Yankeemetrics: Welcome back to under .500 [June 10-12]

(AP Photo)
(AP Photo)

Vintage CC
They say that Father Time is undefeated … but right now CC Sabathia is giving him a heck of a battle. Sabathia wrote yet another chapter in his amazing renaissance season, shutting down the Tigers with seven scoreless innings in the Yankees 4-0 win on Friday night.

Sabathia dropped his ERA to 2.28, the lowest it’s been through the first 10 starts of any season in his career. The big lefty ended April with a mediocre 5.06 ERA, but has been brilliant since the calendar turned to May. In 38 innings over six starts since then, he’s allowed just 23 hits — only four of them for extra bases — and has a hard-to-believe 0.71 ERA.

Through Friday, that was the best ERA by any pitcher since May 1 (min. 30 innings), just ahead of Madison Bumgarner (0.96) and Clayton Kershaw (0.99). It also marks the best six-start stretch — in terms of ERA — for Sabathia during his entire career. His previous best was 0.76 from June 25 to July 21, 2011.

Sabathia isn’t blowing away hitters with high-90s fastballs anymore, but rather he’s using his cutter and sinker effectively to generate a ton of weak contact.

He got two more pop ups on Friday, increasing his rate of infield fly balls to a major-league-best 19.0 percent. His soft-contact rate of 38.1 percent against the Tigers was his second-highest single-game mark this year, and he now ranks second among AL starters in that metric (25.4 percent). And thanks to such a dominant outing on Friday, his average exit velocity allowed on batted balls fell to 85.6 mph, also the second-lowest by any AL starter entering the weekend.

(AP Photo)
(AP Photo)

Goodbye, win streak …
On paper, Saturday’s game seemed like a matchup heavily in the Yankees favor: They were 18-6 vs. the Tigers at the new Yankee Stadium, tied for their best record there against any AL team. Detroit’s Justin Verlander had struggled mightily at this ballpark during his career, going 0-4 with a 4.93 ERA in eight starts (including the postseason). That was his most starts without a win for any stadium he’s pitched at in the majors.

The Tigers and Verlander defied those numbers, Ian Kinsler had a historic day at the plate, and the Yankees five-game win streak was snapped. Verlander shut down the middle of the order with a mix of four-seamers, cutters, changeups and curves — the Yankees’ No. 3, 4 and 5 hitters were a combined 0-for-11 with one walk — and Kinsler provided the scoring punch with a three-run homer and a two-run double.

He became just the third visiting leadoff hitter in the last 50 seasons to have at least five RBIs at Yankee Stadium (old or new). The most recent was Johnny Damon in Game 7 of the 2004 ALCS, and the other was the Orioles’ Brady Anderson in 1992.

Verlander cooled off the scorching-hot bat of Carlos Beltran, who went 0-for-4 and grounded into a double play against the former Cy Young winner. Beltran is now 1-for-16 (.063) with five strikeouts against Verlander in his career, his worst batting average against any pitcher he’s faced at least 15 times.

Masahiro Tanaka, who came into the game with a 1.33 ERA in his previous four outings, was tagged for five runs on six hits, including two homers. The first of those longballs came after he had gotten two quick strikes on Nick Castellanos in the second inning. It was the first time in his career that Tanaka had allowed a home run on an 0-2 count. Castellanos also had never hit a homer on an 0-2 count before taking Tanaka deep.

First time for everything
Seven times the Tigers had come to the new Yankee Stadium in the regular season, and seven times they left with more losses than wins during the series. They ended that drought with a 4-1 win on Sunday, taking two of three from the Yankees in the Bronx.

Not only had the Yankees never lost a regular-season series to the Tigers at this ballpark, but they’d never even lost back-to-back games against them there … until Sunday. The Tigers were the only AL team that had never beaten the Yankees twice in a row during the regular season at the new Yankee Stadium.

For the second day in a row, a Tigers starter dominated the Yankees lineup. Rookie Michael Fulmer tossed six scoreless innings, allowing only a pair of doubles by Austin Romine and Aaron Hicks. The last opposing pitcher age 23 or younger to go at least six innings without allowing a run and no more than two hits in the Bronx was the Twins’ Scott Erickson, who threw a two-hit shutout at the old Yankee Stadium on June 24, 1991.

Mister “Box of Chocolates” — aka Michael Pineda — continued to do his best to shed that label of inconsistency with another strong performance this month. For the first time this season, he’s put together three straight starts without allowing more than three runs in each outing. Baby steps, Big Mike, baby steps.

His slider continues to be a dominant swing-and-miss weapon for him, with the Tigers whiffing on 14 of their 32 swings (44 percent) against the pitch. During this mini-three-game hot streak in June, batters have swung at 73 of his sliders and come up empty 39 times — a ridiculous whiff rate of 53 percent.

Fan Confidence Poll: June 13th, 2016

Record Last Week: 5-2 (35 RS, 24 RA)
Season Record: 31-32 (247 RS, 267 RA, 29-34 pythag. record)
Opponents This Week: Mon. OFF, @ Rockies (two games, Tues. and Weds.), @ Twins (four games, Thurs. to Sun.)

Top stories from last week:

Please take a second to answer the poll below and give us an idea of how confident you are in the team. You can view the interactive Fan Confidence Graph anytime via Features tab in the nav bar above, or by clicking here. Thanks in advance for voting.

Bats go silent as Yankees drop series finale 4-1 to Tigers

The day started with the 70th annual Old Timers’ Day ceremony and ended with the Yankees’ second straight loss to the Tigers. The final score was 4-1. At least Hideki Matsui hit a homer during the Old Timers’ Game. That was cool. The 2016 Yankees once again fell below .500 though. They’re 31-32.


Pineda Does His Part
Third straight strong start for Michael Pineda, who held the Tigers to two runs on six hits and two walks in six innings. It wasn’t like they hit him hard either. Detroit scored their first run on a ground ball single, an infield single, a soft line drive single, and a sac fly to center. They scored their second round on a walk, a ground ball single, and a ground out. The hardest hit ball against Pineda all afternoon was probably the sac fly, and it was a routine catch.

In those six innings Pineda fanned eight and got 19 swings and misses out of 114 total pitches. That’s an awful lot. It was his sixth game with 18+ whiffs so far this season. Pineda’s 12.9% strikeout rate is the sixth highest in baseball in 2016, which makes his early season struggles that much more frustrating. The stuff is clearly high-end. He was getting burned by too many mistake pitches. Pineda seems to have found something these last three starts. Hopefully he continues to build on it.


Shut Down By Fulmer
Right-hander Michael Fulmer, who went to the Tigers in the Yoenis Cespedes trade, went into Sunday’s start with a 22 innings scoreless streak. It is now at 28 and counting. He completely shut the Yankees down over his six innings, allowing only two hits and three walks. The Bombers had leadoff doubles in the third and fifth innings, and failed to score both times. Blah.

The Yankees had their best chance to make it a game in that fifth inning, when they loaded the bases with two outs. Austin Romine led off with a ground-rule double, and after Aaron Hicks popped out and Rob Refsnyder grounded out, Jacoby Ellsbury and Brett Gardner drew walks. They were completely different walks too. Ellsbury walked on four pitches, none of which was close. Gardner fouled off five pitches as part of a ten-pitch at-bat.

That brought Carlos Beltran to the plate with the bases loaded and a 2-0 deficit, and he is exactly the guy the Yankees want up in that situation. Fulmer worked Beltran over all afternoon — he struck him out feebly his first two times up — and he was able to keep the Yankees off the board by getting Carlos to fly out to center. Fulmer sure is mighty impressive, huh? The Mets have cranked out some big time power arms of late.


The Yankees scored their lone run in the eighth inning off former Yankee Justin Wilson. Ellsbury singled, Beltran walked, then Chase Headley singled to score Ellsbury. Ellsbury and Headley were the only Yankees to reach base twice in the game. Ellsbury had a single and a walk, Headley had a single and a hit-by-pitch.

The middle relief monster struck out again. First one out of the bullpen with a 2-0 deficit in the seventh inning was Anthony Swarzak, who promptly gave up a two-run homer to Ian Kinsler to put the game out of reach. The team’s non-big three relievers have a 4.61 ERA in 113.1 innings.

And finally, ex-Tigers farmhand Chad Green got a chance to pitch against the Tigers after warming up Saturday. Green struck out one in a perfect ninth. His reward? A trip to Triple-A. He was sent down after the game, presumably to make room on the roster for just signed Ike Davis.

Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
ESPN has both the box score and updated standings, and MLB.com has the video highlights. Also make sure you check out our Bullpen Workload and Announcer Standings pages. Here’s the WPA graph:

Source: FanGraphs

Up Next
An off-day, finally. The Yankees went 23-17 during this 40 games in 41 days stretch and will now get a day to catch their breath. I think everyone needs the off-day, fans included. The Yankees open a quick two-game series with the Rockies in Colorado on Tuesday night. Nathan Eovaldi and Jorge De La Rosa is the scheduled pitching matchup.

DotF: Swisher homers twice, Sanchez returns in AAA win

LHP James Pazos was placed on the Triple-A DL, according to Shane Hennigan. Not sure what’s wrong with him, exactly. RHP Matt Wotherspoon was called up from Double-A Trenton to take his place on the roster.

Triple-A Scranton (8-5 win over Columbus) they scored 33 runs in the three-game series and have scored 52 runs in their last six games

  • CF Ben Gamel: 2-4, 1 R, 1 3B, 2 RBI, 1 BB, 1 K — 16-for-39 (.410) in his last ten games
  • 1B Nick Swisher: 2-5, 2 R, 2 HR, 3 RBI, 1 K — that’s three homers in his last two games
  • RF Aaron Judge: 1-3, 1 R, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 2 BB — back-to-back days with a dinger after going a month without one
  • 3B Tyler Austin: 0-4, 1 BB, 1 K — that’s his 33rd career game at third and his first since 2014
  • DH Gary Sanchez: 1-4, 1 R, 1 HBP — first game back from the broken thumb … missed only 18 days total
  • LF Jake Cave: 2-4, 1 R, 1 BB, 1 K
  • LHP Chasen Shreve: 1 IP, zeroes, 1 K, 2/0 GB/FB — nine of 14 pitches were strikes (64%) … first rehab outing of I don’t know how many
  • LHP Tyler Webb: 4.2 IP, 6 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 2 BB, 3 K, 5/3 GB/FB — 52 of 86 pitches were strikes (60%)
  • RHP Matt Wotherspoon: 3.1 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 2 K, 2/4 GB/FB — 30 of 45 pitches were strikes … the Scranton native is back with the RailRiders

[Read more…]

Sunday Night Open Thread

The Yankees held their 70th annual Old Timers’ Day this afternoon, and, once again, it was just a wonderful ceremony. Here are all the videos. Hideki Matsui hit a homer into the second deck during the Old Timers’ Game just like the old days. It landed pretty much in the same spot as his 2009 World Series homer off Pedro Martinez. Good times.

Here is tonight’s open thread. The Giants and Dodgers are the ESPN Sunday Night Game (Peavy vs. Urias), plus Game Six of the Stanley Cup Finals is on as well. Talk about those games, Old Timers’ Day, or anything else right here.

Game 63: Old Timers’ Day


Based on experience, Old Timers’ Day is an event best enjoyed live at Yankee Stadium. It makes for a long day at the ballpark, but being there to see all those great Yankees on the field is pretty damn awesome. Pretty much no other team in baseball can pull off something like this.

Today is the first Old Timers’ Day since Yogi Berra passed away, which is pretty sad. Yogi and George Steinbrenner had their long feud from 1985-99, but since then, he had been a staple at Old Timers’ Day. Berra was one of the greatest catchers in history and seeing players like him is what makes this day so special.

The full roster of Old Timers can be found right here. We’re still waiting for Derek Jeter, Andy Pettitte, Jorge Posada, and Mariano Rivera to make their Old Timers’ Day debuts, though there are still plenty of all-time great players and personal faves scheduled to appear today. I’m looking forward to seeing Bernie Williams and Hideki Matsui myself.

The Old Timers’ Day festivities are scheduled to begin at 11:30am ET or so. There will be the baseline introductions and then the Old Timers’ Game, as usual. Here are the lineups, via Pete Caldera:

Old Timers' Day lineup

Looks a wee bit lopsided to me! The Clippers have youth on their side though. Don’t underestimate guys like Bubba Crosby and Mariano Duncan. They want to show they can still play during their Old Timers’ Day debut.

We’ve got some pretty nice weather in New York today. It’s sunny with temperatures in the low-80s. It’s really windy though. My hat almost got blown off my head a few times when I went out for breakfast this morning. Like I said, the Old Timers’ Day stuff will begin at 11:30am ET. The series finale between the Yankees and Tigers will follow at 2pm ET. Enjoy the day, everyone.

Update (1:26pm ET): Here is the lineup for the regular game this afternoon:

  1. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  2. LF Brett Gardner
  3. DH Carlos Beltran
  4. 2B Starlin Castro
  5. 3B Chase Headley
  6. SS Didi Gregorius
  7. C Austin Romine
  8. RF Aaron Hicks
  9. 1B Rob Refsnyder
    RHP Michael Pineda

Here is the Tigers’ lineup.

2016 Draft: Yankees go heavy on prep players and power arms on Day Three

After three days and 1,216 picks, the 2016 amateur draft is finally over. The Yankees made 40 picks over the last three days and now we just have to wait and see how many they actually sign. Usually it’s around 25-30. The signing deadline is Friday, July 15th this year, so a little more than a month away. You can see all of New York’s picks right here. We’ve already reviewed Day One and Day Two. Now let’s review Day Three.

Linginfelter. (Knoxville News Sentinel)
Linginfelter. (Knoxville News Sentinel)

The Unsignable Prospect

The best prospect the Yankees drafted on Day Three is someone they almost certainly will not be able to sign: Tennessee HS RHP Zach Linginfelter (16th round). Linginfelter was a possible first round pick coming into the spring — MLB.com and Baseball America ranked him as the 98th and 107th best prospect available right before the draft, respectively — though his stock fell because he’s basically unsignable. He’s already said he’s going to follow through on his commitment to Tennessee.

“The money didn’t work out, and today I’m excited knowing where I’m going to go, and looking forward to playing at Tennessee,” said Linginfelter to Chris Thomas, referring to bonus conversations he had with teams before the draft. “My stock kind of dropped this year. I had mono early, came out a little weak in the velocity. But in reality, I think if I go to UT and have two good years, I can come out (as a draft-eligible sophomore) and go higher in the draft than I would have this year.”

So why did the Yankees draft Linginfelter if he’s not going to sign? Well, why not draft him late? There’s always a chance — however small it may be — he’ll change his mind over the next few weeks and the two sides can work something out. Linginfelter has good size (6-foot-5 and 215 lbs.) and he sits in the low-90s when right, plus he has a breaking ball and a changeup. Never say never, but the odds of the Yankees signing Linginfelter are mighty small.

The Other Backup Plans

The Yankees spent Day Two getting their bonus pool situation in order so they can sign OF Blake Rutherford, their high profile first round pick. All indications are he will sign, but the team still needed a backup plan. Backup plans, really. Plural. Should Rutherford not sign for whatever reason, the Yankees will still have all the bonus pool money saved from rounds 2-10 available, and they’ll need somewhere to spend it.

In addition to Linginfelter — Linginfelter is said to be seeking a substantial seven-figure bonus, more than the Yankees could afford if Rutherford doesn’t sign — the Yankees selected six talented high school players who were considered tough signs on Day Three: Texas HS RHP Blair Henley (22nd), Colorado HS RHP Bo Weiss (29th), California HS LHP Miles Sandum (31st), California HS C D.C. Clawson (34th), Virginia HS RHP Zach Hess (35th), and Wisconsin HS RHP Nate Brown (40th)

Bo and Walt. (Dustin Bradford/Getty)
Bo and Walt. (Dustin Bradford/Getty)

All six were considered Day Two prospects on talent. Hess and Weiss are the best prospects of the bunch and were candidates to go somewhere in the top five rounds. Hess is massive (6-foot-6, 220 lbs.) and he’s run his fastball as high as 97 mph at times this spring. He also offers a hard slider. Weiss, son of Rockies manager Walt Weiss, has good control of a low-90s fastball and both a curveball and a changeup. Hess and Weiss are committed to LSU and UNC, respectively.

Clawson has benefited from extra exposure over the years — he’s been teammates with prospects Rockies 3B Ryan McMahon and Phillies 3B Lucas Williams — and he’s an outstanding defensive catcher by high school standards. He has the arm and blocking ability to stick behind the plate. Will he hit? That’s the question. Henley and Brown are arm strength righties with three secondary pitches, all of which show promise but lack refinement.

Sandum’s story is something else. He managed to rupture his bowels (ahhhhh) during a pregame workout early in the season, but was able to return after a few weeks, and he even managed to toss a no-hitter last month. Good gravy that sounds nasty. At his best Sandum is a command southpaw with an 87-91 mph fastball and a good curveball. The Yankees figure to try to sign these six guys anyway, though if Rutherford decides to go to school, they’ll become the priority.

Power College Arms

The Yankees started Day Three by selecting two of the hardest throwing pitchers still on the board. Georgia LHP Connor Jones (11th) — not to be confused with Virginia RHP Connor Jones, who went 70th overall to the Cardinals — will sit 93-96 mph and throw a workable breaking ball. The problem is throwing strikes; he walked 37 in 74.1 innings with the Bulldogs this spring. Lefties who throw hard are a hot commodity, and few lefties in the draft can match Jones’ raw arm strength.

South Carolina RHP Taylor Widener (12th) works in the 92-94 mph range and touches 97 mph even as a starter. His upper-80s slider is a put-away pitch as well, so if nothing else, Widener already has the stuff to serve as a power reliever at the next level. Elbow surgery last fall — it was surgery to treat a nerve issue, not Tommy John or anything like that — and knee injuries caused him to slip into Day Three.

“We’re excited about, right from the start, Connor Jones is a left-hander who strikes guys out,” said scouting director Damon Oppenheimer to Bryan Hoch. “Taylor Widener from South Carolina is a power arm guy, he’s hit 97. We’ve got some athletes in there that we think can swing the bat. There’s a bunch of them down here that we’re excited about.”

The Yanks also grabbed power arms in TCU RHP Brian Trieglaff (13th), Fullerton RHP Miles Chambers (20th), Louisiana Tech RHP Braden Bristo (23rd), and Gonzaga RHP Gage Burland (26th). Trieglaff, Chambers, and Burland are relievers. Bristo has a chance to start thanks to a deeper arsenal of secondary pitches.

Outfield Depth

Robinson. (Brian Jr/Daily Trojan)
Robinson. (Brian Jr/Daily Trojan)

New York seemed to select an inordinate number of outfielders on Day Three — eight of their 30 picks were outfielders (they drafted four infielders total this year) — and why is that? Well, the lower levels of the minors are already loaded with infielders, and they have more on the way thanks to the 2014 international spending spree. Teams don’t draft for need, but in the late rounds when you need to fill out rosters, you kinda have to.

The Yankees grabbed all sorts of different outfielders. They picked up burners, like Wagner OF Ben Ruta (30th) and USC OF Corey Dempster (37th). They also selected some brute mashers, like USC OF Timmy Robinson (21st), Maryland JuCo OF Joe Burton (24th), and Western Carolina RHP Bryson Bowman (33rd). Florida HS OF Jordan Scott (14th), Texas HS OF Evan Alexander (19th), and Florida HS Edel Luaces (25th) represent the raw prep outfielders.

Burton is the best prospect among the outfielders because he has very good bat speed from the right side and also a ton of natural strength. He hit .407/.514/.749 with 16 doubles, 16 homers, 37 walks, and 36 strikeouts in 62 games this spring. Burton is a huge guy — he’s listed at 6-foot-4 and 240 lbs. on Harford Community College’s official site — and is limited defensively in the outfield. His bat got him drafted for sure.

The Best of the Rest

Eastern Kentucky 3B Mandy Alvarez (17th) stands out for his strike zone knowledge and ability to have consistently tough at-bats every time up … Arizona HS RHP Juan Cabrera (32nd) is similar to current Yankees farmhand LHP Nestor Cortes as a command and control guy with crazy K/BB numbers (68/3 in 48 IP this spring) … Illinois HS C Sam Ferri (38th) might end up on the mound because his arm is so strong and his bat is such a question … Fordham RHP Greg Weissert (18th), LSU LHP Phil Diehl (27th), Stony Brook LHP Tyler Honahan (36th), and Wisconsin-Milwaukee RHP Brian Keller (39th) all have starter stuff but aren’t hard-throwers. They’ll be chewing up minor league innings for an affiliate soon.

* * *

I don’t know if this was by design or simply coincidence, but the Yankees selected 14 high school players in this year’s draft after selecting 14 in the last two drafts combined. Twelve of their 30 picks on Day Three were high schoolers, and while that doesn’t sound like much, it really is. Day Three is often filled with cheap college players to fill out minor league rosters. We have to see how many of these prep players the Yankees actually sign, but it does seem like they’re putting more faith in their player development staff’s ability to turn these guys into big leaguers.