It’s too bad the Yankees are so far out of the playoff race, otherwise this game would have been all kinds of awesome. They got big performances from two important players and rallied late for a 5-1 win over the defending World Series champs. Let’s recap:
- Record-Setting: The Yankees were poised to blow a golden opportunity in the seventh inning of a tie game before the totally unclutch Alex Rodriguez saved the day. He clubbed his 24th career grand slam off former Yankee George Kontos with two outs in the inning, turning a 1-1 game into a much more comfortable 5-1 game. It also broke a tie with Lou Gehrig atop the all-time grand slam list, meaning A-Rod has now hit more bases loaded homers than anyone in history. Pretty cool. And a big hit too.
- Stepped Up: There’s a good chance New York would be sitting in a playoff spot right now if CC Sabathia had a typical CC Sabathia season. He’s been awful this year, but he did turn in one of his best outings of the year on Friday night. Sabathia held the Giants to one run in seven innings (and one batter), striking out seven and allowing ten base-runners total. Just two of the final 12 men he faced reached base. It wasn’t a vintage dominant Sabathia outing, but he was effective and that’s something we hadn’t seen in a long time.
- Leftovers: Alfonso Soriano got the Yankees on the board with a Yankee Stadium cheapie solo homer in second. He had two hits and a walk … props to Eduardo Nunez for two stellar defensive plays at third base (no seriously), one charging a ball and another fielding a tough hop … Brendan Ryan and Ichiro Suzuki had singles while Ichiro also drew a walk … David Robertson and Mariano Rivera combined to retire five of the six batters they faced. The only blemish was a Robertson walk.
MLB.com has the box score and video highlights, FanGraphs the other stats, and ESPN the updated standings. Depending on the outcomes of the other games, the Yankees will be either three games (Rays and/or Rangers lose) or four games (Rays and Rangers both win) back of the second wildcard spot in the loss column with eight to play. Cool Standings has their postseason odds at 4.4%. Ivan Nova and Ryan Vogelsong is your pitching matchup Saturday afternoon. Check out RAB Tickets if you watch to catch the fourth-to-last home game of the season (and Rivera’s career) in person.
According to Baseball Prospectus, the Yankees have a 1% chance to make the postseason following their loss to the Blue Jays last night. They’re four games back in the loss column with only nine to play, meaning even if they go a perfect 9-0, either the Rangers or Rays would need to go 5-4 just to force a tiebreaker game. That doesn’t even factor in the Orioles, Royals, and Indians, all of whom are sandwiched between the Yankees and a wildcard spot. The postseason outlook is indeed grim, but the Yankees have not yet been mathematically eliminated. Until that happens, there will still be some shred of hope. Here’s the lineup Joe Girardi will send out there against two-time Cy Young Award winner Tim Lincecum:
- RF Ichiro Suzuki
- DH Alex Rodriguez
- 2B Robinson Cano
- LF Alfonso Soriano
- CF Curtis Granderson
- 3B Eduardo Nunez
- 1B Lyle Overbay
- SS Brendan Ryan
- C J.R. Murphy
And on the mound is another former Cy Young Award winner, CC Sabathia. Two or three years ago, a Sabathia-Lincecum pitching matchup would have been one of the best and most exciting in baseball. They were two of the five or ten best pitchers in the world as recently as 2011.
It’s a lovely day in New York, perfect for baseball. First pitch is scheduled for 7:05pm ET and can be seen on YES. Enjoy.
Injury Update: Boone Logan (elbow) is available for tonight’s game. He’s missed about two weeks with a bone spur.
I have to think more than a few people (and television networks) were expecting this late-season interleague matchup to be more meaningful and interesting than it really is. Both the Yankees and Giants are big disappointments this year. Fun Fact: The Giants will be only the second defending World Series winner to play in the New Yankee Stadium, joining the Phillies in 2009. That isn’t counting the 2010 Yankees, obviously.
What Have They Done Lately?
Despite the down year, the Giants have actually played pretty well of late. They just took two of three from the Mets in Flushing and three of four from the Dodgers before coming East. San Francisco has won five of their last six games and sit in fourth place in the NL West at 71-84 with a -54 run differential. They’ve already been mathematically eliminated from playoff contention.
For some reason the Giants are generally considered a poor offensive team — it’s a stigma that has stuck over the years — but they’re almost perfectly league average this year at 3.9 runs per game with a team 98 wRC+. That’s not great but it’s average, and average is … well … average. Could be worse, they could be the Yankees (86 wRC+). San Francisco is without 2B Marco Scutaro (111 wRC+) and OF Andres Torres (83 wRC+) due to injury. Scutaro (finger) is expected back at some this season but probably not this weekend. Torres (Achilles) is done for the year.
Manager Bruce Bochy’s lineup revolves around three guys: reigning NL MVP Buster Posey (137 wRC+), 1B Brandon Belt (138 wRC+), and OF Hunter Pence (137 wRC+). Posey has been dealing with a finger injury and comes into the series relatively slumping (99 wRC+ last 14 days) while Pence is currently on an insane contract drive (202 wRC+ last 30 days). 3B Pablo Sandoval (110 wRC+) is having a good but not great year and OF Angel Pagan (114 wRC+ in limited time) has been solid when not injured.
The rest of Bochy’s regular lineup includes SS Brandon Crawford (96 wRC+) and OF Gregor Blanco (97 wRC+). Backup C Hector Sanchez (103 wRC+ in limited time) figures to get some at-bats this weekend thanks to the DH. OF Juan Perez (70 wRC+ in limited time), OF Roger Kieschnick (53 wRC+ in very limited time), 1B/OF Brett Pill (82 wRC+), IF Tony Abreu (80 wRC+ in limited time), and former Yankees prospect/IF Joaquin Arias (77 wRC+) are the regular bench players. The crop of September call-ups includes C Johnny Monell, IF Ehire Adrianza, IF Nick Noonan, and OF Francisco Peguero.
Starting Pitching Matchups
Friday: LHP CC Sabathia vs. RHP Tim Lincecum
Boy would this have been a fun matchup as recently as 2011. Instead, we have too former Cy Young Award winners who are trying to figure out why they suddenly transformed into back-end starters. Lincecum, 29, has a 4.40 ERA (3.75 FIP) in 30 starts this season, so he’s been considerably better than last year (5.18 ERA and 4.18 FIP) but still much worse than his heyday from 2008-2011 (2.81 ERA and 2.81 FIP). His strikeout rate (8.85 K/9 and 23.1 K%) is excellent and his ground ball rate (45.2%) is very good, but he walks a few too many (3.52 BB/9 and 9.2 BB%) and is really homer prone (0.98 HR/9 and 12.4% HR/FB), especially considering his home park. Lincecum’s two and four-seam fastballs have tapered off in recent years and sit right around 90 mph these days. His best pitch is a low-to-mid-80s changeup with crazy movement down and away from lefties, but he’ll also throw low-80s sliders and mid-70s curveballs. That wide arsenal is why he has a tiny platoon split. Lincecum has never faced the Yankees in his career, and in fact only former NLers Mark Reynolds and Alfonso Soriano have seen him more than a handful of times.
Saturday: RHP Ivan Nova vs. RHP Ryan Vogelsong
The 36-year-old Vogelsong missed almost three months earlier this season when he needed surgery to repair a fracture in his pitching hand after being hit by a pitch — at least the NL has all that strategy amirite? — and overall this has been his worst big league season since resurfacing two years ago. He’s pitched to a 5.73 ERA (4.91 FIP) in 17 starts after putting up a 3.05 ERA (3.68 FIP) from 2011-2012. Vogelsong spent 2006-2010 bouncing around Japan and minors after flaming out with the Pirates in the early-2000s. His peripherals are mediocre across the board this year: 6.12 K/9 (15.0 K%), 3.21 BB/9 (7.9 BB%), 1.36 HR/9 (14.3% HR/FB), and 41.7% grounders. Vogelsong is a true five-pitch pitcher with two fastballs (upper-80s two and four-seamers), two breaking balls (mid-80s slider and mid-70s curveball), and one offspeed pitch (low-80s changeup). Right-handers have destroyed him this season (.410 wOBA) and lefties haven’t had a hard time either (.329 wOBA), but that split is the reverse of the last two years. Lefties usually gave him a harder time than righties. Vogelsong made two relief appearances against the Yankees back in 2005 and they mean nothing right now.
Sunday: LHP Andy Pettitte vs. RHP Yusmeiro Petit
The Yankees probably aren’t going to make the playoffs, but at least we’ll get to see a Pettitte vs. Petit pitching matchup. John Sterling will have a field day. The 29-year-old Petit has a 3.08 ERA (2.10 FIP) in five starts and one relief appearance for San Francisco this year, and two weeks ago he got to within one out of a perfect game. Former Yankee Eric Chavez broke it up with a single with two outs in the ninth. Petit, who the Mets traded to the Marlins for Carlos Delgado back in the day, lives in the mid-to-upper-80s with his cutter and four-seam fastball. A low-80s slider headlines his array of offspeed offerings, which also includes a low-80s changeup and a mid-70s curveball. Like Lincecum and (for all intents and purposes) Vogelsong, Petit has never faced the Yankees in his career.
The Mets and Dodgers did the Yankees a solid these last few days and really worked Bochy’s bullpen hard. Closer RHP Sergio Romo (2.91 FIP) has pitched three of the last five and four of the last seven days. Setup men RHP
Jairo Garcia Santiago Casilla (3.68 FIP) and LHP Javier Lopez (2.21 FIP) have both pitched each of the last three days. Casilla has pitched four of the last five and six of the last eight (!) days as well. Even if those guys do pitch this weekend, they’ll probably be out of gas.
With those three having been worked hard, RHP Jean Machi (2.51 FIP) and former Yankee RHP George Kontos (3.98 FIP) figure to pick up the late-inning slack. LHP Jeremy Affeldt (4.44 FIP) is done for the year with a groin problem, so Bochy’s only other veteran lefty aside from Lopez is LHP Jose Mijares (3.13 FIP). RHP Guillermo Moscoso (4.94 FIP) is the regular long man. The Giants are carrying a 13-man bullpen that includes September call-ups RHP Jake Dunning, RHP Heath Hembree, LHP Mike Kickham, and RHP Sandy Rosario. LHP Barry Zito (5.02 FIP) is technically in the bullpen, but he hasn’t pitched since September 2nd and has made just one appearance since August 26th. He’s just kinda there as the team waits for his contract to expire after the season.
The Yankees bullpen is in decent shape coming into the series, and rumor has it Boone Logan (elbow) will be available for the opener tonight. That is still subject to change, however. Check out our Bullpen Workload page for exact reliever usage details, then check out McCovey Chronicles for the latest and greatest on the Giants. It’s one of the very best and most entertaining team blogs you’ll find.
For the second time in three years, Andy Pettitte is retiring from baseball. The veteran left-hander announced his intention to retire following the season on Friday afternoon, prior to the start of the team’s final homestand of 2013. Both Joel Sherman and Ken Rosenthal reported the news earlier in the day. Here is Pettitte’s full statement:
“I’m announcing my retirement prior to the conclusion of our season because I want all of our fans to know now—while I’m still wearing this uniform—how grateful I am for their support throughout my career. I want to have the opportunity to tip my cap to them during these remaining days and thank them for making my time here with the Yankees so special.
“I’ve reached the point where I know that I’ve left everything I have out there on that field. The time is right. I’ve exhausted myself, mentally and physically, and that’s exactly how I want to leave this game.
“One of the things I struggled with in making this announcement now was doing anything to take away from Mariano’s day on Sunday. It is his day. He means so much to me, and has meant so much to my career that I would just hate to somehow take the attention away from him.”
Pettitte, 41, first announced his retirement following the 2010 season. He sat out the entire 2011 season before making a comeback in 2012, citing the itch to compete. The comeback was a successful one — 2.87 ERA (3.48 FIP) in 12 starts — aside from the fluke broken leg he suffered on a hard-hit comeback ground ball. That cost him close to three months.
The injury drove Andy to continue pitching in 2013. The Yankees re-signed him to a one-year contract worth $12M last November and he was in their rotation right from Opening Day. Pettitte has pitched to a 3.93 ERA (3.76 FIP) in 28 starts while missing time with back and lat problems this year. He had a real rough patch in the middle of the summer that made him look very much like the oldest starting pitcher in baseball, but Andy rebounded and has been the team’s best starter for a good month now.
Pettitte owns a career 255-152 record with a 3.86 ERA (3.74 FIP) in parts of 18 big league seasons, all but three with the Yankees. He has gone 19-11 with a 3.81 ERA (4.09 FIP) in 44 career postseason starts and was an integral part of five World Championships. Andy is the Yankees all-time leader in strikeouts (2,009) while ranking second in starts (436), third in wins (218), innings (2780.1), and WAR (50.9), and fifth in games pitched (445). He’s a borderline Hall of Famer andsimply the greatest Yankees starter many of us have ever seen pitch.
Andy is scheduled to start two more games this season — in Yankee Stadium this Sunday and one in Houston next weekend. It’s fitting his final two games will come in the two cities he called home during his career. Mariano Rivera is retiring after the season as well, and it’s kinda neat that he and Pettitte are going out together. The two have teamed up for 72 win-save combinations over the years, by far the most in baseball history. It’s bittersweet to see Andy retire (again), and no, I definitely don’t expect another comeback attempt down the line.
Five questions for you this week and they’re all good ones. Might be biased, but I this is a quality mailbag. Send us any questions or comments or whatever through the Submit A Tip box in the sidebar.
Many people asked: What about signing Brian McCann this offseason?
Not sure what sparked it, but we got a ton of McCann questions this week. I guess people are just sick of watching the team’s current catchers on a daily basis.
Anyway, the 29-year-old McCann is scheduled to become a free agent this winter for first time in his career. A right shoulder injury really hampered him last season (87 wRC+), but he’s rebounded very well from offseason surgery to produce a .258/.333/.472 (125 wRC+) line that is right in line with his career norms (117 wRC+). Surgery on the front shoulder is a scary thing for a hitter, but McCann has come back very well and hasn’t seen a slip in his performance. It’s encouraging if nothing else.
Elite catchers — if McCann isn’t considered elite, then he’s damn close — almost never hit the open market, so McCann will be one of the hottest commodities out there this winter. Yadier Molina signed a five-year, $75M extension last year and I think that’s the baseline for McCann. Yes, we’re comparing an extension to a free agent, but Molina is also the better player. I think 5/75 is in the ballpark at least. Seems reasonable enough to me.
Now, the problem with signing a soon-to-be 30-year-old catcher to a five-year contract is that you can’t expect him to catch full-time all five years. It could happen, but McCann would be the exception and not the rule. I think you have to go into the deal thinking he can catch full-time for the first two years, split the third year at catcher and first base, then split the fourth and fifth years at first base and DH. Maybe you get lucky and you get three years as a full-time catcher instead of two.
McCann makes a ton of sense for the Yankees for many reasons. First and foremost, he’s a massive upgrade over their current catchers. He’s better than all of them put together. Secondly, he’s a left-handed hitter who should see his production tick up with the move into Yankee Stadium. Third, he has plenty of experience with division and playoff races and all that stuff. And fourth, the timeframe works well. A young catcher like Austin Romine or J.R. Murphy could be broken in slowly these next few years a la late-1990s Jorge Posada, and if things break right down the line, Gary Sanchez will be able to step in right when McCann is turning into a pumpkin. He’s a great, great fit for New York.
Nick asks: Who is Rule 5 Draft eligible this offseason?
For all intents and purposes — there are some exceptions, players drafted particularly young or old — it’s high school players from the 2009 draft and college players from the 2010 draft this year. International players who signed at 18 or younger prior to 2008 or signed at 19 or older prior to 2009 are eligible as well. It’s always tough to pin down the international guys because we usually don’t know the exact date they signed.
The Yankees already took care of one piece of Rule 5 Draft business by adding Murphy to the 40-man roster this month. He would have been eligible this year and obviously would have been protected. As best I can tell, the following players are also Rule 5 Draft eligible this winter: CF Slade Heathcott, RHP Shane Greene, RHP Bryan Mitchell, RHP Tommy Kahnle, RHP Danny Burawa, RHP Chase Whitley, and RHP Zach Nuding. That appears to be it among the legitimate prospects. Sanchez has at least one and possibly two more years to go before becoming eligible..
Heathcott is obviously going to be protected since he is one of the team’s top prospects. Greene, Kahnle, Burawa, and Whitley are all damn near MLB ready and would be prime Rule 5 Draft bait. All four would get picked if left unprotected. The Yankees floated Kahnle’s name in trade talks before the deadline (for both Alfonso Soriano and Michael Young), which leads me to believe they are leaning against not protecting him. They were trying to get something before losing him for nothing. Greene had the best year of those four and is the only one with a realistic chance of starting.
Mitchell has a great arm but it’s hard to believe he could stick on a 25-man roster all of next season. He’s someone who would get a look in Spring Training and be offered back, more than likely. Nuding too. That said, Jose Ramirez was in the same boat last year and he wound up being protected. The Yankees have been rather aggressive when it comes to protecting Rule 5 Draft guys in recent years — I feel like almost losing Ivan Nova to the Padres in 2008 scared them into protecting everyone — so I wouldn’t be surprised if they added Heathcott, Greene, Burawa, Whitley, and Mitchell to the 40-man this winter. Greene, Burawa, and Whitley would be up-and-down bullpen options as soon as next summer, if nothing else.
Kevin asks: As bad as the farm system was this year, doesn’t it seem just as likely next year could be a bounceback season? Say two of Mason Williams, Tyler Austin, and Heathcott bounce back, Sanchez stays steady, and Greg Bird and Rafael DePaula continue to progress, can’t you see next year we’re talking about a Top 10 system? This stuff seems to considerably vary year-to-year.
Definitely. This was a bad year for the farm system but there is a lot of potential room for improvement. Literally every team has those “if this guy bounces back, if that guy stays healthy, etc.” prospects, but the Yankees have more than most. They’re adding what amounts to five first round talents into the system as well: 3B Eric Jagielo, OF Aaron Judge, LHP Ian Clarkin, RHP Ty Hensley, and LHP Manny Banuelos. The first three were this summer’s first rounders and will be playing in their first full pro season while Hensley (2012 first rounder) and Banuelos (2012 top prospect) will be returning from injury. Full years from SS Abi Avelino and RHP Luis Severino will help as well. A lot would have to break right — it all won’t, some of these guys will inevitably disappoint — but the farm system has a chance to take a major, major step forward in 2014.
Paul asks: When does Joe Girardi have to announce a starter for a game? Is he able to use his Phil Hughes/David Huff tandem to somehow get the opposing manager to start his lefty-heavy lineup while starting Huff instead of Hughes?
The rulebook says that the starting pitcher becomes official when the lineup cards are exchanged at home plate before the start of the game. At that point the listed starter must face at least one batter before he can be replaced like every other pitcher. So, if they wanted the other team to start their lefty-mashing lineup against Hughes and replace him with Huff, they would have to wait at least one batter.
That said, this isn’t all that practical because Huff will need some time to warm up and the other club would see him getting ready in the bullpen beforehand. There’s also a gamesmanship aspect to this. I don’t think something like this would go over well around the game. If Hughes were to get hurt? Sure. But otherwise … eh.
Justin asks: Two part Brendan Ryan question. Recently, the YES announcers have quoted Kevin Long saying he could “fix” Ryan’s swing. A) Do you think that he can bring him to respectability of maybe a .260 hitter? B) Is he a better 2014 option over Jhonny Peralta or Stephen Drew?
Long is just a hitting coach, not a miracle worker. Ryan has never been an adequate hitter — career .252/.303/.341 hitter … in Triple-A — and it’s hard to think Long could do anything that would suddenly transform him from a .238/.300/.321 career big league hitter into say, a .260/.320/.350 guy for even one year. It could happen, baseball is weird like that, but I don’t think there’s enough starting material here for that to happen.
As for 2014, I think Ryan would be my last resort at shortstop. Well, second to last ahead of Eduardo Nunez. (Sorry Eddie, I’m over you.) I prefer Drew — a slick defender and a Yankee Stadium-friendly lefty hitter — over Peralta by quite a bit among free agent options, but both guys would be real nice fits next year. Drew could play short while Peralta takes over at third for the presumably suspended Alex Rodriguez. I do think — and this is completely baseless, by the way, just a guess — the Yankees want to avoid Biogenesis/PED guys going forward though, so Peralta might be a non-option. Ryan’s been a nice little late-season pickup but I absolutely do not want that guy penciled in as the number one shortstop come Opening Day.
So it turns out a miraculous four-run inning to squeeze out a one-run win against a last place team wasn’t a sign of good things to come. The Yankees followed up Wednesday’s dramatic come-from-behind win with a total dud on Thursday, a 6-2 loss that destroys the already small chance they had of making the postseason.
The Binder Fails
I guess it’s pretty fitting the Yankees playoff hopes were effectively killed by their biggest recent player development failure. With a two-run deficit in the seventh inning of the most important game of the season, Joe Girardi inexplicably allowed Joba Chamberlain to pitch to the middle of the Blue Jays lineup. Three batters later, it was a five-run deficit thanks to a mammoth three-run homer by Adam Lind that landed somewhere in Beaverton. The pitch might as well have been on a tee. It was a cookie.
I don’t know if Girardi is naive or oblivious to Joba’s performance or what, but it’s inexplicable he was on the mound in that situation. Not only did he have him start the inning against the heart of the order, but Girardi didn’t even go to a left-hander to face Lind and Colby Rasmus once the first two batters of the inning reached base. Naturally, Cesar Cabral replaced Joba after the homer and struck out the only two lefties he faced. Cabral has now whiffed five of the seven lefty batters he’s faced as a big leaguer. Too bad he didn’t get a chance to fact Lind earlier in the inning. Managers catch a lot of unnecessary grief, but Girardi absolutely failed to put his team in the best position to win the game. No doubt about it.
The Wall Is Unforgiving
All things considered, three runs in six innings is a pretty good outing for Hiroki Kuroda. If you watched the game though, you know he was damn lucky to finish the night with a pitching line that good. There were a ton of loud outs and lucky breaks — 1-2-5 double play in the first inning, anyone? — along the way that prevented things from getting out of hand, particularly early in the game. A better offensive team (or the Blue Jays with a healthy Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion) would have done much more damage than three runs in six innings on Thursday.
Kuroda allowed those three runs on eight hits and four walks, and nine of those 12 base-runners came in the first three innings. He’s been having serious trouble early in his starts before settling down in the middle innings lately, and that’s exactly what happened in this game. The wrap-around 9-1-2 portion of Toronto’s lineup did most of the damage against Kuroda, going a combined 6-for-8 with two doubles, one homer, and one walk. Hiroki has now allowed 33 runs (6.37 ERA) and 71 base-runners (1.68 WHIP) in his last seven starts.
Remember when the Yankees hit ten homeruns in the four-game series against the Orioles last week? Things were going so well power-wise that Brendan Ryan even hit a homer in the series opener against the Red Sox. The power well dried up after that — the Yankees went 48 innings (!) between that Ryan homer and their next long ball, which Curtis Granderson hit in the sixth inning on Thursday’s game. The solo homer was their first run of the game and their eighth in the last five games. What can you do? Sometimes you just have to tip your cap to great pitchers like Todd Redmond.
The Yankees did mount a spirited but ultimately futile rally in the ninth inning, loading the bases with one out before the dynamic duo of Vernon Wells and Lyle Overbay ended things with a pair of weak ground outs. Wells did drive in a run with his grounder, but who really cares. At least they went down with a fight, I guess. If they’re not going to make the postseason, at least be watchable. That’s all I ask at this point.
Prior to that ninth inning mini-rally, the Yankees had just four hits and one walk in the first eight innings of the game. Robinson Cano and Chris Stewart both doubled, Granderson homered, Alfonso Soriano singled, and Wells walked. That was it for eight innings. Cano singled while A-Rod and Soriano drew walks in the ninth.
The non-Joba portion of the bullpen allowed just one of the seven batters they faced to reach base. Cabral, true to his lefty specialist form, walked the right-handed Moises Sierra. He struck out the two lefties, Matt Daley got a routine fly ball from the only man he faced, and David Phelps got two ground outs and one fly ball in a perfect eighth inning. Too bad Joba screwed it all up.
If you care about such silliness, the loss guarantees the Yankees will not win at least 90 games for only the second time since 2001. They won 89 games in 2008 and will certainly finish with less than that this year.
Box Score, WPA Graph & Standings
MLB.com is the place to go for the box score and video highlights. FanGraphs has some other stats while the updated standings are at ESPN. The Yankees will remain three games back of the second wildcard spot in the loss column, assuming the Rangers hold on to beat the Rays. Cool Standings gives New York a 3.1% chance to make the postseason, and remember, that’s the optimistic system.
After ten games and eleven days on the road, the Yankees are finally coming back to the Bronx. The final homestand of the regular season — and Mariano Rivera‘s career — starts with three games against the defending World Champion Giants this weekend. Former Cy Young Award winners/current back-end starters CC Sabathia and Tim Lincecum kick things off Friday night. Check out RAB Tickets if you want to catch any of the team’s final six home games live.
When this ten-game, eleven-day road trip started, the Yankees were three games back of the second wildcard in the loss column. At best, they can end the trip two games back in the loss column — despite going 4-5 in the first nine of those ten games — and at worst, they can close it right where they started: three games back.
The problem with that, of course, is that nearly two weeks have ticked off the calendar and the Bombers have not made up any ground in the playoff race. They need help from other clubs if they still want to try to sneak into the postseason, but at this point all they can do if win their games. Everything else is out of their hands. Here’s the lineup Joe Girardi is running out there against right-hander Todd Redmond:
- CF Curtis Granderson
- DH Alex Rodriguez
- 2B Robinson Cano
- LF Alfonso Soriano
- RF Vernon Wells
- 1B Lyle Overbay
- 3B Mark Reynolds
- SS Brendan Ryan
- C Chris Stewart
And on the mound is right-hander Hiroki Kuroda. He’s had some big first inning problems the last few times out, allowing nine of 18 total runs in the first inning across his last four starts (40.50 ERA). After the first inning, he’s had a 3.26 ERA in those four starts. Hopefully Kuroda avoids those early problems and can give the team some much needed length tonight.
It’s another beautiful day in Toronto, nice and cool without a cloud in the sky. I imagine the Rogers Centre roof will be open. First pitch is scheduled for 7:07pm ET and can be seen on YES. Enjoy.
Via Andrew Marchand: Joe Girardi remained noncommittal when asked about his plans for next year. “Yeah, I mean, I don’t worry about those details until it is time to worry about it,” said Girardi. “To me, it doesn’t make sense to worry about it, but I love being here. To me, it is wasted energy to worry about it … I haven’t thought of myself [going back to broadcasting]. But, like any other person, when things arise, you sit down and you talk to your family, I talk to my wife, our kids are in school in New York.”
Girardi, 48, will be a free agent when his contract expires after the season. Brian Cashman already confirmed the team hopes to re-sign their manager and last month we heard it was a “foregone conclusion” the two sides would work out a new contract. Just eyeballing it, high-profile teams like the Cubs, Nationals, Angels, and maybe even the Dodgers could have managerial openings this winter. Marchand speculates that FOX could approach Girardi about replacing the soon-to-be-retired Tim McCarver, but that seems unlikely. It would surprise me if Girardi did not return to the Yankees next season, but until he signs a new contract, there is always a chance he will take a different job elsewhere. · (29) ·
As far as the shortstop position goes, the theme of the Yankees’ season has been “waiting.” Waiting for Derek Jeter to get healthy and waiting for Eduardo Nunez to do something that validated the team’s faith in him. Neither of those things happened. Jeter played only 17 games around four leg injuries before being shut down for good last week. Nunez has put up a 75 wRC+ in nearly 300 plate appearances while remaining a huge defensive liability. Reid Brignac, Alberto Gonzalez, and Luis Cruz all came and went.
It wasn’t until Jeter got hurt for the fourth time that the Yankees found someone who actually provided some stability at the position. They acquired Brendan Ryan from the Mariners for a player to be named later — it’ll probably be someone you’ve never heard of before and won’t miss — and he’s taken over as the everyday guy at the position. Joe Girardi said he planned to have Nunez and Ryan split time at short but it hasn’t happened. Ryan has played every inning of every game at shortstop since being acquired.
“I don’t know if it’s the most enviable position to step in after a legend,” said Ryan to Andy McCullough soon after the trade, referring to replacing Jeter. “He’s not going away. I don’t want to make it sound like that. I don’t even know what his status is.”
The 31-year-old Ryan took an 0-for-4 in his first game in pinstripes but has since gone 6-for-21 (.286) at the plate. Two of those six hits have started game-winning rallies — leadoff single in the ninth last week in Baltimore, leadoff double in the eighth last night — and another was a solo homer over the Green Monster this past weekend. Considering his career 71 wRC+, Ryan has already contributed more offensively than we could have been reasonably been expected. Those six hits are gravy.
Defensively, there’s just no competition. Brignac and Cruz were solid — above-average, even — glovemen but not comparable to Ryan, who has already made a handful of stellar plays both ranging to the second base side of the bag to his left and deep into the 5.5 hole to his right. The Yankees were getting nothing from the shortstop position for most of the season, no offense and mostly poor defense, so Ryan has upgraded at least one part of the team even if he stops hitting (which is likely given his track record).
The fact that Ryan has been the team’s most productive shortstop of the year after a whopping seven games tells you all you need to know about what went wrong this season. The Yankees waited and waited for Jeter to return and their 39-year-old captain let them down repeatedly, coming down with a new injury in a matter of days each time. Nunez had his own injury problems and despite showing off improved throwing mechanics, his defense still makes him a liability. Ryan has been reliable and expected expectations so far, but his acquisition was too little, too late.