Yankeemetrics: Back to baseball, wins (July 17-19)

Winner! (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)
Winner! (AP Photo/Kathy Willens)

Deja vu
The Yankees started the second half of the season the same way they ended the first half, beating the Mariners 4-3 on Friday night. It gave them a 4.5-game lead in the AL East, their biggest division lead since August 2012.

A-Rod delivered the game-winning hit with a solo homer in the seventh inning that broke a 3-3 tie. It was his 19th go-ahead home run in the seventh inning or later as a Yankee; since he joined the team in 2004, no other Yankee has hit more than 10 such homers.

Masahiro Tanaka allowed three runs over seven innings and improved to 3-0 with a 2.35 ERA and 27 strikeouts in three career starts against the Mariners. He is the fourth Yankee to win each of his first three starts against Seattle (Chien-Ming Wang, Tom Underwood, Tim Leary), but the only one of those guys to do it while striking out at least seven batters in each of those games.

Tanaka’s off-speed pitches have been really impressive over his last two starts. Against the Mariners and A’s (July 9) he threw 144 sliders, curves and splitters combined, and those pitches yielded just two hits while netting him 34 outs.

Oh no, don’t cha know
It’s not often you can say after a baseball game that one player beat you … but that’s pretty much what happened in Saturday’s 4-3 loss to the Mariners. Robinson Cano hit two homers and drove in all four of the Mariners’ runs — an outburst that hardly could have been predicted before the weekend.

Cano entered the game 9-for-40 (.225) against the Yankees since leaving for the Pacific Northwest two seasons ago, his worst batting average against any American League team in his career. Not only was it his first multi-homer game in a Mariners uniform, it was also the first time he had at least three hits and four RBI in a game over the past two seasons.

Brian McCann drove in both Yankee runs with a two-run homer in the fourth inning, his 15th home run of the season. He is the ninth catcher in major-league history to hit at least 15 homers in 10-or-more seasons, and one of only three to do that in his first 11 career seasons. The others? Oh, just Mike Piazza and Johnny Bench.

Throwback Sunday
CC Sabathia turned back the clock and delivered a ace-like performance in the series finale, going pitch-for-pitch with King Felix for six innings, and Mark Teixeira hit another clutch late-inning homer to give the Yankees a dramatic win over the Mariners on Sunday afternoon.

Sabathia now has a 2.33 ERA in 13 starts against the Mariners since joining the Yankees, the lowest ERA vs. Seattle by any pitcher in franchise history with at least seven starts against the M’s.

Teixeira’s game-winning blast was his 23rd homer and 63rd RBI of the season, more than he had all of last season … and it’s the middle of July. The big hit came off a 98-mph fastball from Fernando Rodney, the fastest pitch that Teixeira has sent over the fence since August 14, 2012, when he clobbered a 99-mph heater off Alexi Ogando into the right-field seats at Yankee Stadium. Before the home run, Teixeira was 0-for-9 in 11 matchups vs. Rodney, his most plate appearances without a hit against any active pitcher.

Fan Confidence Poll: July 20th, 2015

Record Last Week: 2-1 (9 RS, 8 RA)
Season Record: 50-41 (418 RS, 391 RA, 49-42 pythag. record) 4.0 games up in ALE
Opponents This Week: Mon. OFF, vs. Orioles (three games, Tues. to Thurs.), @ Twins (three games, Fri. 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 the Features menu in the nav bar above, or by clicking here. Thanks in advance for voting.

Given the team's current roster construction, farm system, management, etc., how confident are you in the Yankees' overall future?

DotF: Bird leads the way with four hits in Scranton’s win

RHP Luis Severino has been placed on the Triple-A temporarily inactive list. Joe Girardi told Andrew Marchand that Severino’s wife is having a baby, so congrats to them.

Triple-A Scranton (7-1 win over Louisville) no OF Aaron Judge for the second straight game, though I suspect he’s just banged up and not about to be traded

  • CF Ben Gamel: 0-4, 1 R, 1 BB, 1 K
  • LF Jose Pirela: 2-4, 3 R, 1 2B, 1 BB, 1 K — 11-for-21 (.524) in his last five games
  • 1B Greg Bird: 4-5, 2 RBI, 1 K — ties a career high with four hits
  • C Gary Sanchez: 0-3, 1 RBI, 1 BB
  • RF Tyler Austin: 2-5, 1 RBI, 1 K
  • RHP Diego Moreno: 4 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 2 K, 7/1 GB/FB — 37 of 53 pitches were strikes (70%)
  • RHP Jose Ramirez: 3 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 2 K, 1 HB, 3/1 GB/FB — 29 of 52 pitches were strikes (56%) … seems like every Triple-A reliever is getting stretched out to three or four innings

[Read more…]

Yankees win 2-1, take series finale from Mariners thanks to Teixeira’s late homer

Source: FanGraphs

On Sunday afternoon, the Yankees faced a former Cy Young Award winner for the seventh time this season, and they improved to 6-1 in those games. (They lost to R.A. Dickey back in May.) A late home run gave New York a 2-1 win over Felix Hernandez and the Mariners to clinch the series victory. Is baseball fun? Baseball is fun. Let’s recap with bullet points because I’ve seen sitting in the sun all day:

  • Big Poppa: Boy, how about CC Sabathia? The big man turned in his best start at Yankee Stadium since June 2013 (!) according to Game Score (62), holding the Mariners to one run on six singles and one walk in six innings. Three right-handed batters singled to create the run in the fifth, but Sabathia was able to limit the damage by striking out Kyle Seager and Robinson Cano with runners at first and third. I like that Joe Girardi didn’t push his luck and took Sabathia out after six innings even though he’d only thrown 87 pitches. Good work, CC.
  • Back From The DL: Unsurprisingly, the Yankees were unable to score seven runs off Felix again. Doing it back in Seattle last month was a minor miracle. Twice? Forget it. Hernandez limited New York to one run in six innings, and the run scored on Carlos Beltran‘s two-out single in the sixth. Brett Gardner started the inning with a walk, moved to third on an impromptu hit-and-run, then scored on the single. Beltran picked up Brian McCann, who struck out on three pitches with Gardner on third and one out. Welcome back, Carlos.
  • Party Like It’s 2009: Man, this vintage 2009 model Mark Teixeira sure is fun, isn’t it? The score remained tied 1-1 into the eighth inning, when Vidal Nuno (!) and Fernando Rodney made quick work of Gardner and Alex Rodriguez. With the bases empty and two outs, Rodney let a 98 mph two-strike heater leak back over the plate, and Teixeira whacked it into the short porch for a go-ahead solo homer. The pitch was supposed to be elevated, Rodney left it down and middle of the plate, and Teixeira did what good hitters are supposed to do with it. Clutch.
  • Leftovers: Justin Wilson (one single), Dellin Betances (two walks), and Andrew Miller each threw scoreless innings. Dellin has 21 walks in 41 innings this year after having 24 walks in 90 innings last year … Teixeira had three of the team’s six hits. A-Rod, Beltran, and Chase Headley had the others. Gardner (two) and Beltran drew the walks … Stephen Drew went 0-for-2 in his return to the lineup and was lifted for pinch-hitter Chris Young against the lefty Nuno in the seventh.

Here are the box score, video highlights, and updated standings. Also check out out Bullpen Workload and Announcer Standings pages. The Yankees have an off-day Monday then open a three-game series with the Orioles at Yankee Stadium on Tuesday. Nathan Eovaldi vs. Wei-Yin Chen is the scheduled pitching matchup. Head over to RAB Tickets if you want to catch any of those three games in person.

Sunday Night Open Thread

That was a fun afternoon at the ol’ ball yard. Hot, but fun. Here’s your open thread for the last few hours of the weekend. The Mets and Cardinals are scoreless in extra innings as of this writing, and the ESPN Sunday Night Game is the Red Sox and Angels (Rodriguez vs. Santiago). I’m looking forward to hearing how the ESPN booth thinks the Sawx will get back into the race. Talk about anything and everything right here.

Game 91: Reverse Trap?


About four years ago, this afternoon’s pitching matchup would have been a gem. CC Sabathia vs. Felix Hernandez. Two of the ten best pitchers in the game. Now it’s lopsided and not in the Yankees’ favor. Sabathia has been one of the worst pitchers in baseball over the last three seasons while Felix remains one of the best. Not a good matchup!

Of course, the Yankees clobbered Hernandez last month, scoring seven runs in 4.2 innings after he started the game with three perfect innings on 21 total pitches. Hopefully today is a reverse trap game. The kind of game with a pitching matchup so lopsided the exactly opposite of what everyone expects to happen happens. That would be nice.

I’m not going to be home in time to post the lineups, so I will direct you to Chad Jennings for New York’s batting order. Carlos Beltran was activated off the DL and Rob Refsnyder was sent down, which is dumb, but the Yankees haven’t exactly shined with their decision making lately.

It’s nice and sunny in the Bronx this afternoon. Hot too. The game is scheduled to begin a little after 1pm ET and you can watch on WPIX locally. Enjoy.

The Crossroads

So much of mainstream baseball analysis is done in black and white: this player is good; this player is bad. This team is good; this team is the Red Sox. Of course, we know the waters are a lot muddier than this and that there are varying shades of gray between the black and white/us and them style analysis that we still see on TV and hear on the radio, especially when it comes to when a team should win–you know what I’m talking about: the (perceived) differences between Win Now and Win Later teams. Analysts and pundits always point to the Yankees as a Win Now team because they have a big payroll, lots of stars, and tend to win a whole lot of games. But as a former denizen of these parts used to say, the Yankees are not a Win Now team; they are a Win Now and Later team–they want to maximize success in the present to help guarantee success in the future.

In the present, the Yankees are winning their division by 3.5 games and seem to have good odds at making the playoffs. They’re also constructed as they have been in the past, with multiple high salary players spread across the field. As for the future, the Yankees do have some promising young players on the horizon. In terms of prospects, Rob Refsnyder is already up in the Majors while Greg Bird, Luis Severino, Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez, and others are approaching the doorstep, readying themselves to knock. In terms of non-prospects, the Yankees’ two  best starters–Michael Pineda and Masahiro Tanaka–are on the right side of 30, as is the entire bullpen (save for Andrew Miller). Additionally, their trade acquisitions this year–Didi Gregorius and Nathan Eovaldi–still have room to grow as well. Despite this fairly good set up, though, the 2015 does feel a touch incomplete, doesn’t it? After all, just last week I wrote about being fairly surprised that the Yankees were in this good a position. I guess that’s what having a somewhat shaky starting rotation and a black hole at second base will do to you, huh?

Like all teams at this time of the season, the Yankees are at a crossroads. Given their position at the top of the American League East, it’s clear they’re going to walk down Buyer’s Road, but how far will they go? Will they settle for the decent houses on the beginning of the block, or will they go straight down to the end and buy the big places with a view? Will they make subtle improvements or go as far as I have in torturing this metaphor?

On one hand, the improvements the Yankees could make to the team–adding a starter or a better option at second base–could help secure this season. Whether it’s a marginal upgrade guy like Mike Leake or a big time splash like Johnny Cueto or (be still my heart) Cole Hamels, another starting pitcher would improve this team greatly. And while relegating Stephen Drew to the bench is never a bad thing, there’s always a chance that Refsnyder doesn’t play well in his first stint with the big club. Making a move to get another second baseman would likely give the team a stronger performance over the last two months of the season and give Refsnyder a bit more development time.

On the other hand, the Yankees are still positioned well for a playoff run despite their rotation struggles. Their top two in the rotation have the potential to dominate a short series, as does their absolutely lockdown bullpen. The lineup also features strong hitters from the leadoff spot through the fifth spot, thanks to the offensive resurgences of Alex Rodriguez, Mark Teixeira, and Brian McCann. That set up–two big starters, a dominant bullpen, and a solid top of the order–is what you need come playoff time. If you’ve already got that, you may not need to give up future assets to push you over the top; just keep climbing and maybe you’ll do it yourself.

So, should the Yankees hold firm or sell some of their pieces? Yes. I don’t know. I’ve ping-ponged back and forth on this for the last few weeks. Part of me thinks that the state of the division and their place in it mean they should go for it with the hopes of getting hot in October. But the other part of me thinks that this team probably isn’t good enough to win a championship–even with the plaudits I’ve thrown their way in this post–so why sell of valuable future assets for a smaller-than-desired reward? Perhaps this is the young, late-90’s Yankee fan in me talking, but my gut says sell the prospects; flags fly forever and tomorrow is certainly not guaranteed (though I’d prefer not to trade Aaron Judge unless it’s in a Cole Hamels package). Even my declarative statements on this issue are tempered. I’m just glad I’m not the one that has to make the ultimate decision here, ’cause there damn sure isn’t any easy answer.