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


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

[Read more…]

Offense breaks it open late, Tanaka’s bounceback continues in 6-3 win over Blue Jays

Source: FanGraphs

Now that’s how you start an important homestand. The Yankees created a few runs early, some more runs late, and received superb starting pitching in Monday night’s series opening 6-3 win over the Blue Jays. It’s a long holiday weekend, so I’m taking the easy way out with bullet points:

  • Two Early Runs: The Yankees put up two quick first inning runs because Marcus Stroman gifted them a bunch of baserunners. Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez got the rally started with back-to-back opposite field singles, then Didi Gregorius worked a rare walk to load the bases with one out. The Yankees scored their two runs because Stroman hit Chase Headley with a 1-2 pitch and walked Jacoby Ellsbury. Riveting stuff. Doesn’t matter though. Two runs scored and the Yankees were up early.
  • Tanaka’s Gem: Is Masahiro Tanaka back? I think he might be back. This was his fourth strong outing in his last five starts, and the depth on his splitter and slider looks sooo much better. Tanaka allowed one run in seven innings Monday and it was a stupid run. It scored on a hit batsman, a stolen base plus Sanchez’s throwing error, and a bloop single. Not exactly hard hit. Tanaka struck out eight and walked one. He was dominant. And he now has a 2.56 ERA in his last five starts, which includes the ugly outing against the Athletics (five runs in four innings).
  • Late Insurance: The Yankees didn’t do much of anything against Stroman after the first inning. It wasn’t until the eighth that they really broke the game open. The first four batters of the inning went single (Judge), double (Sanchez), walk (Gregorius), two-run double (Headley). The Yankees added two more runs when Ronald Torreyes hit a tapper back to the pitcher, who threw home only to watch the catcher lose the ball when Gregorius slid in. As everyone stood around looking for the ball, Headley chugged home. The Yankees have been quite good at tacking on runs this year, no? Insurance runs are always appreciated.
  • Bullpen Time: Given the way things have been going, I don’t think anyone felt good once the bullpen door swung open. Dellin Betances pitched the eighth with the Yankees up 2-1, and while he walked Josh Donaldson, he got hosed on some calls. Here’s the strike zone plot. Donaldson walked in a 2-5 count. A strike ’em out, throw ’em out double play ended that inning. Aroldis Chapman came in for the ninth with a 6-1 lead — he had been warming when it was 2-1 — and allowed two runs on three hits. He still doesn’t look right. Everything is max effort and hitters are fouling off 101 mph like it’s no big deal. The final out of the game was a rocket line drive right at Headley at third base. Hopefully Chapman figures it out, for the sake of this year and for the sake of the next four years.
  • Leftovers: The 2-3-4-5 hitters went a combined 6-for-13 (.462) with four runs scored, three runs driven in, and two walks … Judge, Sanchez, and Headley each had two hits … Gregorius drew two walks (!) after coming into the game with seven walks on the season … Ellsbury reached base twice (single, walk) … Clint Frazier went 0-for-3 with two strikeouts in his Yankee Stadium debut. The one ball in the play was a hard-ish hit fly ball to left.

Here are the box score, video highlights, and updated standings. Don’t miss our Bullpen Workload page either. The Yankees and Blue Jays will continue this series with a Fourth of July matinee Tuesday. CC Sabathia is scheduled to come off the disabled list to make that start. Fellow lefty J.A. Happ will be on the mound for Toronto. Want to catch the game live? Check out RAB Tickets.

Game 81: Halfway There

(Bob Levey/Getty)
(Bob Levey/Getty)

Today marks the midway point of the 2017 season for the Yankees. Or, technically, the end of tonight’s game will. The first half has been a mixed bag. The Yankees started great and have crashed hard the last few weeks. They come into tonight at 43-37 with a +104 run differential. That’s the fourth best record and the second best run differential in the league. Pretty good! But it feels worse than it is given the last three weeks or so.

The All-Star break is a week away and the Yankees start a six-game homestand tonight. It sure would be swell to close out the first half on a high note, wouldn’t it? Grab some wins at home and spend the four-day All-Star break feeling pretty good about where things stand. That’d be nice. The last few weeks have been pretty frustrating. Here is the Blue Jays’ lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:

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

It rained briefly this afternoon, though the wet stuff cleared out and they should have no trouble getting the game in tonight. Tonight’s series opener with Toronto will begin a little after 7pm ET. You can watch on YES. Enjoy the game.

Injury Update: Greg Bird (ankle) still isn’t feeling right. He’s going to see more doctors after the holiday, and Brian Cashman even mentioned Bird may need exploratory surgery to figure out what the hell is wrong. Sounds promising.

Awards!: Judge is your AL Player of the Month and Rookie of the Month. He’s the first player to win three straight Rookies of the Month since Mike Trout in 2012. He’s also the first player to win both awards in the same month since … Sanchez last August.

All-Star Update: In case you missed it earlier, both Judge and Sanchez will participate in the Home Run Derby next week. Awesome.

Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez will participate in the 2017 Home Run Derby

Hell yes. (Rich Schultz/Getty)
Hell yes. (Rich Schultz/Getty)

The Yankees will have not one, but two players in the Home Run Derby this year. Both Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez announced today they have accepted Home Run Derby invitations and will take their hacks next Monday at Marlins Park. Awesome. Here’s their announcement. Both guys are planning to use Yankees regular batting practice pitcher Danilo Valiente for the Home Run Derby.

It’s uncommon but not unprecedented for one team to have two players in the Home Run Derby. Both Josh Donaldson and Yoenis Cespedes were in the Home Run Derby in 2014, when they were with the Athletics. Troy Tulowitzki and Justin Morneau did it as members of the Rockies that year too. There have been other teammates in the Home Run Derby over the years as well.

Judge and Sanchez will be the first Yankees to participate in the Home Run Derby since Robinson Cano swung away in three straight from 2011-13. The last Yankee other than Cano in the Home Run Derby was Nick Swisher in 2010. Three Yankees have won the Home Run Derby: Cano (2011), Jason Giambi (2002), and Tino Martinez (1997). Giambi finished third in the 2003 Home Run Derby.

MLB changed the Home Run Derby format two years ago. Players are now given five minutes to hit as many home runs as possible — they can earn bonus time based on home run distance and things like that — and they meet head-to-head in a bracket style tournament, so it’s possible Judge and Sanchez could face each other. The players are seeded 1-8 based on their season homer total.

I’m sure there are some people out there freaking out about Judge and/or Sanchez screwing up their swings in the Home Run Derby, though the “curse” is largely a myth. There’s been a ton of research on it, like this, this, and this. Pick eight players at random and chances are several of them will perform worse in the second half than the first. That’s all the Home Run Derby curse is. Just sit back and enjoy it.

So far the only other confirmed Home Run Derby contestants are Giancarlo Stanton, the defending champ and token hometown player, and Miguel Sano. Cody Bellinger has been invited, though he said he will not participate unless his father (ex-Yankee Clay Bellinger) can rearrange his schedule to make it to Miami to pitch to him. Both Joey Gallo and Bryce Harper declined invites.