Game 83: The 16th Day

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

Today marks the end of a 16 games in 16 days stretch for the Yankees, their longest stretch without an off-day this season. (They had their 20 games in 20 days stretch interrupted by a rainout halfway through.) And boy, the first 15 games of this stretch did not go well. The Yankees are 6-9 in those games even though they’ve only been outscored 80-76. A few bullpen meltdowns have changed everything.

Anyway, this afternoon is yet another chance for the Yankees to win a series for the first time in three weeks. They haven’t won a series since decimating the Orioles at Yankee Stadium last month. The Yankees have gone from having a four-game division lead to facing a four-game deficit in 22 days. Pretty terrible. Win a stupid series for once and go into the off-day feeling kinda sorta good. Can we do that? Here is the Blue Jays’ lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:

  1. LF Brett Gardner
  2. RF Aaron Judge
  3. DH Gary Sanchez
  4. SS Didi Gregorius
  5. 3B Chase Headley
  6. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  7. 1B Ji-Man Choi
  8. C Austin Romine
  9. 2B Tyler Wade
    RHP Michael Pineda

It’s a lovely day for baseball in the Bronx. A little cloudy, but there’s no rain in the forecast and it’s not oppressively hot either. Not a bad afternoon to sit in the ballpark. Anyway, this afternoon’s series finale will begin at 1:05pm ET. You can watch on YES locally and MLB Network nationally. Enjoy the game.

Injury Update: Matt Holliday (illness) is feeling better and he hopes to return to the lineup Friday. He ran and took some batting practice today. Holliday said tests found a virus, and I guess they knocked it out with some medication.

The Yankees have cut ties with Chris Carter (again), but that doesn’t solve their first base problem

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Chris Carter‘s second stint in pinstripes is over. Following yesterday’s loss, the Yankees designated Carter for assignment for the second time this season. Second time in the last two weeks, really. The only reason he was brought back was Tyler Austin‘s hamstring injury. The Yankees decided enough was enough yesterday.

All told, Carter hit .201/.284/.370 (73 wRC+) with eight homers and a 36.5% strikeout rate in 62 games with the Yankees, including 1-for-12 (.083) with four strikeouts since being brought back. When a guy is in the lineup for his bat and he’s being removed for pinch-hitters like Austin Romine and Tyler Wade in the late innings, the writing was on the wall. Joe Girardi‘s patience ran out weeks ago.

With Austin and Greg Bird still sidelined, the Yankees will now turn the first base reins over to Ji-Man Choi, a 26-year-old journeyman on a minor league contract. Choi has bounced from the Mariners to the Orioles to the Angels to the Yankees over the last 19 months. Last season, in his first and so far only big league stint, Choi hit .170/.271/.339 (67 wRC+) in 54 games with the Halos. If he does that again, he’ll be a downgrade from Carter.

The Yankees are turning to Choi for three reasons, basically. One, they’ve exhausted their patience with Carter. They’ve given him plenty of chances and he hasn’t produced. The Yankees and Girardi would live with the strikeouts if he were hitting the ball out of the park like last season, but he’s not. He’s not hitting home runs and his defense, which was fine in April and May, has become untenable. Carter has failed to make too many routine plays.

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Two, Choi has been hot lately. He’s hitting .289/.371/.505 (137 wRC+) in 56 Triple-A games overall this year, and that includes a 14-for-45 (.311) stretch with six home runs in his last 12 games. He has eight home runs on the season overall, and six have come in the last two weeks. If you’re going to make a change and bring up someone new to play first base, the guy who is on a hot streak in Triple-A is as good a choice as anyone.

And three, the Yankees simply have nowhere else to turn. Bird is hurt, Austin is hurt, Matt Holliday is hurt, and playing Romine or Rob Refsnyder at first base on an everyday basis is not something anyone wants to see. I know I don’t. The trade market has yet to heat up too. Choi is the best option. Once the Yankees decided Carter wasn’t their guy, next up on the depth chart was Choi because of injuries.

Make no mistake though, Choi is a band-aid, not a permanent solution. I mean, I suppose he could have an unexpected hot streak and hold things down until Bird and/or Austin return, though I can’t imagine the Yankees are expecting Choi to be the guy at first base going forward. Brian Cashman and his staff are surely scouring the trade market for a more permanent solution will Bird’s status is unknown.

The Yankees have lost 15 of their last 21 games (!) and the bullpen has been the primary culprit. First base has been a problem all year though — even when Bird was healthy, he stunk — and the Yankees reached the point where it was time to try someone else. Heck, they reached that point with Carter a few weeks ago, but then Austin got hurt. I don’t think Choi is the answer and yeah, he can be worse than Carter, but the bar has been set so low. It was time to try someone new. Chances are the Yankees will again be looking to try someone new in a few weeks.

Sabathia returns, but the offense never shows up in 4-1 loss to Blue Jays


Source: FanGraphs

That had to be one of the least exciting games in recent memory. What a bore. The Yankees dropped Tuesday’s Independence Day matinee to the Blue Jays, 4-1, and aside from Aaron Judge‘s solo home run, nothing interesting happened. That one will not be a Yankees Classic. It’s a holiday, so let’s recap with bullet points:

  • All With Two Outs: CC Sabathia retired the first eight batters he faced and none of the final six batters he faced. The Blue Jays scored four runs in the third inning and it all started with a two-out walk to No. 9 hitter Darwin Barney. The inning went walk, wild pitch, single (run scores), single, walk, walk (run scores), single (two runs score). Sabathia was yanked after the two-run single. He threw 63 pitches and was apparently only slated to throw 75-80. In hindsight, having him make a start on a pitch limit with no rehab start right before the All-Star break wasn’t a great decision.
  • One Token Run: The Yankees scored their only run on Judge’s 28th home run of the season, a 456-foot missile that dented the metal garage door awning in center field. Here’s the video. Aside from the homer, the Yankees had three hits, all singles, two of which did not leave the infield. They drew leadoff walks in the sixth (Gary Sanchez) and seventh (Chris Carter) innings and never advanced the runner as far as second. Their best chance to get back in the game came in the fifth, when Judge had two on with two outs. He struck out though. Alas.
  • Leftovers: Shout out to Luis Cessa for sparing the rest of the bullpen. He threw 4.2 scoreless innings after Sabathia’s early exit … Adam Warren returned and got one out, escaping Sabathia’s jam in the third before giving way to Cessa … Clint Frazier went 0-for-3 with two fly outs and a pop-up. He has hit two ground balls in 14 big league plate appearances … Tyler Wade grounded out to end the game. It was his first Yankee Stadium plate appearance. Many more to come.

Here are the box score, video highlights, and updated standings. Don’t miss our Bullpen Workload page either. The Yankees and Blue Jays will wrap-up this three-game series Wednesday afternoon. That’s a 1pm ET start. Michael Pineda and Marco Estrada are the scheduled starting pitchers.

Minor League Update: I’m not going to be able to stick around for a full minor league update tonight. Here are the box scores. Most of today’s games are night games.

Fourth of July Open Thread

Here’s an open thread for the remainder of the holiday. Hope you’re enjoying it. I wish I had someplace to grill on days like today. Anyway, both ESPN and MLB Network will have games throughout the day. Talk about those games or anything else here, as long as it’s not religion or politics.

Game 82: Independence Day

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Happy birthday, America. What better way to celebrate our nation’s independence than by beating the one MLB team not stationed in the good ol’ US-of-A? The Yankees beat the Blue Jays in last night’s series opener and now they’re trying to win back-to-back games for the first time in three weeks. It’s been far too long.

Anyway, the Yankees are starting to get healthier, folks. CC Sabathia and Adam Warren are both back from the disabled list. Sabathia is starting this afternoon’s game and Warren is available in the bullpen. The Yankees could really use the pitching help. Getting Warren back will be particularly helpful given the recent bullpen issues. Beat the Blue Jays. It’s the American way. Here is the Blue Jays’ lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:

  1. LF Brett Gardner
  2. DH Aaron Judge
  3. C Gary Sanchez
  4. SS Didi Gregorius
  5. 3B Chase Headley
  6. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  7. 1B Chris Carter
  8. 2B Ronald Torreyes
  9. RF Clint Frazier
    LHP CC Sabathia

It’s a lovely day for baseball in New York. Nice and sunny with only a few clouds in the sky. Not exceedingly hot either. This afternoon’s game will begin a little after 1pm ET and YES will have the broadcast. Enjoy the game.

Injury Updates: Starlin Castro (hamstring) took ground balls and hit in the cage today. He is making progress but is unlikely to return before the All-Star break … Matt Holliday (illness) is feeling better.

Roster Moves: To make room for Sabathia and Warren, the Yankees sent Domingo German and Bryan Mitchell down to Triple-A Scranton. Luis Cessa remains as with the team as the stretched out long man. German needs to pitch. He hasn’t been doing much of that the last few weeks.

Final Vote Update: Gregorius is currently third in the Final Vote voting, MLB announced this morning. Mike Moustakas is the leader (duh) and Xander Bogaerts is in second. Here’s the ballot. Voting ends Thursday afternoon.

He might not be an All-Star, but Didi Gregorius is everything the Yankees hoped he’d become

(Michael Hickey/Getty)
(Michael Hickey/Getty)

For the first time since 2011, the Yankees are sending five players to the All-Star Game this year. It could be six too. Didi Gregorius is on the Final Vote ballot. He’s up against Elvis Andrus, Xander Bogaerts, Logan Morrison, and Mike Moustakas. It’ll be tough to beat out Moose Tacos given how Royals fans stuff every ballot known to baseball. Here’s the Final Vote ballot. Go vote for Didi a few hundred times.

“It would be an honor for me to go at least one time in my career,” said Gregorius to Bryan Hoch when asked about the All-Star Game following Sunday’s Final Vote announcement. “I think I’d be happy with that. That’s what I tell everybody, if I go put up numbers and I can go once, I’ll be happy with that.”

Gregorius does not need to be voted into the All-Star Game to have his value and importance to the Yankees validated, however. We see his two-way impact every game. Didi is a threat at the plate and an asset in the field. Is he an undisciplined hitter? Sure. But he’s hitting .307/.336/.485 (115 wRC+) while providing contact (13.1 K%) and power (.178 ISO). And if runners in scoring position is your thing, he’s hitting .318 in those spots too.

Last year there was some statistical weirdness regarding Gregorius’ defense. The eye test told me — and still tells me — he’s an excellent defender. For whatever reason both DRS (-9) and UZR (-2.9) rated Didi as a below-average gloveman in 2016. This year Gregorius currently leads all shortstops in UZR (+4.9) despite missing a month, and he’s rated above-average by DRS (+3). We don’t need stats to tell us Didi is good in the field though, do we? I don’t think so.

There’s also this: Gregorius is incredibly likeable. He has fun on the field, he’s full of energy, and every time they show him being interviewed, he makes you laugh. And there are the postgame tweets too. The Yankees brought Gregorius into a difficult situation. He was unproven at the MLB level and they asked him to replace a legend in Derek Jeter. In 2014, Didi’s first year in New York, the Yankees were an older team and kinda dull. He was a breath of fresh air.

Way back before the late-1990s dynasty and the Core Four, it was Bernie Williams who first arrived and marked the beginning of a new era for the Yankees. Gregorius is playing the role of Williams for the current Yankees as they move forward with their youth movement. He was the first young player to arrive. The first young kid thrust into everyday duty on a team of veterans. Luis Severino, Gary Sanchez, and Aaron Judge all came later.

The Yankees traded for Gregorius knowing he would save them runs in the field and hoping he would develop into a solid hitter. He’s become even more than that. He’s great in the field, he’s very productive at the plate, and he’s part of this new core of young, likeable Yankees. Gregorius is not a franchise player. There aren’t many of those guys around. But he’s everything the Yankees hoped their Jeter replacement would be.

DotF: Gomez homers, Guzman dominates in Staten Island win

Got some notes to get us started:

  • RHP Nick Rumbelow has been moved up from Double-A Trenton to Triple-A Scranton, the team announced. Rumblin’ Rumbelow has a 2.38 ERA (1.40 FIP) with 15 strikeouts and three walks in his first 11.1 innings back from Tommy John surgery.
  • SS Jorge Mateo was named the Eastern League Offensive Player of the Week following his first week in Double-A. He’s went 12-for-23 (.522) with three triples and a homer in six games last week. It would be so rad if Mateo could rebuild some prospect value these final two months of the minor league season. The more productive high-end prospects at the upper levels, the better.
  • Make sure you check out 2080 Baseball’s latest scouting reports on Mateo, 2B Nick Solak, and RHP Dillon Tate. “(He) projects to have three plus-or-better pitches in his arsenal, which are the makings of a future Role 60 number three starter at maturity,” said the Tate write-up.
  • The Yankees have signed Alabama-Birmingham RHP Garrett Whitlock, their 18th round pick, according to a family member on Twitter. No word on his bonus, though I doubt it exceeds the $125,000 slot for picks after the tenth round. Whitlock was awesome in the Cape Cod League last year, sitting mid-90s with a nasty slider. He had a back injury this spring and his stuff backed up.
  • The Yankees have signed Manhattan SS Jose Carrera as an undrafted free agent, reports Dan Martin. “This game is not about size. The biggest thing you can have in this game is your heart, and the mental side of it. If you’re tough and you believe in yourself, you can succeed,” said the 5-foot-2 Carrera. He hit .274/.344/.381 in four years with the Jaspers.

Triple-A Scranton (6-5 win over Pawtucket) they scored five runs in the top of the ninth to win

  • 2B Donovan Solano: 2-4, 1 R, 1 RBI, 1 BB — 15-for-38 (.395) during his nine-game hitting streak
  • DH Ji-Man Choi: 2-5, 1 2B, 2 RBI, 1 K — had the go-ahead two-run double during that ninth inning rally … Bill Koch says it clanked off a rehabbing Brock Holt’s glove in left field
  • 3B Miguel Andujar: 1-5, 1 R, 1 2B, 1 K, 1 E (throwing)
  • LF Billy McKinney: 3-4, 1 R, 1 HR, 2 RBI — 6-for-16 (.375) with a double and two homers in four Triple-A games
  • SS Abi Avelino: 0-2, 1 R, 1 BB
  • RHP Ronald Herrera: 6 IP, 5 H, 5 R, 4 ER, 1 BB, 3 K, 4/6 GB/FB — 48 of 73 pitches were strikes (66%)
  • RHP Jonathan Holder: 1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K, 1/0 GB/FB — eleven of 16 pitches were strikes (69%) … first appearance since being sent down
  • RHP Nick Rumbelow: 2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 2 K, 2/1 GB/FB — 21 of 38 pitches were strikes (55%) … first Triple-A appearance since blowing out his elbow last April

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