Sunday Open Thread

Good win today. A needed win. Good to see the offense break out and good to see Aaron Judge hit the kind of home run pretty much only Aaron Judge can hit. I thought it was a double into the gap off the bat. It just kept carrying and carrying and carrying. As much as Judge has slumped the last few weeks, there are maybe five players in the game who can hit a ball like that.

Anyway, here is an open thread for the rest of the weekend. The Mets and Dodgers are the ESPN Sunday Night Baseball game, and that’s pretty much it. Talk about that game, this afternoon’s win, or anything else here.

Game 110: Severino Sunday

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

As crummy as the Yankees — the offense in particular — have looked over the last six days, it’s pretty amazing they come into today’s series finale with a chance to split a four-game series against the defending AL champs. I’m not sure scoring two runs and hanging on for dear life is a sustainable strategy, but it worked last night. Maybe it’ll work again today. I’d prefer a stress-free blowout win. Those are cool.

The six-man rotation comes to an end this afternoon, at least in theory, as Luis Severino makes his first start since that five-inning, 116-pitch grind against the Tigers on Monday. Hopefully he’s feeling good after the extra day of rest. Severino’s numbers are out of this world this year: 2.98 ERA (2.91 FIP) with 28.2% strikeouts, 6.5% walks, and 51.5% grounders. Man. Go get ’em Sevy. Here is the Indians’ lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:

  1. DH Brett Gardner
  2. LF Clint Frazier
  3. SS Didi Gregorius
  4. RF Aaron Judge
  5. 1B Chase Headley
  6. 3B Todd Frazier
  7. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  8. 2B Ronald Torreyes
  9. C Austin Romine
    RHP Luis Severino

Another cool and cloudy day in Cleveland. Not exactly a picturesque day for baseball, but it’ll do. This afternoon’s series finale will begin at 1:10pm ET and YES will have the broadcast. Enjoy.

Roster Move: Matt Holliday was placed on the 10-day disabled list with a left lumbar strain, the Yankees announced. Not sure how long he’ll be sidelined, but given the way he’s been hitting, the Yankees aren’t losing much. Garrett Cooper was called up from Triple-A Scranton to fill the roster spot. How unexciting.

Injury Update: Greg Bird (ankle) is going to hit in the cage today, and the plan to take full batting practice and begin fielding/baserunning drills next week.

Attitude Adjustment

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

If you’re reading this, chances are you know a little bit about me. For those of you who don’t, let me tell you that I’m a teacher (high school English) by trade. In my experience as a teacher, I’ve had to rely on one trait more than any: flexibility. It took me a long time to land a full time position, so I was ‘stuck’ doing long-term sub positions in southwestern Connecticut from April 2013 to February 2016. In that time, I taught grades 7, 9, 10, 11, and 12 in five different schools (one middle, four high) to different populations, from different courses/curricula, and in five different districts. To boot, most of the time, I was parachuting in after the start of the year and had to find my bearings on the fly. If not for flexibility, I’d’ve drowned. It might be time to exercise similar flexibility for the Yankees.

All year, I’ve been saying this is a ‘house money’ season for the Yankees. Given the roster, expectations weren’t high; a second wildcard spot seemed like the ceiling. Of course, early season hotness blew the doors right off of that. Despite some hiccuping in June, the Yankees went into the trade deadline like buyers and came away with a much improved Major League roster and, until recently, a first place position in the AL East. Now, they sit in the first wildcard seat, controlling their own destiny. And with many games left against the first place Red Sox, the division isn’t far out of reach.

According to the FanGraphs projection mode, the Yankees have a 69.4% chance of making the playoffs. Using the season-to-date mode, their playoff chances are even higher at 79.8%. If we flip over to the Baseball Prospectus playoff odds table, they’re at 81.8%. Coupling this with the Yankees’ deadline moves and the general feeling you get, it’d be hard to call missing the playoffs anything aside from a disappointment.

If we allow ourselves some dispassion for a minute, we can rationalize a missed playoff run. Aaron Judge will have had a killer season. Gary Sanchez, too. Clint Frazier came up and held his own. Luis Severino and Jordan Montgomery will have taken huge steps forward. Didi Gregorius, too. With Sonny Gray aboard, the rotation for 2018 feels a lot better than it did even a month ago. Those are all great things for the Yankees in 2017 and 2018, regardless of this year’s record.

But dispassionate analysis is for the offseason. Right now, we’re in the heat of things, quite literally as August marches on. I want this team to make the playoffs. This team can and should make the playoffs. They’ve worked hard and gone through some rough patches and ‘deserve’ to have that rewarded with a real shot at number 28. The rotation and bullpen are stacked for a playoff run and they could do some real damage in a short series, especially if the bats heat back up to support them.

Another important factor of teaching is holding students to high expectations, or at the very least, adjusting those expectations as they perform. The Yankees have performed above and beyond their original expectations for 2017 and it’s time to ask more of them. Play today. Win today. That’s it.

Yankees 2, Indians 1: Headley’s late homer helps Yanks snap four-game losing streak

It wasn’t easy, but a win is a win, and boy did the Yankees need that win Saturday night. The offense broke out for two (2) runs and the pitching staff made them stand up against an Indians team that seemed to threaten every single inning. The final score was 2-1.

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Nearly Three, Settle For One
The Yankees tried something new and exciting Saturday night: they scored in the first inning and held a lead. Pretty wild. Prior to Didi Gregorius‘ run-scoring double in the first inning, the Yankees had not held a lead since Monday. Monday! They beat the Tigers and Michael Fulmer that day. They didn’t hold a single lead Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, or Friday. Good grief.

And yet, that one-run first inning was so close to being so much better. Brett Gardner started the game with a walk and Aaron Judge laced a single to left to put runners on first and second with one out. Didi, the cleanup hitter du jour, then smoked a double over Austin Jackson’s head in center field and it was this close to being a three-run home run:

didi-gregorius-double

Maybe six inches away from a home run? That’s the way it’s been going for the Yankees lately. When you’re going well, you get that little bit of extra carry over the wall for a three-run homer. When it’s not going well, there’s a little too much topspin and you settle for a one-run double. Gary Sanchez struck out and Jacoby Ellsbury flew out, stranding Judge at third and Gregorius at second. I guess we should be happy they got at least one run out of it.

65 & Fly
Very good outing for Jordan Montgomery. Very good and surprisingly short. He was pulled after five innings and 65 pitches. Hmmm. Joe Girardi said after the game Montgomery is fine, and the bullpen “is how we are built,” so he went to it. Montgomery had gotten through the lineup two times and the top relievers were rested, so Girardi went to them. Considering how badly the Yankees needed this win, I can’t say I blame him.

Montgomery made basically one bad pitch all night. Even when Francisco Lindor led off the first with a double and Giovanny Urshela led off the third with a single, they went out and hit pitcher’s pitchers. It happens. Montgomery’s one mistake was the curveball he hung to Carlos Santana in the second inning. Might as well have put it on a tee. Santana did what he should have done and cranked it over the left field wall for a solo homer. Bad pitch, good hitter, etc. etc.

The solo homer knotted the game up 1-1. Following the Urshela leadoff single in the third, Montgomery settled down and retired the final nine batters he faced, and only one of the nine hit the ball out of the infield. His final line: 5 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 7 K. I thought his curveball was as good as it’s been at any point this season. He threw 24 curveballs and got nine swings and misses with the pitch. Nine! He dropped ten others in for called strikes. Very nice. Go Monty.

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Battle of the Bullpens
With the scored tied 1-1 and Montgomery out of the game, in came David Robertson to throw scoreless sixth and seventh innings. Sure is nice to be able to bring him out of the bullpen in those situations and not Tyler Clippard, isn’t it? Robertson actually allowed two hits in the sixth, but he struck out Edwin Encarnacion to strand the two runners. He threw two scoreless innings on 28 pitches. It used to take him 28 pitches to get through one inning.

The score remained 1-1 until the top of the eighth, when Chase Headley golfed a hanging Zach McAllister curveball out to right field for a go-ahead solo home run. Headley homers are very rare. That was his sixth of the season. When he hits one, you’ve got to make it count. The homer gave the Yankees a 2-1 lead, and given the way they’ve been swinging the bats, it was up to the bullpen to make it stand up. Scoring again was not really an option.

Dellin Betances got the eighth and holy smokes, he was dominant. A fly ball and two they-had-no-chance strikeouts. His last 12 appearances: 13.2 IP, 7 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 6 BB, 23 K. Good to have Good Dellin back. Aroldis Chapman got the ninth inning and of course he made it interesting. Winning this game was never going to be easy. Michael Brantley led off the inning with a single, then Gardner made an outstanding jumping catch at the wall to rob Jose Ramirez of extra bases.

Very reminiscent of the catch against the Blue Jays last year. Know which one I mean? The Blake Parker game? That catch that had “if he doesn’t catch that, the Yankees are losing this game” feeling to it. Gardner took a double away from Ramirez, then Ronald Torreyes laid out to take a single away from Encarnacion for the second out. Chapman froze Santana with a 3-2 slider for the 27th and final out. Ex-friggin-hale.

Leftovers
Hero of the game: the outfield defense. Gardner made that great catch in the ninth. Judge held Urshela to a single in the third by getting to the ball in the gap quickly, then firing into the cutoff man. He also held Lindor to a single in the sixth by playing the ball well of the wall, and throwing it in quickly. Ellsbury made a sliding catch coming on a bloop in that sixth inning. All three outfielders had a gold star play. Judge had two. And Torreyes made that nice running catch in the ninth. This was the opposite of Thursday’s game, when the Yankees kicked the ball around behind Sonny Gray.

Five hits by the Yankees. That’s all. One by Gardner, one by Headley, one by Judge, and two by Gregorius. The 5-6-7-8-9 hitters went a combined 0-for-17 with nine strikeouts. At least Sanchez and Todd Frazier drew walks, I guess. Gardner drew two. Ellsbury batted with runners on second and third in the first (inning-ending fly out) and sixth (inning-ending double play) and didn’t get a run in either time. He’s down to .241/.322/.347 (83 wRC+) on the year.

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


Source: FanGraphs

Up Next
This four-game series finally comes to an end Sunday afternoon. That’s a normal 1pm ET start. Luis Severino and Carlos Carrasco will be on the bump.

DotF: Hicks triples in his latest Triple-A rehab game

Two quick links worth checking out:

  • Randy Miller spoke to Double-A Trenton manager Bobby Mitchell and got scouting reports on basically every player on the roster. Mitchell isn’t as candid as Triple-A Scranton manager Al Pedrique, but it’s still a good read, so check it out.
  • Randy Miller also spoke to Reggie Jackson about one of his favorite prospects in the system: OF Rashad Crawford. “I think he can be more than (a speedy leadoff guy). He’s got some pop. I like him. I love him. He’s not as far along as we’d like him to be, but he’ll get there,” said Reggie.

Triple-A Scranton (3-1 win over Pawtucket)

  • CF Jake Cave & 3B Miguel Andujar: both 0-4, 1 K — Cave’s hitting streak ends at 19 games and Andujar’s ends at 17 games
  • DH Aaron Hicks: 2-4, 1 R, 1 3B, 1 RBI — 4-for-13 (.308) during his four rehab games
  • 1B Tyler Austin: 0-3 — played seven innings in the field, as scheduled
  • RF Billy McKinney: 2-3, 1 R, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 1 BB — 14 homers in 99 games this after hitting four in 123 games last year
  • RHP Domingo German: 6 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 5 K, 1 WP, 4/3 GB/FB — 53 of 86 pitches were strikes (62%) … no more than one earned run allowed in six of his last eight starts, and in one of the others he allowed only two runs
  • RHP J.P. Feyereisen: 1 IP, zeroes, 1 K, 2/0 GB/FB — eleven pitches, seven strikes
  • RHP Gio Gallegos: 2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 2/2 GB/FB — 15 of 29 pitches were strikes (52%)

[Read more…]

Game 109: My Kingdom For Some Runs

(David Maxwell/Getty)
(David Maxwell/Getty)

The 2017 season is now two-thirds of the way complete. The Yankees begin the final third of the season tonight three games back in the AL East and 1.5 games up on a wildcard spot, which isn’t a bad place to be. Could be better, could be worse. Beats being several games out like the last few years.

Now the Yankees just need to offense to snap back into shape. They’ve scored six runs in their last four games, all losses, and three of those four games were started by Anibal Sanchez, Jordan Zimmermann, and Trevor Bauer. Yuck. Struggling to score against those guys would be understandable in, like, 2013. Not 2017. End the losing streak, fellas. Here is the Indians’ lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:

  1. LF Brett Gardner
  2. 3B Chase Headley
  3. RF Aaron Judge
  4. SS Didi Gregorius
  5. DH Gary Sanchez
  6. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  7. 3B Todd Frazier
  8. 2B Ronald Torreyes
  9. C Austin Romine
    LHP Jordan Montgomery

It is cool and partly cloudy in Cleveland this evening. Not a bad night for baseball, aside from the fact it’s Saturday. Weekend night games are the worst. Anyway, tonight’s game will begin at 7:10pm ET and you’ll be able to watch on YES locally and MLB Network nationally. Enjoy the game.

Injury Update: Matt Holliday tweaked his lower back taking a swing last night and could be placed on the disabled list. I look forward to the Yankees played shorthanded for three or four days before putting Holliday on the disabled list, then rushing Aaron Hicks back from his rehab assignment to fill the roster spot.

Saturday Links: Payroll, Bird, New CBA Details, YES Network

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

The Yankees and Indians will continue their four-game series with the third game later today, though not until 7pm ET. Man do I hate Saturday night games. I might have mentioned that a few times over the years. Anyway, here’s some news and notes to check out.

Payroll is frozen for 2017

According to Bob Klapisch, Hal Steinbrenner has told Brian Cashman payroll will remain frozen for the remainder of the season. The Yankees took on quite a bit of salary at the trade deadline in David Robertson, Todd Frazier, and Sonny Gray, though they got the Twins to eat the remainder of Jaime Garcia‘s contract. Apparently that’s it though. No more payroll can be added this season.

Two things about this. One, if payroll is indeed frozen, the Yankees aren’t going to get the bat(s) they pretty clearly need. Well, no, that’s not necessarily true. It just means they’d have to give up better prospects to get the other team to pay the remainder of the player’s salary. And two, man I hate hearing payroll is frozen. I mean, it’s Hal’s team and he can do whatever he wants, but the division is so winnable and the Yankees have played one postseason game since 2012, and they won’t take on more money if necessary? Blah.

Bird still the long-term first baseman

Not surprisingly, Cashman confirmed to Joel Sherman that Greg Bird remains the club’s first baseman of the future, even after his ankle surgery and what is essentially another lost season. That’s why they didn’t look for long-term first base help at the deadline like they did rotation and bullpen help. They sought out rentals only and, obviously, came up empty.

Bird, who will turn 25 in November, has resumed hitting following surgery and it’s possible he will rejoin the Yankees later this month. I never really expected the Yankees to pivot away from Bird as their first baseman going forward. They clearly love him, and they’re going young wherever possible, so it makes sense to try him again. Clearly though, the Yankees will need some sort of first base protection. Basically what Chris Carter couldn’t provide this year

New CBA includes draft penalties for payroll

MLB and the MLBPA finally completed the Collective Bargaining Agreement and got everything in writing last month, and according to J.J. Cooper, there’s a provision that levies draft pick penalties based on team payroll. Simply put, spend more than $237M on player payroll, and your top draft pick gets pushed back ten spots. From Cooper:

But the penalties really kick in for a team that spends more than $237 million in 2018. Not only will the franchise be hit with a 42.5 percent or 45 percent surcharge tax on top of the competitive balance tax, but the team will also see its first draft pick dropped 10 spots. That pick is protected, but that protection is relatively meaningless, as the penalty is applied to the team’s second draft pick only if it’s one of the top six picks in the draft. It would be hard to envision a team finishing with a top-six pick (meaning it had one of the six worst records in baseball) with a $237-plus million payroll.

These penalties are on top of the luxury tax penalties. So if your payroll exceeds $237M, you have to pay the luxury tax and your top draft pick gets moved back. Now a $237M payroll is substantial — the Yankees have only topped that twice ($237.1M in 2013 and $243.8M in 2016) — though salaries and revenues around baseball are only going up. It wouldn’t take much for many teams to get to $237M within the next two or three years. This new CBA is pretty terrible for the players. There are so may mechanisms in place designed to suppress salaries.

International play coming in 2018

As part of the new CBA, MLB and the MLBPA have agreed to move 13 series to foreign countries from 2018-21, reports Bill Shaikin. Commissioner Rob Manfred has made it no secret he wants to grow the game globally and this is one way to do it. Here, via Shaikin, are the international play details:

  • 2018: Opening series in Asia, April series in Mexico, May series in Puerto Rico.
  • 2019: Opening series in Asia, April and May series in Mexico, June series in the United Kingdom.
  • 2020: Opening series in Asia, April series in Mexico, May series in Puerto Rico or the Dominican Republic, June series in the United Kingdom.
  • 2021: April and May series in Mexico.

The Yankees, as the most popular team in baseball and one of the most recognizable brands in the world, will inevitably be sucked into a few of these series. That’s not per Shaikin’s report. That’s just me saying. When you’re playing games overseas and trying to increase interest in baseball, you send the Yankees because people are going to pay attention. I foresee a trip to Asia and Mexico in the team’s future.

YES ratings up considerably in first half

Not surprisingly, the young and exciting (and contending!) Yankees have led to a substantial increase in YES Network ratings. Ratings were up 57% in the first half this season, including a 73% increase in the ages 18-49 demographic. YES has already had 18 games this year with a higher rating than the best game last year — Monday night’s game against the Tigers was the network’s highest rated game since Derek Jeter‘s final game at Yankee Stadium in 2014 — and ratings overall are the best in five years. Build a team with good young players, and people watch. Ratings are up now. Soon attendance will shoot up as well.