Saturday Open Thread

Here’s an open thread for the rest of the day. The Tigers and Indians are on FOX Sports 1 right now, the Mets are playing later, and MLB Network will carry a regional game tonight too. Plus there’s plenty of college football going on and some World Cup of Hockey too. Talk about those games or whatever else right here.

Jacoby Ellsbury leaves game with right knee injury

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Jacoby Ellsbury left this afternoon’s game with a right knee injury, the Yankees announced. He hurt himself crashing into the wall trying to make a catch in the seventh inning. Ellsbury stayed in initially, but he was removed after the inning. He’s heading for tests. Here’s the play:

At this point even a minor injury could end Ellsbury’s season. The Yankees are already without Aaron Hicks (hamstring) and Aaron Judge (quad), so they’re running short on outfielders. They could end up with Mason Williams in center and Rob Refsnyder in right full-time the rest of the way.

The Yankees lost Starlin Castro to a hamstring injury earlier in the game, so they lost two regulars in the span of four innings or so. That would hurt more if the team hadn’t bombed out of the postseason race this week. The exact nature of Ellsbury’s injury is unknown, but we’ll find out soon enough.

Update: Starlin Castro leaves game with hamstring strain

(Photo: AP)
(Photo: AP)

4:54pm: After the game, Joe Girardi told reporters Castro felt a “pop” in his hamstring, which is never good. He’s going to return to New York for tests.

3:51pm: Castro does indeed have a right hamstring strain, the Yankees announced. He’s heading for further tests. Here’s the play:

3:01pm: Starlin Castro left this afternoon’s game with an apparent right hamstring injury. He ripped a double into the gap in the fifth inning, then pulled up lame between first and second. Castro grabbed at his hamstring, so there’s no doubt that’s what’s aching. He was removed from the game immediately. Didn’t even lobby to stay in.

Ronald Torreyes came in to replace Starlin on the bases, and he and Rob Refsnyder would be the obvious candidates to take over at second. It’s worth noting veteran utility infielder Donovan Solano had a tremendous season in Triple-A, and with Scranton’s season over, he could be a short-term option. Creating 40-man roster space wouldn’t be tough.

The Yankees have not yet released an update by Castro, so stay tuned. This one seems like standard “hamstring strain and heading for an MRI” stuff. We’ll see. At this point, even a minor strain could end Castro’s season. That sucks.

Game 148: Crunch Time

(Maddie Meyer/Getty)
(Maddie Meyer/Getty)

So the last two days haven’t gone too well. The last six days, really. The Yankees have lost five of their last six games and pretty much every flaw has been exposed. Bad offense, little rotation depth, worn out bullpen, you name it. The Yankees are still mathematically alive in the postseason race, but it’s getting down to “they need to win out to get in” time. Not good. Here is the Red Sox’s lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:

  1. LF Brett Gardner
  2. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
  3. DH Gary Sanchez
  4. 2B Starlin Castro
  5. 1B Billy Butler
  6. SS Didi Gregorius
  7. 3B Chase Headley
  8. C Austin Romine
  9. RF Rob Refsnyder
    RHP Bryan Mitchell

It’s sunny and clear in Boston this afternoon. A good day for postseason dreams to die. Today’s game will begin at 1:05pm ET and you can watch on FOX. Good ol’ FOX. Try to enjoy.

Saturday Links: Mateo, Instructs, Gurriel, Refsnyder

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

The Yankees and Red Sox will continue their four-game series with the third game later this afternoon. Here are some bits of news and notes to hold you over.

Mateo among Law’s most disappointing prospects

After blazing start to the season with High-A Tampa, shortstop prospect Jorge Mateo hit a wall in June and never really recovered. He finished the year with a thoroughly disappointing .254/.306/.379 (99 wRC+) batting line despite setting a new career high with eight homers. Mateo went 36-for-51 (71%) in steal attempts one year after going 82-for-99 (83%).

It’s no surprise then that Mateo is one of eight top 100 prospects who took a step back this season, according to Keith Law (subs. req’d). “Getting suspended for two weeks for an unspecified violation of team rules was just the tip of the iceberg … multiple scouts have told me they haven’t seen Mateo make anywhere near enough hard contact,” said his write-up. “(The Yankees) seem to have soured a little on his makeup and have clearly superior shortstop options elsewhere in the system.”

The Yankees were ready to trade Mateo to the Padres for Craig Kimbrel at the trade deadline last year and it wouldn’t surprise me to see them shop him for pitching this offseason. They have a ton of shortstops in the farm system, including the superior Gleyber Torres, and Mateo still has enough top prospect shine to headline a package for a quality young pitcher. Right now I think there’s better than a 50/50 chance Mateo is traded this winter. We’ll see.

Instructional League roster released

Earlier this week Baseball America (no subs. req’d) posted the Yankees’ Instructional League roster. Instructs start later this month and run through mid-November. The roster looks the same as always. Some top prospects but mostly recent draftees and international signees, and players who missed time to injury. Blake Rutherford is apparently healthy enough for Instructs after missing the end of the season with a hamstring injury, so that’s cool.

Yesterday we heard James Kaprielian faced hitters for the first time since being shut down with an elbow injury way back in April. He’s not on the Instructional League roster but could always be added and get some innings there. The Yankees want Kaprielian to pitch in the Arizona Fall League and Instructs would be a natural stepping stone. Also, Greg Bird will face living pitching in Instructional League for the first time since shoulder surgery. He’s not on the roster but that might have to do with the fact he’s technically a rehabbing big leaguer, not a minor leaguer.

Gurriel holds showcase for MLB teams

Cuban infield prospect Lourdes Gurriel Jr. held a workout for teams earlier this week in Panama City, reports Jesse Sanchez. There were 60 scouts in attendance and Gurriel did the usual: fielded ground balls, shagged fly balls, took batting practice, ran sprints, that sort of stuff. “I have been waiting for this moment and now it became a reality. This was my first step to the big leagues, God willing. I’m grateful for everyone who helped me get to this point,” he said.

Sanchez said scouts were impressed by Gurriel’s arm and physicality, though the consensus is he needs more at-bats against live pitching. I mean, duh. He hasn’t played in a competitive game in almost a year now. The expectation has always been that Gurriel will need to spend some time in the minors before helping a big league team, the same way his brother did. Yulieski, by the way, has hit .329/.350/.500 (129 wRC+) with three homers in his first 22 games with the Astros, so that’s going well.

Lourdes is not Yoan Moncada, but he’s pretty darn good. He’s working out for teams now even though he won’t sign until he turns 23 next month. Once he turns 23 he will no longer be subject to the league’s international spending restrictions, so teams can pay him whatever they want. The Yankees haven’t signed a big name Cuban player in a long time, not since Jose Contreras, so I really have no reason to think they’ll sign Gurriel. Maybe they’ll surprise me.

Refsnyder nominated for Marvin Miller award

Rob Refsnyder is the Yankees’ nominee for this year’s Marvin Miller Man of the Year award, the MLBPA announced earlier this week. The award is given annually to the player “whose on-field performance and contributions to his community inspire others to higher levels of achievement.” Fans can vote to select one finalist from each division. Here’s the ballot.

Refsnyder, who was born in South Korea and adopted by a family in California when he was three months old, has been helping raise money for a charity called A Kid’s Place, which helps Tampa area children who have been removed from their homes due to abuse or neglect. Refsnyder designed and is selling a t-shirt through Athletes Brand, with all the proceeds this month going to the charity. Pretty awesome. Well done, Ref.

Yankees continue to fall out of postseason race with 7-4 loss to Red Sox

Less than a week after winning seven straight games to climb back in the postseason race, the Yankees have managed to erase most of that progress these last few days. They dropped Friday’s game 7-4 to the Red Sox for their fifth loss in the last six games, and really, the game felt more lopsided than the score indicates. Those playoff dreams were fun, eh?

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

A Shaky Start
Oh boy, things did not look good for Luis Cessa and the Yankees early on. In fact, Cessa failed to retire any of the first five batters he faced, though two (Dustin Pedroia and David Ortiz) were thrown out trying to stretch singles into doubles. Base hits by Ortiz and Hanley Ramirez gave the Red Sox a quick 2-0 lead in the first inning. The Yankees were playing from behind all night.

To Cessa’s credit, he settled down after that rough first inning, during which he seemed to have no idea where his fastball was going. He retired 12 of 14 batters faced from the second through fifth innings, allowing only a solo homer to Hanley and a ground-rule double to Travis Shaw. Cessa needed only nine pitches to retire the side in order in both the third and fifth innings. After that first inning, he was pretty great.

We’ve seen that out of Cessa a few times so far, haven’t we? He had a rough first few innings in Kansas City before settling down. He also allowed a first inning run against the Blue Jays last time out before getting locked in. That’s pretty impressive. Cessa doesn’t let things snowball into a disaster outing. Three runs on six hits and no walks in five innings was the final damage. That’ll do, kid. I like what I’ve seen so far.

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

Off the Hook
For the second straight night, the Yankees had a bunch of chances to cash in runs, but were unable to take advantage. Right in the very first inning, Gary Sanchez smashed into a 5-4-3 double play after Jacoby Ellsbury drew a walk. Then, in the second, a Didi Gregorius single and a Chase Headley double put runners on second and third with one out. Brian McCann and Mark Teixeira both flew out harmlessly to strand the runners.

A Mason Williams single and a Gardner walk put the Yankees in business in the third before Ellsbury lined out and Sanchez hit into another 5-4-3 double play. Sigh. The Yankees finally got on the board in the fifth, but not before nearly blowing that rally too. Following back-to-back singles by Teixeira and Williams, Gardner struck out and Ellsbury flew out for two quick outs.

The Yankees were facing another blown opportunity, and once Clay Buchholz jumped ahead in the count 0-2 on Sanchez, it was easy to assume the rally was over. Instead, Sanchez worked it the count back full, then launched a two-run double high off the Green Monster to cut the deficit to 3-2. I thought it was gone off the bat, but alas. Sanchez put a charge into it but just didn’t hit it high enough.

All told, the Yankees put ten runners on base in six innings against Buchholz, yet only plated the two runs. The only thing this team excels at is stranding runners, I swear. Early in the season I said not to worry about it, eventually the runs will come as long as the Yankees kept getting on base, but nope. They’ve been unable to hit with runners in scoring position or even get guys in with productive outs all year. Blah.

The Only When Losing Relievers
Joe Girardi went to his bullpen to start the sixth inning, and I assumed Cessa was nearing 90 pitches or so. That’s what it felt like, anyway. Needless to say, I was surprised to see Cessa was lifted after only 64 (!) pitches. Girardi said his fastball was starting to “leak” and he didn’t want him to face the middle of the order a third. Okay. I get that. Cessa’s still a kid and sending him out to face Ortiz, Mookie Betts, and Hanley a third time could equal trouble.

The problem: Girardi went to James Pazos (James Pazos!) to face Ortiz in a one-run game. I mean, what? Predictably, Pazos tried to muscle up and throw a fastball by Ortiz, and Ortiz promptly smashed it off the center field wall for a double. Pazos is lucky it stayed in the park. Girardi went to Jonathan Holder after that, and … you know what? Here, just look at the pitching lines:

NYYvsBOSbp091616

Ah yes, that’s the good stuff. Four relievers to get six outs and allow four runs in the process. The game slipped away from the Yankees in the sixth and seventh innings. Pretty much every bullpen move Girardi makes these days backfires. Bringing in Pazos to face Ortiz with a one-run deficit was a really questionable decision though, especially since Chasen Shreve came in later in the inning with a three-run deficit.

This game shows how wholly unprepared the Yankees were for this late-season run at a playoff spot. It really did come out of nowhere. The Yankees traded away Aroldis Chapman and Andrew Miller at the deadline, and while they replaced them adequately with Tyler Clippard and Adam Warren, the middle innings were never addressed. Those were a problem back in April and May. It’s not like this snuck up on anyone.

Leftovers
It’s been a while since the Yankees slapped the pinstripes on a cadaver and got a miracle month out of him, and Billy Butler sure seems like a good candidate, huh? He came off the bench to hit a long two-run home run in the ninth inning to make things kinda sorta interesting. The Yankees were able to get the tying run on deck. Yay? They’ll pay Butler about $50,000 this month and he’s already been worth every penny.

(Presswire)
(Presswire)

The Yankees had nine hits overall, including three out of the ninth spot in the lineup. Williams had two singles and Butler pinch-hit with the homer. Gardner, Sanchez, Gregorius, Headley, McCann, and Teixeira had the other hits. Gardner, Ellsbury, and Teixeira drew the walks. The Yankees went 1-for-11 (.091) with runners in scoring position. Life is pain.

And finally, the Orioles won and the Tigers lost, and the Mariners are getting hammered as I write this. I assume the Blue Jays will beat the lowly Angels. If they do, the Yankees and Tigers will be four games back of the O’s and Blue Jays for the second wildcard spot. Seattle will be three back. FanGraphs puts New York’s postseason odds at 3.8% at the moment. Yeah.

Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
Head over to ESPN for the box score, MLB.com for the video highlights, and ESPN for the updated standings. Make sure you check out our Bullpen Workload and Announcer Standings pages too. Here’s the all too familiar looking win probability graph:


Source: FanGraphs

Up Next
Unfortunately, the schedule says the Yankees and Red Sox have to play again Saturday afternoon. That’s a normal 1pm ET start. Bryan Mitchell and David Price are the scheduled starts. This is fine.

DotF: Payton and Frazier help Scranton to Governor’s Cup

(@swbrailriders)
(@swbrailriders)

Good news: RHP James Kaprielian (elbow) faced hitters today for the first time as part of his throwing program, according to his Twitter feed. He’s been out since April with a flexor tendon strain. The Yankees hoping Kaprielian will be able to pitch in the Arizona Fall League next month, and if he’s already facing hitters, that just might happen.

Triple-A Scranton (3-0 win over Gwinnett) they’ve won the best-of-five International League Championship Series in four games to claim the Governor’s Cup … Shane Hennigan has video of the final out … it’s their first IL title since 2008 … pretty amazing they still won a title after losing their four best hitters (Aaron Judge, Tyler Austin, Gary Sanchez, Rob Refsnyder), best starter (Chad Green), and best reliever (Jonathan Holder) to the MLB team … they’ll now play either Oklahoma City or El Paso in the winner-take-all Triple-A National Championship Game next Tuesday in Memphis

  • LF Mark Payton: 3-5, 1 3B, 2 RBI, 2 K — replaced Mason Williams and they didn’t miss a beat
  • RF Clint Frazier: 2-3, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 1 K — drove in the insurance run they never needed
  • 3B Donovan Solano: 0-4, 1 K, 1 E (throwing)
  • 1B Chris Parmelee: 0-3, 1 BB, 3 K, 1 CS
  • C Kyle Higashioka: 0-4, 2 K
  • CF Jake Cave: 1-3, 1 R, 1 BB, 1 K, 1 SB — he went 4-for-13 (.308) with a homer in the series and was named MVP
  • 2B Cito Culver: 0-2, 2 BB, 2 K
  • LHP Daniel Camarena: 5.1 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 4 K, 1 WP, 8/1 GB/FB — 60 of 87 pitches were strikes (69%) … that was his first start in almost two full weeks, but he wasn’t rusty at all
  • RHP Johnny Barbato: 0.2 IP, zeroes, 1 K, 1/0 GB/FB — seven of nine pitches were strikes
  • LHP Tyler Webb: 2 IP, zeroes, 2 K, 2/0 GB/FB — 20 of 26 pitches were strikes (77%)
  • RHP Gio Gallegos: 1 IP, zeroes, 2 K, 0/1 GB/FB — seven of nine pitches were strikes … fitting he gets the final out … he’s been awesome all season

[Read more…]