Fan Confidence Poll: August 28th, 2017

Record Last Week: 4-2 (46 RS, 22 RA)
Season Record: 70-59 (676 RS, 541 RA, 77-52 pythag. record) 2.5 GB in ALE, 3.5 GU on WC
Opponents This Week: vs. Indians (three games, Mon. to Weds.), vs. Red Sox (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 the Features tab 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?
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Tanaka, comedy of errors boost Yankees past Mariners, 10-1

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

This one really got out of hand quick. A cavalcade of errors by the Mariners in the bottom of the first put the Yankees ahead for good and gave them breathing room en route to the series win. That breaks a skid of 10 straight losses in rubber games and they did it without needing the backend of their bullpen.

Fly like an E-6

The game was wild from the start. The Mariners took a 1-0 lead after a half inning after stringing three hits together,(more on that later), but the Yankees quickly fought back with plenty of help from the lackluster M’s defense.  Lackluster is putting it lightly. Let’s go to the play-by-play.

pbp

(1) After Starlin Castro doubled, Gary Sanchez lined a single into left field. It was easily going to score Castro, but former Yankee Ben Gamel let the ball get through him and roll towards the auxiliary scoreboard. That gave Sanchez second base and

(2) Jean Segura may have had the worst first inning of his career. He made an out to start the game and this was his first of three (!) errors as he misplayed Didi Gregorius‘ pop-up. It was an easy ball and should have easily been Andrew Albers’ second out. Instead, bases loaded with one away.

(3) Chase Headley bought off three 0-2 pitches before grounding one right to Kyle Seager. It was going to easily be an out at third base, if not a 5-5-3 double play, but Seager couldn’t corral the ball. He just needed to come up with the ball and take a few steps to his right for an easy force, but alas, it was one of those days for the Mariners’ defense.

(4) Todd Frazier struck out with the bases loaded, something he seems to have done a few too many times this series. But the Mr. Clutch Jacoby Ellsbury got his third hit with runners in scoring position of the last two days, lining a ball into left-center field.

And that’s when everything went haywire for Segura.

It easily scored two runs, but Segura dropped the throw in by Gamel, committing his first error of the play as Headley ran home. The Mariner shortstop tried to catch Headley at home but his throw got by Mike Zunino, allowing Ellsbury to reach third. Ronald Torreyes knocked him in with a bloop single.

That’s all five errors. Aaron Hicks made two outs in the inning and had an error in the top of the first, although it didn’t cause the one run to score. And it was nowhere near the worst first inning for anyone. That’s got to be a tie between Segura and Albers, who had to get five outs against a potent Yankees lineup.

It was the first time since July 1977 that a team made five errors in one inning. What a mess!

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

Back to Ace Tanaka

Four batters into the game, Tanaka seemed like he may be heading towards a tough one, allowing hits to Yonder Alonso, Robinson Cano and Nelson Cruz, the last one an RBI double. However, he rebounded with a strikeout of Kyle Seager before inducing a fly out to escape further damage.

After that, he pitched with a lead and did so quite well. He had only two 1-2-3 innings (2nd and 7th inning) but had some of his best stuff. His breaking pitches were doing exactly what he wanted as he struck out 10 batters. He allowed just three fly outs compared to eight ground-ball outs. That’s precisely what he needs to do.

The Cruz strikeout was his only one looking while the rest were swinging. He ran into trouble in the fifth with back-to-back singles before falling behind 3-0 on Segura. He threw two straight four-seamers for strikes before getting him to whiff on a slider. Two groundouts to the right side later and he was out of trouble, still leading 7-1.

Tanaka’s ERA is down to 4.69 and he has a 2.92 ERA in his 11 starts. In that stretch, he’s struck out 79 batters in 71 innings. He’s making his early season hijinks look more and more like a fluke than a permanent step back.

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

Leftovers

Starlin Castro is back in full force. As the DH, he went 4 for 4 with a double in four plate appearances. He got things started in the first and knocked in a run in the third with a bloop single. He didn’t get a chance for a fifth hit as Greg Bird pinch hit for him in the seventh with the bases loaded. Bird came through with a two-run single.

The Yankees’ other run came on a Headley sac fly with the bases loaded that turned into a double play. Sanchez got caught off second base not expecting the cutoff and was gunned down in a 8-3-6 DP.

Nearly everyone got in on the party. Ronald Torreyes had three hits and is now batting .302 on the season. Sanchez and Ellsbury had two hits each while Aaron Judge (double), Hicks, Gregorius and Bird each had one. Judge had two walks while Sanchez and Frazier had one each. Headley had the sac fly and another line drive that nearly got over Gamel’s head.

Frazier made an error to start the sixth, but Tanaka got the Mariners in order with two strikeouts and an easy grounder afterward.

Caleb Smith pitched two easy innings out of the bullpen in relief of Tanaka and was the only reliever for the Yankees. Only needed 20 pitches to do so while striking out one. Perhaps the best he’s looked in his limited appearances this year.

Joe Girardi was ejected in the third inning after the umpires bungled a clear interference play. With a runner on first and one out, Robinson Cano hit an easy double play ball to Headley, who turned to throw Segura out at second. Segura clearly stepped out of the baseline to try and block the throw before continuing to slide towards Gregorius to break up the double play. Headley dropped the ball at first. Take a look at the play.

The umps reviewed it but kept the call on the field, leading to Girardi’s ejection. Segura interfered with the play twice and it was baffling how the play wasn’t ruled a double play. Tanaka struck out Cruz looking right afterwards, so it wasn’t a huge deal. Still, a bad call leads to Girardi’s second ejection in four games.

Lastly, this is the first time the Yankees have scored 10 runs this season without hitting a home run. How about that?

Box Score & Standings

Go to ESPN for the box score and updated standings, the MLB.com for the video highlights. Here’s our Bullpen Workload page.

Up Next
The Yankees will continue their 10-game homestand with a three-game set against the Cleveland Indians on Monday night. It’ll be a marquee pitching matchup with AL Cy Young favorite Corey Kluber faces Luis Severino in a 7:00 start. And they’ll begin play Monday just 2.5 games back of Boston, which was swept by Baltimore.

Game 129: Rubber Match

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

Since June 8, the Yankees have split the first two games of a three-game series 10 times. And each time they’ve played the third game, they’ve lost. That’s right: They’re 0-10 in their last 10 rubber games.

Luckily, the Bombers can turn to Masahiro Tanaka, who has been his normal self for the last two months. In his last 10 starts since June 23, he’s pitched to a 3.09 ERA with 69 strikeouts in 64 innings while allowing just 67 baserunners. After allowing 21 home runs in his first 14 starts, he’s limited opponents to eight in the aforementioned stretch.

Tanaka is 5-0 with a 2.51 ERA in six starts against the Mariners, although the one no-decision came in a loss earlier this season. He’ll duel with Andrew Albers, one of Seattle’s 16 starters and 37 overall pitchers this season.

Here is the Mariners’ lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:

    1. LF Aaron Hicks
    2. DH Starlin Castro
    3. Gary Sanchez
    4. RF Aaron Judge
    5. SS Didi Gregorius
    6. 1B Chase Headley
    7. 3B Todd Frazier
    8. CF Jacoby Ellsbury
    9. 2B Ronald Torreyes
      RHP Masahiro Tanaka

The forecast is relatively clear in the Bronx, so it should be a nice day for baseball. The 1:05 PM start will be broadcast on the YES Network locally and TBS nationally. Happy Sunday!

Still Cause for Concern

(Adam Glanzman/Getty)
(Adam Glanzman/Getty)

A little over a month ago, I wrote that things were looking bleak for (then) closer Aroldis Chapman. Since then, things haven’t exactly gone well. He’s lost that closer’s spot and, like he has for most of the season, he just hasn’t looked quite right at all. The return to normalcy for Chapman just hasn’t happened (yet?) and it’s still somewhat baffling as to why.

His fluky high swing and contact numbers are still fluky high and haven’t really corrected themselves. What stands out here is that Chapman is generating fewer swings but batters are making more contact than they ever have against him. For the second year in a row, well over half of his pitches (around 54% both times) have been in the zone. Previously, he sat around just 48-49% in the zone. With a pitcher like Chapman, who has incredible stuff, you’d assume living in the zone wouldn’t be too bad, especially since he had success last year. This year, though, as it seems to have been at every turn, that’s not the case.

Let’s take a look first at Chapman’s slider, a pitch he’s used slightly more often this year, though it’s had–for the first time–slightly negative value.

chapzone17sl

 

My first impression is that the slider isn’t getting as much bite as it used to. Ideally, a lefty throwing a slider wants the pitch down and away against lefties and bearing down and in against righties, which isn’t really happening. Those big red spots in the middle portions of the zone could hit at why Chapman’s slider hasn’t been as effective this year. Pitches in those areas, even sliders, are going to get hit. Last year’s heatmap for the slider shows a lot more action in that low, glove side zone where you want a slider as a lefty.

The slider location, though, is sill just one piece of the puzzle. Is there a mechanical issue? Is there a physical issue? Is there a confidence issue? It’s hard to tell this year. As Mike has pointed out frequently, moments of complete, Chapman-level dominance have been few and far between this year, and I can’t remember the last one offhand. I’m running out of ways to say this is all worrying so, I’ll just keep saying it that plainly: this is all worrying. Unless Chapman is hurt and not speaking up or is just supremely hungover from the World Series run with the Cubs last year, this is going to make the next four-plus years very difficult to watch. You never want to root for an injury, but at this point, we almost have to hope Chapman is at least a little hurt so this can have some sort of easy explanation.

But there’s the other easy explanation: maybe he’s just…done. Baseball is cruel enough sometimes that players–even ones as relatively young as Chapman–can just lose it in the blink of an eye. If that’s the case, Chapman and the Yankees are going to be walking in some dark woods together while this contract unfolds.

Yankees 6, Mariners 3: Pickles cuts up Seattle in Bird’s return


Source: FanGraphs

Nice bounceback win for the Yankees following that frustrating loss Friday night. The Yankees received some timely hits from Jacoby Ellsbury and great pitching from Sonny Gray, which is exactly why they brought him in. To halt losing streaks. Saturday afternoon’s final score was 6-3.

I only caught the last inning of Saturday’s game — not even, I caught the last four outs or so — so I can’t talk too intelligently about the game. Here are some assorted notes instead.

1. Pickles spears the Mariners. One run, three hits, one walk, seven innings. Nine strikeouts too. The good version of Gray is pretty excellent, is he not? I know it’s Carlos Ruiz, but I’m not going to sweat one solo homer across seven innings from any starter, especially in a game at Yankee Stadium. Through five starts Gray is sitting on a 2.70 ERA (3.46 FIP) in 30 innings with the Yankees. He has a 3.26 ERA (3.35 FIP) on the season overall. The Yankees got themselves a good one.

2. Ellsbury did a thing! Playing time has been hard to come by for Ellsbury the last few weeks — and that’s on him, if he’d played better earlier this season, he’d be playing more in the second half — though when he has played, he’s had a tendency to make some noise. On Saturday he drove in his team’s first run of the game with a single, and then drove in their second, third, and fourth runs with a three-run home run into the short porch. That was a two-out rally too. Two-out single by Greg Bird, two-out walk by Chase Headley, two-out three-run homer by Ellsbury. In a perfect world, Ellsbury would be 1996 Tim Raines the rest of the season, that high-end fourth outfielder who seems to do something every time he finds himself in the lineup.

3. Bird returns. Greg Bird is back! Hooray for that. I didn’t get to see any of his at-bats, so that stinks, but 1-for-2 with two walks and 22 pitches seen sure looks like the good version of Greg Bird to me. Statcast tells me he got the benefit of the doubt on few borderline calls …

greg-bird-mariners

… but who cares. Those will even out over the course of the season. Bird has military caliber discipline at the plate, so when he’s laying off those borderline pitches, that’s a good thing. You know he feels like himself at the plate. The Yankees went into Saturday’s game with 183 runs in the second half, ninth most in the AL and 16th most in MLB, so the offense really needs a shot in the arm. Hopefully Bird can provide that.

Also, what the heck was that send by third base coach Joe Espada on Ellsbury’s single to open to scoring? I watched the highlight and, uh, that’s bad. Bird is not fleet of foot, and this was literally his first game back from ankle surgery. I guess Espada was hoping Ben Gamel would make a poor throw? Otherwise I’m not sure what that send was about.

* * *

Here are the box score, video highlights, and updated standings. The Yankees and Mariners will wrap up this three-game series Sunday afternoon — that’s another 1pm ET start — when Masahiro Tanaka and Andrew Albers will be on the mound. That’s the kind of game a true division contender should win at this point of the season. Tanaka has been pretty great his last 12 starts (3.38 ERA and 3.65 FIP) and Albers was pitching in an independent league last year. Yeah.

Minor League Update: I’m out of town and don’t have time for a full DotF tonight. Here are the box scores. Most of the games today are night games, so they haven’t even started as of this writing.

Game 128: Welcome Back, Mr. Bird

(Fred Adams/Times Leaders)
Bird is back. (Fred Adams/Times Leaders)

Despite all of the hand-wringing over suspensions, injuries, losses, and poor performances, there is a strong sense of optimism for the Yankees this afternoon. The team is eking closer and closer to full health, as Starlin Castro returned to the lineup last night, and Greg Bird will make his first appearances in pinstripes in nearly four months. Matt Holliday is still out, but this afternoon’s lineup is the closest to full strength that we have seen in quite some time:

  1. Brett Gardner, LF
  2. Aaron Judge, RF
  3. Gary Sanchez, DH
  4. Didi Gregorius, SS
  5. Starlin Castro, 2B
  6. Greg Bird, 1B
  7. Chase Headley, 3B
  8. Jacoby Ellsbury, CF
  9. Austin Romine, C

Sonny Gray will get the start, and here’s the Mariners lineup that he’ll face.

For those of you who haven’t been following, Bird lit-up Triple-A in his eight-game rehab stint following ankle surgery, batting .375/.448/.833 with 2 2B and 3 HR in 29 PA. The reports surrounding his swing, running, and general conditioning have been glowing (at least as much as his gait can be praised), and it isn’t difficult to envision him solidifying the middle of the Yankees lineup all but immediately. It’s been a long road back for Bird, and I’ll be happy to see him this afternoon.

Today’s first pitch is scheduled for 1:05 PM, and the game will be broadcaste on the YES Network.

Yankees come together as a team after brawl with Tigers to lose 2-1 to Mariners


Source: FanGraphs

Well, if nothing else, maybe this will put an end to the ridiculous notion that Thursday’s brawls with the Tigers would spark the Yankees and get them to rally together. They lost Thursday’s game after the brawls and they lost Friday’s game too. The final score was 2-1. The Yankees looked completely helpless against the Mariners.

I alternated between watching Friday’s game on my phone and listening to the radio, plus I missed big chunks of it, so I can’t do a full recap. Instead, here are some notes and observations.

1. These baserunners are made for stranding. This game was lost when the Yankees left the bases loaded three times. Three freaking times. They did it in the third (Aaron Hicks and Gary Sanchez flew out), in the fourth (Todd Frazier struck out), and in the eighth (Frazier struck out). The Yankees went 0-for-12 with runners in scoring position and it was a total team effort. Eight of the nine players in the lineup had an at-bat with runners in scoring position. Only Didi Gregorius did not. A medium deep fly ball scores a run in the third and fourth innings, when the Yankees had a man on third and less than two outs, and they couldn’t do it. Impressively terrible showing by the offense.

2. You don’t need 50 seconds to ask for that replay. How in the world does that Gregorius slide at third base not get challenged in the eighth inning? Didi made a terrible baserunning play. He broke from second base on a ground ball hit in front of him. It looked like he was thrown out at third, but replays showed he managed to avoid the tag with a fantastic slide. And yet, no challenge was made. Joe Girardi said after the game it took too long (50 seconds, to be exact) to get the thumbs up from replay guy Brett Weber, which is why the play was not challenged.

That is complete and total crap. Eighth inning of a tie game, and you’re talking about a bang-bang play that would’ve put the go-ahead run at third base with one out. That’s an insta-challenge. I’ve been harping on these for a while. On plays that important and that just close, just challenge it. Who cares about the team’s challenge success rate? Have them look at it. The difference of that play:

  • Successful challenge (runners on the corners, one out): 77.1% win probability
  • No challenge (runner on first, two outs): 57.8% win probability

The Yankees did end up needing their challenge in the 11th inning to overturn the egregiously bad out call on Brett Gardner‘s stolen base, though the game could’ve been over long before that. Maybe the Yankees waste that opportunity anyway given how poorly they performed with men in scoring position. Probably would have. But man, letting that play go unchallenged is awful. Just awful. A bang-bang play in which the go-ahead run was thrown out at third base in the eighth inning is one of these situations where waiting even 30 seconds for the replay guy to chime in should not happen. Use those challenges. You don’t get bonus points for a high success rate.

3. Chapman is a disaster. An unmitigated disaster. After allowing one home run to a left-handed batter in his first six-plus seasons as a big leaguer, Aroldis Chapman has now done it twice in the last month. This time Yonder Alonso turned around a 100 mph fastball like he knew it was coming for the game-winning home run. And he probably did know it was coming because Chapman throws fastball after fastball after fastball. Thirteen fastballs and one slider Friday. Fourteen pitches and zero swings and misses. Chapman was booed off the mound, which is funny, because Hal Steinbrenner said one of the reasons the Yankees signed him was how pumped up fans were when he entered the games last year. Sound logic.

4. Sabathia is still a boss. On the bright side, CC Sabathia is still the man. Seven innings of one run ball. Five hits, one walk, six strikeouts. Only 94 pitches too. Sabathia allowed a solo homer to Mike Zunino and that’s it. The big man passed Mike Mussina for sole possession of 19th place on the all-time strikeout list Friday night. Awesome. Sabathia is forever cool with me. Damn shame the Yankees wasted this outing.

* * *

Here are the box score, video highlights, and updated standings. The Yankees and Mariners will continue this series Saturday afternoon. That’s a regular 1pm ET start. Hooray for baseball on Saturday afternoons. Sonny Gray and Yovani Gallardo are the scheduled starting pitchers.

Minor League Update: I don’t have time for a full DotF tonight and I won’t all weekend, so here’s the box scores and here’s the short version: 3B Miguel Andujar had a single and a walk, LF Billy McKinney had a single and a double, RHP Domingo German struck out eight in 6.1 innings of one-run ball, LHP Stephen Tarpley allowed his first run of the season, SS Kyle Holder had four hits, RHP Freicer Perez allowed one hit and one run in six innings, RHP Trevor Stephan struck out six in 2.2 innings, and LHP Justus Sheffield tossed two scoreless innings in his first rehab game back from the oblique injury.