all around. They took that 1-0 lead into the fourth and Mark Teixeira hit a solo homer to make it 2-0. He hit a 88 mph pitch that was more of a line drive than a fly ball, and it just didn’t really sink until it got into the short porch seats. Tex is having a pretty abysmal season (58 wRC+ after this game) but hopefully some dingers will turn it around.

New York could have piled on way more runs in the sixth. Ellsbury led off with a single and Beltran saw a huge open space on the third base side and easily bunted for a single. Brian McCann worked a five-pitch walk to load the bases. Gallardo, clearly shaken a bit, walked Teixeira in four pitches to force in a run. 3-0 Yankees. With two of the hottest bats in the team coming up (Didi Gregorius and Starlin Castro), you’d think Yankees were to score more. However, Gregorius struck out and Castro grounded into a double play to end the frame in an anticlimactic sense. Oh well.

(Getty)

But pout not, the Yankees came back to score another run in the seventh. With one out, Ronald Torreyes squared up on a 88-mph pitch to right field for a triple. Torreyes was a late addition to the lineup tonight after Chase Headley couldn’t play for “personal reasons.” Gardner skied a sac fly to center to bring Torreyes in. 4-0 Yankees.

Wait, not done yet! Former Yankee RHP Chaz Roe came in to pitch the eighth for the Orioles. Beltran, who already had an RBI and a hit this game, drilled Roe’s fastball into the right field seats for a no-doubt solo home run. It seemed like Roe was trying to pound Beltran inside the zone but simply missed the spot. A good hitter like Carlos will punish that mistake ruthlessly and boy, that home run was majestic. Beltran knew right away and just tossed the bat lightly before starting to job. 5-0 Yankees.

Leftovers

The Yankees’ lead was at 3-0 heading into the top seventh so it seemed like the time for the No Runs DMC equation. Dellin Betances tossed an easy one-strikeout perfect frame to start that sequence … but once the offense scored another, Joe Girardi decided to plug in Nick Goody and Chasen Shreve for eighth and ninth respectively. Both of them threw a scoreless inning each to finish off the game, which was neat. They were able to rest the big arms Andrew Miller and Aroldis Chapman, and the lesser guys in the bullpen didn’t allow any damage.

Box Score, Highlights, WPA and Standings

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


Source: FanGraphs


The Yanks play a matinee match tomorrow to try to sweep the Orioles. Big man CC Sabathia will square up against the O’s ace Chris Tillman.

DotF: Mateo homers in first game back from suspension

Triple-A Scranton (14-2 win over Charlotte) they scored 12 runs in the sixth inning

  • CF Mason Williams: 0-4, 1 R, 2 RBI, 1 BB
  • LF Ben Gamel: 2-5, 2 R, 1 BB, 1 K — 24-for-65 (.369) in his last 14 games … he’s up to .305/.384/.420 on the season
  • C Gary Sanchez: 3-6, 2 R, 1 HR, 4 RBI, 1 E (pickoff) — his grand slam capped off that 12-run sixth inning
  • DH Ike Davis: 2-3, 1 R, 2 RBI, 2 BB, 1 K
  • 1B Tyler Austin: 2-5, 2 R, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 2 K — that’s his 15th homer of the season … he hit 15 total from 2014-15
  • RF Jake Cave: 2-5, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 1 K
  • RHP Luis Severino: 6 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 11 K, 1 WP, 4/2 GB/FB — 63 of 98 pitches were strikes (64%) … 59/15 K/BB in 66.2 innings at Triple-A
  • RHP Johnny Barbato: 3 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 4 K, 4/0 GB/FB — 29 of 43 pitches were strikes (67%) … 20/4 K/BB in his last 17 innings

[Read more…]

Game 94: Can they make it four straight?

(Elsa/Getty)
(Elsa/Getty)

Here’s a not-so-fun fact: the Yankees have not been more than one game over .500 since April 12th, when they were 4-2 a week into the season. This current three-game winning streak has them one game over at 47-46. The Yankees also haven’t won as many as four in a row since early-June, so they can go places they haven’t been in quite some time with a win tonight. Here is the Orioles’ lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:

  1. LF Brett Gardner
  2. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  3. DH Carlos Beltran
  4. C Brian McCann
  5. 1B Mark Teixeira
  6. SS Didi Gregorius
  7. 2B Starlin Castro
  8. RF Aaron Hicks
  9. 3B Ronald Torreyes
    RHP Michael Pineda

It’s been a very nice day in New York. The sky is mostly clear and it’s on the cool side. Nice night for baseball, I’d say. Tonight’s game will begin at 7:05pm ET and you can watch on YES. Enjoy.

Rotation Update: Joe Girardi said Masahiro Tanaka remains on track to start Friday. He still wouldn’t say why Chad Green was scratched from last night’s Triple-A start. My guess is Green will start Friday to give Tanaka and extra day of rest. Either that or there’s some sort of trading pending. Or someone’s hurt and we don’t know about it. Developing!

Roster Update: Chase Headley was originally in tonight’s lineup before being a late scratch. The Yankees it’s an excused absence for “personal reasons.” Hope everything’s okay.

Trade Deadline Notes: Lopez, Nats, Giants, Rangers, Gallo

Lopez. (Mitchell Layton/Getty)
Lopez. (Mitchell Layton/Getty)

The Yankees have won six of their last nine games, and during that time they’ve gained exactly zero games in wildcard race. Not one. They’re still five games back, though now there’s only three teams ahead of them instead of six. Yay? Here’s the latest batch of trade deadline rumors.

Yankees scouted Lopez, others Tuesday

Vice president of baseball operations Tim Naehring was at Nationals Park last night to scout rookie right-hander Reynaldo Lopez and other players, reports George King. Lopez got knocked around in his MLB debut, allowing six runs on ten hits and a walk in 4.2 innings, but he did strike out nine. Baseball America ranked him 48th in their midseason top 100 update, and Lopez has long been speculated as a possible center piece for an Aroldis Chapman or Andrew Miller trade.

The only other notable young players to play in last night’s Nationals-Dodgers game were Joc Pederson and Trea Turner. I’d be surprised if the Dodgers traded Pederson. Turner though? He could definitely be a trade chip with Washington so committed to Danny Espinosa at short (and prospect Wilmer Difo on the way). Turner went 1-for-4 with a two-run triple and a strikeout last night. Here’s video of the triple. For what it’s worth, Lopez strikes me as way more available than Turner.

Giants lingering in Chapman, Miller race

The Giants continue to linger in the Chapman/Miller market according to Jerry Crasnick, though they might be outbid by other clubs with more young talent to offer. San Francisco is focusing on other relievers for the time being, including Jeremy Jeffress and Will Smith of the Brewers, and Jeanmar Gomez and David Hernandez of the Phillies.

As I said a few weeks ago, it’s hard to find a match between the Yankees and Giants because the Giants don’t have a great farm system. Most of their top prospects are either having down years or are far away from MLB. And even if San Francisco was willing to trade off their big league roster, who could they offer? Joe Panik or Matt Duffy? That ain’t happening. The Giants want to add to their MLB team, not subtract from it.

Yankees “intrigued” by Gallo, Rangers scouting Yanks

(Kyle Rivas/Getty)
(Kyle Rivas/Getty)

The Rangers have been scouting the Yankees for several weeks now, according to Evan Grant and George King. They’ve specifically been looking at Miller, Chapman, Dellin Betances, Ivan Nova, Nathan Eovaldi, and even CC Sabathia. Texas had trusted scout Russ Ardolina at Yankee Stadium on Monday to see Nova. The big three relievers pitched that game too. The Rangers need all sorts of pitching help and the Yankees have a bunch to offer.

King says the Yankees are “intrigued” by dinger mashing prospect Joey Gallo, and Grant says that while Gallo isn’t untouchable, it’s going to take a lot to get him. Texas turned down Gallo for Drew Pomeranz, for example. There are concerns about Gallo’s ability to make consistent contact against MLB caliber arms, but he has true 80 power on the 20-80 scouting scale, the kind that will produce 40 bombs in any park even if he hits .230. He’s also a good defender at third base, so while he’s a flawed player, Gallo has a chance to a middle of the order force long-term.

Rosenthal: CC Sabathia drawing trade interest

(Adam Hunger/Getty)
(Adam Hunger/Getty)

According to Ken Rosenthal, the Yankees are drawing trade interest in some of their starting pitchers, including veteran lefty CC Sabathia. That’s a sentence I never thought I would write coming into this season. CC has been using a new knee brace and a new cutter this year, plus he’s sober now, all of which are reasons he may be more effective going forward than he was from 2013-15.

Sabathia, 35, has a very respectable 3.94 ERA (3.97 FIP) in 93.2 innings this season after the Yankees made him compete for a rotation spot in Spring Training. He started the season very well but has crashed hard of late, allowing at least five runs in each of his last five starts. Some home run regression was inevitable — it still is, probably (0.67 HR/9 and 7.0 HR/FB%) — and it’s arrived. I have some thoughts on Sabathia as a trade candidate.

1. The interest probably isn’t all that serious. Sabathia is very well respected around the league for all he’s accomplished and his willingness to give everything he has to his team and teammates. He pitches hurt, he pitches on short rest, he does whatever is needed. It’s admirable. Teams wish they had 25 guys like Sabathia in the clubhouse.

Despite that, I don’t think any club is serious about acquiring Sabathia because his on-field value is so small. He was both hurt and terrible from 2013-15, and based on his last five starts, his early season success this year may have been a mirage. Also, Sabathia’s vesting option complicates things. Either the $25M option is going to vest, or he’s going to hurt his shoulder in the second half and be no help. That’s a lose-lose for the acquiring team.

My guess is any trade discussions involving Sabathia have gone like this:

Other GM: “Hey Brian, are you open to trading CC?”
Cashman: “We’re open to trading anyone. What are you offering?”
Other GM: “We’ll give you a middling prospect if you eat 80% of what’s left on his contract.”

Other teams will take Sabathia if the Yankees are willing to pay down a ton of his contract, otherwise it doesn’t make sense to acquire him. It would be a straight salary dump, a la A.J. Burnett to the Pirates or Josh Hamilton to the Rangers (the second time). Sabathia’s a sunk cost. The Yankees have to pay him anyway. At least a salary dump trade would save a little cash and free up a rotation spot for a younger arm.

Of course, that also means the Yankees would have to replace Sabathia’s innings, which might not be a huge deal. They have Chad Green and Luis Cessa in Triple-A, not to mention Luis Severino, so there are arms available. The Yankees would just have to monitor workloads later in the season. September call-ups will make that a little easier.

2. Sabathia has complete control of the situation. It doesn’t matter what Sabathia’s contract says at this point. He has full no-trade protection through his ten-and-five rights, so he’s in total control here. If he doesn’t want to be traded, he won’t be traded. It’s pretty simple. Sabathia and his family live in New Jersey year-round now, so he might not want to go anywhere else. I wouldn’t blame him. It’s pretty awesome here.

We’ve speculated countless times over the years that Sabathia may be willing to accept a trade to go home to the Bay Area, where he grew up, though who knows if that’s true. We can rule the Athletics out immediately. Doesn’t make sense for Sabathia to go there and it doesn’t make sense for the A’s to bring him in. That leaves the Giants, who are very much in contention and need a fifth starter with Matt Cain unable to stay healthy.

Sabathia seems like a classic “trade deadline pickup to World Series hero for the Giants” move. Doesn’t that seem like a thing that could happen? It does to me. Sabathia would be home, but not home home with his family, and who knows if the Giants are even interested. I’m not sure putting the big man in the pitchers have to hit league is such a good idea at this point given his knee.

* * *

Rosenthal says there’s been interest in Sabathia and there’s no reason to doubt his reporting. That doesn’t mean there’s serious interest though. Teams may have checked in just in case the Yankees were open to eating a ton of money, and Sabathia’s not really the kind of guy you eat a ton of money to move. He’s a leader in the clubhouse and he has value as an innings eater, even on a bad team. Sabathia doesn’t fit into the #TeamSell plan.

Scouting the Trade Market: Cleveland Indians

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Even after losing three of four to the Yankees before the All-Star break, the Indians own the best record in the AL (55-38) and have a comfortable 6.5-game lead in the AL Central. That’s not insurmountable by any means, but it is a nice lead at this point of the season. Cleveland has been to the postseason just once since beating the Yankees in the 2007 ALDS, and that was a wildcard game loss to the Rays in 2013. You know they want to do better this year.

It’s no surprise then Jerry Crasnick reported yesterday that folks within the game believe the Indians are more willing to make a blockbuster trade at the deadline this year than they have been in quite some time. Their rotation is still young and cheap, their core veterans (Michael Brantley, Jason Kipnis, Carlos Santana, etc.) are still in their prime, and they’re in position to make the postseason. They have a great chance to win this year and they want to capitalize.

The Indians could really use another late-game reliever to lighten the load on setup man Bryan Shaw and closer Cody Allen, and preferably that reliever would be a lefty. Somehow the Tribe has gotten only 22.1 innings from lefty relievers this season. Crazy, right? Chasen Shreve alone has thrown 22 innings for the Yankees. Anyway, Cleveland is said to have interest in Andrew Miller, who’s pretty much the best possible solution for that late-inning lefty role. Someone like Carlos Beltran could be of interest too since Brantley’s shoulder keeps barking.

The Yankees reportedly had two scouts watching the Indians’ High Class-A affiliate yesterday, which happens to house many of their top prospects. Cleveland has a loaded farm system — they landed seven players on Baseball America’s midseason top 100 list — so they have the motivation and wherewithal to make a big trade. Which prospects should the Yankees target in a potential Miller (or Beltran) trade? That’s what we’re here to discuss. Here are a handful of candidates. The players are listed alphabetically and the scouting report blurbs are from MLB.com.

LHP Brady Aiken

Background: Aiken, 19, was the first overall pick in the 2014 draft, but he didn’t sign with the Astros after they found something in his physical. He blew out his elbow the following spring and the Indians picked him 17th overall in the 2015 draft anyway. Aiken has completed his Tommy John surgery rehab and is currently pitching in rookie ball, where he’s allowed 15 runs on 18 hits and nine walks in 14.2 innings. He’s struck out 22. Baseball America ranked him 59th on their midseason top 100.

Scouting Report: “The left-hander spots his fastball to both sides of the plate, working at 92-94 mph and touching 97 with late life, and he can throw his curveball for a strike or take it out of the zone to induce whiffs. Aiken’s changeup gives him a third weapon, thrown with good deception and tumble, and his athleticism and smooth, repeatable delivery bode well for his command profile … If Aiken can regain and then build on his pre-surgery form, he could develop into a front-of-the-rotation starter.”

Why Should The Yankees Want Him? When right, Aiken has true top of the rotation upside and that is very hard to find. The term “future ace” gets thrown around way too often these days but Aiken absolutely fits the bill. He had command of three above-average pitches before getting hurt and his competitiveness and makeup are considered pluses. That’s an ace starter kit all the way.

Why Should The Yankees Stay Away? Aiken did not have a routine Tommy John surgery. There was apparently some other stuff going on in his elbow as well, though no one seems to know what, exactly. His performance hasn’t been good since finishing his rehab, and while you can attribute that to rust, it’s a reminder of just how far Aiken has to go to reach that ace ceiling. He’s very far away from MLB and very high risk.

OF Greg Allen

Background: The Indians selected the 23-year-old Allen in the sixth round of the 2014 draft and he’s been a hitting machine as a pro. So far this season he’s authored a .298/.425/.398 (140 wRC+) line with three homers, 37 steals in 40 attempts, a 13.8% walk rate, and a 12.3% strikeout rate in 85 High-A games. Allen is a bit old for his level, so just keep that in mind.

Scouting Report: “Allen knows how to use his above-average speed, as he’s a disciplined hitter with advanced on-base skills who consistently puts the ball in play from both sides of the plate … He has below-average power overall … Allen’s wheels also serve him well in center field, where he gets good jumps consistently and covers a lot of ground … Allen shows the makings of becoming a top-of-the-order hitter who also offers value with his baserunning and defense.”

Why Should The Yankees Want Him? Allen is not a top prospect — MLB.com ranks him 22nd in Cleveland’s system — but he’s a high-contact hitter from both sides of the plate with plate discipline and speed and center field defensive chops. That profile is a pretty good bet to amount to something in the big leagues, even if it’s only a fourth outfielder. Allen shouldn’t be the center piece of any trade, but he would be a fine third or fourth piece.

Why Should The Yankees Stay Away? Guys with minimal power like Allen are always at risk of getting beat with fastballs in the zone at the upper levels. Pitchers don’t worry about being taken deep, so they challenge these guys. Low minors walk rates are not very predictive and Allen’s ability to get on base via the free pass may evaporate as he climbs the ladder.

1B Bobby Bradley

Background: Since being a third round pick two years ago, Bradley has punished minor league pitching, and he currently owns a .257/.377/.484 (137 wRC+) batting line with 16 homers and a 14.8% walk rate in 83 High-A games as a 20-year-old. He’s nearly three years younger than the average Carolina League player. Baseball America ranked Bradley as the 64th best prospect in baseball in their midseason update.

Scouting Report: “Bradley has all the ingredients needed to be an impact hitter, with plus bat speed, huge power and feel for using the entire field at a young age … (He has a) raw approach, and there are some scouts who worry about his capacity to make consistent contact at higher levels … Bradley faces an uphill battle due to his profile as first-base-only prospect, but his combination of power and hitting ability is plenty good enough to overcome those odds.”

Why Should The Yankees Want Him? Despite his defensive and positional limitations, Bradley projects to be an impact player thanks to his offensive profile from the left side of the plate. He has the potential to hit for average and power down the line, and that’s someone who can hit in the middle of a lineup. Bradley’s more than holding his own despite being young for his level this year.

Why Should The Yankees Stay Away? Those defensive and positional limitations do exist. Bradley is a first baseman only and not a particularly good one either. He also offers nothing on the bases. Bradley has to hit and hit big to have value, and it should be noted he’s struck out 31.4% of the time this year and 29.6% of the time in over 1,000 minor league plate appearances. There are real contact concerns here.

RHP Mike Clevinger

Background: The Indians straight up stole Clevinger two years ago, when they got him from the Angels for Vinnie Pestano. The 25-year-old righty has since blossomed into a very good pitching prospect, one with a 2.82 ERA (3.23 FIP) in 83 Triple-A innings this year. He has a 26.5% strikeout rate and a 9.0% walk rate as well. Clevinger made his MLB debut earlier this season and it didn’t go to well (14 runs in 16.1 innings), but that’s okay. Lots of guys struggle in their first taste of the show. Clevinger was 71st on Baseball America’s midseason top 100, and it’s worth noting the Yankees had at least three scouts on hand to see his most recent Triple-A start, according to Mark Feinsand.

Scouting Report: “Clevinger usually operates at 92-95 mph with his fastball but has touched 97. His slider is his best secondary offering and projects to be above average, thrown with power and depth, and he knows how to keep hitters off balance using his curveball and changeup, though neither pitch is better than fringe average at the moment … There’s still room for improvement, but Clevinger isn’t far away from making an impact in the Major Leagues.”

Why Should The Yankees Want Him? Clevinger is basically big league ready right now. He misses bats with two pitches and has the makings of two others, so he has no doubt starter stuff and control. Is the upside sky high? No, but Clevinger has the tools to hold down a spot in the middle of the rotation for the next several years. The Yankees have been looking for pitching controllable behind 2017 and Clevinger definitely fits the bill.

Why Should The Yankees Stay Away? There aren’t many reasons to stay away, really. Clevinger had Tommy John surgery in 2012, so his medical history isn’t clean, and he struggled with his mechanics big time in 2014. He had a 4.41 ERA (4.56 FIP) in Single-A that year, which is why the Tribe was able to get him for Pestano. He’s been healthy and his mechanics have been fine since then though, so yeah. Clevinger is a quality MLB ready starting pitching prospect.

UTIL Yandy Diaz

Background: Diaz, 24, was a lower profile Cuban signing a few years back ($300,000 bonus) and he’s been very productive in the minors. This season he’s hitting .311/.413/.438 (148 wRC+) with six homers, ten steals, a 14.8% walk rate, and a 15.6% strikeout rate in 83 games split between Double-A and Triple-A. That’s split into a 145 wRC+ in 26 Double-A games and a 148 wRC+ in 56 Triple-A games. Diaz is primarily a third baseman, though he played second in Cuba and has seen time in the outfield corners this year.

Scouting Report: “Diaz is a truly disciplined hitter who never tries to do too much and rarely expands his zone. He makes a lot of contact with his compact right-handed swing, while his flat path through the zone produces line drives across the whole field … (Some) scouts question whether he has the necessary bat speed to generate usable pop in games … Diaz has quickly developed into an above-average defender at third base, where his range, soft hands and strong arm are all clean fits.”

Why Should The Yankees Want Him? Even without much power, Yandy makes enough contact and draws enough walks to be an asset at the plate. The Yankees could also use a long-term third base solution — Miguel Andujar is awesome, but you shouldn’t bank on any one guy to be the answer — and Diaz can not only play the position, but play it well. And he can even fill in at second and in the corner outfield spots. That’s a nice little player for the bottom of the lineup.

Why Should The Yankees Stay Away? I like Yandy but I feel like his upside is the current version of Chase Headley. Good defense and a bunch of walks, but not much power or speed. Diaz is a bit of a ‘tweener because he doesn’t have the kind of pop expected from a corner spot. Playing some second and outfield will help because at least then you can put him on the bench. As a regular though, Diaz seems like someone who won’t kill you while you look for someone better, and that’s not very exciting.

LHP Rob Kaminsky

Background: The Yankees were connected to the 21-year-old Kaminsky, a New Jersey native, prior to the 2013 draft, but he was off the board before their extra picks came around. The Cardinals traded him to the Indians for Brandon Moss last summer, and so far this year Kaminsky has a 3.86 ERA (4.10 FIP) with a 15.0% strikeout rate and an 8.7% walk rate in 81.2 Double-A innings.

Scouting Report: “His fastball sat 86-92 mph with decent arm-side run and sink, and he showed feel for adding and subtracting with the pitch. His plus curveball is a true bat-misser, thrown with outstanding 12-to-6 shape and downer action, and it’s been his greatest weapon since high school … (he has a) changeup and below-average slider … Kaminsky’s advanced command allows him to throw strikes with his entire repertoire … the Indians love his competitiveness and high baseball IQ on the mound.”

Why Should The Yankees Want Him? The Yankees have a lot of big stuff/poor command guys in the organization and Kaminsky is pretty much the opposite. To use an old cliche, he’s a pitcher, not a thrower. Kaminsky is not a future ace like Aiken, but he projects to be a solid mid-to-back-end starter who gets by on smarts more than blow-you-away stuff. Cheap rotation help is always a plus, especially lefties in Yankee Stadium.

Why Should The Yankees Stay Away? Kaminsky’s stuff has taken a pretty big step back since the 2013 draft. His fastball no longer consistently sits in the low-90s and both his changeup and slider have taken a step back because he falls in love with his curveball too easily and doesn’t throw his other pitches enough. (To be fair, it’s a great curveball.) The Cardinals know pitching as well as anyone. When they deal a former first rounder two years later for a guy like Brandon Moss, that’s a red flag to me. They must think the current version of Kaminsky is here to stay. The old version ain’t coming back.

LHP Justus Sheffield

Background: Sheffield, 20, was the 31st overall pick in 2014, and so far this year he has a 3.53 ERA (3.77 FIP) with a 22.9% strikeout rate and a 9.7% walk rate in 89.1 innings at High-A. Baseball America ranked him No. 69 in their midseason top 100 list. It’s worth noting Keith Law said the Yankees had two scouts at Sheffield’s start yesterday, when he struck out eight in 6.2 scoreless innings.

Scouting Report: “He’s hit 96 mph with his fastball but usually sits in the 92-93 mph range with late, arm-side life and some sink. His curveball flashes plus and projects as a swing-and-miss offering at the highest level, and he made strides developing his changeup in 2015 … Both his secondary pitches and his command require further refinement, but the southpaw has all the tools necessary to develop into a quality mid-rotation starting pitcher.”

Why Should The Yankees Want Him? Sheffield has premium stuff and I think he is Cleveland’s best perfectly healthy pitching prospect (Aiken’s coming back from elbow reconstruction), so he’s pretty much the best they have to offer on the mound. Lefties who can miss bats are always in demand, especially in Yankee Stadium given the short porch. The history of the Yankees is loaded with quality southpaws, after all.

Why Should The Yankees Stay Away? Sheffield is listed at 5-foot-10 and there’s always a question about whether a short pitcher can get enough downhill plane on his fastball to avoid being fly ball and home run prone. Also, his location has not been as good this year as last year, when he had a 6.9% walk rate. Sheffield is also a 20-year-old in High-A too. He’s not exactly big league ready. There’s a long way to go to get from where he is now to that mid-rotation ceiling.

* * *

I’m assuming the Indians will make their top two prospects, outfielders Bradley Zimmer and Clint Frazier, completely off limits in a Miller (or Beltran) trade. I know I would. Miller’s awesome but those guys are potential difference-makers who are knocking on the door. Depending on how you feel about Aiken after Tommy John surgery, he’s the best the Indians have to offer after Zimmer and Frazier. Clevinger, Sheffield, and Bradley are the next tier.

The Indians are loaded with prospects, so these guys listed above are hardly all they have to offer. I could definitely see the Yankees pushing for both Clevinger (the MLB ready guy) and Sheffield (the higher upside guy) in a Miller trade, if not more. Remember, they’re going to have to be blown away to trade Miller. Clevinger and Sheffield is a real nice start, though I’m not sure those two alone will be enough to get the Yankees to budge. The Indians definitely have the pieces to get a deal done though.

Yankees 7, Orioles 1: Castro and Swarzak (!?) lead Yankees to third straight win

Against all odds, the Yankees have now won three straight games and six of nine against the Indians, Red Sox, and Orioles. Those are arguably the three best teams in the AL. Tuesday’s win was a 7-1 job over the O’s. This is a suboptimal development for #TeamSell.

(Elsa/Getty)
(Elsa/Getty)

Build a Lead
It’s been nearly a full calendar month since the Yankees last scored in the first inning. I wish I was joking. They last did it 23 games ago on June 21st, the day before Starlin Castro‘s walk-off homer against the Rockies. Geez. The Yankees they were able to score in the second inning Tuesday night, so that’s cool. Didi Gregorius worked a hard-fought ten-pitch walk against Vance Worley with two outs, and Castro made it count with a two-run homer in the second deck in left. ‘Twas a bomb.

The Yankees scored their third run in the fifth inning, and they manufactured that sucker. Rob Refsnyder drew a leadoff walk, stole second base, then Jacoby Ellsbury drove him in with a ground ball single back up the middle. Brett Gardner failed to get a sac bunt down before the single, otherwise it would have been the most manufacturey run that was ever manufactured. Ellsbury picked up Gardner and gave the Yankees a 3-0 lead.

(Elsa/Getty)
(Elsa/Getty)

Five Innings of Nasty Nate
In his first start back in the rotation, Nathan Eovaldi was pretty excellent for the first five innings. He allowed harmless singles in the first and second innings, then retired ten straight batters on only 36 pitches. Eovaldi was effective and efficient, which is something we haven’t seen out of him since May. His June was awful. The demotion to the bullpen was not undeserved. The first five innings were a nice rebound.

Then the sixth inning happened. Eovaldi got the first out easily, but then he walked No. 9 hitter Ryan Flaherty and allowed a ground ball single to Adam Jones. Joey Rickard (Joey Rickard!) pulled a double to left to score a run and put runners on second and third with one out. Eovaldi couldn’t put him away in a two-strike count and missed over the plate with a fastball. Boom, double. A four-pitch walk to Manny Machado followed — it really looked like he pitched around him, which seems silly with Mark Trumbo on deck — ending Eovaldi’s night. He allowed four hits and two walks in 5.1 innings and struck out one.

We’ve seen the “cruise through five innings then not get out of the sixth” act from Eovaldi before, so this was nothing new. What was new (new-ish, really) was the cut fastball he was throwing. I didn’t count how many he threw, but it was quite a few. Eovaldi threw a cutter with the Marlins a few years back but we hadn’t seen it with the Yankees. Seems like something he’s trying to regain some effectiveness. We’ll see if it sticks. The sixth inning stunk, but the first five innings were cool.

Anthony F. Swarzak. (Elsa/Getty)
Tony F. Swarzak. (Elsa/Getty)

#SwarzakForSchwarber
The Cubs won’t trade Kyle Schwarber for Andrew Miller, but do you think they’d trade him for Anthony Swarzak? Swarzak inherited the bases loaded with one out from Eovaldi, and he not only managed to escape without allowing a run, he did it on five pitches against Trumbo and Jonathan Schoop. Trumbo leads MLB in homers and Schoop has been crushing the Yankees for three years now.

Swarzak did have some help, of course. Refsnyder made a great running catch on Trumbo’s pop-up in foul territory, then turned and threw home right away to prevent the runner from scoring from third. It was a really great heads up play by Refsnyder. Here’s the video. You should watch it. Schoop’s foul pop-up was much more routine. Gregorius reeled that one in along the third base line. Heck of a job by Swarzak there.

The Yankees tacked on two runs in the bottom of the sixth on Castro’s two-run double, which gave them a 5-1 lead and allowed Joe Girardi to send Swarzak back out for the seventh. He retired the side on 15 pitches. Girardi sent Swarzak back out for the eighth, and he again retired the side, this time on seven pitches. Swarzak retired all eight guys he faced on a night Girardi wanted to stay away from the big three relievers because of their recent workloads. Heck of a job. Swarzak’s ours and you can’t have him, Cubs!

(Elsa/Getty)
(Elsa/Getty)

Leftovers
Chase Headley whacked a two-run insurance homer in the bottom of the eighth to give the Yankees their 7-1 lead. Nick Goody then struck out the side in the ninth, because hey, why not? Swarzak and Goody retired all eleven batters they faced and they didn’t let a single ball out of the infield. Trumbo’s pop-up to Refsnyder was the farthest hit ball against the bullpen. Go figure.

Castro was the offensive star, going 2-for-4 with the two-run homer and two-run double. Gregorius went 2-for-3 with a walk. The other seven hitters in the lineup went 3-for-20 (.150). Headley had the homer and both Gardner and Ellsbury singled. The Yankees drew a season-high tying seven walks: Carlos Beltran (two), Brian McCann, Alex Rodriguez, Gregorius, Headley, and Refsnyder had them. Three of the seven walks came around to score.

And finally, history was made! Ellsbury recorded his ninth catcher’s interference of the season in the very first inning. Remember, he declined one a few weeks back because the swing resulted in a hit, so it’s really ten catcher’s interferences. The previous single-season record belonged to Roberto Kelly, who had eight for the 1992 Yankees. That’s why they pay Ellsbury the big bucks, to make history.

Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
For the box score and updated standings, go to ESPN. MLB.com has the video highlights. Here are our Bullpen Workload and Announcer Standings pages, and here’s the win probability graph:


Source: FanGraphs

Up Next
The Yankees and Orioles continue this four-game series with the third game Wednesday night. Michael Pineda and Yovani Gallardo are the scheduled starting pitchers. There are five games remaining on the homestand and RAB Tickets can get you in the door to all five.