The Yankees have lost consecutive games just once since the 1-4 start to the season, and they avoided the dreaded two-game losing streak on Saturday with an impressive 4-2 win over the Athletics. Good pitching and timely hitting, there’s your ballgame. Let’s recap…
- Philthy Phil: As I mentioned in the open thread, this was tied for the best start of Phil Hughes‘ career (by Game Score). He allowed three singles, one double, and one walk in eight scoreless innings of work, striking out nine and throwing a first pitch strike to 21 of 29 batters faced. Eighty-two of his 118 total pitches were strikes — including a ridiculous 19 swings and misses — the most strikes thrown by a Yankee and sixth most by any pitcher this season. Hughes retired the last ten men he faced and didn’t allow a single A’s player to make it to third base. He was awesome and has been for four starts now.
- Solo Homers & Singles: The Yankees built a bit of a picket fence against Bartolo Colon and the Oakland bullpen, scoring exactly one run in four of the first seven innings. Chris Stewart (!) opened the scoring with third inning solo homer down the left field line while Lyle Overbay followed with a bigger blast into the second deck in right two innings later. They tacked on ultimately important insurance runs in the sixth and seventh with singles from Travis Hafner and Brett Gardner. Both of those rallies started with extra-base hits and ended with soft hits — Hafner’s was a bloop off the end of the bat while Gardner’s was an infield single off the second baseman’s glove.
- Short Leash: I don’t understand why Joe Girardi bothered to send Shawn Kelley to the mound in the ninth if his leash was one base-runner. Mariano Rivera didn’t pitch on Thursday or Friday, plus the team is off on Monday. Rest isn’t an issue. If you’re willing to bring in Mo with a four-run lead after a man reaches, just send him out for the full inning so he can start it fresh. Eh, whatever. Two runs scored in the ninth, one charged to Kelley and one to Rivera. Four Athletics batted while representing the tying run that inning.
- Leftovers: The Yankees had eight hits, including five for extra-bases. Overbay was the only player with two knocks while Ichiro Suzuki and Chris Nelson went hitless. Everyone else had one hit apiece … the Bombers didn’t draw a single walk, which isn’t surprising. Bartolo Colon has walked one batter (!) in 37.1 innings this season … I have to think Preston Claiborne has a chance to take Kelley’s job if he pitches well between now and when Joba Chamberlain comes off the DL. Kelley has pitched poorly and he clearly doesn’t have Girardi’s trust.
MLB.com has the box score and video highlights, FanGraphs some other stats, and ESPN the updated standings. The Yankees will send Andy Pettitte to the mound in the rubber game on Sunday afternoon while the Athletics will counter with rookie right-hander Dan Straily. If you want to catch the final game of the homestand in person, check out RAB Tickets.
Nice bounceback win this afternoon, especially since Phil Hughes turned in his best start of the season and fourth consecutive strong start. By Game Score (81), it was the best start of his career, tied with this one. Pretty awesome. Good Phil sure is fun to watch.
Here is your open thread for the night. There is plenty of NHL action on tonight, plus the Nets are playing Game Seven. The Mets were rained out, but MLB Network will air a game later. Most will see the Dodgers at the Giants (Magill vs. Vogelsong), which is always fun. Talk about those games or anything else. Have at it.
Right-hander Ivan Nova played catch today for what I believe is the first time since being placed on the DL with triceps inflammation last week. He said he still feels some tightness in triceps, but no pain. Like every other injured Yankee, he will head to Tampa next week while the team leaves for their road trip.
Nova, 26, has been awful in four starts this year, posting a 6.48 ERA and 3.60 FIP in 16.2 innings. There’s certainly a chance the struggles may be related to the injury, ditto his second half trouble last year (7.05 ERA and 5.06 FIP). Remember he missed about three weeks with shoulder inflammation. The bottom line is the Yankees need Nova healthy because he can’t work on things and improve if he can’t get on a mound. · (10) ·
The Yankees were one of four AL East teams to get shutout by AL West teams last night — the Red Sox (vs. Rangers), Blue Jays (vs. Mariners), and Orioles (vs. Angels) also scored zero runs — so at least the rest of the division hit as poorly as the boys in the Bronx. The day game following the night game means a quick turn-around and a chance to make amends for the loss with a win this afternoon. Here’s the starting nine…
- CF Brett Gardner
- 2B Robinson Cano
- LF Vernon Wells
- DH Travis Hafner
- RF Ichiro Suzuki
- 3B Chris Nelson
- 1B Lyle Overbay
- SS Eduardo Nunez
- C Chris Stewart
We’ve got some excellent weather for this afternoon’s game, which is scheduled to start a little after 1pm ET and can be seen on YES. Enjoy.
The Yankees have made a bit of a habit of losing series openers lately, as Friday’s shutout loss to the Athletics was their second consecutive series opener loss and third in their last four series. Was that confusing enough for you? Good. Let’s quickly recap…
- Shaky Sabathia: CC Sabathia was in trouble all night — six innings, ten base-runners, only one 1-2-3 inning — but it was really just one bad pitch that earned him the loss. Adam Rosales hit the very first pitch of the game out into the left field seats for a leadoff homer and a quick 1-0 lead, and that was all Oakland needed.
- Blown Chances: The Yankees had opportunities to put some runs on the board, but they came up empty each time. They left a man on second in the first, men at second and third in the third, a man on first in the fourth, a man on second in the fifth, and a man on second in the seventh. Six scattered hits and one walk usually isn’t enough to win, even when the pitching staff only allows two runs total.
- Leftovers: Nice job by Adam Warren to throw three scoreless frames, though they weren’t the cleanest of innings … Brett Gardner and Jayson Nix both had a pair of hits … it’s become pretty obvious the Yankees need another bat. The 5-9 spots are just awful these days … apparently Sabathia had some kind of verbal confrontation with home plate ump Jordan Baker? I was at the game and didn’t see it.
MLB.com has the box score and video highlights, FanGraphs some other stats, and ESPN the updated standings. Former Yankee Bartolo Colon and future former Yankee Phil Hughes will be on the bump for Saturday’s matinee. Check out RAB Tickets for some last minute deals.
Minor League Update: No DotF tonight, but I will link you to the box scores: Triple-A Scranton (win), Double-A Trenton (win), High-A Tampa (loss), Low-A Charleston (win). RHP Rafael DePaula was the star of the night, striking out seven in five shutout outings to lower his season strikeout rate to 15.1 K/9. CF Mason Williams and SS Cito Culver both went deep, and it was Mason’s second homer in three games.
You thought this was just another early-season game, but no. Joe Girardi is managing his 1,000th big league game tonight, which is kind of a big deal. He is 574-425 (.575) all-time, including 496-341 (.593) in 837 games with the Yankees. Girardi is sixth in games and seventh in wins among Yankees managers, and he’ll likely climb into sixth on the wins list before the end of the month. Here’s the lineup he filled out for tonight’s game against the Athletics and right-hander A.J. Griffin…
- CF Brett Gardner
- 2B Robinson Cano
- LF Vernon Wells
- DH Travis Hafner
- RF Ichiro Suzuki
- SS Eduardo Nunez
- 1B Lyle Overbay
- 3B Jayson Nix
- C Chris Stewart
And on the mound is the guy who signed a letter of intent to play football at the University of Hawaii way back in the day, left-hander CC Sabathia.
Lovely weather in New York, so there will be no issues getting this game started at 7:05pm ET as scheduled. You can watch on YES. Enjoy.
David Robertson Update: Robertson (hamstring) feels better but is not available today. He doesn’t expect to miss more than “a couple of days.” The Yankees are off on Monday, so I’m guessing we don’t see him at all this weekend.
Roster Moves: As expected, Corban Joseph was optioned to Triple-A Scranton to clear a spot on the roster for the recently acquired Chris Nelson. Preston Claiborne was officially called up to replace the injured Joba Chamberlain. Cody Eppley was designated for assignment to clear room on the 40-man roster.
The Athletics haven’t had much success at the latest incarnation of Yankee Stadium. Since the building opened in 2009, the reigning AL West champs have won just five of 19 games in the Bronx, winning just one of six total series. Oakland will be The House The Boss Built for three games this weekend.
What Have They Done Lately?
Although they lost their last game, the A’s just took two of three from the division rival Angels. They had lost three straight series before that, all against AL East opponents. Oakland won 12 of their first 16 games, but they’ve since dropped nine of their last 13 games. All the winning stopped as soon as they had to play teams other than the Mariners and Astros. Funny how that works. The Athletics are 16-13 with a +20 run differential, good for second place in the AL West.
Manager Doug Melvin’s squad is the highest scoring team in baseball, with a 5.59 runs per game average and 112 wRC+. Those are the best and third best marks in baseball, respectively. CF Coco Crisp (156 wRC+) is on the DL with a hamstring problem while CF Chris Young (81 wRC+) is day-to-day with a quad problem. He only plays against lefties anyway. SS Hiroki Nakajima and 2B Scott Sizemore are on the DL and have not played at all this year. You won’t see them this weekend.
With Crisp and Young out, OF Yoenis Cespedes (118 wRC+) will man center field. He just came off the DL himself after dealing some hand issues. SS Jed Lowrie (158 wRC+) and 1B Brandon Moss (142 wRC+) give Cespedes some support in the middle of the lineup while 3B Josh Donaldson (146 wRC+) and LF/DH Seth Smith (141 wRC+) help from further down in the order. The A’s also have an insanely productive catching platoon featuring lefty John Jaso (100 wRC+) and righty Derek Norris (121 wRC+). So jealous.
RF Josh Reddick (45 wRC+) usually sits against lefties, but he’s been forced into the lineup everyday due to the Crisp and Young injuries. Right-handed hitting 1B Nate Freiman (70 wRC+) will get into the lineup against southpaws. IF Eric Sogard (73 wRC+) and UTIL Adam Rosales (120 wRC+ in limited time) join third C Luke Montz (98 wRC+) on the bench. Montz has just four plate appearances this year. The A’s lead the big leagues in stolen bases (25), though most of that is Crisp and Young. They’re middle of the pack with 28 homers. Oaktown can score some runs.
Starting Pitching Matchups
Friday: LHP CC Sabathia vs. RHP A.J. Griffin
Griffin, 25, had a nice half-season (3.06 ERA and 3.85 FIP) last year, but things haven’t gone as well early in his sophomore campaign (4.65 ERA and 4.70 FIP). He doesn’t miss many bats (6.68 K/9 and 17.4 K%) and is one of the most extreme fly ball pitchers in baseball (28.1% grounders), but he does limit walks (2.90 ERA and 7.6 BB%). That’s always a plus. Griffin throws four pitches but is basically a three-pitch pitcher. His upper-80s four-seam fastball sets up a low-80s changeup and a hilarious upper-60s curveball. Here, look at that thing. Griffin throws a mid-80s slider but very rarely, like once or twice a game. The Yankees saw him twice last year, pounding him once (four runs in 4.1 innings) and getting shut down the other time (two runs in six innings).
Saturday: RHP Phil Hughes vs. RHP Bartolo Colon
It’s been a pretty crazy three years for the 39-year-old Colon, who went from off the radar to Yankees reclamation project to Athletics scrap heap pickup to busted for performance-enhancing drugs. He’s pitched to a 3.38 ERA (2.68 FIP) in 32 innings across five starts since returning from his 50-game suspension a few weeks ago. Colon is a strike-throwing machine (0.28 BB/9 and 0.8 BB%), but his strikeout (5.63 K/9 and 16.1 K%) and ground ball (40.8%) rates have slipped a bit from when he was in New York. Low-90s four-seamers and upper-80s two-seamers are still his weapon of choice, as he’ll throw his low-80s sliders and changeups less than 10% of the time combined. Surely you remember him pumping fastball after fastball two years ago. The Yankees saw Colon twice last year and handled him well both times, scoring ten runs in 12.2 total innings.
Sunday: LHP Andy Pettitte vs. RHP Dan Straily
This is Brett Anderson’s spot, but the Athletics had to put the left-hander on the DL with an ankle problem last week. The 24-year-old Straily is taking his place, having made two previous starts this year. Between this year and last, he owns a career 4.44 ERA (5.66 FIP) with 8.70 K/9 (22.3 K%), 3.02 BB/9 (7.7 BB%), and a 30.9% ground ball rate in 50.2 innings across nine starts. Straily is primarily a two-pitch guy, using upper-80s/low-90s fastball and low-80s sliders just about 90% of the time. Low-80s changeups are his third offering. The Yankees did not face Straily at all last year, so they’re going in blind.
Both teams were off on Thursday, so their bullpens are as fresh as can be this time of the year. The Yankees will replace the injured Joba Chamberlain (oblique) with right-hander Preston Claiborne prior to tonight’s game, plus David Robertson is day-to-day with a hamstring issue as well. Check out our Bullpen Workload page for recent reliever usage details.
As for the Athletics, Melvin had a dynamite late-game trio at his disposal with LHP Scott Doolittle (4.00 FIP) and RHP Ryan Cook (2.24 FIP) setting up closer RHP Grant Balfour (4.78 FIP). RHP Evan Scribner (4.98 FIP) is the de factor long man while RHP Chris Resop (4.68 FIP) is the general middle innings guy. RHP Pat Neshek (4.73 FIP) and LHP Jerry Blevins (2.05 FIP) are the matchup specialists. It’s a solid and deep bullpen, no doubt. My A’s blogs of choice are Athletics Nation and Beane Ball.
Six questions this week. Use the Submit A Tip box to send us anything throughout the week, mailbag questions or otherwise.
Several people asked: What about Shelley Duncan?
The Yankees are looking for a right-handed bat and the Rays designated former Yankee Shelley Duncan for assignment earlier this week, so this seems like a natural fit. The 33-year-old forearm-smasher hit just .182/.297/.309 (75 wRC+) in 64 plate appearances for Tampa, and during his three years with the Indians (2010-2012) he put up a .231/.309/.430 (103 wRC+) overall line in 770 plate appearances. That includes a .239/.316/.421 (102 wRC+) line against southpaws, meaning he didn’t have a platoon split.
Duncan is a three true outcome type, with healthy power (career .193 ISO), walk (9.7%), and strikeout (24.4%) rates. He doesn’t do much other than that, meaning he won’t steal any bases or play even average defense in left or at first base. Is he better than Ben Francisco? Yeah, probably, but it’s not slam dunk. If the Yankees can pluck him off waivers, then go for it. Francisco’s been terrible. I wouldn’t go out of my way to acquire Shelley or sweat missing out on him, though.
Nick asks: Given his start, how likely is it the Vernon Wells matches/exceeds Nick Swisher‘s performance this year? If he does (or gets close), should we credit the front office with a brilliant move or did the Yanks just get lucky?
I don’t think that will happen, honestly. Even with the hot start, Wells is on a .298/.362/.532 (139 wRC+) line while Swisher is at .265/.386/.410 (123 wRC+). There’s a nice gap there, but Swisher is underperforming his career norms while Wells is far exceeding his. They’ll wind up meeting in the middle at some point. I expect Verndog to wind up closer to his updated ZiPS projection (113 wRC+) than his current numbers.
Brian Cashman basically admitted the Yankees got lucky with Wells a few weeks ago, saying “there was no magic, unearthed data point” they uncovered. They expected him to fill the Andruw Jones role according to the GM. Maybe Cashman’s just playing coy, but Wells has been so outrageously good that I can’t imagine anyone saw this coming. It’s 95th percentile stuff.
Mark asks: Are you surprised by Jose Tabata’s free fall in Pittsburgh since his debut season in 2010 at the young age of 21? Maybe I’m off base here, but I have to think he’d be a prime candidate to replace Curtis Granderson next year as I suspect the Yanks would have kept him in the minors to develop and mature his game — something he hasn’t had the opportunity to do in Pittsburgh playing in the big leagues.
Not really, you can never be truly surprised when a prospect fails. Tabata was never the same caliber of hitter/prospect as say, Jesus Montero, plus he is apparently older than originally believed. He never showed much power for a corner outfielder and that’s continued to this day.
The Yankees value makeup too highly to bring Tabata back. He had (at least) two incidents in the minors that led to his trade in the first place, plus he’s had off-field issues with the Pirates. The guy’s a .269/.335/.369 (97 wRC+) career hitter in over 1,300 plate appearances, plus he’s probably closer to 30 than his listed age of 24. Tabata can get the bat on the ball — career 14.8 K% and 82.8% contact rate — that’s always been his thing, but otherwise there’s not much to see here.
Dustin asks: Any chance the Yankees could pry Justin Ruggiano from the Marlins?
Oh I’m sure of it. No reason to think the Marlins wouldn’t move him for the right offer. Ruggiano, 31, had an insane BABIP-fueled (.401!) half-season with Miami last year, when he hit .313/.374/.535 (146 wRC+) in 320 plate appearances. He’s back down to .239/.300/.402 (95 wRC+) this year, which is right in line with his career norms.
As a right-handed hitting outfielder, Ruggiano owns a career .263/.328/.516 (128 wRC+) line in 236 plate appearances against southpaws. That’s spread across seven seasons, so it isn’t very useful. Ruggiano plays okay defense in the outfield corners and will steal a bag here and there, so he’s definitely someone worth looking into as a Francisco replacement. I don’t know what it would take to acquire him, but Scott Hairston was traded to the Athletics for a middling Triple-A relief prospect (Ryan Webb) following his breakout with the Padres. Seems like decent framework, no?
Jonathan asks: What do you think about possibly acquiring one of Atlanta’s catchers this year? It’s a strange situation because we don’t know if Evan Gattis is for real, Gerald Laird was awful for years and Brian McCann is coming off the surgery. Which, if any would you be interested in acquiring and what do you think it would take to get them. Thanks!
I wouldn’t touch Laird, the Yankees have enough backups as it is. That’s the easy part. Gattis is a great story — seriously, read this — and the 26-year-old has hit .253/308/.542 (132 wRC+) as McCann’s replacement early this year. The consensus is that he isn’t good enough defensively to be an everyday guy behind the plate.
McCann, 29, was arguably the best catcher in baseball for the better part of a decade (118 wRC+ from 2006-2012) before hurting his right shoulder and struggling last year (86 wRC+). He had offseason surgery and is due to return to the team soon, as in next week. That will likely send Gattis back to Triple-A, though I suppose they could finagle the roster and work out a way to keep all three, at least for the time being.
I love the idea of acquiring McCann for half-a-season — he’ll be a free agent this coming winter — even considering the risk following his surgery. He’s strong defensively and a left-handed bat with power and patience. The team would also get a few weeks to evaluate him firsthand before decided whether to pursue him after the season. The price would have to be reasonable though, maybe something along the lines of two pretty good but not great prospects (assuming a deal happens right at the deadline).
Alex asks: Under the rules of the 1992 expansion draft, which players would you protect on the Yankees roster? Subsequently, if you were then picking, which unprotected player would you take?
We do this question every so often and it’s always fun. The expansion draft rules are right here, but here’s the short version: each team can protect 15 total players, but players with no-trade clauses must be protected. Players who were free agents during the offseason and players drafted in the previous two drafts (so 2011 and 2012 for us) are not eligible for the draft. AL teams can protect an additional four players after each round. Here’s who I would protect, assuming the draft was held last November 17th (same date as 1992 draft)…
|No-Trade Clauses (4)||Protected Pitchers (5)||Protected Position Players (6)||Notable Unprotected|
|Alex Rodriguez||Phil Hughes||Robinson Cano||Boone Logan|
|Mark Teixeira||David Robertson||Brett Gardner||Joba Chamberlain|
|CC Sabathia||Ivan Nova||Curtis Granderson||Frankie Cervelli|
|Derek Jeter||David Phelps||Gary Sanchez||Eduardo Nunez|
|Michael Pineda||Mason Williams||Vidal Nuno|
|Tyler Austin||Slade Heathcott|
I think this is pretty self-explanatory, no? I was on the fence with Nunez because of the dearth of even decent middle infielders, but I opted to protect the third prospect (Austin) instead. The Yankees could probably trade him for a better infielder than Nunez anyway.
Hiroki Kuroda, Andy Pettitte, and Mariano Rivera would not be eligible for the draft since they were free agents last winter. Nunez, Nuno, Heathcott, and Warren would the four guys I would add after the first round, but a few of them would probably get plucked in the draft. Such is life. If was the expansion team picking from that lot of players, I’d take Heathcott first, no doubt about it. Warren and Nuno are useful pieces, but Heathcott has star potential and that’s what you’re looking for when you’re building a team from scratch.
Reader Mike Addonizio was at tonight’s Triple-A Scranton game, so he sent along some photos to check out. Brian McCann was rehabbing with Triple-A Gwinnett, so that’s him behind the plate in most of the pics. Otherwise, got some quick notes…
- UTIL Ronnie Mustelier was added to the Triple-A Scranton roster as expected. IF Kevin Mahoney was send back down to Double-A Trenton is a corresponding move.
- In today’s chat, Keith Law said RHP Jose Campos and RHP Rafael both have questions about their mechanics and could wind up dynamite relievers instead of starters. He said he’s spoken to a few scouts who said DePaula has “premium stuff.” The strikeout rate (15.72 K/9 and 41.9 K%) with Low-A Charleston backs that up.
- In case you missed it earlier, the Yankees are calling up RHP Preston Claiborne from Triple-A to replace the injured Joba Chamberlain.
Triple-A Scranton (4-1 win over Gwinnett)
- 2B David Adams: 0-4, 1 R, 1 K — first game at second base this year
- CF Melky Mesa: 2-4, 1 R, 1 3B, 1 RBI, 2 K — 37 strikeouts and four walks in 25 games … yuck
- LF Zoilo Almonte: 1-4
- 3B Ronnie Mustelier: 0-3, 1 R, 1 BB – first game of the year
- RF Addison Maruszak: 1-4, 1 R, 1 2B, 2 RBI, 2 K
- RHP Brett Marshall: 7 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 3 BB, 2 K, 9/5 GB/FB — 58 of 99 pitches were strikes (56%) … easily his best start of the year
- RHP Cody Eppley: 1.1 IP, zeroes, 3 K, 0/1 GB/FB – 13 of 18 pitches were strikes (72%)