Game 146: Beat the Mets

Subway Series

It’s Subway Series time. That’s always a big deal, especially now that the Mets are good. Bragging rights are on the line — apparently Mets fans are trying to “take back” the city? What’s that about? — and all that fun stuff. These series are always fun. I have a lot of Mets fans in my family. I enjoyed rubbing it in when the Yankees won two of three back in April.

Anyway, these games are extremely important for the Yankees. Moreso than the Mets, who have a huge lead on the Nationals. The Yankee are still trying to catch the Blue Jays while also maintaining their lead on the first wildcard spot. Mets, Blue Jays, Red Sox, Mariners, Padres … these games are huge regardless who the Yankees are playing this weekend. They need all the wins they can get. Here is the Mets’ lineup and here is the Yankees’ lineup:

  1. CF Brett Gardner
  2. 3B Chase Headley
  3. RF Carlos Beltran
  4. LF Chris Young
  5. 1B Greg Bird
  6. C John Ryan Murphy
  7. SS Didi Gregorius
  8. 2B Brendan Ryan
  9. RHP Masahiro Tanaka

Very nice day in New York. Sunny, few clouds, and on the cool side. Nice night for a ballpark. Tonight’s game will begin at 7:10pm ET and you can watch on both YES and WPIX locally as well as MLB Network nationally. Enjoy the game.

9/18 to 9/20 Subway Series Preview: New York Mets

Don Draper

Time for another round of the Subway Series. This weekend is way more important to the Yankees than it is the Mets, who have a comfortable lead in the NL East. Of course, their fans seem to be worried about a potential collapse given what happened in 2007, but I’d say their lead is safe. The Yankees won two of three when these two clubs met in Yankee Stadium in late-April.

What Have The Mets Done Lately?

Lose, believe it or not. They just dropped two straight to the Marlins at home, though before that they won eight straight. The Mets are 83-63 with a +68 run differential right now. They have a comfortable eight-game lead over the Nationals. FanGraphs puts their odds to win the NL East at damn near 100%.

Offense & Defense

The Mets are averaging a 4.25 runs per game with a team 99 wRC+ this season, though that doesn’t really tell the story. They were dreadful in the first half (3.48 R/G and 85 wRC+) but have been much, much better since the All-Star break (5.46 R/G and 118 wRC+). Manager Terry Collins has a completely healthy team on the position player side right now. Two September call-ups are on the 60-day DL (Darrell Ceciliani and Wilfredo Tovar) and that’s all.

(Mitchell Layton/Getty)
(Mitchell Layton/Getty)

Much has been made of the impact of trade deadline pickup OF Yoenis Cespedes (139 wRC+), who has indeed been fantastic for the Mets (173 wRC+), but he’s not the only reason they’ve started scoring runs. C Travis d’Arnaud (152 wRC+) returned from the DL and is quietly one of the best hitting catchers in the game. 3B David Wright (130 wRC+) came off the DL as well. SS Wilmer Flores (98 wRC+) has been hitting since he was nearly traded for Carlos Gomez, and OF Michael Conforto (156 wRC+) has been mashing since he was called up as well.

Of course, ex-Yankee OF Curtis Granderson (131 wRC+) has been their best player since Opening Day, and 1B Lucas Duda (122 wRC+) has been good, but not what he was a year ago. 1B/OF Michael Cuddyer (101 wRC+) has been reduced to a platoon player and 2B Daniel Murphy (99 wRC+) has gotten things straightened out after a slow start. IF Ruben Tejada (98 wRC+), OF Juan Lagares (82 wRC+), 3B Juan Uribe (102 wRC+), and UTIL Kelly Johnson (112 wRC+) are the supporting cast. Among the September call-ups on the roster are C Kevin Plawecki, C Johnny Monell, C Anthony Recker, UTIL Eric Campbell, IF Dilson Herrera, and pinch-runner OF Eric Young Jr.

The Mets are a pretty strong defensive club, though Cuddyer, Flores, and Murphy are definitely below-average. Cespedes is a good defender with a strong arm — he’s been playing center field — and both Granderson and Conforto are solid in the corners. You can run on Grandy’s arm though. Wright, Tejada, and Uribe are above-average defenders as well. d’Arnaud is about average at controlling the running game and currently rates as one of the top pitch-framers in baseball.

Pitching Matchups

Friday (7pm ET): RHP Masahiro Tanaka (vs. NYM) vs. LHP Steven Matz (No vs. NYY)
Matz, a local kid from Stony Brook, has a 1.88 ERA (4.73 FIP) in four starts and 24 big league innings around a lat injury this season. His strikeout (22.9%) and grounder (48.4%) rates are a tick above-average, though walks (9.4%) have been a bit of an issue, as have home runs (1.50 HR/9). Lefties (.299 wOBA) have had more success against him than righties (.273 wOBA) so far, but that’s sample size noise. He’s faced 25 left-handed batters since being brought up. Matz, 24, pitches off a mid-90s sinker with a hammer upper-70s curveball and a quality low-80s changeup. He is very good. The only issue here is health. Matz has had all sorts of injury problems in his career. He had not yet been called up when the Yankees and Mets played earlier this season.

Saturday (1pm ET): RHP Michael Pineda (vs. NYM) vs. RHP Noah Syndergaard (No vs. NYY)
The Mets acquired Syndergaard in the R.A. Dickey trade a few years ago and the 23-year-old has a 3.20 ERA (3.28 FIP) in 21 starts and 129.1 innings this season, his MLB debut. His strikeout (26.2%) and walk (5.7%) numbers are excellent while his grounder (45.8%) and homer (1.04 HR/9) numbers are about league average. Left-handed hitters (.286 wOBA) have hit Syndergaard a bit harder than righties (.277 wOBA), and it’s worth noting he’s been way better at home (2.15 ERA and 2.98 FIP) than on the road (4.47 ERA and 3.64 FIP) as a big leaguer. Syndergaard has a huge fastball — only Nathan Eovaldi (96.6 mph) has a higher average fastball velocity than Syndergaard (96.4) among the 130 pitchers who have thrown at least 100 innings this season — and he uses it to set up his power low-80s curveball and upper-80s changeup. Everything this guy throws is hard. Like Matz, Syndergaard was still in the minors when the Yankees and Mets played in Yankee Stadium.

(Todd Kirkland/Getty)
Syndergaard. (Todd Kirkland/Getty)

Sunday (8pm ET): LHP CC Sabathia (vs. NYM) vs. RHP Matt Harvey (vs. NYY)
The Mets have the 26-year-old Harvey on a very strict schedule right now, and rumor has it he will be limited to five innings Sunday night. We’ll see. He’s thrown 171.2 innings across 26 starts in his first season back from Tommy John surgery, pitching to a 2.88 ERA (3.30 FIP) with dynamite peripherals: 23.9 K%, 5.3 BB%, 46.1 GB%, and 0.94 HR/9. Harvey has been hit much harder by lefties (.303 wOBA) than righties (.241 wOBA) this year. He works with a mid-to-upper-90s heater and has a devastating upper-80s slider. He’ll also throw quality mid-80s changeups and low-80s curveballs. Harvey is one of the very few pitchers who legitimately takes four out pitches to the mound on his best days. He and Felix Hernandez are pretty much the only guys who can say that. Harvey’s shown he’s an adrenaline junkie, so expect him to be amped up for the ESPN Sunday Night game. He held the Yankees to two runs in 8.2 innings back in late-April.

Bullpen Status
Like the Yankees, the Mets had an off-day yesterday, so their bullpen is as fresh as it’s going to get in mid-September. Closer RHP Jeurys Familia (1.63 ERA/2.70 FIP) has been brilliant this season, and these days he’s being set up by ex-Yankee RHP Tyler Clippard (2.77/4.41) and RHP Addison Reed (3.44/2.82). RHP Hansel Robles (3.33/3.41) and RHP Erik Goeddel (2.70/2.71) have also had nice years. Goeddel missed a bunch of time with an elbow issue, however.

The one thing the Mets lack is a reliable left-on-left matchup reliever. Rule 5 Draft pick LHP Sean Gilmartin (2.87/2.55) has had a nice year, but he has a big reverse split (.301 vs. .244 wOBA in favor of lefties) and is more of a long man than a matchup guy. LHP Eric O’Flaherty (7.67/4.44) hasn’t been good at all. RHP Bobby Parnell (5.82/4.21) is having a rough go of it following Tommy John surgery and RHP Carlos Torres (4.45/3.60) is the do-everything rubber arm guy. RHP Tim Stauffer, LHP Dario Alvarez, and RHP Logan Verrett are the September call-ups. Verrett’s the sixth starter more than anything. They’ve been using him to give the other starters extra rest, not out of the bullpen.

Our Bullpen Workload page can keep you updated on Joe Girardi‘s bullpen, which has been rather shaky of late. Hopefully the off-day did those guys some good. Head over to Amazin’ Avenue and Metsblog for everything you need to know about the Mets.

(GIF via Mets Police)

Sherman: 15 teams showed interest in Slade Heathcott last offseason

(Brian Blanco/Getty)
(Brian Blanco/Getty)

This past offseason, the Yankees non-tendered outfielder Slade Heathcott only to bring him back on a minor league contract. Declining to tender Heathcott a contract was the only way to get him off the 40-man roster without exposing him to waivers. They were able to drop him from the 40-man roster, keep him off waivers, and bring him back to the organization.

That move is risky, of course. Non-tendering a player makes him a free agent, so any team could have swooped in to sign Heathcott. That’s a risk the Yankees were apparently willing to take. Joel Sherman reports six teams contacted Slade’s agent within minutes of the non-tender. A total of 15 teams showed interest in a matter of days. Half the league wanted him.

Despite all that interest, Heathcott returned to the Yankees because the two sides had a handshake agreement in place before the non-tender. Sherman has the details:

Heathcott’s representatives let the organization know they would sign back under three conditions: 1. Heathcott would get $110,000 for the minor league season rather than the $72,500 for which he would have been in line; 2. Heathcott would get a July 1 out, to leave the organization if he had not been put back on the 40-man roster; 3. He would be allowed to use his own doctors and trainers in the offseason rather than those of the Yankees to try to reverse his history of injuries.

The Yankees added Heathcott to the 40-man roster and called him up in May, following Jacoby Ellsbury‘s knee injury, so that July 1st opt-out date never came into play. Good for Slade for leveraging his impending free agency into a nice raise and the ability to use his own doctors. I wonder if Vicente Campos, who also went the non-tender/re-sign route, got a similar deal.

Heathcott, 24, spent most of the season with Triple-A Scranton and on the big league DL with a quad injury. He hit .267/.315/.343 (90 wRC+) in 64 Triple-A games around the injury and has gone 7-for-18 (.389) in the big leagues, including two home runs. Knee and shoulder injuries limited Heathcott to only 177 games from 2012-14. He was New York’s first round pick (29th overall) back in 2009.

The Yankees have at least one more minor league option year on Heathcott, meaning they can send him up and down as many times as they want in 2016. Mason Williams, Ben Gamel, and Jake Cave are fellow left-handed hitting outfielders slated for Triple-A, so it’ll be interesting to see what the Yankees do with their depth. Using one or two of those guys to plug a different roster hole via trade would make sense.

Mailbag: Eovaldi, Tanaka, Cashner, Pirela, 40-Man, Braun

Got a dozen questions and eleven answers in this week’s mailbag. You can send us questions at any time by emailing RABmailbag (at) gmail (dot) com. Did you know you can copy and paste the email address into Gmail as is, and it’ll automatically convert the (at) and (dot) into the appropriate symbols for you? True fact.

(Steven Ryan/Getty)
(Steven Ryan/Getty)

Wyatt asks: Whats your take on Nathan Eovaldi in the pen in the playoffs? The trio of Eovaldi-Betances-Miller has the potential to be nasty at the back end of the bullpen.

Paul asks: Let’s say Eovaldi comes back in best-case-scenario fashion. I’m assuming he would still be legitimately considered (and likely a favorite) for a postseason rotation spot? There wouldn’t be concerns about building up his pitch count after such a short period away, right?

Going to lump these two together. The best case scenario for Eovaldi is still not pitching at all during the regular season. The plan was two weeks of rest plus a two-week throwing program, which puts him on target for a return right at the start of the ALDS, basically. I can’t imagine the Yankees would plug Eovaldi into their postseason rotation fresh off his throwing program, with no tune-up appearances. Like half the rotation would have to get hurt for that to happen.

For that reason, I think Eovaldi’s destined for the bullpen in the postseason, should the Yankees get beyond the wildcard game. He might only be a one-inning reliever after missing a month too. Eovaldi out of the bullpen could be really crazy. The guy averaged 99.01 mph with his fastball in August. As a starter. What’s he going throw in relief? 105? In all seriousness, Eovaldi airing out in one-inning bursts could be a major lift in the middle innings, assuming there is no lingering impact from his elbow issue, which is always a big if. It’s hard to see how the Yankees could work him back into the rotation given his current timetable.

Matt asks: With the whole Yankee rotation under contract for next season, what would you think about the Yankees signing a big free agent like David Price and having Masahiro Tanaka opt for surgery this off season? It will eliminate his ticking time-bomb of an elbow and give them a substantial replacement. Then when Tanaka comes back the rotation will be thinned out. I’d rather see Tanaka get the surgery in the off season then need it in the middle of a playoff race.

No! No surgery until the doctors say Tanaka needs the surgery! The doctors all said Tanaka’s elbow was sound and healthy enough to pitch late last year, he’s pitched with it all season and done really well, so why fix what isn’t broken? Sure, the elbow might give out at some point, perhaps in the middle of a postseason race, but that’s true of every pitcher ever. If the plan is to sign someone like Price, wouldn’t you want Price and Tanaka in the rotation at the same time? Besides, the Yankees can’t make Tanaka have the surgery. It’s his call. Same way your employer can’t force you to have surgery. General rule of thumb: say no unnecessary surgery. Josh Johnson is a pretty great Tommy John surgery cautionary tale.

Noah asks: Keep up the great work with the site! My question is simply why do you often only say the standings in terms of the losses rather than just overall games behind. I also hear announcers often put more emphasis on the loss column than the win column. Why is that?

During the season, the loss column does the best job explaining the gap between two teams in the standings because you can’t take away losses. You can always add wins, but losses are there to stay. The win column and loss column all mean the same thing after Game 162, but during the season the loss column tells you exactly how many games you need to make up. Overall games behind is fine too, but it adds half-games and those are annoying. I prefer the straight up loss column. Tells you exactly far behind you really are. The Yankees are three behind the Blue Jays in the loss column. That means Toronto has to lose at least four more games than New York the rest of the way for the Yankees to win the division outright. See how easy that is?

(Thearon W. Henderson/Getty)
(Thearon W. Henderson/Getty)

Matt asks: As much as I’d love for the Yankees to go after David Price in the offseason, something tells me they won’t spend the money. One alternative could be Andrew Cashner after all the rumors about moving him this summer. What kind of package would it take to get him?

Cashner will be a free agent after next season and to me is very similar to Jeff Samardzija in that he’s more stuff and hype than results. People keep waiting for the inner-ace to emerge but it hasn’t happened, and at this point it’s unlikely to happen. That doesn’t mean Cashner is bad though. He’s a fine big leaguer. One year of Samardzija netted a package of four okay players last winter, but a) A’s GM Billy Beane has made some weird trades lately, and b) Samardzija has been way way waaay more durable than Cashner in his career, so the price should for Cashner should be lower. Three decent to good prospects seems like a fair asking price. That’s what the Rangers gave up Yovani Gallardo, for example. One of the lefty hitting outfielders, one of the Triple-A relievers, and a mid-range prospect like Rookie Davis or Bryan Mitchell for one season of Cashner? That seem in the ballpark?

Luke asks: I know he can’t stay healthy, but how about Slade Heathcott as the 4th OF next year? Chris Young has been excellent but you have to think he finds a 2-3 year deal elsewhere next year. If not Heathcott, what are the odds they stay in-house with their OF depth for that 4th spot?

In a vacuum, Heathcott or Mason Williams would be a fine fourth outfielder next season. I wouldn’t have a problem with the Yankees going that route. That said, this isn’t a vacuum, and the Yankees kinda need a right-handed hitting fourth outfielder because both Brett Gardner and Jacoby Ellsbury are lefties, and Carlos Beltran is a switch-hitter with much better numbers against righties. The team needs to add some balance to the roster and a righty hitting fourth outfielder is one way to do that. Heathcott, Williams, and Ben Gamel are all at a disadvantage because they’re lefties. A righty hitter makes a lot more sense for the roster.

Greg asks: Assuming that the Yankees actually do add a left fielder (Jason Heyward, Heathcott etc.) and try to flip Gardner for an answer at second base, is there anyone out there that is a equal 1 for 1 swap? A second baseman that is both somewhat young (around 30) and under team control for the next few years?

Not really. Gardner is signed for three more years and there are a lot more outfielders like him than there are quality second baseman signed for two or three more seasons. Brandon Phillips would be one, but hell no. We’ve discussed him ad nauseam. Danny Espinosa is under team control through 2017 and a Gardner-Espinosa swap might actually be fair given the difference in salaries. That assumes Espinosa really is back to where he was from 2011-12, before all his injuries, however. Logan Forsythe is also under control through 2017, but I don’t see why the Rays would trade him for Gardner. There’s really no good fit. Quality second baseman are very hard to find. The Yankees could easily be stuck cycling through stopgaps for another few years before a long-term answer comes along.

Justin asks: Can Jose Pirela be the heir to the Chris Young righty bat off the bench?

It’s possible, sure. I think the Yankees are more likely to bring in a veteran righty bench bat though. That seems to be their thing. I also think they’re more likely to look for the next Chris Young than bring back the actual Chris Young at an inflated price. Pirela has nice numbers against southpaws in his MLB career but his swing suggests he should never face righties — the kid takes an off-balance hack at everything, it seems — plus he’s not good in the field regardless of position. Versatility is nice, but only if the player can actually play solid defense. Pirela would have to crush lefties to have any value to the Yankees. I think he’s going to end up going up and down as an extra utility man next season. Handing him a bench job in camp or even letting him compete for the fourth outfielder’s job seems like something the Yankees wouldn’t do.

Eric asks: Would missing the playoffs change the Yankees offseason plan? Yes, many players under contract for next year complicates the roster but certainty 3 straight years of no playoff revenue may change the front offices mind?

I’m sure it would. How could it not? Three straight years with no postseason is a very big deal around these parts. Hal Steinbrenner is a very rational guy, he’s not like his father when it comes to baseball, so I don’t think missing the postseason would mean radical changes. Maybe they’re more aggressive signing a free agent or trading prospects, but would they really do some thing drastic? It seems unlikely. I think both Brian Cashman and Joe Girardi are safe at this point, and I expect the Yankees to stick with their current plan, whatever it may be.

Joe asks: What about the upcoming 40-man roster crunch? (Sorry Joe, had to shorten the question.)

Moreno. (Ronald Martinez/Getty)
Moreno. (Ronald Martinez/Getty)

The Yankees currently have 46 players on the 40-man roster when you include the 60-day DL guys (Mason Williams, Chase Whitley, Sergio Santos, Diego Moreno, Jacob Lindgren, Domingo German), and they only have three players due to become free agents after the season (Chris Capuano, Stephen Drew, Chris Young). That assumes Brendan Ryan exercises his $1M player option. So yeah, the 40-man is pretty full.

Looking at the roster, I’d say the following players are most at risk of losing their 40-man spot in the offseason: Andrew Bailey, Chris Martin, Austin Romine, Rico Noel, Santos, Moreno, and Ryan. (The Yankees could drop Ryan even if he picks up his option, but they’d still owe him the money and would need a new shortstop-capable backup infielder to replace him.) Remember, there is no DL in the offseason, so those 60-day DL players will have to be activated right after the end of the World Series.

The Yankees have some quality prospects set to be Rule 5 Draft eligible this winter — Ben Gamel, Jake Cave, Rookie Davis, Tony Renda, and Johnny Barbato are the most notable now that Greg Bird and James Pazos were already added to the 40-man — so most of those open 40-man roster spot will be filled soon. I wonder if the Yankees will try to clear space with a reverse Manny Banuelos trade, meaning deal two young relievers for one prospect, or something like that. Space on the 40-man figures to be tight this winter. Then again, that always seems to be the case.

Craig asks: Rookie Davis. What are your thoughts on him? Any chance we see him in 2016?

I think it’s possible we’ll see him next season. Like I said, Davis is Rule 5 Draft eligible this winter, so he’s going to be on the 40-man roster, plus he’ll start next season with Double-A Trenton. Whenever a guy is that close, you have to think of him as a big league option later in the season. Davis looks like he rolled off the pitching prospect assembly line — 6-foot-5, 245 lbs., low-to-mid-90s heater, hammer curve, decent changeup … a scout’s dream — and he made some huge strides with his command this season. There’s a little Shane Greene in him, in that he was a big stuff/bad command guy who just figured it out one year. If we do see Davis in 2016, it’ll be in the second half, and I’d be surprised if he had a Severino-esque impact right away. His real coming party is likely scheduled for 2017.

Matt asks: If the Brewers really do want to trade Ryan Braun, how interesting would a Ellsbury-Braun swap be? Braun could play left while Gardner slides back to center. It would be especially interesting if we could get Wily Peralta included in there as well, eh?

Braun has had a great bounceback year — he went into last night’s game hitting .291/.361/.509 (133 wRC+) with 25 homers — now that his hand is finally healthy, but he’s basically a DH at this point, and another DH is the last thing the Yankees need. The money is a wash — Braun has five years and $105M left on his contract after this season, Ellsbury five years and $110M — so this would be a pure baseball swap.

Are the Yankees better off with Braun and his baggage or Ellsbury? I think you could argue both sides very strongly. (I don’t see why the Brewers would kick in Peralta though.) Even with his performance-enhancing drug issues, Braun is still crazy popular in Milwaukee and helps the Brewers push their brand. That has real value to the team. Ellsbury wouldn’t offer that at all. There’s no connection to him. I think the Yankees have way to many DH candidates already on the roster and in the upper levels of the minors (Gary Sanchez, Eric Jagielo, even Greg Bird) to make that swap. If the Yankees can trade Ellsbury this winter, I think they should, but I’m not sure a bad contract for bad contract swap for Braun is the best way to go about it.

Thursday Night Open Thread

The Yankees have an off-day today, their last of the regular season. They play their final 17 games in 17 days starting tomorrow. In the meantime, make sure you check out this Billy Witz article on designated pinch-runner Rico Noel. Noel discussed his family life and upbringing through baseball, from his days in college to his time with the Padres. He asked San Diego for his release earlier this year, and when the Yankees called, it was Noel who broached the idea of being used as a pinch-runner in September. Pretty great read. Check it out.

Here is tonight’s open thread. Pretty light baseball schedule tonight, only seven games, and MLB Network will show one of them later. Also, the Broncos and Chiefs are this week’s Thursday NFL Game. Talk about of those games or anything else right here. Enjoy the final off-night of the season.

TiqIQ: Chase For 28 Package Gives Fans Opportunity To Save Big on Yankees Playoff Tickets

Despite dropping three of four to the first-place Toronto Blue Jays over the weekend, the New York Yankees are still in prime position to qualify for the 2015 postseason as the top Wild Card team in the American League. Toronto’s lead over the Yankees sits at three games with a three-game set later this month that may very well decide the division. In any case, the postseason is still very much within grasp for the Bronx Bombers, and their fans will be able to enjoy the rest of the journey getting there, while also having a chance to book a seat for the future.

Due to the buzz surrounding the Yanks being on track of returning to the playoffs for the first time since the 2012 season, tickets are averaging $100.67 the rest of the way on the secondary market. Looking a bit deeper into the playoff picture, higher prices emerge. The average ticket price to the AL Wild Card game at Yankee Stadium is $247.44 with a get-in price of $75. For the American League Division Series, the three Yankees home games have an average price of $296.15 on the secondary market for the three games, with the most expensive game coming in at an average of $319.67 and a get-in price of $89.

One way fans can save on playoff tickets compared to the secondary market is by buying directly from the team, where postseason prices start at just $21. So compared to the secondary market, fans who buy tickets directly from the team can save at least $50 per game or more depending on the section. But those tickets can be hard to come by during the postseason, as demand skyrockets. Season ticket holders get preferred access to those tickets before the general public, which is a fact that the Yankees are using as an incentive to spur 2016 season tickets. The Yankees have released the Chase For 28 package, giving fans who submit their 2016 season ticket deposit access to postseason tickets directly from the box office, and flex pack pricing on remaining 2015 games.

No matter how the rest of this season unfolds, it seems like there’s no question the Yankees will be right back in the playoff mix in 2016, making this is tremendous deal for any fan of the team. Clearly, the future is very bright, as New York boasts a roster that not only leans on talented veterans, but productive youngsters as well that will be impactful players for the club over the next several years.

Of course, the success the Yankees are enjoying this season has been brought upon by a few familiar faces and a couple of new ones. Alex Rodriguez, who returned from his one-year suspension, has reminded everyone why he was always long considered one of the best players in the game.

Meanwhile, Mark Teixeira also enjoyed a renaissance season before going down with injury, and Brett Gardner earned his first All-Star berth with his own solid play this year. As for new faces, Luis Severino and Greg Bird have come up from the minor leagues, giving Yankee fans a glimpse of what’s in store for the future. The club’s biggest strength, arguably, has been at the back-end of the bullpen, where Andrew Miller and Dellin Betances reside as the best 1-2 punch in baseball closing out ballgames.

If the season were to end today with the Yankees in the top Wild Card spot, they’d be getting prepared to host the Houston Astros in the AL Wild Card Game, with the winner moving on to the Divisional Series round. At the same time, there’s still a few weeks left for the Yankees to catch up to Toronto at the top of the AL East, potentially making the rest of the campaign even more fun. With the Chase for 28 package, Yankee fans can take in a majority of the exciting action live, while getting set for what is sure to be another wild year in 2016.

Update: Eppler interviews for Angels and Mariners GM positions

(Leon Halip/Getty)
(Leon Halip/Getty)

September 17th: Eppler met with Mariners brass in Chicago last night, reports George King. Seattle supposedly prefers a GM with experience, though they have a long list of candidates and are covering all their bases.

September 15th: Eppler was scheduled to meet with Angels owner Arte Moreno and team president John Carpino in New York last night, reports George King. Eppler interviewed with the Angels a few years ago, so it seems like the two sides were getting reacquainted more than anything. He is supposedly very high on their wish list.

September 9th: According to Ken Rosenthal, assistant GM Billy Eppler will interview with both the Angels and Mariners for their GM openings. The Yankees granted both teams permission to speak to Eppler, which isn’t surprising. Clubs usually won’t block a chance at an upward move.

Eppler, 39, interviewed with the Angels back in 2011 and was reportedly the runner up to Jerry Dipoto. Dipoto resigned earlier this year after losing a power struggle with manager Mike Scioscia. A few days ago we heard Eppler was considered the front-runner for the Halos GM gig. He’s a Southern California native and could jump at the chance to return home.

The Mariners fired GM Jack Zduriencik a few weeks ago and are in the process of picking a replacement. The Seattle job seems like a pretty good one — great city, great ballpark, and something of a clean slate. The new GM will presumably be able to bring his own people. Scouts, assistants, coaches, etc. With the Angels, the new GM will be stuck with Scioscia. Owner Arte Moreno made that clear when he picked Scioscia over Dipoto earlier this summer.

Eppler has been with the Yankees since 2005. He started as a scout and worked his way up the ladder, getting promoted to assistant GM back in 2012. Eppler has interviewed for several GM openings over the years, including with his hometown Padres this past offseason, and eventually he’ll snag one. I thought he would one day take over for Brian Cashman, but that seems more and more unlikely.